The History of India Podcast show

The History of India Podcast

Summary: A light weekly podcast covering the history of India, from 6th century B.C. Enjoying the podcast? Please consider donating to the Snehal Sidhu Memorial Fund (

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 5.D Workers stranded by the lockdown | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 48:55

**Special episode on the current crisis** People are stranded all across India. They left to find work. Now the lockdown has come, they are out of work, out of money and out of food. We get to talk to Anushka and Nithya who are chatting to these workers every day, and hear some of their stories. They work for SWAN - the stranded workers action network. They can help you give money to stranded workers directly here: @strandedworkers on twitter for more.

 5.C Chalukyas by the book | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 49:07

( This week we chat to comic book author, novelist and fellow fan of the Chaulkiya period Dr. Shalini Srinivasan about the book she's been writing set in the Chaulkiyan empire. She tells us about how comic books get made, we share our favourite parts of the ruins, and I learn about how and why she writes. [Patchy audio quality in places]

 5.B By the whim of the master (part 2) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 01:04:22

( ***Warning: contains upsetting details.*** The second special episode on slavery. This week, we hear about the lives of female slaves. We meet slaves in Buddhist monasteries. And we meet a young woman being sold into slavery. Also in this episode: how to construct a Buddhist cave, a boy survives seven attempted murders, and a vengeful woman crosses the ocean.

 5.A By the whim of the master | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 59:03

( ***Warning: contains upsetting details.*** This week, we learn a little about what life was like for slaves in ancient and early medieval India, from becoming a slave to being free. India might have been the best place in the ancient world to be a slave, but slave life was often still brutal. In this episode: bad food sends a slave running for freedom, another annoying rant about academia, and an ancient Indian slave talks about cold baths and Buddhism with her master.

 5.23 Overtaken by the bogeyman | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 43:56

( This week, we meet some of the bogeymen of ancient India; a group among the most feared of the Barbarians. The mighty Kamboja horsemasters. And yet, these are real people. In this episode we hear the tales told about them, but we also get to know a bit about how they really lived, and even them described in their own words. Also in this episode: the moon kings rise, an ocean gets drunk up, and I get lost in a rant about pacifist kings.

 5.22 By the back of the five great kings | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 44:39

( This is the week of small kings. The Pratihara empire has ruled for as long as anyone can remember. But a small king from the south will destroy the emperor's army and send him fleeing. And a small king from the north will restore him to his throne. Also in this episode: book reading in Baghdad, a rant about early medieval boasting, and our first glimpse of the world famous Khajuraho temples.

 5.21 By half a metre | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 49:23

( This week, Mahendrapala extends his empire downstream, towards the sea. But nothing is what it seems: not the emperor, nor his empire, nor his conquest. All will be revealed only half a meter down. Also in this episode: how to tell whether you are living on top of a monastery, more than twenty early medieval Indian insults, and how to call someone beautiful and aggressive at the same time.

 5.20 Assault by salt | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 51:27

( A journey through one of emperor Bhoja's lands. With the emperor far away in the Imperial city, we find out what life is like for the merchants and city folk under him. Also in this episode: a practical guide to salt making in medieval India, the garden of the snake kings, and the origin of candy.

 5.19 Drawn by the sun | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 44:54

( In this episode, young king Bhoja will grow into his throne. He will draw together allies and subordinates and wait patiently. When the time is right he will strike at his ancestral enemies, defeating them, and achieving what none of his forefathers could ever do: founding an empire. Also in this episode: how to misspend 2000 silver coins, why you should construct a queen's city, and what to do when you are handed a royal baby.

 5.18 Drawn by greatness | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 01:01:53

( For too long the empire of the east has dominated North India. Bhoja, the descendant of the western emperors is determined to bring change. But he starts with almost nothing, for the once great western empire as been reduced to just a minor kingdom. In this, the first of three episodes, we look at Bhoja's first faltering steps. *Some of the inscriptions in this episode are pretty graphic - no rude language, but may not be suitable for all*.

 5.17 By the tip of the quivering sword | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 41:31

( The victorious Palas build their empire. Poets gather in their courts. Kings flee before their armies. All seems well, but an old enemy is regathering strength. Also in this week's episode: religious rivalry told through a hymn about toenails, a pun about grief, and a practical guide to buying and selling in medieval Assam.

 5.16 By the setting of the eastern sun | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 01:00:56

( This week, the build up to the great battle continues. We join the navy of the East, as it brings infantry and elephants up the river. Then we launch into the battle itself, following the commander's choice of battle formation. This is the battle to decide who will rule north India supreme. Also in this episode: hot to your elephant for war in eight simple steps, a poem about river logs, and a lesson in how to walk across a battlefield.

 5.15 By the light of the western dawn | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 50:10

A great battle of the age: the horsemen of the Pratiharas of the east, and the elephants of the Palas of the west. They meet on the shores of the Ganga. In this episode, we spend time with a Pratihara horsemen. We hear the story of his king, we check out his equipment, and hear about his horse. In this episode: the first thesaurus, a cunning nut seller, and a gratuitous rant about military history (sorry).

 5.14 By the help of a hundred scholars | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 44:44

( Emperor Dharmapala constructed an education system across his empire, so great it surpassed all that had come before. It shaped eastern India for nearly half a millennium. This week, we go inside the system for ourselves. We follow the great Buddhist teacher Atisha in his long and uncommon adventure through the places that Dharmapala built, and we find out what it was like to work and live there. Included in this episode:

 5.13 By a graceful move of the eyebrows | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 48:16

( This week, we find out what happened to the great prize of North India: the Imperial city of Kanyakubja. Two dynasties: the Palas (protectors), and the Pratiharas (doorkeepers) have been fighting to gain control. In this episode, a new emperor of India will win it, and then give it away. Included: a trip to a hidden great monastery, how a queen made a snake king deceive her, and two hundred hunchback maidens with quite different attitudes to marriage.


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