© 2015 by Kit Patrick

Special episodes

We kick off our special episodes for the series with a tour of the smaller kingdoms and regions emerging around India. This week, we are in the peninsular of Gujurat, in a strange kingdom where they pass the throne down to their younger brothers. 

Second of the special episodes on ancient Gujurat. This week, we visit the internationally famous university of Vallabhi, and we hear how the story of the local kingdom weaves together with the stories of great empires. All of this is bookeneded with two scandalous tales of love and betrayal telling us how people from the period thought about love.

In the marketplaces and fields of ancient India, would you notice that Buddhism was gradually disappearing? Many ancient Indians did. And we take a layman's view as the monasteries withdraw from the world and at the same time become more part of it. Come, listen to the beginning of the great decline of Buddhism in India. Bonus: interview with Peter Adamson from the Philosophy in India (HoPWAG) podcast.

Jainism has shaped Indian thought over the millenia, and continues to do so today. This week, we find out what life was like as a Jain in the time of Harsha. How did they worship? Where did they fit into society? What did others in ancient India make of them? Listen, and find out. Health warning: no accurate claims about Jain theology are contained within.

Jainism once dominated life and culture in South India: Jain kings ruled with Jain monk advisors, and at court they listened to epic tales written by Jains, and ruled over their people many of whom followed Jainism. By early modern times, all that had changed. Jains were no longer found in such big numbers, and their influence on culture had been forgotten by some. In this episode, we investigate what happened.

This week, the cities of North India empty. The traders lock down their stalls and move off with their baggage. The craftsmen's tools fall silent. And the king and his generals are left in the silent husk of the city. How did these exoduses happen? How did the townsfolk make a new life away from the city? And how did life change for the country folk? Listen, and find out.

All you ever needed to know about become an author in the court of Harsha, emperor of India. Find out a day in the life of an author. Try your hand at solving some of their puzzles. Meet the leading authors at court, each of whom are worth a book on their own.

We meet one of the great characters of the age: Mahendravarman, king of the Pallavas. We get to know his wicked humour, and listen to one of his sharp-tongued plays. In this episode: drunken priests, lusty monks, booze spilling from a white skull, cunning puns, and all this to cover up for taking a second wife. Confused? Listen, and laugh with ancient Indians.

This week, we see how the landscape of the Pallavas was shaped. We follow it from before history began, through the years as irrigation is built. Warning: some sound issues including, but not limited to, making fun of historians and saying the wrong country.

This is the tale of the land of the red river, North East India. Come on a journey along the banks, and hear the stories of this place: the tales of its legendary founder, a man named after hell itself; the rise and fall of the friend of Harsha; and the tale of the dynasty of outsiders who would, just for a moment, rule much of Northern India. 

A time-travellers tour through the heartlands of the Chaulikyan empire. See the new South Indian style of art being invented, stage by stage. Spot the hidden gems, the out of the way sites, the temples which slowly give up their secrets.

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A brief introduction to series 4, apology for all the errors, with an ancient Indian story to compensate.

The Gupta empire is crumbling. A time of great uncertainty and fear for some, and a time of excitement for others. This week, we meet two kings working for the Guptas. But, before long, they will both be independent kingdoms vying to become the next great empire.

This week, two kingdoms wage war up and down the banks of the Ganges. In the great city of Pataliputra, the kings are fighting desperately to avoid the fate of fallen empires. They will win victories, only to jump into the flames themselves. They will will employ ancient strategies. But, at the very moment when their rule seems secure, it will be taken from them forever.

The great city Pataliputra is at peace. But the good times cannot last. Soon, its start to squabble amongst themselves. A new power emerges to take advantage: the moon king will gain a tight grip on the city, and oppress its people. Or so the stories say. This week, we hear the stories, and judge the truth for ourselves.

This week the history of India podcast gets personal. We get to know the great writer, Bana. We hear about his tragic childhood. His wild, party driven youth. We hang out in his village, meet his friends. And then we see his ascent to the imperial court. 

The great Emperor Harsha's family: from its beginnings in black magic and legend, through the long hard years serving greater kings, to the emerging of the family once again into the eye of history. Along the way, we hear of Harsha's homeland, full of rivers and overflowing with rice.

The story of the great emperor Harsha continues. This week, the man himself finally enters the world. We hear about his birth, his childhood gang of friends. And we watch as, one by one, the children around him are forced into an early adulthood. We follow the story up too the very instant Harsha's own childhood ends.

The story of the great emperor Harsha continues with the bleakest of episodes. Harsha's family and friends will die around him. And modern historians have accused him of killing his brother. Was he guilty? You are invited to join the jury as we hear the case for the prosecution, and his defense. The judgment will, as ever, be yours.

The story of the great emperor Harsha continues as he finally sits on the throne. But there is much for the young king to learn. The ministers form factions and compete for his attention. The people of the countryside reject him. He must lead an army to battle, and make alliances with foreign princes.

We continue with the story of the great emperor Harsha. He is alone. His family have almost all passed away. Only one remains: his sister, last heard of locked away in an enemy jail. We follow Harsha as he goes in search of her. His quest will lead us up into the hills and forests, to meet forest princes and sages. Will Harsha save his sister from the wilds? Listen and find out.

We follow an ancient Indian king as he prepares for war. Should he fight openly and honourably? Should he use sneaky tricks? Or should he find a third way? We consider his decisions as he plans his campaign, charts his route through enemy territory, and sets up his camp. (1 of 2 of military during Harsha's time)

Harsha prepares for battle. We follow him through the battle day, from before he wakes up, through the inspection of his army, the preparation of his battle-line, into the battle itself. Hear the battle tactics used by ancient Indian kings. Discover how the Indian armies were able to crush the huns.  (2 of 2 of military during Harsha's time)

We continue the story of Harsha, last emperor of ancient India. The thirty years of bloodshed has begun, when Harsha will send his armies around India, forging his empire. We watch Harsha's army turn east, folowing it through the deserted kingdoms and emptied cities, until at last he is able to bring his most hated enemy to battle. Also in this episode: Bengal gets its start on the world stage.

This week, emperor Harsha tracks down a famous chinese monk. When the emperor and monk eventually meet, there is a great meeting of minds. Along the way, towers will burn down, the treasury will be emptied, and the emperor will tackle an assassin. At the end, will Harsha be the great Hindu emperor? Or will he become another Buddhist emperor? Listen and find out.

A young prince flees his capital city. The prince will go on to beat the great emperor Harsha, and establish his own empire. But his is not just the story of a dynasty. For in his story, the state of Karnataka emerges and establishes itself as the seat of emperors and a major power in South India.

When a great emperor suddenly falls, what happens to his empire? This week, we continue the story of Polekeshin II to his sudden disappearance. For 13 years, his empire is plunged into darkness. But an heir will emerge, and will rebuild the empire higher and firmer than it ever was before. Including bonus 20 seconds of self-help.

The great emperor Harsha's death and the destruction of his empire. Told through the eyes of the Chinese emissaries Harsha loved.

Series 4

Main episodes

Further reading for series 4

A selection of some of the most accessible and best secondary texts for anyone interested in taking it further. Please contact me using the forms below for more specific recommendations, or if I've left anything huge off.

The main episodes of Season 5 go through the story of Harsha with a lot of detail. He's just one person, and we only have so many sources on him. As a result, you can get to know most of what can be known by reading only a few books. (This is my excuse for having relatively few readings for the main episodes).

 

* = Accessible primary source (I've left out all the trickier primary sources).

*** = I read this with a huge smile on my face all the way through.

General political histories covering North India in the age of Harsha

Harsha is just one emperor, though we spend almost the whole season on him. For those interested in the broad sweep of the history covered in the main episodes, try these:

  • Majumdar, R. C., & Dasgupta, K. K. (1982). Comprehensive History of India, Vol. Ill, Part II, 976-977. (A classic account of the change of culture in India from the Guptas to the end of season 5. Expresses the sort of view many later histories are arguing against.)

  • Majumdar, R. C., Pusalker, A. D., Majumdar, A. K., Ghose, D. K., & Dighe, V. G. (1962). The history and culture of the Indian people: the classical age (Vol. 3). Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. (Good summary of the standard view that many historians are now reacting to. Jumps around a bit but concise and readable.)

  • Ojha, K. C. (1968). The history of foreign rule in ancient India. Gyan Prakashan.

  • Sinha, G. P. (1972). Post-Gupta Polity (500-750 AD).

  • Sinha, B. P. (Ed.). (1987). Comprehensive History of Bihar: 1974 (Vol. 2, No. 2). Kashi Prasad Jayaswal Research Institute.

  • Tripathi, R. S. (1989). History of Kanauj: To the Moslem Conquest (Vol. 11). Motilal Banarsidass Publisher

Bana's work is outstanding. I highly recommend it. It's unfair to compare Harsha's own work to it, but it's also well worth reading what's come from the imagination of such a central figure.

  • *Kāṇe, P. V. (Ed.). (1965). The Harshacarita of Bāṇabhaṭṭa. Motilal Banarsidass.

  • *Harsha & Bhasa (2009) How the Nagas Were Pleased by Harsha & The Shattered Thighs by Bhasa, translated by Andrew Skilton. NYU Press.

  • ***Agrawala, V. S. (1969). The deeds of Harsha: being a cultural study of Bāṇa's Harshacharita. Prithivi Prakashan. (Detailed. Helps you to actually see the detail in Bana, and for that it’s priceless.)

  • Keith, A. B. (1993). A history of Sanskrit literature. Motilal Banarsidass Publishe.

  • Dasgupta, S. (1966). A History of Sanskrit Literature: Classical Period (Vol. 1). University of Calcutta. (I recently found out this is the same Dasgupta who wrote the classic introduction to Indian philosophy.)

  • Macdonell, A. A. (1915). A history of Sanskrit literature (Vol. 3). D. Appleton.

  • Quackenbos, G. P. (Ed.). (1917). The Sanskrit poems of Mayūra (Vol. 9). Columbia University Press.

Bana, the poet of Harsha
Harsha and family

  • ***Devahuti, D. (1983). Harsha: a political study. Oxford University Press. (By far my favourite monograph on Harsha. Especially good on Harsha’s connections with China.)

  • ***Goyal, S. (2006). Harsha, a multidisciplinary political study. Kusumanjali Book World. (Somewhat similar to some other works by Goyal, but a great read with lots of insights.)

  • ***Agrawala, V. S. (1969). The deeds of Harsha: being a cultural study of Bāṇa's Harshacharita. Prithivi Prakashan. (So good it's listed twice.)

  • *Beal, S. (2014). Si-Yu-Ki: Buddhist Records of the Western World: Translated from the Chinese of Hiuen Tsiang (AD 629). (Beal’s translation has serious problems in a few places, but it’s readable and fascinating. It’s also free online. Highly recommended.)

  • *Beal, S. (1911). Life of Hiuen-Tsiang by the shamans Hwui Li and Yen Tsung. (The companion piece, with similar translation concerns, and similar joys.)

  • Mookerji, R. K. (2004). Harsha (Vol. 22). Genesis Publishing Pvt Ltd.

  • Panikkar, K. M. (1922). Sri Harsha of Kanauj. Bombay: DB Taraporevala Sons.

The Chalukyas of Badami

  • ***Michell, G., & Kumar, S. (2014). Badami, Aihole, Pattadakal. Jaico Publishing House. (Outstanding tour guide).

  • Singh, B.K. (1991) The Early Chalukyas of Vatapi. Eastern Book Linkers, Delhi.

  • Dikshit, D. P. (1980). Political history of the Chālukyas of Badami. Abhinav Publications.

  • Ramesh, K. V. (1984). Chalukyas of Vātāpi. Agam Kala Prakashan.

  •  Kamath, S. (1980). A concise history of Karnataka: from pre-historic times to the present. Bangalore: Archana Prakashana

  • Mugali, R. S. (2006). The Heritage of Karnataka. Hesperides Press.

  • Tarr, G. (1970). Chronology and Development of the Chāḷukya Cave Temples. Ars Orientalis, 155-184.

  • Settar, S. (1969). A Buddhist Vihāra at Aihoḷe. East and West, 19(1/2), 126-138

  • Yazdani, G. (1961). The early history of the Deccan (Vol. 1). London; New York: Published under the authority of the Government of Andhra Pradesh by the Oxford University Press, 1960 [ie 1961].

  • Bolon, C. R. (1979). The Mahākuṭa Pillar and Its Temples. Artibus Asiae, 253-268.

The Maukharis

A somewhat overlooked corner of Indian history, but one which will be tremendously important.

  • Thaplyal, K. K. (1985). Inscriptions of the Maukharis, Later Guptas, Puspabhutis, and Yasovarman of Kanauj. India Council of Historical Research.

  • Pires, E. A. (1982). The Maukharis (No. 10). Ramanand Vidya Bhawan. (Reprint of an old text. Lots of implausible claims, seriously out of date. If there were many better things out there, this wouldn’t have made the list.)

  • Virji, K. J. (1952). Ancient History of Saurashtra: Being a Study of the Maitrakas of Valabhi. V to VIII Centuries AD, Bombay, 27-29. (Better than Pires.)

  • Aravamuthan, T. G. (1925). The Kaveri, the Maukharis and the Sangam Age. University of Madras

The decline of Buddhism
  • Hazra, K. L. (1998). The rise and decline of Buddhism in India (p. 449). Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt., Ltd..

  • Joshi, L. M. (1977). Studies in the Buddhistic Culture of India During the Seventh and Eighth Centuries AD. Motilal Banarsidass Publ..

  • Shaw, J. (2018). Early Indian Buddhism, Water and Rice: Collective Responses to Socio-ecological Stress-Relevance for Global Environmental Discourse and Anthropocene Studies (in press). UCL Press.

  • Datta, B. (Ed.). (1957). Mystic Tales of Lāmā Tārānātha: A Religio-sociological History of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Ramakrishna Vedanta Math.

Jainism

There's an awful lot out there. The Dundas book is my favorite. I've fully enjoyed everything I've read from John Cort.

  • ***Dundas, P. (2003). The Jains. Routledge.

  • ***Cort, J. (2010). Framing the Jina: Narratives of Icons and Idols in Jain History. Oxford University Press.

  • Sharma, V. K. (2002). History of Jainism: With Special Reference to Mathurā (No. 23). DK Printworld.

  • Tiwary, B. K. (1996). History of Jainism in Bihar. Academic Press.

  • Roy, A. K. (1984). A history of the Jains. Gitanjali.

India and China in the age of Harsha
  • ***Sen, S. N. (1956). India through Chinese eyes. University of Madras. (Old but some good nuance behind the generalisations.)

  • ***Devahuti, D. (1983). Harsha: a political study. Oxford University Press. (By far my favourite monograph on Harsha. Especially good on Harsha’s connections with China.)

  • Mather, R. B. (1992). Chinese and Indian Perceptions of Each Other between the First and Seventh Centuries. Journal of the American Oriental Society, 1-8.

  • *Legge, J. (Ed.). (1886). A Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms: Being an account by the Chinese Monk Fa-Hien of his travels in India and Ceylon (AD 399-414) in search of the Buddhist Books of Discipline. Clarendon press.

  • *I-Tsing (1966) A Record of the Buddhist Religion as Practised in India and the Malay Archipelago, AD 671-695. Munshiram Manoharlal, 1966.

  • Goyal, S. (2006). Harsha, a multidisciplinary political study. Kusumanjali Book World. (Somewhat similar to some other works by Goyal, but a great read with lots of insights.)

  • Sen, T. (2006). The formation of Chinese maritime networks to Southern Asia, 1200-1450. Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 49(4), 421-453.

  • Bagchi, P. C. (1950). India and China. Bombay.

Even some professional historians say that the debate about feudalism is very academic. Which is a slightly nicer way of saying that they can't see why it matters.  Still, there are some things to recover here, and a lot of insight into everyday life along the way.

 

  • Sharma, R. S. (2009). Indian Feudalism, c. AD 300-1200. Macmillan.

  • Chattopadhyaya, B. (1994). The making of early medieval India. Oxford University Press.

  • Champakalakshmi, R. "Urbanisation in south India: the role of ideology and polity." Social Scientist (1987): 67-117.

  • Champakalakshmi, R. (1999). Trade, ideology and urbanization: South India 300 BC to AD 1300. OUP Catalogue.

  • Kulke, H. (Ed.). (1995). The state in India, 1000-1700 (p. 1). Delhi: Oxford University Press.

  • Sharma, R. S. (1987). Urban Decay in India, c. 300-c. 1000. Egully. com.

  • Sharma, R. S. (1985). How feudal was Indian feudalism?. The Journal of Peasant Studies, 12(2-3), 19-43.

  • Desai, D. (1974). Art under Feudalism in India (c. AD. 500-1300).

  • Deyell, J. S. (1999). Living without Silver: The Monetary History of Early Medieval North India. OUP Catalogue.

  • Chattopadhyaya, B. (1995). State and Economy in North India: Fourth Century to Twelfth Century. Recent Perspectives of Early Indian History, Bombay, 309-46.

The Feudalism debate

The lack of South Indian history in this season is shameful. One day, I'd like to start a whole podcast just on South Indian history. At the rate I'm picking up the languages needed, it might be a while off.

 

  • Sharma, R. S. (2009). Indian Feudalism, c. AD 300-1200. Macmillan.

  • Chattopadhyaya, B. (1994). The making of early medieval India. Oxford University Press.

  • Champakalakshmi, R. "Urbanisation in south India: the role of ideology and polity." Social Scientist (1987): 67-117.

  • Champakalakshmi, R. (1999). Trade, ideology and urbanization: South India 300 BC to AD 1300. OUP Catalogue.

  • Kulke, H. (Ed.). (1995). The state in India, 1000-1700 (p. 1). Delhi: Oxford University Press.

  • Sharma, R. S. (1987). Urban Decay in India, c. 300-c. 1000. Egully. com.

  • Sharma, R. S. (1985). How feudal was Indian feudalism?. The Journal of Peasant Studies, 12(2-3), 19-43.

  • Desai, D. (1974). Art under Feudalism in India (c. AD. 500-1300).

  • Deyell, J. S. (1999). Living without Silver: The Monetary History of Early Medieval North India. OUP Catalogue.

  • Chattopadhyaya, B. (1995). State and Economy in North India: Fourth Century to Twelfth Century. Recent Perspectives of Early Indian History, Bombay, 309-46.

South India

***Basak, R. (2013). The history of North-Eastern India extending from the foundation of the Gupta empire to the rise of the Pala dynasty of Bengal,(c AD 320-760).

 Lahiri, N. (1991). Pre-Ahom Assam: Studies in the Inscriptions of Assam between the Fifth and the Thirteenth Centuries AD. Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers.

 Baruah, S. L. (2012). A comprehensive history of Assam.

Lahiri, N. (1984). The Pre-Ahom Roots of Medieval Assam. Social Scientist, 60-69.

Vasu, N. (1983). The social history of Kamarupa (Vol. 1). Northern Book Centre.

Gait, E. A. (1906). A history of Assam. Thacker, Spink & Company. (Example of colonial history. Don’t take too seriously as a source of history.)

Barua, B. K., & Kakati, B. (1951). A cultural history of Assam, early period (Vol. 1). KK Barooah. (Out of date, but some gems here.)

Choudhary, P. C. (1959). A History of the Civilization of the People of Assam.

Barua, K. L. (1933). Early History of Kāmarupa: from the earliest times to the end of the sixteenth century. KL Barua.

Kamarupa (Assam)