© 2015 by Kit Patrick

Season 5

Main episodes

A brief introduction to series 5: a preview as we plunge into the medieval age. We'll have a quick chat about Islam and whether there even was a medieval age. All wrapped up with one of my favorite stories.

Emperor Harsha is dead. With him, the last great Indian empire of the first millenium collapses into chaos. Or so the story goes. Down in the ruins of Pataliputra, things seem a bit different. The old families ruled before Harsha's empire was formed, and they rule still. And one of the old families starts to build a new empire in the lands around Pataliputra.

The story of Nepal, from the formation of the Himalayan lands, through it's earliest inscriptions, to the king who refused to be king. This episode, we get up to date with what is going on in the kingdom to the North of Pataliputra. Along the way: a mountain split by a sword, the first record of attempted sati, Nepal's oldest temple, and much more.

This week, two kingdoms tie themselves together with marriage. They expand their lands, regain their independence. They do everything to imitate the glorious rise of empires past. And then... they fade to nothing.

This week, the last of the Mauryan emperors. He will restore his family's glory, conquering the entire world. Well, more or less. Listen and meet a forgotten legend. WARNING: some gore, blood, descriptions of death.

We travel to the top of India, the mountain valley of Kashmir. This is the story of the three brother-kings of Kashmir. The kind brother, the cruel brother, and the conqueror. Hear the story of their parents, how their kingdom was first won, and what they did to make it their own.

Lalitaditya had grand plans. He would make Kashmir into an empire, spanning all of India and outside of it too. His armies would walk the deserts of the silk road, sail the seas of the bay of Bengal, and walk the Western Ghats. And they would bring back enough gold to build a house fit for God. Did he succeed in all his plans? Listen, and find out.

Bengal's kings are dying daily. The land is in chaos. It's been this way for years. But, according to the legend, a man from the north will come and build a stable kingdom. This time, the legend is true. This episode, we witness an empire emerge from chaos. The Pala emperors are here.

Season 5

Main episodes

A brief introduction to series 5: a preview as we plunge into the medieval age. We'll have a quick chat about Islam and whether there even was a medieval age. All wrapped up with one of my favorite stories.

Emperor Harsha is dead. With him, the last great Indian empire of the first millenium collapses into chaos. Or so the story goes. Down in the ruins of Pataliputra, things seem a bit different. The old families ruled before Harsha's empire was formed, and they rule still. And one of the old families starts to build a new empire in the lands around Pataliputra.

The story of Nepal, from the formation of the Himalayan lands, through it's earliest inscriptions, to the king who refused to be king. This episode, we get up to date with what is going on in the kingdom to the North of Pataliputra. Along the way: a mountain split by a sword, the first record of attempted sati, Nepal's oldest temple, and much more.

This week, two kingdoms tie themselves together with marriage. They expand their lands, regain their independence. They do everything to imitate the glorious rise of empires past. And then... they fade to nothing.

This week, the last of the Mauryan emperors. He will restore his family's glory, conquering the entire world. Well, more or less. Listen and meet a forgotten legend. WARNING: some gore, blood, descriptions of death.

We travel to the top of India, the mountain valley of Kashmir. This is the story of the three brother-kings of Kashmir. The kind brother, the cruel brother, and the conqueror. Hear the story of their parents, how their kingdom was first won, and what they did to make it their own.

Lalitaditya had grand plans. He would make Kashmir into an empire, spanning all of India and outside of it too. His armies would walk the deserts of the silk road, sail the seas of the bay of Bengal, and walk the Western Ghats. And they would bring back enough gold to build a house fit for God. Did he succeed in all his plans? Listen, and find out.

Bengal's kings are dying daily. The land is in chaos. It's been this way for years. But, according to the legend, a man from the north will come and build a stable kingdom. This time, the legend is true. This episode, we witness an empire emerge from chaos. The Pala emperors are here.

This week, the Rajputs arrive on the scene with the earliest of Rajput clans, the Pratiharas. But where did they come from? Did they see themselves as Rajputs? What did they do after they had emerged? The answers might not match with the familiar story.

This week, a tale of bridge engineering, bloodthirsty generals, widowed queens, the first mosque in South Asia, and lots and lots of gold. We tell the story of how the Ummayid caliphate came to invade Sind.

The Umayyad armies go beyond al-Sind, trying to establish a new province in al-Hind proper. But their successes won't last. They will be driven back, twice. And shortly after, the entire Umayyad empire will collapse in on itself. This week, we piece together the story. In this episode: powerful poets send soldiers home, universities are crushed because of golden statues, a murder of governors, a king's boat takes a wrong turn, and much more.

Further reading for series 5

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.

 

​* = 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

If you want an overview of this period in particular, the books below can help. They all leave out most of my favourite moments, but they do give a good picture from above. Also check out the general history of India books recommended with the first series.

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

  • *Thaplyal, K. K. (1985). Inscriptions of the Maukharis, Later Guptas, Puspabhutis, and Yasovarman of Kanauj.  India Council of Historical Research. (Useful collection for the early third of the main episodes.)

  • 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.)

  • Majumdar, R. C. (1951). The History and Culture of the Indian People: The Age of Imperial Kanauj (Vol. 4). G. Allen & Unwin. (You'll need to switch between this and the earlier volume to make sense of our period.)

  • Regmi, D. R. (1969). Ancient Nepal. Firma KL Mukhopadhyay. (Perhaps the foremost Nepali historian.)

  • *Gnoli, R. (1956). Nepalese inscriptions in Gupta characters (Vol. 2). Is. MEO.

  • *Regmi, D. R. (1983). Inscriptions of ancient Nepal (Vol. 1). Abhinav Publications.

  • Petech, L. (1961). The chronology of the early inscriptions of Nepal. East and West, 12(4), 227-232.

  • Whelpton, J. (2005). A history of Nepal. Cambridge University Press. (Not much on early Nepal, but there’s not much about that in most surveys of Nepalese history.)

  • Regmi, M. C. (1976). Landownership in Nepal. Univ of California Press.

  • Regmi, D. R. (1952). Ancient and medieval Nepal. Prem Printing Press.

  • *Indraji, B. (1880). Twenty-Three Inscriptions from Nepal with some Considerations on the Chronology of Nepal. Translated from Gujurati by G. Buhler, Indian Antiquary, 9.

  • Śākya, M. (1997). The life and contribution of the Nepalese Princess Bhrikuti Devi to Tibetan history: from Tibetan sources/Min Bahadur Shakya. Book Faith India. (Very speculative, but interesting to see what we can guess about a person who might not even exist.)

Nepal in early medieval times
Yashovarman

There is stunningly little written about this chap. Fortunately, the monograph on him and the historical source are both well worth your time.

  • ***Mishra, S. M. (1977). Yasovarman of Kanau. Abhinav Publications.

  • *Vakpatiraja (1975) Gaudavaho. Edited by N.G.Suru. Prakrit Text Society, Ahmedabad. (This translation seems okay to me, but then I don’t read Prakrit.)

  • Smith, V. A. (1908). XIX. The History of the City of Kanauj and of King Yasovarman. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 40(3), 765-793. (This is only here because there's so little written on Yashovarman that you might run out of better things to read.)

  • *Kalhana, (1898). Kings of Kashmira. Translated by JC Dutt. (Vol 2.) (Probably better than the Stein translation. Most of the stuff we will draw on in the podcast is found in the second volume, but there’s lots of fun stuff in the first volume too.)

  • Bamzai, P. N. K. (1994). Culture and political history of Kashmir (Vol. 1). MD Publications Pvt. Ltd.. (Useful.)

  • Pandit. (1990). History of Kashmiri Saivism. Uptal Publications. 

  • Dhar, S. (1956). Kalhana Poet-historian of Kashmir. Indian Institute of Culture.

  • Hu, X., Garzanti, E., Wang, J., Huang, W., An, W., & Webb, A. (2016). The timing of India-Asia collision onset–Facts, theories, controversies. Earth-Science Reviews, 160, 264-299. (Summary of the state of the geological controversy. I just had to squeeze some Geology somewhere on this website, so I’m hiding it here.)

Lalitaditya and early medieval Kashmir
The origin of the Palas
  • ***Bagchi, J. (1993). The history and culture of the Pālas of Bengal and Bihar, Cir. 750 AD-cir. 1200 AD. Abhinav publications.

  • Majumdar, R. C. (Ed.). (1948). The History of Bengal.. (Vol. 2). University of Dacca.

  • Thakur, V. K. (1987). Trade and Towns in Early Medieval Bengal (c. AD 600-1200). Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient/Journal de l'histoire economique et sociale de l'Orient, 196-220.

  • Thakur, V. K. (1978). Beginnings of Feudalism in Bengal. Social Scientist, 68-82.

  • Banerji, R. D. (1915). The Pālas of Bengal. Asiatic Society.

  • Banerji, R. D. (2003). The origin of the Bengali script. Asian Education (For the dedicated)

There's a lot written on this. Other than the colonial histories, the below should give a fairly representative sample of what's out there. Not all the Sharmas writing on this topic are the same person, but most of them are Dr Shanta Rani Sharma from Delhi. Her book also contains a good number of references if you want to chase further. A number of blogs are available on the topic, e.g. https://gurjaradesa.wordpress.com/ which has some interesting material.

  • ***Wink, A. (2002). Al-Hind, the Making of the Indo-Islamic World: Early Medieval India and the Expansion of Islam 7th-11th Centuries (Vol. 1). Brill.

  • ***Sharma, Shanta Rani (2017) Origins and rise of the imperial Pratiharas of Rajasthan: Transitions, Trajectories and Historical Change.  Department of History and Indian culture, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur. (Detailed and up to date. The first chapter summarises all the important work, and gives full references. The standards of evidence seemed to me uneven.)

  • Puri, B. N. (1954). The history of the Gurjara-Pratihāras (Doctoral dissertation, University of Oxford). (You can get this online for free. It's a reasonable representation of nationalist historians approach to the problem.)

  • Mishra, V. B. (1954). Who were the Gurjara-Pratiharas? Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, 35(1/4), 42-53. (A shorter, article version of a nationalist approach to the problem.)

  • Sharma, S. R. (2012). Exploding the Myth of the Gūjara Identity of the Imperial Pratihāras. Indian Historical Review, 39(1), 1-10. (Famous article. Worth reading)

  • Chattopadhyaya, B. (1994). The making of early medieval India. Oxford University Press. (Discusses possible economic causes of the emergence of the Pratiharas and other early Rajput groups.)

The origin of the Pratiharas