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A History of India

Season 1
Over 5,000 years, India has been home to a rich tapestry of cultures, and the lands east of the Indus River have long been a hub for trade and cultural exchange. Today the subcontinent contains 20% of the world’s population and is an economic powerhouse. Go inside this thrilling story with A History of India, a breathtaking survey of South Asia from its earliest societies through the 21st century.
201636 episodes
TV-PG
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Episodes

  1. S1 E1 - Earliest History of the Indian Subcontinent
    April 28, 2016
    33min
    TV-PG
    Begin your study millions of years ago, when plate tectonics shaped the subcontinent's mountains, plateaus, and river systems, which in turn have affected the region's weather, agriculture, and cultural diversity. Review South Asia's four macro-regions and see how geography has guided the course of life.#History
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  2. S1 E2 - Migration and the Adivasi
    October 31, 2016
    34min
    TV-PG
    Three main cultures inhabited the ancient Indian subcontinent. In this lecture, you’ll study the first group, the Adivasi, aboriginal forest dwellers who once comprised the entirety of South Asia’s population. See how genetic and linguistic analysis informs us about the Adivasi of 30,000 years ago-and learn about their status in India today.
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  3. S1 E3 - Indus Valley Civilization
    October 31, 2016
    31min
    TV-PG
    Turn to the second group of ancient Indian communities: the urban people of the Indus Valley. Many mysteries abound regarding this long-lost Bronze Age civilization, but Professor Fisher takes you through excavated cities, examines art and artifacts, and reveals what we know about this intriguing society-and what may have happened to them.
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  4. S1 E4 - Indo-European Vedic Culture
    October 31, 2016
    31min
    TV-PG
    Explore the ancient foundations of Hinduism, which emerged from a diverse community of people who identified themselves with the Vedas. By studying these sacred poems and hymns, you’ll discover much about this civilization’s culture and cosmology. You’ll also trace the origins and development of the Indo-European language in this fascinating lecture.
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  5. S1 E5 - Caste: Varna and Jati
    October 31, 2016
    30min
    TV-PG
    The Vedic caste system is one of the most well-known aspects of Hindu society-and also one of the most misunderstood. Find out about the ancient Vedic social order (or Varnas), how it structured society, and how numerous inherited social groups (or Jatis) relate to occupation, creating a diverse and complex society.
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  6. S1 E6 - Epic Literature: Ramayana
    October 31, 2016
    31min
    TV-PG
    Delve into the first Indian epic: the Ramayana, which is a poem, a love story, a morality tale, and much more. Discover the story of Prince Rama, his faithful wife, Sita, and the gods that control their lives. It is also an important source for many of the historical details we have about the era.
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  7. S1 E7 - Epic History: Mahabharata
    October 31, 2016
    30min
    TV-PG
    Shift your attention to India’s other major epic, the Mahabharata, which is the longest major text in human history (clocking in at a whopping 1.8 million words). After examining the sources and style of this epic, Professor Fisher surveys its plot and shows what it means from the “emic” perspective of Indians as well as the “etic” perspective of outsiders.
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  8. S1 E8 - Dharma in the Bhagavad Gita
    October 31, 2016
    28min
    TV-PG
    The Bhagavad Gita is arguably one of the most famous texts in world history. Explore the origins and context for the story, delve into the complexities of philosophy and religion that the narrative contains, and understand why it has resonated throughout Indian history and around the world. See how its wisdom is still the basis for Hinduism today.
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  9. S1 E9 - The Origins and Rise of Jainism
    October 31, 2016
    30min
    TV-PG
    In 500 B.C.E., the old Vedic social order was changing as the merchant classes began to achieve upward mobility. Along with these radical cultural and economic changes, alternative religious models emerged to compete with the Vedic cosmology. Here, you’ll survey Jainism’s origins and philosophy, which require a life of total nonviolence.
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  10. S1 E10 - The Origins and Rise of Buddhism
    October 31, 2016
    29min
    TV-PG
    Along with the rise of Jainism, 500 B.C.E. also saw the adoption of Buddhism as an alternative to the Vedic tradition. Delve into the life of Siddhartha Gautama and the tenets of his philosophy, including the Four Noble Truths and the Eight-Fold Path to enlightenment. Then find out how these ideas developed and spread across Asia.
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  11. S1 E11 - The Mauryan Empire
    October 31, 2016
    31min
    TV-PG
    Because South Asia is such a large and diverse region, it has seldom been unified under one ruler. But around the time Jainism and Buddhism began challenging the old social order, Chandragupta was able to consolidate and form the subcontinent’s first major empire. Uncover the trajectory of his life and the conditions that allowed him to build the Mauryan Empire.
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  12. S1 E12 - Ashoka's Imperial Buddhism
    October 31, 2016
    30min
    TV-PG
    Continue your study of the Mauryan Empire with Chandragupta’s grandson, Emperor Ashoka, who even today is likely the most famous individual from ancient India. After consolidating his territory in a vicious war, Ashoka became a Buddhist and a model benevolent ruler.
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  13. S1 E13 - Deccani and Southern States
    October 31, 2016
    31min
    TV-PG
    Brahmin culture was never as strong in southern India as it was in the north, which meant a diverse range of societies were able to flourish on the Deccan plateau. After explaining some of the region’s historical trends, Professor Fisher highlights the distinctive features and interactions of a few prominent southern kingdoms.
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  14. S1 E14 - Northwest and North India
    October 31, 2016
    31min
    TV-PG
    In the wake of the Mauryan Empire’s collapse, many regional dynasties emerged across the north and northwest. Unpack the fascinating history of these two macro-regions. Learn about several of the major ethnic groups and the Silk Road trade routes, and then round out the lecture with a study of the famous Gupta dynasty.
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  15. S1 E15 - Brahmanic Synthesis
    October 31, 2016
    30min
    TV-PG
    While the regional governments remained fragmented at the turn of the Common Era, the Brahmins worked to rebuild their cultural prominence. They formally developed what is today Hinduism, thanks to a series of written manuals, or shastras, which lay out the principles of an ideal life-including notions of dharma, kama, artha, and moksha.
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  16. S1 E16 - Indian Parsis, Jews, and Christians
    October 31, 2016
    30min
    TV-PG
    South Asia has always been a distinctly diverse region, incorporating numerous communities of outsiders who came to the subcontinent via the coasts or across the mountains. Explore the worlds of Parsis, Jews, and Christians in India, and see how they interacted with Hindu society.
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  17. S1 E17 - Islam Comes to India
    October 31, 2016
    30min
    TV-PG
    Islam has had a profound impact on South Asia, and today the region has the largest Muslim population in the world. After surveying the history and pillars of Islam and its origins in the Middle East, Professor Fisher examines how many people of South Asia became Muslim via trade, invasion, devotion, or personal motivation.
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  18. S1 E18 - Indian Sultans
    October 31, 2016
    31min
    TV-PG
    The binary opposition between Hindus and Muslims oversimplifies what has always been a complex relationship. Here, you’ll study that relationship as you meet some of the most prominent Muslim rulers, or Sultans, from the 9th to the 16th centuries. Explore their kingdoms throughout India and their legacies.
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  19. S1 E19 - The Early Mughal Empire
    October 31, 2016
    33min
    TV-PG
    In this first of several lectures on the great Mughal Empire, you’ll meet a Central Asian adventurer named Babur, who rode into South Asia from Kabul and conquered the Delhi sultanate. Then witness the checkered career of his son, who almost lost the empire before it could really get started.
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  20. S1 E20 - The Reign of Emperor Akbar
    October 31, 2016
    35min
    TV-PG
    Continue your study of the Mughal Empire by tracing the rule of Emperor Akbar. During his dramatic five-decade reign, he truly established the empire for the long term thanks to several key initiatives: drawing regional rulers into his army, encouraging interreligious marriage, transforming the administrative system, and creating an imperial ideology based on various mystical ideas and practices.
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  21. S1 E21 - Later Mughal Emperors
    October 31, 2016
    33min
    TV-PG
    Succession is a key challenge for any empire. As Emperor Akbar aged, follow the rise of his son, Jahangir, who, once emperor, ruled with aplomb and introduced many new innovations to the subcontinent. His own son, Shah Jahan, then constructed the Peacock Throne, the Taj Mahal, and other glorious architectural triumphs.
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  22. S1 E22 - The Mughals and the Marathas
    October 31, 2016
    32min
    TV-PG
    The 17th century saw the slow decline of the Mughal Empire during the reign of Emperor Alamgir (also called Aurangzeb). As he aged, he drew the empire into war with the Deccan-based Marathas, who were led by the skillful warrior Shivaji. Watch as the Marathas humiliate the Mughals and establish their own powerful regional identity.
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  23. S1 E23 - Competing European Empires
    October 31, 2016
    29min
    TV-PG
    Now turn from the subcontinent inlands to the sea, where European traders began arriving on the Indian coast to establish global companies, including several East India companies. After surveying Portugal’s 200-year dominance of trade, Professor Fisher shows how the English eventually established their own foothold in the market.
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  24. S1 E24 - The British East India Company
    October 31, 2016
    32min
    TV-PG
    Witness the rise of the British East India Company and find out how it coincided with the rise of British imperialism. Company leaders often sought glory and expansion, which led to greater British influence and control of South Asia via joint-stock corporations. Take an inside look at these radical developments in the 18th and 19th centuries.
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  25. S1 E25 - The Issues and Events of 1857
    October 31, 2016
    29min
    TV-PG
    Tension between the British and the South Asians came to a boil in 1857, when a group of Indian soldiers rose up against the British army-to disastrous consequences. Consider the context and historical impact of this pivotal year, which forever changed the nature of British rule in India.
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Details

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Audio languages
English
Subtitles
English [CC]
Producers
The Great Courses
Starring
Michael Fisher
Studio
The Great Courses
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