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Season Premiere: King of Kings


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The Season 2 premiere of Echoes of India begins with the rise of the Himalaya mountains and ends with the victorious campaigns of the mighty North Indian ruler Samudra-Gupta, as Sanskrit courtly culture flourishes and war breaks out across the subcontinent.


By the 3rd century CE, the Kushan Empire, once one of the world's great economic powerhouses, was on the way out. As it was driven out by aggressive new North Indian states, there emerged a young king who would rewrite the trajectory of South Asia: Samudra-Gupta. This is his story.


Voice Credits & Notes Below.


Voice Credits (in order of appearance):

Narrator - Anirudh Kanisetti

Reader for Kalidasa's verses - Jaanam Dewan

Reader for Samudragupta's inscriptions - Abbas Momin

Notes:


  1. Inscriptions are from BHANDARKAR, D R. Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum Vol 3 (Revised): Inscriptions Of The Early Gupta Kings. New Delhi: Archaeological Survey of India, 1981.

  2. Kalidasa's verses are from Kalidasa and AND Haksar (trans.) Raghuvamsam: The Line of Raghu. New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2016.

  3. On the ancient Indian military, by far the most critical source I have found is Chakravarti, PC. The Art of War in Ancient India. Calcutta: University of Dacca, 1941.

  4. On military administration, see Book Two of Kautilya's Arthashastra. Both Patrick Olivelle's 2011 translation and RP Kangle's 1972 translation are excellent.

  5. The idea that Samudra-Gupta's invasion had something to do with the rise of the Kadambas was proposed by George Moraes in his 1931 The Kadamba Kula. This idea is controversial, but as I will show later in the season, not to be completely dismissed.

  6. On military competition and cultural efflorescence, see Teng, Jimmy. “Gupta Efflorescence.” In Musket, Map and Money: How Military Technology Shaped Geopolitics and Economics, 79–94. Walter de Gruyter, 2014.

  7. On the Asvamedha and its possible meanings, see Bhattacharya, Narendra Nath. Ancient Indian Rituals And Their Social Contents. Manohar Book Service, 1975.

  8. I cannot recommend Pranay Lal's fascinating Indica: A Deep Natural History of the Indian Subcontinent enough.

  9. General reference for the Guptas, to be read with a pinch of salt: Mookerji, Radhakumud. The Gupta Empire. Hind Kitabs Ltd., 1947


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©2020 by Anirudh Kanisetti. Cover images by Apoorva Lakshmi.