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  • Writer's pictureAnirudh Kanisetti

15. Vishnu on Earth

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In the the spectacular Gupta astro-religio-political node of Udayagiri, in the 5th century CE, a new idea of Indian kingship was born. Here, through a series of brilliant innovations, the God of Time was experienced and identified with one remarkable individual: the Gupta emperor Chandra-Gupta II.

Chandra-Gupta II was one of the great masters of political propaganda. Here in the caves of Udayagiri,  he would become among the earliest Indian kings to claim direct association with the gods, and the right to seize and redistribute land. This would inaugurate a politico-economic system that dominated South Asia for centuries after. This is his story.

Voice Credits & Notes Below.

Voice Credits (in order of appearance):

Bhagavad-Gita, Yuga-Purana, Raghu-Vamsa - Abbas

Narrator - Anirudh

Varaha Story - Zoya



  1. As mentioned, most of the content of this episode was based on Michael Willis's extraordinarily important 2009 book, The Archaeology of Hindu Ritual. Cambridge University Press. I have done little more than summarise his bold scholarship and narrate it in a way which will, I hope, make it more accessible to South Asian audiences.

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

  3. On Chandra-Gupta and Rama-Gupta in Vidisa, see Bakker, Hans, Martin Brandtner, and Shishir Kumar Panda. "A Theatre of Broken Dreams: Vidiśā in the Days of Gupta Hegemony." Interrogating History: Essays for Hermann Kulke (2006): 165-87.

  4. On Varaha, see Gonda, Jan. Aspects of Early Viṣṇuism. Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 1969.



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