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  • Writer's pictureAnirudh Kanisetti

21. End of an Era

This is the story of the Hun who tried to be an Indian emperor, and a story of the human costs of war: a story of grief, destruction, and of creation and inspiration against all odds. 

The Huna king Toramana declared himself Rajadhiraja, a clear appropriation of the Gupta imperial title, in 497-498, and immediately launched an invasion of the empire's Western territories. The trauma that the invasion inflicted precipitated deep changes in Indian art and society - here's the story, as told from the perspective of Bharata's Natyasastra.

Notes and Sources below.

Voice Credits (in order of appearance):

Narrator - Anirudh

Other voices - Abbas



  1. I used Manomohan Ghosh's two-volume commentary and translation of the Natyashastra, published by the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1951. It's available for free on

  2. A somewhat Orientalist but nevertheless useful resource (which I used for some descriptions of the theatre scene) is Auboyer, Jeannine. Daily Life in Ancient India: from 200 BC to 700 AD. Sterling Publishing Company, Inc., 2002.

  3. The chronology and sweep of Toramana's campaigns come from Bakker, Hans. "Monuments of Hope, Gloom, and Glory: In the Age of the Hunnic Wars: 50 Years that Changed India (484-534)." Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2017.

  4. On Toramana "Prakasaditya", see Tandon, Pankaj. “The Succession after Kumāragupta I.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 2014.

  5. Kalidasa quotes are from AND Haksar's 2016 Penguin translation of the Raghuvamsam.



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