A History of India

A History of India
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36 episodes in this series

Episode 1 Earliest History of the Indian Subcontinent
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.…
Episode 2 Migration and the Adivasi
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.…
Episode 3 Indus Valley Civilization
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…
Episode 4 Indo-European Vedic Culture
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…
Episode 5 Caste: Varna and Jati
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),…
Episode 6 Epic Literature: Ramayana
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,…
Episode 7 Epic History: Mahabharata
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…
Episode 8 Dharma in the Bhagavad Gita
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…
Episode 9 The Origins and Rise of Jainism
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…
Episode 10 The Origins and Rise of Buddhism
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…
Episode 11 The Mauryan Empire
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…
Episode 12 Ashoka’s Imperial Buddhism
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…
Episode 13 Deccani and Southern States
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.…
Episode 14 Northwest and North India
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…
Episode 15 Brahmanic Synthesis
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…
Episode 16 Indian Parsis, Jews, and Christians
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…
Episode 17 Islam Comes to India
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…
Episode 18 Indian Sultans
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,…
Episode 19 The Early Mughal Empire
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…
Episode 20 The Reign of Emperor Akbar
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…
Episode 21 Later Mughal Emperors
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…
Episode 22 The Mughals and the Marathas
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…
Episode 23 Competing European Empires
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…
Episode 24 The British East India Company
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…
Episode 25 The Issues and Events of 1857
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…
Episode 26 The British Raj and Early Nationalism
Continue your study of Indian and British relations with a detailed look at the British Raj, a 90-year period of colonialism that stretched from the 1857 uprising to the region's…
Episode 27 India and Indians in the World
Whether as students, soldiers, or servants, South Asians who left the subcontinent contributed significantly to the cultural exchange among China, continental Europe, and Great Britain. And whereas the British Raj…
Episode 28 Mahatma Gandhi
Learn about the life of Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi, who is perhaps the 20th century's most well-regarded political activist. You'll trace his life from his young manhood in India to his…
Episode 29 Nationalists Ambedkar, Bose, and Jinnah
While Gandhi advocated one path for reform, many of his contemporaries offered other ways to promote the rights of lower classes and Muslims. Meet Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, Subhas Chandra Bose,…
Episode 30 The Partition of 1947
After World War II, a tense series of events led the subcontinent's brutal partition into India and Pakistan--majority Hindu and Muslim nations, respectively. Find out how the British, battered by…
Episode 31 West and East Pakistan
Between 1947 and 1971, Pakistan was a divided state: separated into East and West, and strained along ethnic lines. The early years of the nation saw numerous coups and uprisings,…
Episode 32 The New Pakistan
Review the story of Pakistan from 1971 to the present. As you survey one shift of power after another, you will meet leaders such as General Zia, Benazir Bhutto, General…
Episode 33 Independent Bangladesh
Bangladesh--formerly East Pakistan and the Bengal region of India--was partitioned three times in the 20th century: first by the British in 1905, and then during independence in 1947, and finally…
Episode 34 India under Nehru
Unlike Pakistan and Bangladesh, India became a secular state after its 1947 independence, and it is now the world's largest democracy. This examination of the nation's early years examines Prime…
Episode 35 Modernizing India
Follow the careers of Indira Gandhi and her children, who led India through many changes in the late 20th century, including the State of Emergency, the rise of ethnic political…
Episode 36 South Asia into the 21st Century
Today, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh make up 20 percent of the world's population, and the subcontinent is a rising global economic powerhouse. Professor Fisher concludes this course by recapping some…

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Introduction to India
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Delve into core aspects of Indian culture that provide a rich background for the story of British rule. Grasp the key precepts of Hinduism, and the notions of dharma, karma, and samsara. Study the caste system, the features of Indian families and marriages, and explore how society and religion shape…
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Here, explore further how the Indian subcontinent drifted toward colonialism. Observe how the "regionalization" of the Mughal Empire compromised the emperors' ability to govern. Take account of India's prominence within the broader global economy, and chart the rise of powerful banking families who played a critical role in the emergence…
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Witness how the English East India Company, a trading organization, expanded its early footing in Bengal. Study the Company's extraordinary transformation, through military conquests, from a merchant venture into a political entity. Finally, follow the Company's expansion into other regions, employing the Mughal revenue system to tax India's agrarian countryside.
Knowing the Country: British Orientalism
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Learn how British scholars and administrators pursued knowledge of Indian culture, and how the early British colonials adapted to living within Indian society. Grasp the ways in which British romanticizing of India and misunderstanding of traditional customs had major consequences for colonial policy and the well-being of the Indian populace.
Race, Gender, and Culture (1750 - 1850)
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The opening up of India gave rise to a discourse on race that became central to the colonial relationship. Study British racial paradigms in Company-ruled India, which emphasized differences between Indians and the British to "justify" colonial rule. Also explore the British notion of masculinity and how it bolstered their…
The Age of Reform (1830 - 1850)
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Contemporary currents of thought in England affected the ways in which India was governed. Learn how utilitarianism and Christian evangelicalism undergirded attempts by the British to educate and "reform" India. Track the major changes in the economic relationship between Britain and India that contributed to the Great Uprising of 1857.
The Great Uprising (1857 - 1858)
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Study the accumulation of religious, economic, and political grievances against the East India Company that set the stage for the Great Uprising of 1857. Then witness the outbreak and bloody unfolding of the Uprising itself. Observe how the "mutiny" changed British attitudes toward India, and the way Britain governed it…
Economics and Society under the Raj
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Examine the nature of the colonial economy, and trace economic decisions by the British that constrained the livelihoods of artisans and peasants. Assess the Raj's fiscal policy, which privileged British interests over public works. Observe how these policies affected the lives of millions who toiled to produce the wealth of…
Caste and Tribal Identity under Colonialism
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As a social institution, caste changed markedly under British colonial rule. First, examine how the British encountered caste and tried to understand it. Then see how caste became significantly linked with the colonial tax revenue system. Take account of the ways in which caste distinctions became more prominent, codified, and…
The Nationalization of Hinduism (1870 - 1900)
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Discover how the broader traditions of Hinduism were affected by the colonial experience. Examine the theological assault on Hinduism by European Christian missionaries, and the responses of high-caste Hindus. Look at important Hindu reform movements, which sought to modernize Hinduism, and grasp how key currents of reformist thinking linked Hinduism…