Episode 5a – The Word of God, Deed of Man – (Part 3) – Historical India Podcast

We look at the other great epic of India;  the Mahabharata. A big, rich and complex  work. The Mahabharata covers a range of subjects from politics, war, society, philosophy, justice, the status of women and everything in between.  But unlike the Ramayana, where the protagonist is divine, the focus here is on very human characters with all their shortcomings.

Earlier dismissed as pure fantasy, recent excavations seem to indicate the remnants of a culture with connections to textual evidence, but it’s not all done and dusted.

This is the first of a two part episode.

C Rajagopalachari – The Mahabharata
Kisari Ganguli


Episode 5a – The Word of God, Deed of Man – (Part 3)
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4 thoughts on “Episode 5a – The Word of God, Deed of Man – (Part 3)

  • April 28, 2016 at 6:00 pm

    According to John Keay’s book “India: A history”, characters in Mahabharatha precede the ones in Ramayana. Ancient Indians initially settled around the Doab and during the Mahabharatha times (first millennium BC), Ayodhya, which lies almost 500 km away from Hastinapura was virtually unknown. Whereas, in Ramayana explores more east and south.

    Awesome podcast btw.

    • April 29, 2016 at 8:27 am

      Thanks! Glad you like it.

      Yes, that’s true but remember Anga and Magadha are in the Mahabharatha too. That the Mahabharatha comes before is based on the notion that there’s an easterly movement of people over time, and that the position of women in society deteriorates as we move along. Upinder Singh points to the control that Draupadi, Gandhari, Kunti and even Satyavati had over their lives compared to Sita. But then the practice of Niyoga (there in the Mahabharatha but not in Ramayana) seems like a step forward and out of sync with the assumption.

      But if you look at it from a political viewpoint; the Ramayana is defence of monarchy and hereditary rule and the Mahabharatha shows you how that can go wrong which seems to indicate a shift from earlier monarchy to later republic forms of government. The Mahabharatha can be linked to the historical later vedic period and so that’s why I put it after the Ramayana sticking with the traditional Treta Yug Dvapar Yug classification.

      AL Basham thought both epics were over blown regional stories from the 10-9th centuries BC and Irfan Habid says there’s been so many revisions and additions and so many fantastical elements that figuring out history from them is impossible. But I think they are good background for later Indian history.

      Thanks again, Saba

  • February 8, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    Amazing content and very clear delivery. The only problem I have is I miss lots of details due to pace and replay sections. If I go at half pace it is just a bit slow. But excellent work anyways.

    • February 8, 2017 at 5:22 pm

      Yes, I’ve heard that before. 🙂 I’m trying to find a middle ground! Thanks again


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