A History of India

Watch A History of India

  • 2016
  • 1 Season

A History of India is one of the most fascinating learning experiences available, especially for those individuals who are fascinated by the rich history of ancient civilizations. Presented by the knowledgeable and engaging Michael Fisher, this course is part of The Great Courses Signature Collection, and provides a comprehensive overview of Indian history from ancient times up to the present day.

The program is presented in a series of 36 lectures, with each session lasting approximately 30 minutes. Fisher's delivery is engaging and informative, providing plenty of detail about the topics at hand while remaining entertaining and accessible throughout.

The course begins with an in-depth examination of India's earliest civilizations, focusing on the Indus Valley Civilization and the emergence of Vedic civilization in northern India. From there, Fisher traces the rise and fall of the great empires that followed, including the Gupta, Mauryan, and Mughal dynasties.

Along the way, Fisher touches on a wide range of topics, including religion, politics, art, and culture. He provides insight into the evolution of Hinduism, Buddhism, and other key religious traditions, while also exploring the impact of foreign invaders and colonialism on Indian society.

One of the most impressive aspects of Fisher's approach is his ability to weave together disparate threads of history into a cohesive narrative. Rather than simply presenting a series of disconnected events and facts, he helps students understand how various political, social, and cultural developments influenced one another over time.

Throughout the course, Fisher also emphasizes the diverse and complex nature of Indian society, highlighting the many different cultures, languages, and peoples that have contributed to India's rich history. From the earliest days of civilization to the modern era, India has always been a place of remarkable diversity and Fisher does an excellent job of making sure that diversity is fully represented in his lectures.

At the same time, Fisher is quick to acknowledge the challenges that India has faced along the way. He doesn't shy away from difficult topics such as caste, religious conflict, and economic inequality, but instead provides an even-handed assessment of how these issues have shaped Indian society over time.

Ultimately, A History of India is a rich and rewarding learning experience that is sure to appeal to anyone with an interest in the history of South Asia. Whether you are studying the subject professionally or simply looking to deepen your understanding of this fascinating region, Fisher's course is an excellent resource that is sure to provide a wealth of new insights and perspectives.

A History of India is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (36 episodes). The series first aired on November 1, 2016.

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South Asia into the 21st Century
36. South Asia into the 21st Century
November 1, 2016
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 of the major themes and looking at the condition of the region in the 21st century-and some of the developments on the horizon.
Modernizing India
35. Modernizing India
November 1, 2016
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 organizations such as the Sikhs and the Tamils, the nuclear arms race with Pakistan, and numerous transitions of leadership.
India under Nehru
34. India under Nehru
November 1, 2016
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 Minister Jawaharlal Nehru€™s vision to transform the nation and some of his successful economic programs.
Independent Bangladesh
33. Independent Bangladesh
November 1, 2016
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 from Pakistan in 1971. Professor Fisher reveals this relatively young nation€™s turbulent history and explores some of its contemporary challenges.
The New Pakistan
32. The New Pakistan
November 1, 2016
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 Musharraf, and Nawaz Sharif. At the end of this lecture, you will have a complete sense of Pakistani history through today.
West and East Pakistan
31. West and East Pakistan
November 1, 2016
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, as well as border wars with India, particularly in Kashmir. Consider the role geography and ethnicity played in the distribution of power.
The Partition of 1947
30. The Partition of 1947
November 1, 2016
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 the war, ceded their empire and hastily created two nation-states whose borders and contested identities left a troubled legacy felt even today.
Nationalists Ambedkar, Bose, and Jinnah
29. Nationalists Ambedkar, Bose, and Jinnah
November 1, 2016
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, and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, three influential social and political leaders, and review their approaches toward national independence and people€™s rights.
Mahatma Gandhi
28. Mahatma Gandhi
November 1, 2016
Learn about the life of Mohandas €œMahatma€ 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 education in Britain to his activism in South Africa and India. In this lecture, an admirable-but complex-figure emerges.
India and Indians in the World
27. India and Indians in the World
November 1, 2016
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 relied on segregation for political control, Indian immigrants in Britain found greater freedom. Reflect on the impact of South Asians throughout the world.
The British Raj and Early Nationalism
26. The British Raj and Early Nationalism
November 1, 2016
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 independence in 1947. Gain insight into Britain€™s racist policies, and view the beginnings of the subcontinent€™s struggle for political autonomy.
The Issues and Events of 1857
25. The Issues and Events of 1857
November 1, 2016
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 context and historical impact of this pivotal year, which forever changed the nature of British rule in India.
The British East India Company
24. The British East India Company
November 1, 2016
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 to greater British influence and control of South Asia via joint-stock corporations. Take an inside look at these radical developments in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Competing European Empires
23. Competing European Empires
November 1, 2016
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 200-year dominance of trade, Professor Fisher shows how the English eventually established their own foothold in the market.
The Mughals and the Marathas
22. The Mughals and the Marathas
November 1, 2016
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 the Deccan-based Marathas, who were led by the skillful warrior Shivaji. Watch as the Marathas humiliate the Mughals and establish their own powerful regional identity.
Later Mughal Emperors
21. Later Mughal Emperors
November 1, 2016
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 to the subcontinent. His own son, Shah Jahan, then constructed the Peacock Throne, the Taj Mahal, and other glorious architectural triumphs.
The Reign of Emperor Akbar
20. The Reign of Emperor Akbar
November 1, 2016
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 several key initiatives: drawing regional rulers into his army, encouraging interreligious marriage, transforming the administrative system, and creating an imperial ideology based on various mystical ideas and practices.
The Early Mughal Empire
19. The Early Mughal Empire
November 1, 2016
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 sultanate. Then witness the checkered career of his son, who almost lost the empire before it could really get started.
Indian Sultans
18. Indian Sultans
November 1, 2016
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, or Sultans, from the 9th to the 16th centuries. Explore their kingdoms throughout India and their legacies.
Islam Comes to India
17. Islam Comes to India
November 1, 2016
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 its origins in the Middle East, Professor Fisher examines how many people of South Asia became Muslim via trade, invasion, devotion, or personal motivation.
Indian Parsis, Jews, and Christians
16. Indian Parsis, Jews, and Christians
November 1, 2016
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 Parsis, Jews, and Christians in India, and see how they interacted with Hindu society.
Brahmanic Synthesis
15. Brahmanic Synthesis
November 1, 2016
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 a series of written manuals, or shastras, which lay out the principles of an ideal life-including notions of dharma, kama, artha, and moksha.
Northwest and North India
14. Northwest and North India
November 1, 2016
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 major ethnic groups and the Silk Road trade routes, and then round out the lecture with a study of the famous Gupta dynasty.
Deccani and Southern States
13. Deccani and Southern States
November 1, 2016
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. After explaining some of the region€™s historical trends, Professor Fisher highlights the distinctive features and interactions of a few prominent southern kingdoms.
Ashoka's Imperial Buddhism
12. Ashoka's Imperial Buddhism
November 1, 2016
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 vicious war, Ashoka became a Buddhist and a model benevolent ruler.
The Mauryan Empire
11. The Mauryan Empire
November 1, 2016
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 order, Chandragupta was able to consolidate and form the subcontinent€™s first major empire. Uncover the trajectory of his life and the conditions that allowed him to build the Mauryan Empire.
The Origins and Rise of Buddhism
10. The Origins and Rise of Buddhism
June 1, 2020
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 tenets of his philosophy, including the Four Noble Truths and the Eight-Fold Path to enlightenment. Then find out how these ideas developed and spread across Asia.
The Origins and Rise of Jainism
9. The Origins and Rise of Jainism
November 1, 2016
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 emerged to compete with the Vedic cosmology. Here, you€™ll survey Jainism€™s origins and philosophy, which require a life of total nonviolence.
Dharma in the Bhagavad Gita
8. Dharma in the Bhagavad Gita
November 1, 2016
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 that the narrative contains, and understand why it has resonated throughout Indian history and around the world. See how its wisdom is still the basis for Hinduism today.
Epic History: Mahabharata
7. Epic History: Mahabharata
November 1, 2016
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 sources and style of this epic, Professor Fisher surveys its plot and shows what it means from the €œemic€ perspective of Indians as well as the €œetic€ perspective of outsiders.
Epic Literature: Ramayana
6. Epic Literature: Ramayana
November 1, 2016
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, Sita, and the gods that control their lives. It is also an important source for many of the historical details we have about the era.
Caste: Varna and Jati
5. Caste: Varna and Jati
November 1, 2016
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), how it structured society, and how numerous inherited social groups (or Jatis) relate to occupation, creating a diverse and complex society.
Indo-European Vedic Culture
4. Indo-European Vedic Culture
November 1, 2016
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 about this civilization€™s culture and cosmology. You€™ll also trace the origins and development of the Indo-European language in this fascinating lecture.
Indus Valley Civilization
3. Indus Valley Civilization
November 1, 2016
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 through excavated cities, examines art and artifacts, and reveals what we know about this intriguing society-and what may have happened to them.
Migration and the Adivasi
2. Migration and the Adivasi
November 1, 2016
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. See how genetic and linguistic analysis informs us about the Adivasi of 30,000 years ago-and learn about their status in India today.
Earliest History of the Indian Subcontinent
1. Earliest History of the Indian Subcontinent
November 1, 2016
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. Review South Asia€™s four macro-regions and see how geography has guided the course of life.
Where to Watch A History of India
A History of India is available for streaming on the The Great Courses Signature Collection website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch A History of India on demand at Apple TV Channels and Amazon Prime and Amazon.
  • Premiere Date
    November 1, 2016