Incarnations: India in 50 Lives

By Prof Sunil Khilnani

On Going since May 2015 • Updated weekly

Over the course of 50 episodes, Sunil Khilnani, director of the King's India Institute in London, takes listeners on a whirlwind journey from ancient India to the 21st century through the prism of the life stories of 50 remarkable individuals. He will also explore their surprising afterlives, which illuminate both the astonishments and urgent conflicts of India today.

He begins with the Buddha, exploring the story of his life and how he has been reinvented in modern India by those who oppose the caste system. "Buddha's solution to suffering lay in the individual mind. But he was also sketching a new form of society," says Professor Khilnani. "He was a moral meritocrat, and to an extent a social one too."

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  Direct Link   Download 0 Minutes 28 May 2015

Professor Sunil Khilnani, from the King's India Institute in London, visits Hampi in today's Karnataka, site of the sprawling capital of Krishnadevaraya, 16th-century warrior and self-doubting king. Krishnadevaraya lived in a brutal age and yet his writings show he was both learned and thoughtful, with an artistic temperament. He was a compulsive self-promoter whose presence is felt amongst the ruins at Hampi, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But it is in the Amuktamulyada, his long poetic work, that we hear his original voice which marks, says Professor Khilnani, "the emergence of an individual self, a subjective voice - centuries before the arrival of colonial ideas of the individual". Produced by Mark Savage Researcher: Manu Pillai Editor: Hugh Levinson.. . .