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 19 May 2015

Professor Sunil Khilnani, from the King's India Institute in London, explores the life and legacy of Aryabhata, the legendary Indian mathematician and astronomer. Unknown in the West until a few decades ago, he is said by some to rank with Euclid and the great Greek mathematicians and astronomers such as Ptolemy. But unlike Euclid, Aryabhata left no proofs, explaining how to recreate his findings. "His ideas, translated into Arabic, influenced Islamic astronomers and mathematicians. But he wasn't working in the idiom of his Western counterparts, so his ideas didn't feed into the global stream of scientific discovery, and eventually Indians forgot Aryabhata too. It was only when science and technology began to flourish in modern India that his reputation got a relaunch," says Professor Khilnani. Producer: Mark Savage Researcher: Manu Pillai Listeners can catch up with the series and see the list of remarkable Indians featured on the Radio 4 website.. . .