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 12 May 2015

Professor Sunil Khilnani of the King's India Institute explores the life and legacy of Mahavira Jain. Born more than two thousand years ago, Mahavira is the inspiration for millions of followers of the Jain religion. It teaches that the way to liberation and bliss is to live a life of non-violence and renunciation. At its heart is a belief that the entire world, from the ground we tread on to the air we breathe, is filled with life: our duty is to protect this universe of living souls through non-violent action. Mahavira is the last in the line of Tirthankars, beings who were said to be able to cross over from the world of human suffering into the realm of spiritual liberation. Unlike the other Tirthankars, we can be certain that he existed. "Mahavira asked his followers to renounce untruths and sex, to give up greed and attachment to worldly things - and stop all forms of killing or violence," says Professor Khilnani. "In short, the normal, devious, grasping and aggressive self had to be conquered." Produced by Mark Savage Listeners can catch up with the series and see the list of remarkable Indians featured on the Radio 4 website.. . .