History of India Series: Episode 5 – The Magadh Era: From Bimbisara to Ashoka

CC BY-SA 2.5 Bpilgrim (talk · contribs) - Own work
CC BY-SA 2.5 Bpilgrim (talk · contribs) – Own work

The History podcast passes through the Magadh era. Mukunda Raghavan and Gaurav Lele talk to us about the sub-continent at the end of the Vedic age and take us all the way to the ruler whose symbols are part of the Modern Indian Republics mythology. Alexander and Vishnugupta Chankaya make an appearance and we speculate on the first recorded caesarean birth.

@raghman36 @gaurav_lele @maneesht

Sources and References:
Books and Blogs
 Upinder Singh – Ancient India.
 Upinder Singh – Political violence in Ancient India.
 Upinder Singh – Culture of Contradictions.
 Romila Thapar – Ancient History
 RS Sharma- India’s Ancient Past
 Javarava’s Raves:  (Blogposts publications etc)
 Greater Magadha – Johannes Brockhorst
 Live History India (Paid + unpaid)
 Early Hinduism — the epic stratification | by Gaurav Lele | Medium
 Free Web Sites – Buddhism – LibGuides at Michigan State University Libraries (msu.edu)
 Excerpts from  : King, Governance, and Law in Ancient India: Kautilya & Arthasastra
 The History of India Podcast – Kit Patrick
 Echoes of India Podcast – Aniruddha Kanasetti

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Skeptic | Aspiring writer | Wildlife enthusiast

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2 years ago

I think the word Mukunda was looking for was Markets not industries, especially with the mention of taxes.

2 years ago

Pretty good but at some point someone claims that the early Buddhist Pali texts claim a person has to be a ‘Brahmin or Kshtriya’ to be a Bodhisattava or a Buddha.

The Pali texts don’t claim this.

Furthermore the idea of becoming a Buddha is also not in the Pali texts, the goal of the texts is to become an “Arhat”. And they claim the opposite with regards to this goal. (ie. caste does not matter – see Assalayana Sutta, Madhura Sutta )

The idea of a Bodhisattva / becoming a Buddha etc are much later developments.

I am less familiar with the Mahayana sutras but I think a source would be required for me to believe that they make this claim. I am quite skeptical.

It is however correct that early Buddhism was not some sort of social reform movement but rather it advocated renouncing society to focus on personal salvation (later Buddhism, becomes more concerned with salvation of all sentient beings and you have the concept of Bodhisattva etc)

2 years ago

Something about Arthashastra: it is possible that Chanakya didn’t make all of it, and certain parts of it were compiled by Chanakya from older authors. Who knows how much older those authors were as there are some claims that the units of weights from Arthashastra are akin to those found in Lothal.

2 years ago

Listened to the podcast in full…..I felt that the focus on Buddhism was excessive, far more in proportion to the epigraphic and literary synchronism available. Buddhist claims about their centrality to Indian discourse between the 6th and 2nd centuries BCE are simply self-aggrandizement. This is also partly a reflection of the mores and prejudices of 19th and 20th century Western Indology.

For example, the normative claim that Mahavira and Buddha were contemporaries (by a few decades) does not stand when subjected to scrutiny.

Let’s take the five distinct sources available to us and make a comparison.

Mauryan historical sources
Tamil Sangam Literature and Epigraphy
Jaina knowledge of Indian geography
Greek Historians
Early Buddhist Texts (EBTs)

2 years ago

The Arthashastra, Megasthenes Indica, Mudrarakshasa, Strabo, Arrian, Pliny’s works are the primary catchment sources describing the Mauryan social and economic conditions. None of them mention the Buddha or Buddhism in any detail. Most puzzling.

The earliest Tamil epigraphy and Sangam literature have extensive references to Jaina grants and monks (starting 3rd century BCE). References to Buddhism start only much later in the 2nd century CE.

2 years ago
Reply to  Ugra

> The earliest Tamil epigraphy and Sangam literature have extensive references to Jaina grants and monks (starting 3rd century BCE)

Sangam literature dating is all wrong btw

2 years ago

One explanation is that Buddhist recorders did some rearranging or editing to claim a higher level of involvement and patronage. Quite clearly the struggling upstart against well established dialectic schools.

The other explanation is that Buddhism is much older than is currently dated by Western Indology. It must have died out after its initial flourish and then enjoyed a resurgence towards the beginning of the common era. This explains the lack of knowledge of Indian geography (EBTs only know Mahajanapadas – no Southern India or Sri Lanka) and their puzzling absence in the mentions of Alexander’s historians.

Brown Pundits