Episode 15: The Vijayanagara Empire


Shrikanth and Gaurav talk to Maneesh on all things Vijayanagara Empire.

An empire that lasted longer than the Mughal Empire and whole legacy thrives to this day.

@shrikanth_krish   @gaurav_lele    @maneesht


Sources and References:

A Forgotten Empire by Robert Sewell
2. A History of South India by KA Nilakanta Sastri
3. Sources of Vijayanagara History by S Krishnaswami Aiyangar
4. Vijayanagara History by KAN Sastri and Venkataramanayya
5. Administration and Social Life under Vijayanagara by TV Mahalingam
6. The New Cambridge History of India 1-2 by Burton Stein



Episode 13: History of South India from 1100-1400 AD


13th Episode of the History Podcast.  Shrikanth, Mukunda and Gaurav speak to Maneesh on all things South India from 1100-1400 AD.

The dynasties that ruled, the zeitgeist of the era and the legacy that thrives.




Sources and References:

1. A History of South India – K.A Nilakantha Sastri
2. Essay on Vedanta Deshika – Elisa Freschi : https://iep.utm.edu/venkatan/
3. Tarikh-i-Firuz Shahi – Ziauddin Barani (an early history of Delhi Sultanate)
4. Tarikh-i-Farishta – Mohammad Qasim Farishta
6. A Forgotten Empire : Vijayanagar – By Robert Sewell
7. Futuh-us-Salatin by Abdul-Malik Isamy
8. Tiruvendipuram inscription of Rajaraja III – https://archive.org/details/epigraphiaindica014351mbp/page/n199/mode/2up
9. Travels of Marco Polo – Marco Polo
10. Travels of Ibn Batutah – Ibn Batutah (1325 – 1354)
11. Philosophy of Madhvacharya – BNK Sharma – https://archive.org/details/Philosophy.of.Sri.Madhvacarya



All Things Tamil Cinema


Maneesh talks to Sai and Arun on all things Tamil Cinema- its history, its unique relationship with the political milieu of Tamil Nadu, its evolution over the years and the cults of personalities that it has spawned.

@psynarayan    @worklifewinrep    @maneesht




  • M. K. Thyagaraja: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M._K._Thyagaraja_Bhagavathar
  • Sivaji Ganesan: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sivaji_Ganesan
  • K. Balachander: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K._Balachander
  • Mari Selvaraj: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mari_Selvaraj





History Podcast Episode 12: Social Milieu of North India 700-1200AD


The History Podcast resumes on Brown Pundits.  In episode 12 Mukunda and Jay talk to Maneesh about the cultural and social milieu in North India from 700-1200 AD.

They talk about the waning influence of Buddhism and the evolution of various schools of Philosophy. Arts, science and role of temples in an era that sees North India’s first brush with Islam.




@raghman36    @jayvtweets     @maneesht


Sources and References:

1. Al-Hind, Volume 1 Early Medieval India and the Expansion
of Islam 7th-11th Centuries by Andre Wink
2. Prabandhacintāmani of Merutunga Ācārya, Translated by C. H. Tawney.
3. Hammīra Mahākāvya. Translated by Pandit Nathulal Trivedi Madhukar       Shastri.
4. Medieval Kashmir and the Science of History by Walter Slaje
5. “Ramayana and Political Imagination in India.” by Sheldon Pollock
6. “Epic and Counter-Epic in Medieval India.” by Ahmed Aziz
7. Representing the Other?: Sanskrit Sources and the Muslims (Eighth to    Fourteenth Century) by Brajadulal Chattopadhyaya
8. Prithviraj Vijay Mahakavyam of Mahakavi Shri Jayanak Rachit translated by Madan Mohan Sharma.
9. Agamadambara by jayanta bhatta
10.  Abhinavgupta
11. Hemchandra
12. Kumrila Bhatt
13. Prabhakara Bhatt




Start-up Ecosystem In India

Maneesh has a freewheeling conversation with Roshan Cariappa, founder and host of the Start-up operator podcast, on the start-up ecosystem in India.

The conversation encapsulates ‘ Dummies guide to Indian start-ups’, covers the industries and the geographies that make up for this space and ends with opportunities and challenges that abound.


@maneesht and @roshancarippa on twitter.

Podcasts on the Indian start-up ecosystem:

The Startup Operator Podcast: https://www.startupoperator.in/

Indian Silicon Valley Podcast: https://airtable.com/shrTOFf1z5UT0q9p8

VCPreneur: https://thevcpreneur.com/

The Indian Dream: https://www.theindiandream.in/



Episode 9: South India from 500-1100 AD


Another Browncast is up. You can listen on LibsynAppleSpotify, and Stitcher (and a variety of other platforms). Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe to one of the links above!

The history podcast returns to South India. Shrikanth and Mukunda are in conversation with Maneesh, on all things South of Vindhyas from 500-1000 AD. We talk about Chalukyas, Pallavas, Rashtrakutas, Cholas and more. The episode covers the political and cultural history of the period in great detail.  A pivotal figure in sub-continents history- Shankaracharya makes and appearance. As do some of the landmark temples and king’s whose legacy survives to this day.

@shrikanth_krish        @raghman36          @maneesht

Sources and References:


  1. A History of South India – KA Nilakanta Sastri
  2. South Indian Inscriptions – Archeological survey of India
  3. Studies in Chola history and administration – KA Nilakanta Sastri
  4. Introduction to Madhaviya Shankara Vijaya – Swami Tapasyananda of RK Mission
  5. The Dancing Siva in Early South Indian Art – Douglas Barrett (paper)
  6. Pallavas and Chalukyas – Coopetition in Stone – Gurpreet Chopra and Bharath
  7. Nalayira Divya Prabandham : https://ramanuja.org/sv/prabandham/prabandham.html
  8. Essay on Advaita Vedanta of Shankara : https://iep.utm.edu/advaita-vedanta/
  9. Essay on Ramanuja and Vishishtadvaita : https://iep.utm.edu/ramanuja/




Book Review: Shrayana Bhattacharya’s Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh-India’s Lonely Young Women and the Search for Intimacy and Independence.

India’s complexity is a perennial source of inspiration for commentary, columns and books.

Shrayana Bhattacharya, a World Bank economist, joins the list of authors who have tried to explain India with their books.

The book is about contemporary Indian women.

Ms. Bhattacharya, who trained in development economics at Delhi and Harvard university, uses her years of experience in primary research, to bring us her own, and stories of women from a cross-section of society.

The cornerstone of these stories is Shah Rukh Khan, one of India’s most famous movie stars.

In a career spanning over three decades, Mr. Khan has built, through his cinema and his off-screen presence, an image of an ‘industry outsider’ who dominates the Hindi film industry with the dint of his hard work and sincerity.

His choice of unconventional roles for a leading man, in the early part of his career, and his off-screen image of a loving husband and family man stand him apart.

This is in contrast with the usual tropes of a male Hindi movies star , the good guy who charms his way to audiences’ heart on screen and whose umpteen romantic dalliances they read in the press.

Khan’s popularity, in the Hindi heartland and amongst the diaspora, is the string Bhattacharya uses to stich tales of gender disparity and loneliness.

We get a ringside view, Bhattacharya takes us through her own and lives of five other women, as they struggle with lack of income opportunities, denial of agency and grapple with every day challenges of living in India, exaggerated by their gender.

What holds these women together is their love for Khan’s cinema and in turn Khan himself.

When they need joy, inspiration in their lives and an escape from every day struggles, the women seek Khan’s onscreen roles and his offscreen persona.

The pictures that Bhattacharya paints, are colored by facts.

The protagonists of her stories come alive, unlike in Khan’s movies, as she vividly explains their lives with a sharp eye for detail.

When giving context to their struggles, she backs her submissions with reams of hard data.

Annexures include a table that captures share of dialogues for women in some of Khan’s movies.

She gives the women who shared their stories and their unbound love for Khan with her, their own voice.

The writing is not rhetorical flourishes with clichés thrown in. That bane of most commentary on India. The book engages.

Even for those who live in India and see the every day reality, the book is thought provoking. The passage where she describes the transactional nature of relationships is worth a chapter of its own.

Where the book misses out is on exploring the other impact of Khan’s filmography.

Barring notable exceptions, Khan’s work since his seminal hit Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, has comprised of Yash Raj school of saccharin cinema.

Movies where characters are super rich, beautiful with ‘love’ as the only thing missing in their lives.

It’s the kind of cinema that’s as far from the everyday India as cinema can get.

Khan and his cinema have done their bit in building the hegemony of ‘How much money do I make? How do I look?’ lifestyle.

The characters in her book struggle with these questions too.

Khan’s role in shaping a consumerist, trying to ‘fit in’/ ‘cool’ individual persona is left unexplored.

I found Khan’s portrayal as an all-India star an over-played hand. Khan’s as much a pan India phenomenon as Dal Makhani, the ubiquitous North Indian delicacy, is a pan India delight. The cinema crazy south Indian states have temples of their movie stars and Khan is not in one of them.

As she writes on the state of affairs, Bhattacharya skips the raging phenomenon sweeping urban India. The Dating app. Where the society has failed markets have stepped in. Technology is helping even the scales for women. The progress is slow and it does not include the majority but it’s a start.

India is a large complex place with everyday challenges being met head on by a young and an energetic populace.

Bhattacharay’s book captures some of these challenges and the forces taking them on, impeccably.

Anybody trying to get a sense of the churn going through India and its society will be well served by this book.

One hopes her fellow commentators will be inspired by her lucid writing and her love for data.

Episode 7: South of India from 200 BC to 500 AD

Another Browncast is up. You can listen on LibsynAppleSpotify, and Stitcher (and a variety of other platforms). Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe to one of the links above!

The History podcast crosses the Vindhyas and heads towards the Deccan.  Maneesh is in conversation with Jay and Shrikanth on all things South of India between the period 200 BC to 500 AD.

Among other things, the speakers talk at length about the Sangam literature.

Mani Ratnam’s Iruvar makes an appearance too.


@jayvtweets   @shrikanth_krish    @maneesht

Sources and References:

1. A History of South India by K. A. Nilakanta Sastri
2. The age of imperial unity (The history and culture of the Indian people Vol 2)
3. Comprehensive History of India Vol.2, The Mauryas and the Satavahanas, Edited by K. A. Nilakanta Sastra
4. The First Spring: The Golden Age of India (Part -1) by Abraham Eraly
5. A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century by Upinder Singh
6. Coromandel: A Personal History of South India by Charles Allen
7. Ashoka in Ancient India by Nayanjot Lahiri
8. The Sangam Age by V.R. Ramachandra Dikshitar (ARTICLE)
9. The Beginnings of Civilization in South India by Clarence Maloney (ARTICLE)
10. Archaeology of the Sangam Age by K. V. Raman (ARTICLE)
11. Urbanization in South India: The Role of Ideology and Polity by R. Champakalakshmi (ARTICLE)
12. The Vedic-Puranic-Sastric element in Tamil Sangam Society and culture (A Study of Purananuru-First Section) by M. G. S. Narayanan (ARTICLE)13. Chera, Chola, Pandya: Using Archaeological Evidence to Identify the Tamil Kingdoms of Early Historic South India by Shinu A. Abraham (ARTICLE)14. Kalinga and Andhra: the process of secondary state formation in early India by Sudharshan Seneviratne (ARTICLE)

15. The Wonder that was India – AL Basham

16. Tamil – A Biography : David Shulman

17. Early Tamil Epigraphy : Iravatham Mahadevan
19. Sangam translations in English : https://sangamtranslationsbyvaidehi.com/


Episode 6: North India from 200 BC to 200 AD

Another Browncast is up. You can listen on LibsynAppleSpotify, and Stitcher (and a variety of other platforms). Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe to one of the links above!

The History of the Indian sub-continent continues.  Shrikanth and Maneesh are joined by Jay Vardhan Singh to talk about all things North of the Vindhyas in the period 200 BC to 200 AD. Tales of Bactrians in modern day central India, descendants of King Ashoka and of a king whose name ended up on an unfortunate Aircraft. Kalyan, a suburb of Mumbai, makes an appearance too.

@shrikanth_krish   @jayvtweets  @maneesht

References and Source Material:

1. Between the Empires: Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE by Patrick Olivelle (Editor)
2. The age of imperial unity (The history and culture of the Indian people Vol 2)
3. Comprehensive History of India Vol.2, The Mauryas and the Satavahanas, Edited by K. A. Nilakanta Sastra
4. Political History of Ancient India, from the Accession of Parikshit to the Extinction of the Gupta Dynasty by Hem Chandra Raychaudhuri

1. Aśoka and the decline of the Mauryas by Romila Thapar

1. The Indo-Greeks by A. K. Narain
2. The Greek Experience of India: From Alexander to the Indo-Greeks by Richard Stoneman
3. The Greeks in India by George Woodcock
4. The Yavana Invader of the Gangetic Basin by Kailash Chandra Ojha (ARTICLE)

1. History of Civilization of Central Asia, Vol – II
2. The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia by René Grousset, Naomi Walford
3. The Dynastic Arts of the Kushans by John M. Rosenfield
4. ReOrienting the Sasanians: East Iran in Late Antiquity by Khodadad Rezakhani
5. The Age of the Parthians Edited By The Idea of Iran Volume II Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis and Sarah Stewart
6. The Khyber Pass: A History of Empire and Invasion by Paddy Docherty
7. Empires of Ancient Eurasia: The First Silk Roads Era, 100 BCE – 250 CE by Craig Benjamin
8. Mathurā: The Cultural Heritage
9. India under the Kushanas by B.N. Puri
10. From the Kushans to the Western Turks by Khodadad Rezakhani (ARTICLE)

1. Formative Phase of the Western Deccan Satavahanas and Kshaharatas by Ajay Mitra Shastri (ARTICLE)
2. Satavahana Chronology: A Re-examination by M. K. Dhavalikar (ARTICLE)

1. Epigraphica Indica Vol. XX
2. The Mahameghavahana dynasty by Shri Amar Chand (ARTICLE)
3. Bahasatimita of the Hathigumpha inscription by N.K Sahu (ARTICLE)

The article of Vidya Dahejia

Reference of Indian Steel exported to Rome

“Age of Imperial Unity”  – Volume 2 in the series on “History and Culture of the Indian People”. Jai has covered it in his list
Age of the Kushanas – A Numismatic study (Bhaskar Chatopadhyay)
A blogpost on Spitzer manuscript that we discussed in the call –
Geography – by Strabo
Book of Later Han
Yuga Purana – John E Mitchiner
Malavikagnimitram – Kalidasa
Manusmriti with commentary of Medathiti – Ganganatha Jha
The Questions of King Milinda
Inscriptions –
Hathigumpha inscription of Kharavela : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hathigumpha_inscription
Yavanarajya inscription of Mathura : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yavanarajya_inscription
Kanishka’s Rabatak inscription : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabatak_inscription
Heliodorus inscription on Garuda Pillar : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heliodorus_pillar



Amana Begam Ansari on Muslims and Women in India

Another BP Podcast is up. You can listen on LibsynAppleSpotify, and Stitcher (and a variety of other platforms). Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe to one of the links above!

Amana in a conversation with Maneesh Taneja talks about being a Muslim woman in India. State of affairs, challenges that the Muslim community and the country face, caste dynamics and what makes for a good movie.

@Amana_ansari @maneesht






Brown Pundits