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Incarnations: Profiles of Shivaji, Wiliiam Jones, Lakshmibai, Jyotirao Phule

September 25th, 2015

Episode 1118 of 1365 episodes

We begin with Shivaji, a 17th century warrior prince who is venerated across Western India, where he is seen as a symbol of Hindu resistance to Muslim Mughal rule. He was certainly brave and audacious, escaping from house arrest on one occasion in a basket of sweets. Professor Sunil Khilnani unpicks facts from the legends. His next Indian was actually a Welshman – the great 18th century scholar William Jones, who during a decade working as a judge in India translated many of the great works of Sanskrit. He was the first to propose that Indian and European languages had a common source – and that the Indian classical literary canon was the equal of that of Greece and Rome. Next comes a rebel, Lakshmibai, the Rani of Jhansi. Following the Indian uprisings – or mutiny – of 1857 she became a thorn in the side of the British Raj, leading a ferocious resistance and becoming a source of inspiration both to Indian nationalists and to Indian women. Finally he tells the story of Jyotirao Phule, the 19th-century social reformer who became an outspoken campaigner against caste discrimination. He and his wife Savitribai became relentless social provocateurs, firing off polemics against the system of domination by upper-caste Brahmins.

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