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The Story of India

Photos from Episode 2

Episode 2: The Power of Ideas

Statue of Gomateshvara

Statue of Gomateshvara, Sravanabelagola

The second episode of Michael Wood's journey through Indian history covers the last centuries BCE—the age of the Buddha, the coming of the Greeks and the rule of the emperor Ashoka, one of the greatest figures in world history.

Beginning with incredible images of a Jain festival that takes place once every twelve years, Wood sees the Buddha as India's first protester, follows the invasion of India by Alexander the Great and ends with the birth of the first great Indian empire.

The theme of the episode is the power of ideas in Indian history, and among the people Michael Wood meets is His Holiness the Dalai Lama who explains why Buddhism is still relevant today.

Stupa at Kolhua

Stupa at Kolhua, near Vaishali, in Bihar

The journey takes us by railway to the famous sites of the Ganges plain, Benares, Sarnath and Bodhgaya; by helicopter and army convoy through northern Iraq to the site of the greatest battle in the ancient world; by truck up the Khyber Pass, then by river to the first great Indian capital Patna. Using archaeology, living traditions, legends, and "India's Rosetta stone", Michael Wood tells the story of the first great Indian state, "the forerunner of today's India".

We hear the dramatic story of the first great emperor who renounced his kingship and starved himself to death. Finally we meet his grandson, who after a cruel and violent opening to his reign, renounced warfare and introduced the dangerous idea of non-violence, which runs down through Indian history all the way to Mahatma Gandhi and the Freedom Movement.

Episode Credits

Written and Presented by Michael Wood
Producer: Rebecca Dobbs
Editor: Gerry Branigan
Music: Howard Davidson & The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Filmed and Directed by Jeremy Jeffs

Photos left to right:

  1. Michael Wood with Abbot Wathai at Sarnath.
  2. Woman and child, Patna
  3. Khyber Pass
  4. The Dalai Lama