143 episodes

How do empires rise? Why do they fall? And how have they shaped the world around us today?

William Dalrymple and Anita Anand explore the stories, personalities and events of empire over the course of history.

Empire The Empire Club

    • History
    • 4.7 • 1K Ratings

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How do empires rise? Why do they fall? And how have they shaped the world around us today?

William Dalrymple and Anita Anand explore the stories, personalities and events of empire over the course of history.

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

    132. Journey to Nalanda and Buddhism's Library of Jewels (Ep 5)

    132. Journey to Nalanda and Buddhism's Library of Jewels (Ep 5)

    In late autumn, 629 AD, Xuanzang set out for the great university of Nalanda from Chang’an. Across the desert, over the Pamirs, and through multiple robberies, it was an epic journey. As he neared the Buddhist heartlands, he saw Buddhism in decline with its monasteries increasingly dilapidated, and he feared disappointment. However, after 6 years on the road he arrived at Nalanda and was awestruck by its splendour. In particular, he was blown away by the library. Nine storeys high, split into the Sea of Jewels, the Ocean of Jewels, and the Jewel-Adorned. It was a haven of scholarship. Through years more of work, he would transcribe the ancient scripts to be taken back to China and lay the groundwork for a moment of great civilisational collaboration. Listen to William and Anita in the final instalment of this miniseries as they discuss Xuanzang and the mark he left on history.

    Twitter: @Empirepoduk

    Email: empirepoduk@gmail.com

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    Assistant Producer: Anouska Lewis

    Producer: Callum Hill

    Exec Producer: Neil Fearn

    131. Buddhism Goes to China (Ep 4)

    131. Buddhism Goes to China (Ep 4)

    Buddhism reached China in the 1st century AD, yet it remained a minor, foreign religion for the next 100 years. It was not until the fall of the Han dynasty in 220 AD and the cracking of the classical Confucian order that Buddhism began to make headway in the Middle Kingdom. Over the following centuries, the religion took hold and so China both transformed Buddhism and was transformed by it. Yet, a monk named Xuanzang, born in 600 AD, was worried about Chinese Buddhism. He feared it had strayed too far from its origin and so he undertook a journey to the Buddhist heartlands of North India and the great university of Nalanda. Listen as William and Anita discuss the early stages of Buddhism in China.

    Twitter: @Empirepoduk

    Email: empirepoduk@gmail.com

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    Assistant Producer: Anouska Lewis

    Producer: Callum Hill

    Exec Producer: Neil Fearn

    130. India meets Rome: Making the Image of the Buddha (Ep 3)

    130. India meets Rome: Making the Image of the Buddha (Ep 3)

    In the 1st century AD, the nomadic Kushans settled in what is now Afghanistan and established settlements and trade. From here, they moved down over the Hindu Kush and took large sections of Northern India. Within their new kingdom, Buddhism flourished under the patronage of the ruling class. Before Kushan rule, the Buddha had never been represented as a human, only as a tree or an empty throne. Yet through the empire’s trade connections with Rome, Buddhist symbols took on a more classically western form, with Apollo-like statues. By the 3rd century AD, the Kushan Empire was dwindling, but Buddhism would not be stopped. It began to spread even further along the Golden Road, right to the borders of China. Listen as Anita and William explore the Kushan Empire and the importance of translation to the spread of Buddhism.

    Twitter: @Empirepoduk

    Email: empirepoduk@gmail.com

    Goalhangerpodcasts.com

    Assistant Producer: Anouska Lewis

    Producer: Callum Hill

    Exec Producer: Neil Fearn

    129. Ashoka: The Great Buddhist Emperor of India (Ep 2)

    129. Ashoka: The Great Buddhist Emperor of India (Ep 2)

    Ruling in the 3rd century BC, Ashoka was one of India’s greatest ever rulers. Under his rule, the Mauryan Empire grew into the largest empire India had ever seen. Its capital, Pataliputra was a dazzling, glorious, cosmopolitan city that was eleven times larger than Athens. After a brutal conquest of the Kalinga kingdom, Ashoka suffered from intense guilt and turned to Buddhism as he now coveted peace. From then on, he was committed to spreading Buddhism not just throughout his kingdom, but across the world. Listen as William and Anita discuss Buddhism’s transformation from a regional religion to one that spans nations.

    Twitter: @Empirepoduk

    Email: empirepoduk@gmail.com

    Goalhangerpodcasts.com

    Assistant Producer: Anouska Lewis

    Producer: Callum Hill

    Exec Producer: Neil Fearn

    128. The Buddha & The Golden Road

    128. The Buddha & The Golden Road

    India was the forgotten heart of the ancient world. For a millennium and a half, from about 250 BC to 1200 AD, India was a confident exporter of its diverse civilisation, creating around it a vast empire of ideas, an ‘Indosphere’ where its influence was predominant. During this period, the rest of Asia was the willing recipient of a mass-transfer of Indian soft power. Indian art, religions, technology, astronomy, music, dance, literature, mathematics, and mythology blazed a trail across the world, along a Golden Road that stretched from the Red Sea to the Pacific, connecting different places and ideas to one another. Listen over the next five episodes as William and Anita tell the story of Buddhism and how it travelled along the Golden Road, starting today with the life of Siddharta Gautama, an aristocrat born in the 5th century BC. At the age of 29, he left behind his life of luxury and sought to understand the real world. In so doing, he changed the course of history. At the age of 35 he meditated for 49 days under a sacred pipal tree and eventually he reached enlightenment. We know him as the Buddha.

    Pre-order William's book below:
    UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Golden-Road-Ancient-India-Transformed/dp/140886441X
    India: https://www.amazon.in/dp/140886441X/
    Australia: Available 17th September 2024
    US: Available Spring 2025

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    Twitter: @Empirepoduk

    Email: empirepoduk@gmail.com

    Goalhangerpodcasts.com

    Assistant Producer: Anouska Lewis
    Producer: Callum Hill
    Exec Producer: Neil Fearn
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    • 55 min
    127. Inventing Curry: The British Taste for India

    127. Inventing Curry: The British Taste for India

    From the beginning of the Raj, British tastes began to turn away from Indian cuisine towards a European palate. The colonial classes sneered at Indian food, instead seeing French food as the height of sophistication. Meanwhile, people in Britain – including Queen Victoria – sought out Indian flavours and so began the Indianisation of British cuisine. Imports of curry powders rapidly increased and the earliest Indian restaurants popped up in British cities. With this came the introduction of renowned dishes such as chicken tikka masala and coronation chicken. Listen as Anita and William dive into the historical origins of the British obsession with curry.

    For bonus episodes, ad-free listening, reading lists, book discounts, a weekly newsletter, and a chat community. Sign up at https://empirepod.supportingcast.fm/

    Twitter: @Empirepoduk

    Email: empirepoduk@gmail.com

    Goalhangerpodcasts.com

    Assistant Producer: Anouska Lewis
    Producer: Callum Hill
    Exec Producer: Neil Fearn
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    • 42 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
1K Ratings

1K Ratings

alex_brin ,

Patterns of history

Fascinating entry into histories ~
Please do more on what happened between Tilsit and Napoleon's invasion into Russia and that relationship between Alexander and Napoleon. So (unfortunately) mirrors our times - - what happened then, and again now (?) Thank you for the show ~ Questions lead to explorations

Visen ,

Amazing podcast

If you are interested in the subject and how India was civilized, this is your podcast.

KWellsM ,

Empire series

Enthralling, Captivating…….. and I love the 2 authors and their guests.
Love their good humor. One can tell they really love their work and can express themselves to eloquently. Definitely knowledgable.
I do get a bit confused though with how my Podcast does not lay out all the Seasons/Episodes in correct chronicalogical Order . I have to SEE ALL and still it SKIPS….. that, I must say - is frustrating to say the least.

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