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Legacy - India

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Legacy - India

This episode examines the origins of Indian civilization and the long history of migrations and invasions of people and ideas that has formed the culturally and religiously diverse nation of India. Wood is particularly interested in the wealth of spirituality in India for he sees it as central to Indian life. He states that India's great tradition is based on non-violence, renunciation, the inner-life, and the female principle.

Much of Wood's exploration of Indian civilization is a search for the immutable characteristics of India's great tradition. He comments that "India today is still a village society" in order to point out the continuity of practices in India through time. What does this say to people who are unfamiliar with Indian society? What of New Delhi, Calcutta and other cities in India? What role do they play in Indian society? The episode opens and closes with scenes of millions of Hindus gathering for age-old religious practices. "For the pilgrims bathing [in the Ganges] on the morning of Shiva's festival day, the city of Shiva is beyond time and history, a place of redemption." The images and narrative reinforce a static view of Indian civilization and downplay the diversity of modern India. They also allow Wood to speak of a "typically Indian response" and a "Tamil sensibility."

Wood aims to set an example for Westerners by demonstrating respect for other cultures. However, he occasionally falls short of this goal: "How easy it is to forget that there was an India there before the British came which is still there now they've gone." Easy for whom to forget It is doubtful that it has been easy or desirable for Indians to forget. How can viewers cultivate an unpatronizing respect for a nation that appears to need the West to develop and extend its society "And for all the achievements of the British, their most fateful legacy was to open up India irrevocably to a wider world." This statement assumes that India would not have developed international relations without Western intervention and fails to acknowledge the long-established trade networks and relations India already had with other empires and nations before British colonization.

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