... The Story of India on PBS. Saw the first episode and a half last night, and am recording the series. I was born at a time when India was still a part of the British Empire (!) and most of what I knew about the country, growing up, was what I read in Rudyard Kipling and the Mowgli stories--not to mention the Mowgli films starring Sabu. It was, in my child's imagination, a country of bejewelled maharajahs and tigers and black panthers in the jungle. Much later, I learned about the Raj, the period of British rule in India, Gandhi, and the struggle for independence. Later still, with a growing interest in the spiritual heritage of the eastern world, I learned something of the traditions of the Hindu and, most recently, the Buddhist teachings.
I have never visited India. Much aware of the huge problems of poverty, overcrowding, hunger and disease, I have always found it hard to reconcile what I imagine to be the realities of life there with the humanitarian wisdom of its intellectual and spiritual heritage. Still, this current series reminds me of the appeal of the country's lush landscapes and its brilliant colors, the intense proximity of life and death, the wealth of its history. It surprises me, too, with previously unknown stories of its prehistorical past, the loam in which the teachings of the Buddha germinated. It's a fascinating overview, well worth the watching. I'm looking forward to further episodes in the series.