J.B. Sharma JSHARMA at Hermes.GC.PeachNet.EDU
Tue Dec 5 11:18:03 UTC 1995

JB Sharma wrote on 2. Dec., in reply to some comments of mine:

>  There is no tradition of slavery among the Hindus and there were no 
> slave markets in pre-Islamic India. There are no elaborate 
> prescriptions for taking slaves, codes of behavior of master and 
> slave, fraction of booty to be sent to the Caliph etc. 

I don't want to be picky, but the Arthashastra of Kautilya devotes a 
whole section to the rights and duties of slaves. This can be found 
in Chapter 13 of Book 3. My translation (by R Shamasastri, 1951) 
says: "The ransom necessary for a slave to regain his freedom is 
equal to what he has been sold for. (...) An Aarya made captive in 
war shall for his freedom pay a certain amount proportional to the 
dangerous work done at the time of his capture, or half the amount." 
Romila Thapar refers to this in her "History of India", and also says 
of the Mauryan period: "Domestic slaves were a regular feature in 
prosperous households, where the slaves were of low caste status but 
not outcastes. Slave labour was also used in the mines and by the 
guilds." Of the Chola period in the south she writes: "Slavery was 
frequent, with men and women either selling themselves or being sold 
by a third party. Many such persons were sold to the temple (...) The 
use of slave labour for large-scale production was not known."

Anyway, what about the famous game of dice in the Mahabharata, where 
Yudhishthira cries: "If you win, I shall be your slave!"

Interesting question. Anyone know other sources about slavery?

 Arthashaastra is a treatise in economic theory of the times; It does 
not entail religious prescriptions. In the core texts of Hindu Dharma 
you will not find institutionalized sanctions for enslaving people. 
The slavery that did exist was not due to scriptural injunction of 
its legitimacy; Significant portions of the Koran and the Hadith are 
devoted to this topic. 

 There was also a mention of child labor in contemporary India. Once 
more this is not a religious institution, but one based on greed. It 
is no different from children working 16 hours aday in factories at 
the beginning of the industrial revolution.

 If there is someone more knowledgeable about slavery in pre-Islamic 
vs post- Islamic India, and economically ordained slavery vs divinely 
ordained slavery, could you illuminate the topic further ? 

J.B. Sharma

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