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 ?
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