Anand Venkt Raman A.Raman at
Tue Dec 5 21:05:56 UTC 1995

Mark Tritsch wrote:

>Interesting question. Anyone know other sources about slavery? 

I agree with Mark.  Since I compiled the following source of
information some years ago, I did find several references to the
existence of slavery in India although every one of the four observers
below seem to discount it.  Thus it seems more appropriate to discuss
the fact not whether there were slaves in Ancient India, but what
their rights were and to what extent they were different from slaves
elsewhere in the world.

  ...Of the several remarkable customs  existing among the  Indians,
  there is one prescribed  by  their ancient philosophers which  one
  may regard as truly admirable:  for the law   ordains that no  one
  among them shall,  under any circumstances, be  a slave, but that,
  enjoying freedom, they  shall respect the  equal right to it which
  all possess: for those, they thought, who  have learned neither to
  domineer over  nor cringe  to  others will  attain the   life best
  adapted for the vicissitudes of the lot.

  - Diodoros Siculos Bib.III.39

  ...This  same writer says that none  of the Indians employ slaves.
  Onesikritos  however  says that  the  custom was   peculiar to the
  people in the country of Mousikanos.  He speaks of this as a right
  thing, and mentions with like  approbation many other things to be
  found in this country, resulting from the  excellent laws by which
  it is governed.

  - Strabo Book XV:I.54

  There are no  slaves in the  Island of Taprobane [Sri Lanka];  the
  inhabitants do not prolong their slumbers till daybreak, nor sleep
  during the day; their buildings are only of a moderate height from
  the ground; the  price of  corn is never  enhanced; they  have  no
  courts  of  law and  no   litigation.  Hercules  is  the God  they
  worship; their king is  chosen by the  people  and must be  an old
  man, of  a  gentle disposition and  childless,   and if after  his
  election he should   beget children, he  is  required to abdicate,
  lest  the throne should become  hereditary; thirty counsellors are
  provided  for  him by  the people,and no  one  can be condemned to
  death except by  the vote   of  the majority   -- the  person   so
  condemned has,  however,  the right of  appeal  to the  people, in
  which case a jury of seventy persons is appointed; if these should
  acquit the  accused, the thirty counsellors   lose all the respect
  they enjoyed, and are subjected to the uttermost disgrace.

  - Pliny, Nat.Hist. Book VI: c.22(24)

  The same writer tells us further this remarkable fact about India,
  that  all the Indians are  free, and not one  of them  is a slave.
  The Lakedemonians and  the Indians are  here so far in  agreement.
  The Lakedemonians, however,  hold the Helots  as slaves, and these
  Helots do servile labour;  but the Indians  do not even use aliens
  as slaves, and much less a countryman of their own.

  - Arrian's Indika.i.10

- &
Anand Venkt Raman                 Ph: +64-6-350-4186, 355-0062 (a/h)
Dept of Computer Science          Fx: +64-6-350-5611

The following record is a random selection from Indhist 1.0

To the philosopher  alone is it permitted  to be from  any caste whatever,
for no easy life is his, but the hardest of all.

- Arrian's Indika.c.12

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