Anand Venkt Raman
A.Raman at massey.ac.nz
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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