[INDOLOGY] sea travel

Dn Jha jdnarayan at gmail.com
Thu Jun 26 06:59:36 UTC 2014

Dear List,
A researcher who is not a member of this list has posed the following
problem. While I am generally aware of some dharmashastric injunctions
against overseas travel I am not in a position to answer all her queries.
Shall be grateful for any response. Here is the problem:

May I ask you one question about the prohibition of sea travel in ancient
and medieval India. As I know, it was only in Baudhayana and some minor
dharmasastras. In Manu the navigator was not to be invited for sraddha, and
that is all. As I understand, this was no obstacle for Hindus to navigate
from Aden to China. The prohibition, if any, concerned Brahmans only. Am I
right? If so, whence the overwhelming ostracizing of the sea travelers in
the nineteenth century? While Banyas in the sixteenth century actively
traded everywhere the future Mahatma was expelled from his caste for going
to England!
Is there any history of the Kala pani concept (in the sense of not the
Andaman jail but the mysterious 'sea border' that was prohibited to cross?)
What was it - a folkloric notion? How did it gain such popularity, and even
with the educated elites in colonial times? Or maybe it was an Orientalist
invention disseminated by colonial education?
D N Jha

D N Jha
Professor of History (retired),
University of Delhi
9, Uttaranchal Apartments
5, I.P. Extension, Delhi 110 092
Tel: + 2277 1049
Cell: 98111 43090
jdnarayan at gmail.com
dnjha72 at gmail.com

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