[INDOLOGY] sea travel

Rolf Heinrich Koch rolfheiner.koch at gmail.com
Thu Jun 26 08:40:28 UTC 2014

Dear D. N. Jha,
many references you will find in this article

Dieter Schlingloff: Indische Seefahrt in römischer Zeit = Zur geschichtlichen Bedeutung
der frühen Seefahrt, Kolloquien zur Allgemeinen und Vergleichenden Archaeologie, 2,
München 1982, S. 51-85


  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Dn Jha 
  To: indology List List 
  Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2014 8:59 AM
  Subject: [INDOLOGY] sea travel

  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
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  jdnarayan at gmail.com
  dnjha72 at gmail.com


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