Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Re: Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian

Postby admin » Thu Jul 22, 2021 5:08 am

Fragm. XXXIII.

Strab. XV. 1. 39-41, 46-49,— pp. 703-4, 707.

Of the Seven Castes among the Indians.


(39) According to him (Megasthenes) the population of India is divided into seven parts. The philosophers are first in rank, but form the smallest class in point of number. 2 Their services are employed privately by persons who wish to offer sacrifices or perform other sacred rites, and also publicly by the kings at what is called the Great Synod, wherein at the beginning of the new year all the philosophers are gathered together before the king at the gates, when any philosopher who may have committed any useful suggestion to writing, or observed any means for improving the crops and the cattle, or for promoting the public interests, declares it publicly. 3 If any one is detected giving false information thrice, the law condemns him to be silent for the rest of his life, but he who gives sound advice is exempted from paying any taxes or contributions.

(40) The second caste consists of the husbandmen, who form the bulk of the population, and are in disposition most mild and gentle. They are exempted from military service, and cultivate their lands undisturbed by fear. They never go to town, either to take part in its tumults, or for any other purpose. 5 It therefore not unfrequently happens that at the same time, and in the same part of the country, men may be seen drawn up in array of battle, and fighting at risk of their lives, while other men close at hand are ploughing and digging in perfect security, having these soldiers to protect them. The whole of the land is the property of the king, and the husbandmen till it on condition of receiving one-fourth of the produce.

(41) 6 The third caste consists of herdsmen and hunters, who alone are allowed to hunt, and to keep cattle, and to sell draught animals or let them out on hire. In return for clearing the land of wild beasts and fowls which devour the seeds sown in the fields, they receive an allowance of grain from the king. They lead a wandering life and live under tents.

Fragm. XXXVI. follows here.


(So much, then, on the subject of wild animals. We shall now return to Megasthenes, and resume from where we digressed.)

(46) 7 The fourth class, after herdsmen and hunters, consists of those who work at trades, of those who vend wares, and of those who are employed in bodily labour. Some of these pay tribute, and render to the state certain prescribed services. But the armour-makers and shipbuilders receive wages and their victuals from the king, for whom alone they work. The general in command of the army supplies the soldiers with weapons, and the admiral of the fleet lets out ships on hire for the transport both of passengers and merchandize.

The kala pani (lit. black water) represents the proscription of the over reaching seas in Hinduism. According to this prohibition, crossing the seas to foreign lands causes the loss of one's social respectability, as well as the putrefaction of one’s cultural character and posterity.

The offense of crossing the sea is also known as "Samudrolanghana" or "Sagarollanghana". The Dharma Sutra of Baudhayana (II.1.2.2) lists sea voyages as first of the offenses that cause the loss of varna. The Dharma Sutra suggests a person can wipe away this offense in three years by eating little at every fourth meal time; bathing at dawn, noon and dusk; standing during the day; and seated during the night.

The reasons behind the proscription include the inability to carry out the daily rituals of traditional Hindu life and the sin of contact with the characterless, uncivilized mleccha creatures of the foreign lands. An associated notion was that crossing the ocean entailed the end of the reincarnation cycle, as the traveler was cut off from the regenerating waters of the Ganges. Such voyages also meant breaking family and social ties. In another respect, the inhabitants of the land beyond the "black water" were houglis, bad-spirited and monstrous swines who could sometimes mask their true ugliness by presenting an illusion of physical beauty or superiority. The mleccha people were spawned by immoral reprobates and blasphemously held religious belief in nāstika, albeit in different forms. They are understood to have rejected the Vedas and have ceased to worship Bhagavan, the divine Vedic God, in favor of concocted false religions and irreligions with contemptible manners of reverence. Their societies are immoral and built on deceit, subjugation, and corruption. Therefore, it was thought that true Hindus should not come under their influence or embrace their beliefs, as they will be just as deserving of contempt as a mleccha.

During the Portuguese Age of exploration, Portuguese sailors noted that Hindus were reluctant to engage in maritime trade due to the kala pani proscription. In the eighteenth century, the banias of North India even considered the crossing of the Indus River at Attock to be prohibited, and underwent purification rituals upon their return.


-- Kala pani (taboo), by Wikipedia

In pre-modern times, caste really mattered, as it identified you as part of the community. This community gave you a vocation and a wife, and demanded you follow the community rules, which included giving your daughter only to a member of the caste. It was an extended family. And so anything, which led to loss of caste, acquired great significance.

Baudhayana Dharma-sutra, composed about 2,000 years ago, maybe earlier, lists this "Samudrolanghana" or "Sagarollanghana" as the first of many reasons for loss of castes (II.1.2.2). This especially applied to Brahmins, as there was fear that travel abroad prevented a Brahmin from performing various rites and rituals in the prescribed manner at the prescribed time. The belief was that movement away from the sacred Vedic fire, made one vulnerable to pollution. The contemporary ritual of "aarti" or waving of lamps when one is leaving the house is meant to create a shield to protect against pollution; the same at the time of the return is meant to wipe out all pollutants, and ensure purification...

The major epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, do not refer to sea travel...

There was definitely a thriving sea-trade to South East Asia in the Gupta Age 1,500 years ago. [4th century CE - late 6th century CE.]


-- Do Hindus lose their caste when they travel abroad?, by Devdutt Pattanaik

(47) The fifth class consists of fighting men, who, when not engaged in active service, pass their time in idleness and drinking. They are maintained at the king's expense, and hence they are always ready, when occasion calls, to take the field, for they carry nothing of their own with them but their own bodies.

(48) The sixth class consists of the overseers, to whom is assigned the duty of watching all that goes on, and making reports secretly to the king. Some are entrusted with the inspection of the city, and others with that of the army. The former employ as their coadjutors the courtezans of the city, and the latter the courtezans of the camp. The ablest and most trustworthy men are appointed to fill these offices.

The seventh class consists of the councillors and assessors of the king. To them belong the highest posts of government, the tribunals of justice, and the general administration of public affairs.*

[*The Greek writers by confounding some distinctions occasioned by civil employment with those arising from that division have increased the number (of, classes) from five (including the handicrafts-man or mixed class) to seven. This number is produced by their supposing the king's councillors and assessors to form a distinct class from the Brahmans; by splitting the class of Vaisya into two, consisting of shepherds and husbandmen; by introducing a caste of spies; and, by omitting the servile class altogether. With those exceptions the classes are in the state described by Menu, which is the groundwork of that still subsisting. — Elphinstone's History of India; p. 236.]

12 No one is allowed to marry out of his own caste, or to exchange one profession or trade for another, or to follow more than one business. An exception is made in favour of the philosopher, who for his virtue is allowed this privilege.
 
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Re: Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian

Postby admin » Fri Jul 23, 2021 4:56 am

Fragm. XXXIV.

Strab. XV. 1. 50-52,— pp. 707-709.

Of the administration of public affairs.

Of the use of Horses and Elephants.

(Fragm. XXXIII. has preceded this.)


(50) Of the great officers of state, some have charge of the market, others of the city, others of the soldiers. Some superintend the rivers, measure the land, as is done in Egypt, and inspect the sluices by which water is let out from the main canals into their branches, so that every one may have an equal supply of it. 2 The same persons have charge also of the huntsmen, and are entrusted with the power of rewarding or punishing them according to their deserts. They collect the taxes, and superintend the occupations connected with land, as those of the woodcutters, the carpenters, the blacksmiths, and the miners. 3 They construct roads, and at every ten stadia* ...

[*From this it would appear that ten stadia were equal to some Indian measure of distance, which must have been the krosa or kosa. If the stadium be taken at 202-1/4 yards, this would give 2022-1/2 yards for the kos, agreeing with the shorter kos of 4,000 haths, in use in the Panjab, and till lately, if not still, in parts of Bengal.— Ed. lnd. Ant.]

... set up a pillar to show the by-roads and distances. 4 Those who have charge of the city are divided into six bodies of five each. The members of the first look after everything relating to the industrial arts. Those of the second attend to the entertainment of foreigners. To these they assign lodgings, and they keep watch over their modes of life by means of those persons whom they give to them for assistants. They escort them on the way when they leave the country, or, in the event of their dying, forward their property to their relatives. They take care of them when they are sick, and if they die bury them.

31. 'By a king wholly pure, faithful to his promise, observant of the scriptures, with good assistants and sound understanding may punishment be justly inflicted.

32. 'Let him in his own domains act with justice, chastise foreign foes with rigour, behave without duplicity to his affectionate friends, and with lenity to the Brahmens.


-- Institutes of Hindu Law: Or, The Ordinances of Menu, According to the Gloss of Culluca. Comprising the Indian System of Duties, Religious and Civil, Verbally translated from the original Sanscrit, With a Preface, by Sir William Jones


5 The third body consists of those who inquire when and how births and deaths occur, with the view not only of levying a tax, but also in order that births and deaths among both high and low may not escape the cognizance of Government. 6 The fourth class superintends trade and commerce. Its members have charge of weights and measures, and see that the products in their season are sold by public notice. No one is allowed to deal in more than one kind of commodity unless he pays a double tax. The fifth class supervises manufactured articles, which they sell by public notice. What is new is sold separately from what is old, and there is a fine for mixing the two together. 8 The sixth and last class consists of those who collect the tenths of the prices of the articles sold. Fraud in the payment of this tax is punished with death.

9 Such are the functions which these bodies separately discharge. In their collective capacity they have charge both of their special departments, and also of matters affecting the general interest, as the keeping of public buildings in proper repair, the regulation of prices, the care of markets, harbours, and temples. 10 Next to the city magistrates there is a third governing body, which directs military affairs. This also consists of six divisions, with five members to each. One division is appointed to cooperate with the admiral of the fleet, another with the superintendent of the bullock-trains which are used for transporting engines of war, food for the soldiers, provender for the cattle, and other military requisites. They supply servants who beat the drum, and others who carry gongs; grooms also for the horses, and mechanists and their assistants. To the sound of the gong they send out foragers to bring in grass, and by a system of rewards and punishments ensure the work being done with despatch and safety. 11 The third division has charge of the foot-soldiers, the fourth of the horses, the fifth of the war-chariots, and the sixth of the elephants. 12 There are royal stables for the horses and elephants, and also a royal magazine for the arms, because the soldier has to return his arms to the magazine, and his horse and his elephant to the stables. 13 They use the elephants without bridles. The chariots are drawn on the march by oxen, 14 but the horses are led along by a halter, that their legs may not be galled and inflamed, nor their spirits damped by drawing chariots. 15 In addition to the charioteer, there are two fighting men who sit up in the chariot beside him. The war-elephant carries four men — three who shoot arrows, and the driver.*

[*"The fourfold division of the army (horse, foot, chariots, and elephants was the same as that of Menu; but Strabo makes a sextuple-division, by adding the commissariat and naval department."]

(Fragm. XXVII. follows.)
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Re: Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian

Postby admin » Fri Jul 23, 2021 5:03 am

Fragm. XXXV.

Aelian, Hist. Anim. XIII. 10.

Of the use of Horses and Elephants.

Cf. Fragm. XXXIV. 13-15.


When it is said that an Indian by springing forward in front of a horse can check his speed and hold him back, this is not true of all Indians, but only of such as have been trained from boyhood to manage horses; for it is a practice with them to control their horses with bit and bridle, and to make them move at a measured pace and in a straight course. They neither, however, gall their tongue by the use of spiked muzzles, nor torture the roof of their mouth. The professional trainers break them in by forcing them to gallop round and round in a ring, especially when they see them refractory. Such as undertake this work require to have a strong hand as well as a thorough knowledge of horses. The greatest proficients test their skill by driving a chariot round and round in a ring; and in truth it would be no trifling feat to control with ease a team of four high-mettled steeds when whirling round in a circle. The chariot carries two men who sit beside the charioteer. The war-elephant, either in what is called the tower, or on his bare back in sooth, carries three fighting men, of whom two shoot from the side, while one shoots from behind. There is also a fourth man, who carries in his hand the goad wherewith he guides the animal, much in the same way as the pilot and captain of a ship direct its course with the helm.
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Re: Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian

Postby admin » Fri Jul 23, 2021 8:36 am

Fragm. XXXVI.

Strab. XV. 1. 41-43,— pp. 704-705.

Of Elephants.

Conf. Epit, 54-56.

(Fragm. XXXIII. 6 has preceded this.)


A private person is not allowed to keep either a horse or an elephant. These animals are held to be the special property of the king, and persons are appointed to take care of them. 2 The manner of hunting the elephant is this. Round a bare patch of ground is dug a deep trench about five or six stadia in extent, and over this is thrown a very narrow bridge which gives access to the enclosure. 3 Into this enclosure are introduced three or four of the best-trained female elephants. The men themselves lie in ambush in concealed huts. 4 The wild elephants do not approach this trap in the day-time, but they enter it at night, going in one by one. 5 When all have passed the entrance, the men secretly close it up; then, introducing the strongest of the tame fighting elephants, they fight it out with the wild ones, whom at the same time they enfeeble with hunger. 6 When the latter are now overcome with fatigue, the boldest of the drivers dismount unobserved, and each man creeps under his own elephant, and from this position creeps under the belly of the wild elephant and ties his feet together. 7 When this is done they incite the tame ones to beat those whose feet are tied till they fall to the ground. They then bind the wild ones and the tame ones together neck to neck with thongs of raw ox-hide. 8 To prevent them shaking themselves in order to throw off those who attempt to mount them, they make cuts all round their neck and then put thongs of leather into the incisions, so that the pain obliges them to submit to their fetters and to remain quiet. From the number caught they reject such as are too old or too young to be serviceable, and the rest they lead away to the stables. Here they tie their feet one to another, and fasten their necks to a firmly fixed pillar, and tame them by hunger. 10 After this they restore their strength with green reeds and grass. They next teach them to be obedient, which they effect by soothing them, some by coaxing words, and others by songs and the music of the dram. 11 Few of them are found difficult to tame, for they are naturally so mild and gentle in their disposition that they approximate to rational creatures. Some of them take up their drivers when fallen in battle, and carry them off in safety from the field. Others, when their masters have sought refuge between their forelegs, have fought in their defence and saved their lives. If in a fit of anger they kill either the man who feeds or the man who trains them, they pine so much for their loss that they refuse to take food, and sometimes die of hunger.

144. 'If no learned Brahmen be at hand, he may at his pleasure invite a friend to the sraddha, but not a foe, be he ever so learned; since the oblation, being eaten by a foe, loses all fruit in the life to come.

145. 'With great care let him give food at the sraddha to a priest, who has gone through the scripture, but has chiefly studied the Rigveda; to one, who has read all the branches, but principally those of the Yajush; or to one who has finished the whole, with particular attention to  the Saman:

146. 'Of that man whose oblation has been eaten, after due honours, by any one of those three Brahmens, the ancestors are constantly satisfied as high as the seventh person, or to the sixth degree.

147. 'This is the chief rule in offering the sraddha to the gods and to ancestors: but the following may be considered as a subsidiary rule, where no such learned priests can he found, and is ever observed by good men:

148. 'Let him entertain his maternal grandfather, his maternal uncle, the son of his sister, the father of his wife, his spiritual guide, the son of his daughter, or her husband, his maternal cousin, his officiary priest, or the performer of his sacrifice.

149. ‘For an oblation to the gods, let not the man, who knows what is law, scrupulously inquire into the parentage of a Brahmen; but for a prepared oblation to ancestors let him examine it with strict care.

150. 'Those Brahmens, who have committed any inferiour theft or any of the higher crimes, who are deprived of virility, or who profess a disbelief in a future state, Menu has pronounced unworthy of honour at a sraddha to the gods or to ancestors.

151. ‘To a student in theology, who has not read the Veda, to a man punished for past crimes by being born without a prepuce, to a gamester, and to such as perform many sacrifices for other men, let him never give food at the sacred obsequies,

152. ‘Physicians, image worshippers for gain, sellers of meat, and such as live by low traffick, must be shunned in oblations both to the deities and to progenitors.

153. 'A public servant of the whole town
, or of the prince, a man with whitlows on his nails, or with black yellow teeth, an opposer of his preceptor, a deserter of the sacred fire, and an usurer,

154. 'A phthisical man, a feeder of cattle, one omitting the five great sacraments, a contemner of Brahmens, a younger brother married before the elder, an elder brother not married before the younger, and a man who subsists by the wealth of many relations,

155. 'A dancer, one who has violated the rule of chastity in the first or fourth order, the husband of a Sudra, the son of a twice married woman, a man who has lost one eye, and a husband in whose house an adulterer dwells,

156. 'One who teaches the Veda for wages, and one who gives wages to such a teacher, the pupil of a Sudra, and the Sudra preceptor, a rude speaker, and the son of an adulteress, born either before or after the death of the husband,

157. 'A forsaker, without just cause, of his mother, father or preceptor, and a man who forms a connexion, either by scriptural or connubial affinity, with great sinners,

158. 'A house-burner, a giver of poison, an eater of food offered by the son of an adulteress, a seller of the moon plant, a species of mountain rue, a navigator of the ocean, a poetical encomiast, an oilman, and a suborner of perjury,

159. 'A wrangler with his father, an employer of gamesters for his own benefit, a drinker of intoxicating spirits, a man punished for sin with elephantiasis, one of evil repute, a cheat, and a seller of liquids,

160. 'A maker of bows and arrows, the husband of a younger sister married before the elder of the whole blood, an injurer of his friend, the keeper of a gaming-house, and a father instructed in the Veda by his own son,

161. 'An epileptick person, one who has the erysipelas or the leprosy, a common informer, a lunatick, a blind man, and a despiser of scripture, must all be shunned.

162. 'A tamer of elephants, bulls, horses, or camels, a man who subsists by astrology, a keeper of birds, and one who teaches the use of arms,

163. 'He, who diverts watercourses, and he, who is gratified by obstructing them, he, who builds houses for gain, a messenger, and a planter of trees for pay,

164. 'A breeder of sporting dogs, a falconer, a seducer of damsels, a man delighting in mischief, a Brahmen living as a Sudra, a sacrificer to the inferiour gods only,

165. 'He, who observes not approved customs, and he who regards not prescribed duties, a constant importunate asker of favours, he who supports himself by tillage, a clubfooted man, and one despised by the virtuous,

166. ‘A shepherd, a keeper of buffalos, the husband of a twice married woman, and the remover of dead bodies for pay, are to be avoided with great care.

167. 'Those lowest of Brahmens, whose manners are contemptible, who are not admissible into company at a repast, an exalted and learned priest must avoid at both sraddhas.

168. 'A Brahmen unlearned in holy writ, is extinguished in an instant like a fire of dry grass: to him the oblation must not be given; for the clarified butter must not be poured on ashes.

-- Institutes of Hindu Law: Or, The Ordinances of Menu, According to the Gloss of Culluca. Comprising the Indian System of Duties, Religious and Civil, Verbally translated from the original Sanscrit, With a Preface, by Sir William Jones


12 They copulate like horses, and the female casts her calf chiefly in spring. It is the season for the male, when he is in heat and becomes ferocious. At this time he discharges a fatty substance through an orifice near the temples. It is also the season for the females, when the corresponding passage opens. 13 They go with young for a period which varies from sixteen to eighteen months. The dam suckles her calf for six years. 14 Most of them live as long as men who attain extreme longevity, and some live over two hundred years. They are liable to many distempers, and are not easily cured. 15 The remedy for diseases of the eye is to wash it with cows' milk. For most of their other diseases draughts of black wine are administered to them. For the cure of their wounds they are made to swallow butter, for this draws out iron. Their sores are fomented with swine's flesh.
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Re: Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian

Postby admin » Thu Jul 29, 2021 10:08 am

Fragm. XXXVII.

Arr. Ind. ch. 13-14.


(Fragm. XXXII. comes before this.)

(See the translation of Arrian's Indika.*)

[*Fragm. XXXVII. B.]

Aelian, Hist. Anim. XII. 44.

Of Elephants.

(Cf. Fragm. XXXVI. 9-10 and XXXVII. 9-10 init. c. XIV).


In India an elephant if caught when full-grown is difficult to tame, and longing for freedom thirsts for blood. Should it be bound in chains, this exasperates it still more, and it will not submit to a master. The Indians, however, coax it with food, and seek to pacify it with various things for which it has a liking, their aim being to fill its stomach and to soothe its temper. But it is still angry with them, and takes no notice of them. To what device do they then resort? They sing to it their native melodies, and soothe it with the music of an instrument in common use which has four strings and is called a skindapsos. The creature now pricks up its ears, yields to the soothing strain, and its anger subsides. Then, though there is an occasional outburst of its suppressed passion, it gradually turns its eye to its food. It is then freed from its bonds, but does not seek to escape, being enthralled with the music. It even takes food eagerly, and, like a luxurious guest riveted to the festive board, has no wish to go, from its love of the music.
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Re: Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian

Postby admin » Thu Jul 29, 2021 10:13 am

Fragm. XXXVIII.

Aelian, Hist. Anim. XIII. 7.

Of the diseases of Elephants.

(Cf. Fragm. XXXVI. 15 and XXXVII. 15.)


The Indians cure the wounds of the elephants which they catch, in the manner following: — They treat them in the way in which, as good old Homer tells us, Patroklos treated the wound of Eurypylos, — they foment them with lukewarm water.*

[*See Iliad, bk. XI. 845.]

After this they rub them over with butter, and if they are deep, allay the inflammation by applying and inserting pieces of pork, hot but still retaining the blood. They cure ophthalmia with cows' milk, which is first used as a fomentation for the eye, and is then injected into it. The animals open their eyelids, and finding they can see better are delighted, and are sensible of the benefit like human beings. In proportion as their blindness diminishes their delight overflows, and this is a token that the disease has been cured. The remedy for other distempers to which they are liable is black wine; and if this potion fails to work a cure, nothing else can save them.
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Re: Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian

Postby admin » Thu Jul 29, 2021 10:30 am

Fragm. XXXIX.

Strab. XV. 1. 44,— p. 706.

Of Gold-digging Ants.*


[*See Ind. Ant. vol. IV. pp. 225 seqq. whom cogent arguments are adduced to prove that the 'gold-digging ants' were originally neither, as the ancients supposed, real ants, nor, as so many eminent men of learning have supposed, larger animals mistaken for ants on account of their appearance and subterranean habits, but Tibetan miners, whose mode of life and dress was in the remotest antiquity exactly what they are at the present day.]

Tibet contains considerable deposits of gold, but modern methods of mining are unknown. Since ancient times they have been scooping out the soil in the Changthang with gazelle horns. An Englishman once told me that it would probably pay to treat by modern methods soil that has already been sieved by the Tibetans. Many provinces must today pay their taxes in gold-dust. But there is no more digging than is absolutely necessary, for fear of disturbing the earth-gods and attracting reprisals, and thus once more progress is retarded.

Many of the great rivers of Asia have their source in Tibet and carry down with them the gold from the mountains. But not till the rivers have reached neighbouring countries is their gold exploited. Washing for gold is only practised in a few parts of Tibet where it is particularly profitable. There are rivers in Eastern Tibet where the stream has scooped out bath-shaped cavities. Gold-dust collects in these places by itself and one has only to go and get it from time to time. As a rule the district governor takes possession of these natural gold-washings for the Government.

I always wondered why no one had thought of exploiting these treasures for personal profit. When you swim under water in any of the streams round Lhasa, you can see the gold-dust glimmering in the sunlight. But as in so many other parts of the country this natural wealth remains unexploited, mainly because the Tibetans consider this comparatively easy work too laborious for them.


-- Seven Years in Tibet, by Heinrich Harrer


Megasthenes gives the following account of those ants. Among the Derdai, a great tribe of Indians, who inhabit the mountains on the eastern borders,*...

[*These are the Dardae of Pliny, the Daradrai of Ptolemy, and the Daradas of Sanscrit literature. "The Darda are not an extinct race. According to the accounts of modern travellers, they consist of several wild and predatory tribes dwelling among the mountains on the northwest frontier of Kasmir and by the banks of the Indus." Ind. Ant. loc. cit.]

... there is an elevated plateau* ...

[*The table-land of Chojotol, sec Jour. R. Geog. Soc. vol. XXXIX. pp. 149 seqq.—Ed. Ind. Ant.]

... about 3,000 stadia in circuit. Beneath the surface there are mines of gold, and here accordingly are found the ants which dig for that metal. They are not inferior in size to wild foxes. They run with amazing speed, and live by the produce of the chase. The time when they dig is winter.*

[*"The miners of Thok-Jalung, in spite of the cold, prefer working in winter; and the number of their tents, which in summer amounts to three hundred, rises to nearly six hundred in winter. They prefer the winter, as the frozen soil then stands well, and is not likely to trouble them much by falling in."— Id.]

They throw up heaps of earth, as moles do, at the mouth of the mines. The gold-dust has to be subjected to a little boiling. The people of the neighbourhood, coming secretly with beasts of burden, carry this off. If they came openly the ants would attack them, and pursue them if they fled, and would destroy both them and their cattle. So, to effect the robbery without being observed, they lay down in several different places pieces of the flesh of wild beasts, and when the ants are by this device dispersed they carry off the gold-dust. This they sell to any trader they meet with* ...

[*[x] If the different reading [x] be adopted, the rendering is, "They dispose of it to merchants at any price."]

... while it is still in the state of ore, for the art of fusing metals is unknown to them.*

[*Cf. Herod. III. 102-105; Arrian, Anab. V. 4. 7; Aelian, Hist. Anim. III. 4; Clem. Alex. Poed. II. p. 207; Tzetz. Chil. XII. 330-340; Plin. Hist. Nat. XI. 36, XXXIII. 21; Propert. III. 13. 5; Pomp. Mel. VII. 2; Isidor. Orig. XII. 3; Albert Mag. De Animal. T. VI. p. 678, ex subdititiis Alexandri epistolis; Anonym. Dr Monstris et Belluis, 259, ed. Berger de Xivrey; Philostratus, Vit. Apollon. VI. 1; and Heliodorus, Aeth. X. 26, p. 495; also Gildemeistor, Script. Arab, de reb. Ind. p. 220-221, and 120; Busbequius, Legationis Turcicae Epist. IV. pp. 144, or Thaunus XXIV. 7, p. 809.— Schwanbeck, p. 72.]
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Re: Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian

Postby admin » Fri Jul 30, 2021 9:00 am

Fragm. XL.

Arr. Ind. XV. 5-7.


(See the translation of Arrian's Indika.*)

[*Fragm. XL. B.]

Dio Chrysost. Or. 35,— p. 436, Morell.

Of Ants which dig for gold.

(Cf. Fragm. XXXIV. and XL.)


They got the gold from ants. These creatures are larger than foxes, but are in other respects like the ants of our own country. They dig holes in the earth like other ants. The heap which they throw up consists of gold the purest and brightest in all the world. The mounds are piled up close to each other in regular order like hillocks of gold dust, whereby all the plain is made effulgent. It is difficult, therefore, to look towards the sun, and many who have attempted to do this have thereby destroyed their eyesight. The people who are next neighbours to the ants, with a view to plunder these heaps, cross the intervening desert, which is of no great extent, mounted on wagons to which they have yoked their swiftest horses. They arrive at noon, a time when the ants have gone underground, and at once seizing the booty make off at full speed. The ants, on learning what has been done, pursue the fugitives, and overtaking them fight with them till they conquer or die, for of all animals they are the most courageous. It hence appears that they understand the worth of gold, and that they will sacrifice their lives rather than part with it.
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Re: Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian

Postby admin » Fri Jul 30, 2021 9:31 am

Fragm. XLI.

Strab. XV. 1. 68-60,— pp. 711-714.

Of the Indian Philosophers.


(Fragm. XXIX. has preceded this.)

(58) Speaking of the philosophers, he (Megasthenes) says that such of them as live on the mountains are worshippers of Dionysos, showing as proofs that he had come among them the wild vine, which grows in their country only, and the ivy, and the laurel, and the myrtle, and the box-tree, and other evergreens, none of which are found beyond the Euphrates, except a few in parks, which it requires great care to preserve. They observe also certain customs which are Bacchanalian. Thus they dress in muslin, wear the turban, use perfumes, array themselves in garments dyed of bright colours; and their kings, when they appear in public, are preceded by the music of drums and gongs. But the philosophers who live on the plains worship Herakles.*

[*These accounts are fabulous, and are impugned by many writers, especially what is said about the vine and wine. For the greater part of Armenia, and the whole of Mesopotamia and Media, onwards to Persia and Karmania, lie beyond the Euphrates, and throughout a great part of each of these countries good vines grow, and good wine is produced.]

(59) Megasthenes makes a different division of the philosophers, saying that they are of two kinds — one of which he calls the Brachmanes, and the other the Sarmanes.*

[*Since the word [x] (the form used by Clemens of Alexandria) corresponds to the letter with the Sanskrit word sramana (i.e. an ascetic), it is evident that the forms [x] and [x], which are found in all the MSS. of Strabo, are incorrect. The mistake need not surprise us, since the [x] when closely written together differ little in form from the syllable [x]. In the same way Clement's [x] must be changed into Strabo's [x], corresponding with the Sanskrit Vanaprastha — 'the man of the first three castes who, after the term of his householdership has expired, has entered the third Asrama or order, and has proceeded (prastha) to a life in the woods (Vana).' " — Schwanbeck, p. 46; H. H. Wilson, Gloss. 'It is a capital question," he adds, " who the Sarmanae were, some considering them to be Buddhists, and others denying them to be such. Weighty arguments are adduced on both sides, but the opinion of those seems to approach nearer the truth who contend that they were Buddhists."]

The Brachmanes are best esteemed, for they are more consistent in their opinions. From the time of their conception in the womb they are under the guardian care of learned men, who go to the mother and, under the pretence of using some incantations for the welfare of herself and her unborn babe, in reality give her prudent hints and counsels. The women who listen most willingly are thought to be the most fortunate in their children. After their birth the children are under the care of one person after another, and as they advance in age each succeeding master is more accomplished than his predecessor. The philosophers have their abode in a grove in front of the city within a moderate-sized enclosure. They live in a simple style, and lie on beds of rashes or (deer) skins. They abstain from animal food and sexual pleasures, and spend their time in listening to serious discourse, and in imparting their knowledge to such as will listen to them. The hearer is not allowed to speak, or even to cough, and much less to spit, and if he offends in any of these ways he is cast out from their society that very day, as being a man who is wanting in self-restraint. After living in this manner for seven-and-thirty years, each individual retires to his own property, where he lives for the rest of his days in ease and security.*

[*A mistake (of the Greek writers) originates in their ignorance of the fourfold division of a Brahman's life. Thus they speak of men who had been for many years sophists marrying and returning to common life (alluding probably to a student who, having completed the austerities of the first period, becomes a householder):" Elphinstone's History of India, p. 236, where it is also remarked that the writers erroneously prolong the period during which students listen to their instructors in silence and respect, making it extend in all cases to thirty-seven, which is the greatest age to which Manu (chap. III. sec. 1) permits it in any case to be protracted.]

They then array themselves in fine muslin, and wear a few trinkets of gold on their fingers and in their ears. They eat flesh, but not that of animals employed in labour. They abstain from hot and highly seasoned food. They marry as many wives as they please, with a view to have numerous children, for by having many wives greater advantages are enjoyed, and, since they have no slaves, they have more need to have children around them to attend to their wants.

The Brachmanes do not communicate a knowledge of philosophy to their wives, lest they should divulge any of the forbidden mysteries to the profane if they became depraved, or lest they should desert them if they became good philosophers: for no one who despises pleasure and pain, as well as life and death, wishes to be in subjection to another, but this is characteristic both of a good man and of a good woman.

Death is with them a very frequent subject of discourse. They regard this life as, so to speak, the time when the child within the womb becomes mature, and death as a birth into a real and happy life for the votaries of philosophy. On this account they undergo much discipline as a preparation for death. They consider nothing that befalls men to be either good or bad, to suppose otherwise being a dream-like illusion, else how could some be affected with sorrow, and others with pleasure, by the very same things, and how could the same things affect the same individuals at different times with these opposite emotions?

Their ideas about physical phenomena, the same author tells us, are very crude, for they are better in their actions than in their reasonings, inasmuch as their belief is is great measure based upon fables; yet on many points their opinions coincide with those of the Greeks, for like them they say that the world had a beginning, and is liable to destruction, and is in shape spherical, and that the Deity who made it, and who governs it is diffused through all its parts. They hold that various first principles operate in the universe, and that water was the principle employed in the making of the world. In addition to the four elements there is a fifth agency, from which the heaven and the stars were produced.*

[*Akasa, 'the ether or sky.']

The earth is placed in the centre of the universe. Concerning generation, and the nature of the soul, and many other subjects, they express views like those maintained by the Greeks. They wrap up their doctrines about immortality and future judgment, and kindred topics, in allegories, after the manner of Plato. Such are his statements regarding the Brachmanes.

(60) Of the Sarmanes* ...

[*Schwanbeck argues from the distinct separation here made between the Brachmanes and the Sarmanes, as well as from the name sramana being especially applied to Bauddha teachers, that the latter are here meant. They are called [x] by Bardesanes (ap. Porphyr. Abstin. IV. 17) and Alex. Polyhistor. (ap. Cyrill. contra Julian. IV. p. 133 E, ed. Paris, 1638). Conf. also Hieronym. ad Jovinian. II. (ed. Paris, 1706, T. II.pt. 11. p. 206). And this is just the Pali name Sammana, the equivalent of the Sanskrit sramana. Bohlen in De Buddhaismi origine et aetate definiendis sustains this view, but Lassen (Rhein.Mus.fur Phil. I. 171 ff.) contends that the description agrees better with the Brahman ascetics. Sec Schwanbeck, p. 45ff. and Lassen, Ind. Alterth. (2nd ed). II. 705, or (1st ed.) II.700.]

... he tells us that those who are held in most honour are called the Hylobioi.*

[*See note page 98.]

They live in the woods, where they subsist on leaves of trees and wild fruits, and wear garments made from the bark of trees. They abstain from sexual intercourse and from wine. They communicate with the kings, who consult them by messengers regarding the causes of things, and who through them worship and supplicate the deity. Next in honour to the Hylobioi are the physicians, since they are engaged in the study of the nature of man. They are simple in their habits, but do not live in the fields. Their food consists of rice and barley-meal, which they can always get for the mere asking, or receive from those who entertain them as guests in their houses. By their knowledge of pharmacy they can make marriages fruitful, and determine the sex of the offspring. They effect cures rather by regulating diet than by the use of medicines. The remedies most esteemed are ointments and plasters. All others they consider to be in a great measure pernicious in their nature.*

[*"The habits of the physicians," Elphinstone remarks, "seem to correspond with those of Brahmans of the fourth stage."]

This class and the other class practise fortitude, both by undergoing active toil, and by the endurance of pain, so that they remain for a whole day motionless in one fixed attitude.*

[*"It is indeed," says the same authority, " a remarkable circumstance that the religion of Buddha should never have been expressly noticed by the Greek authors, though it had existed for two centuries before Alexander. The only explanation is that the appearance and manners of its followers were not so peculiar as to enable a foreigner to distinguish them from the mass of the people."]

Besides these there are diviners and sorcerers, and adepts in the rites and customs relating to the dead, who go about begging both in villages and towns.

Even such of them as are of superior culture and refinement inculcate such superstitions regarding Hades as they consider favourable to piety and holiness of life. Women pursue philosophy with some of them, but abstain from sexual intercourse.
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Re: Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian

Postby admin » Mon Aug 30, 2021 4:40 am

Fragm. XLII.

Clem. Alex. Strom. I. p. 305 D (ed. Colon. 1688).


That the Jewish race is by far the oldest of all these, and that their philosophy, which has been committed to writing, preceded the philosophy of the Greeks, Philo the Pythagorean shows by many arguments, as does also Aristoboulos the Peripatetic, and many others whose names I need not waste time in enumerating. Megasthenes, the author of a work on India, who lived with Seleukos Nikator, writes most clearly on this point, and his words are these: — "All that has been said regarding nature by the ancients is asserted also by philosophers out of Greece, on the one part in India by the Brachmanes, and on the other in Syria by the people called the Jews."

Fragm. XLII.B.

Euseb. Proep Ev. IX. 6,— pp. 410 C, D (ed. Colon. 1688).

Ex Clem. Alex.


Again, in addition to this, farther on he writes thus: —

"Megasthenes, the writer who lived with Seleukos Nikator, writes most clearly on this point and to this effect:— 'All that has been said,'" &c.

Fragm. XLII.C.

Cyrill. Contra Julian. IV. (Opp. ed. Paris, 1638, T. VI. p. 134 Al. Ex Clem. Alex.*


[*In this passage, though Cyril follows Clemens, he wrongly attributes the narrative of Megasthenes to Aristoboulos the Peripatetic, whom Clemens only praises."— Schwanbeck, p. 50.]

Aristoboulos the Peripatetic somewhere writes to this effect: — "All that has been said," &c.
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