India as Known to Kautilya and Megasthenes

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Item Code: IDJ539
Author: S. R. Goyal
Publisher: Kusumanjali Book World, Jodhpur
Edition: 2001
Pages: 358
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.7" X 5.7"
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Book Description
From the Jacket:

The Book:
The present monograph throws much new light on the problems connected with the study of the Arthasastra and the Indica. Its author Professor S. R. Goyal believes that Vishnugupta Kautilya who wrote the Arthasastra was different from Chanakya, the Prime Minister of Chandragupta Maurya and that Kautilya flourished more than five centuries later than Chanakya. In the light of these suggestions the author has studied afresh several aspects of the Arthasastric material, specially those connected with the religious condition, numismatic data, state capitalism, law of succession, provision for emergency taxes, administrative terms, etc.

In his critical study of the Indica also Professor Goyal has thrown several new suggestions. He has shown that the Indian Heracles of Megasthenes as described in relation to Mathura should mainly be identified not with Vasudeva-Krshna but with Manu-Vaivasvata, that the Indian Dionysus of Megasthenes is a composite god, that the Pauranika genealogies as known today existed more or less in the same form in the early Maurya age and that the testimony of Megasthenes regarding the absence of the art of writing in India when he visited the country is correct. He has also analysed afresh the reference made to the seven 'castes' and also to the Brahmana and Sramana ascetics by Megasthenes.

Thus the present work throws numerous new and challenging ideas for the consideration of Indologists, specially those who are interested in finding out what was the cultural condition of India when Megasthenes visited this country and Kautilya wrote his Arthasastra.

The Author:
Professor S. R. Goyal is the retired Professor and Head, Department of History, JNV University, Jodhpur. Described as 'one of the five best recent historians of ancient India' by Professor David N. Lorenzen, the great Mexican Orientalist, Professor Goyal combines all the qualities associated with scientific scholarship. He has authored more than thirty voluminous works and over 150 research papers which cover so diverse fields as political history, religious history, literature, biographies, numismatics and epigraphy. He was honoured with the General Presidentship of the Silver Jubilee Congress of the Epigraphical Society of India held at Udupi in April, 1999 and was elected the Honorary Fellow of the Society. Professor Goyal has been deeply involved with the study of Maurya period since last three decades. He not only wrote a monograph dealing with the pre-Gupta epigraphs, specially Maurya epigraphs (Jaipur, 1982), but also Indigenous Coins of Early India (Jodhpur, 1994) which deals with the coins of this period exhaustively. He has also written several voluminous Hindi works on the history of the Nanda-Maurya period, including Nanda-Maurya Samrajya ka Itihasa (Meerut, 1988) Chandragupta Maurya (Meerut, 1987) and Priyadarsi Asoka (Meerut, 1988) and many specialised monographs in English on the problems of Maurya history including Brahmi Script : An Invention of the Early Maurya Period, The Kautiliya Arthasastra : Its Date, Author and Relevance for the Maurya Period and The Indica of Megasthenes: Its Contents and Reliability.

Professor Goyal has so far been honoured with four festschrifts, including Reappraising Gupta History for S. R. Goyal (ed. by Professor B.Ch. Chhabra et al) and S. R. Goyal : His Multidimensional Historiography (ed. by Professor Jagannath Agrawal and Dr. Shankar Goyal).


Of the three major sources for the reconstruction of the history and culture of the Maurya period, two - the Indica of Megasthenes and the edicts of Asoka - indubitably belong to that age, whatever their own shortcomings and limitations, while the ascription of the Arthasastra of Kautilya to the Maurya period is a hotly debated question. In the present monograph, divided in two parts - one on Kautilya and the other on Megasthenes - I have tried to attack this problem by examining the picture of Indian society as revealed from the Arthasastra and by trying to find out how far the picture delineated in Kautilya's work is consonant with the condition of the Maurya age as known from the other sources. This approach is basically different from the approach of those who first ascribe this text to a particular period and then reconstruct the picture of society and polity of that period with the help of the data known from this work. And my analysis has convinced me that this work was not composed in the reign of Chandragupta Maurya and that its greater part was written in the third century A.D. though some of its chapters, specially those on the coins (Book II), seem to be based on some now unknown work composed some time in the last two centuries before the beginning of the Christian era, but definitely after the Maurya period.

As regards the Indica of Megasthenes, some of its contents are indeed seemingly intriguing. But their intriguing nature has been the result partly of the fact tht Megasthenes, being a foreigner, could not understand the social conditions of India as seen by him, partly of the fact that he viewed Indian society in the context of the intellectual background in which he was brought up and partly of the fact that modern researchers approach him with their own preconceived notions about Mauryan India. Otherwise an indepth comparison of his Indica with the Asokan edicts, another source belonging to the same general period, show a remarkable similarity between the two in most essential features of the Maurya society and administration. The juxtaposition of the Brahmanas and Sramanas in Megasthenes, his description of the Councillors and Assessors (who correspond to the mahamatras of the pre-Asokan and Asokan periods) and his allusion to the parisa of the Maurya age - all remarkably agree with the data of the edicts of Asoka. Megasthenes even shows familiarity with many features of the caste system of the Maurya age (such as endogamous marriages and hereditary character of occupations) even if he did not understand them fully, and testifies to the absence of the art of writing in the age of Chandragupta Maurya which is also strongly indicated by the non-availability of the inscriptions belonging to the post-Indus and pre-Asokan period as well as by the nature of the Asokan Brahmi which has all the earmarks of being invented in the early decades of the third century B.C.

As Megasthenes came to India at the fag-end of the Upanishadic age, he shows familiarity with Upanishadic ideas as well such as 'death is birth into true life', 'there is a fifth element of which heaven and heavenly bodies are composed', 'soul is immortal' and that 'god who made the universe pervades the whole of it' (pantheism). He also alludes to the pre-natal and educational samskaras and the Indian asrama system as was prevalent in his day.

Thus, our analysis of the Indian society as portrayed in the Indica on the one hand and the Arthasastra on the other shows that while Megasthenes was describing the actual condition of India of c. 300 B.C., Kautilya did not portray actual conditions of any particular age; he wrote a normative work on polity sometime in the third century A.D. incorporating in it the material of some earlier texts. Our conclusions, we believe, will be found worthy of serious consideration even if many of them go against generally accepted beliefs.

In the preparation of this work I have been greatly helped by my son Dr. Shankar Goyal, Assistant Professor, Department of History, JNV University, Jodhpur. He has also written a couple of chapters both on Kautilya and Megasthenes acknowledged at proper places. I am indeed indebted and thankful to him for his co-operation.


Part I : Kautilya1-180
Chapter 1Nature and Contents of Kautiliya Arthasastra1-15
Origin of the Subject of Arthasastra1
Did the Subject of Arthasastra Emerge Later than the Dharmasastra? 5
Volume of Kautilya's Text : Enigmatic Reference to Six Thousand Verses6
Contents of the Kautiliya Arthasastra8
Chapter 2Author and Date of the Arthasastra16-52
Various Theories Regarding the Date of the Arthasastra16
Theory of the Fourth Century B.C. : Tradition of the Contemporaneity of Kautilya and Chandragupta Maurya19
Criticism of the Traditional Theory22
Supposed Similarities Between Arthasastra and Indica24
Marxist Historians on the Date of the Arthasastra : D. D. Kosambi27
View of Romila Thapar28
R. S. Sharma33
D. N. Jha34
Use of Computer Technique by Thomas R. Trautmann35
Our Arguments for a Late Date for the Arthasastra :
External Evidence: Kautiliya Arthasastra Not Known to pre-Gupta Literature
Relative Chronological Position of Bhasa and Kautilya40
Relative Chronological Position of Kamasutra and Arthasastra40
Internal Evidence : Technical Terms Used in the Arthasastra42
Social Organisation of the Arthasastra43
Samghas in the Arthasastra45
Geographical Horizon of the Arthasastra46
Other Considerations48
Problem of the Inner Chronology of the Arthasastra51
Chapter 3Separate Identities of Vishnugupta Kautilya and Chanakya53-60
Theory of Separate Identities of Kautilya and Chanakya53
Difference in the Religion of Chanakya and Kautilya56
Chapter 4Chanakya in Graeco-Roman Tradition61-68
Evidence of Justin (Trogus) 61
Evidence of the Mahavamsatika63
The Jaina Tradition64
Chapter 5Supposed Relevance of the Arthasastra for the Early Maurya Period69-72
Arthasastra deals with Norms, not Facts69
Dichotomous Attitude of Some Scholars71
Chapter 6Bearing of the Term Mahamatra on the Date of the Arthasastra73-84
Status of the Mahamatras in the Arthasastra73
Meaning of the Term Mahamatra74
The Term Mahamatra, Not Known in the Vedic Age75
Mahamatras in the Pali Canon76
Mahamatras in the Asokan Edicts77
Mahamatras in the Satavahana Records79
Mahamatras in the Gupta Age80
Meaning of the Term Mahamatra in the post-Gupta Age81
Bearing of the History of the Term Mahamatra on the Date of the Arthasastra84
Chapter 7Bearing of the Numismatic Data on the Date of the Arthasastra85-103
Mints and Mint Organisation85
The Terms Lakshana and Rupa86
Mode of Manufacturing Coins87
Rupadarsaka or Coin Examiner88
Rupya-Rupa or Silver Coins92
Tamra-rupa or Copper Coins93
Gold Coinage : No Mention in the Arthasastra94
Use of the Terms Hiranya and Hiranya -Suvarna in the Arthasastra95
Metrology of Coins97
Arthasastra on Forged Coins and Forgers99
Bearing of the Numismatic Data on the Date of the Arthasastra100
Chapter 8Bearing of the Religious Data on the Date of the Arthasastra104-110
Arthasastra and the Vedic Religion104
Pantheon of the Arthasastra105
Temples in the Arthasastra106
Non-Vedic Sects in the Arthasastra107
Comparison of the Religious Atmosphere of the Arthasastra with that of the Gupta Age108
Chapter 9State and Kingship in the Arthasastra111-119
Moderate Dimensions of the State Envisaged by Kautilya111
Monarchy, the Normal Form of Government113
Origin Monarchy and the Concept of the Divinity of Kings114
Activities of the State for the Welfare of the People115
Theory of Danda117
Sources of Law118
Chapter 10Princes in the Arthasastra120-124
Danger for King from Princes120
Samskaras for and Education of the Princes121
Character Building of the Prince122
The Disaffected Prince122
Behaviour towards a Prince in Disfavour123
Conduct of a Prince in Disfavour123
Chapter 11Royal Succession in the Arthasastra125-127
Law of Primogeniture125
Some Exceptions of the Law of Primogeniture125
Norms for Certain Contingencies126
Chapter 12Administration and Administrative Terms Used in the Arthasastra128-138
The Eighteen Tirthas or Mahamatras128
Adhyakshas of Various Departments131
Megasthenes on Maurya Administration133
Asokan Administration and Official Designations Compared with Those of the Arthasastra135
Comparison of the Three Sources136
Chapter 13Policy of Colonization in the Arthasastra139-143
Colonization of the Janapadas140
Disposal of the Non-Agricultural Land142
Was the Policy of Colonization Distinctively Mauryan? 142
Chapter 14Emergency Revenue in the Arthasastra144-150
Demands on Farmers (Karshakeshu Pranayah)144
Benevolences from Dealers (Vyavaharishu Pranayah)147
Demands on Breeders of Animals (Yoniposhakeshu Pranayah)147
Miscellaneous Methods of Augmenting State Revenue in Emergency148
Chapter 15State Capitalism of the Arthasastra151-155
Nature of Kautiliya State Capitalism151
State Farms151
Rearing of Domestic Animals by the State152
Forests as Source of State Revenue152
State Monopoly of Mines and Minerals153
Textile Factories of the State154
State Breweries154
State Trading etc. 154
Does the State Capitalism of the Arthasastra Reflect Actual Condition of the Early Maurya Period ? 155
Chapter 16Brahmanas in the Arthasastra156-165
Concept of Aryamaryada and Pride in Aryadharma156
Kautilya on Varna System157
Privileges and Immunities of the Brahmanas in the Dharmasastra Literature158
Privileges of the Brahmanas in the Arthasastra159
Political Influence of the Brahmanas as Envisaged in the Arthasastra162
Some General Considerations163
Chapter 17Kautilya and Machiavelli : A Comparison166-174
Comparison of the Background of Kautilya and Machiavelli166
Machiavelli's Political Thoughts : Emphasis on Expediency167
Separation of Politics and Ethics in Kautilya170
Other Similarities171
Difference Between Kautilya and Machiavelli172
Chapter 18Kautiliya Arthasastra and Megasthenes' Indica: A Comparison175-180
Similarities Between Arthasastra and Indica175
Differences Between Arthasastra and Indica: In the Description of Administration177
Other Differences177
Part II : Megasthenes1-140
Chapter 1Megasthenes, his Indica and their Reliability1-14
The Indica and its Ancient Critics2
Reliability of Classical Writers who Quote Megasthenes3
Reliability of Megasthenes : Modern Views4
R. C. Majumdar's Evaluation of the Reliability of the Fragments of the Indica6
Criticism of Majumdar's view9
Views of Other Indian Scholars10
Recent Contextual Studies of Megasthenes13
Chapter 2Megasthenes on the Geography of India15-22
Boundaries, Shape and Size of India15
Mountains and Rivers17
Climate, Fertility of Soil and Cultivation18
Mineral Wealth20
Animals and Birds21
Chapter 3Megasthenes on Indian History, Royal Life and Allied Matters23-32
Memory of Indian Prehistory in the Account of Megasthenes23
Legend of Dionysus23
Legend of Heracles25
Legends of the Invasions of Semiramis and Cyrus27
Megasthenes on Sandracottos (Chandragupta Maurya) 28
Palimbothra or Pataliputra28
Royal Life29
Megasthenes on Indian Laws32
Chapter 4Megasthenes on the Absence of the Art of Writing in India33-56
Testimony of Megasthenes on Writing33
Implication of the Testimony of Megasthenes and Our Theory that Brahmi Script was Invented in the Early Maurya Period34
Possible Lines of Investigation35
Reliability of Megasthenes' Fragment36
'Mnemes' Does not Mean Written Smrti Texts38
Testimony of Other Passages of the Indica38
Testimony of Nearchus41
Some Other Classical References42
Validity of the Negative Archaeological Evidence for the Absence of Writing in the pre-Asokan Period43
Indian Literary Evidence is not Against the Testimony of Megasthenes46
Evidence of the Nature of Brahmi Script49
Our Supporters and Critics in The Origin of Brahmi Script51
Our Supporters and Critics after the Publication of The Origin of Brahmi Script53
Chapter 5Megasthenes on the Indian Dionysus57-69
State of Indian Religions and Mythology in c. 300 B.C. 57
Indian Dionysus and Heracles57
Indian Dionysus and Heracles Personify Numerous Indian Gods58
Dionysus in Greek Mythology59
Personality of Indian Dionysus60
Theories Regarding the Identity of the Indian Dionysus62
Indian Dionysus: The Indra Element63
Indian Dionysus: The Contribution of the Legend of King Prthu64
Indian Dionysus: The Contribution of Sankarshana-Balarama Myths66
Indian Dionysus: The Siva Element68
Chapter 6Indian Heracles of Megasthenes and Other Classical Writers70-79
Heracles of the Greek Mythology70
Characteristics of the Indian Heracles of Megasthenes and Other Classical Writers71
Contribution of the Various Gods and Heroes to the Personality of the Indian Heracles : Siva and Krshna72
'Heracles is Indra' Theory of Schroeder and Dahlquist73
Heracles Described with Reference to Mathura Appropriated the Legend of Manu Vaivasvata74
Manu Vaivasvata in the Vedic and Pauranika Literature75
Possible Objectives Answered78
Chapter 7Christian Bias in Allan Dahlquist's Megasthenes and Indian Religion80-86
Christian Bias in the Historiography of the Early Krshna Worship80
Christian Bias of Allan Dahlquist82
Criticism of Dahlquist's Treatment of Literary Evidence83
Dahlquist's Treatment of the Epigraphical Evidence85
Chapter 8State of the Pauranika Literature at the Time of the Visit of Megasthenes87-90
The Problem87
Testimony of Megasthenes Examined88
Chapter 9Megasthenes on 'Seven Castes' of India91-112
The Problem91
Evidence of Megasthenes : Version of Diodorus91
Version of Strabo94
Version of Arrian96
Incidental Notice in Pliny99
Similarities and Difference in the Three Version100
Meaning of Mere and Gene104
Why Megasthenes Divides Indian Society into Seven Parts ? 106
Seven Castes of Indian Society Described by the Arabs109
Chapter 10Megasthenes on the Absence of Slavery in India113-116
Testimony of Megasthenes Vs. Indian Literary Evidence113
Views of Modern Scholars114
Chapter 11Brahmana and Sramana Ascetics in Megasthenes117-132
Ascetics of India117
Megasthenes on Brachmanes118
Analysis of the Testimony of Megasthenes on Brachmane Ascetics120
Megasthenes on Garmanes (Sramanas) 122
Analysis of the Testimony of Megasthenes on Sramanas123
Alexander's Historians on Indian Ascetics125
Evidence of Megasthenes and his Contemporaries on Indian Ascetics in the Light of Indian Literature129
Chapter 12Parallelism Between the Indica and Asokan Edicts133-140
Mahamatras Identical with Councillors and Assessors of Megasthenes
Parisa of the Maurya Period in Megasthenes
Brahmana-Sramana Juxtaposition in Asokan Edicts and Megasthenes
**Contents and Sample Pages**

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