India from Megasthenes Indica & Arrian account

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Socio-economic structure as per Megasthenes during his visit to 302-288 BC.
He was a companion of Alexander of Macedon on his short-lived invasion of North Western India. His work was mostly lost and fragments were collected by Dr Schwanbeck

India was in greek terminology was called by various names such as

-Opiai, a race on the banks of the Indus
-Kalatiai, an Indian race;
-Kaspapyros, a Gandaric city ;
-Aryante, a city of India;
-Skiapodes, and

Indians use to call Greeks ‘YAVANAS’


Magasthenese travelled All the way through Kabul and Punjab through ROYAL ROAD to reach PATALIPUTRA.

A Royal Road is first mention of India’s infrastructure during 300 BC.


Indians called China as ‘Uttarakuri’,

Indian produced Gold, Silver, Copper, Iron, Tin, in huge quantity to make Ornaments as well as armaments.

The farming output was mainly rice, millets, bosporum, cereals. So much so that India never saw femine

Magasthenese mentions that Indian army was trained for war. Indian army comprised 4000 largest elephants in the ‘world’ equiped and trained for war.

Alexander couldn’t cross Ganga due to fear of loss.


Magsthenese mentions the huge population of Indians very diversed and apparently indigenous people. He tells that India neither invaded nor being invaded by other countries

Equal rights and NO slavery is one of the prominent remarks by Magasthenese is worth noting.

He mentions that there was only one law that – No one among them shall be a slave under any circumstances and that civilians have equal rights not to dominate others.


Mage. used word ‘CASTE’ to categorise Indians into SEVEN.
1. Philosphers (Brahamans) inferior to other classes but most dignified to others
Exempt from public duties, neither Servant to or Master of any
Job to forecast and foretell
Punishment of silence 4ever 4 wrong FCST


2nd category-‘Husbandmen’

Exempted from fighting and other public services
They lived in villages and never go to Towns;
They paid 1/4 th of their tillage to the King;
No one was allowed to own property for all land belonged to King himself


3rd category Neatherds & Shepherds

Living in camps outside Towns and Villages.
Their prime responsibility was to remove wild beasts, birds which devour the husbandman agri produce.

4th category Artisons producing armours, exempted from tax, receiving maintenance from King


5th Category was MILITARY 2nd in terms of numbers of all categories (HUGE Army)

6th Cat. as mentioned was OVERSEARS (Spies)

7th Cat. was Counsellers and Assessors, few in numbers but most resptable class. This cat. included Advisors, Treasurers, Arbitrators


The public at large was honest, disciplined, No-theft, No Written Law. The houses remained unlocked.
Truth and virtue they hold alike in esteem.
Their ‘TOMBs’ were plain (probably our ancestors buried instead of cremating).
Respect was given to WISDOM rather than AGE.


Woman had freedom that one cannot think of.
According to Meg. Woman were not may go outside the marital life unless compelled to be chaste.
King organised a sear competition with woman, and If woman kills king, she becomes bride of Prince rightfully.


correction to 13/n *Woman w̵e̵r̵e̵ ̵n̵o̵t̵ may go outside the marital life unless compelled to be chaste.

Mag. speaks high of Sages for their endurance. The learnt ones were able to voluntarily give up their life by taking samadhi in fire, water etc.


Magasthenese hints about Gurukul system. The incumbent’s learning started from his journey in womb. The new borne follow BRAHAMCHARYA for 23 ? 37? years under strict controlled env. before going to GRAHASTA


There was no Dowry system as per Arrian (CE 86-160). As soon as girls attained age of marriage, their parents would marry them to the victors in wrestling, racing or other games. (contrast to current arranged marriage system)


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