was one of the kings that took over one of the regions after Alexander’s
death. He wrote about his travels to India in his work
which is no longer around
but others used it as a source and we have their writings. He was an outsider, couldn’t
speak the language, and was Greek. Which worked against him, but he was there a long
time and asked a lot of penetrating questions.
Some of it is right on the money and other
stuff is totally out there.
According to Megasthenes the Indians have 7 races, which
refers to the hereditary caste system. Caste system: you’re born into it. He counted 7 of
them, but he was wrong, as there were 4 of these classifications, but maybe by his time
they had fragmented somewhat. He also claimed you could change your “race” or caste,
but this was not true.
He claims that there were kings who had kingdoms and then independent states
sometimes called republics.
He seemed unaware of the fact that there is a “race” of
rulers, or nobles-aristocracy.
The third thing he says is that there are wise-men, and they
have the duty of sacrificing for the entire community. He called them priests, which is
close to what they were. Then he talked about the
denies their bodily appetites for all physical pleasures, food, sex, etc.
He claimed that one of the 7 classes or groups is spies. Who are out there checking on
everyone, kings, ministers, common people, etc.
It appears that in the days of a
Chandragupta there was a very elaborate system of spies.
The next and final thing he says, which is odd, is that there are no slaves in India. Which
if by slave you mean chattel slave, which is like a piece of property you can sell etc, then
no. But there was a class of servants, who was almost as bad off as a slave. No chattel
slaves, but a whole class of people who’s only job is to be servants for the other 3 classes.
Maurya Dynasty: Chandragupta