Hindu superiority: An Attempt to Determine the Position of the Hindu Race in the Scale of Nations By Har Bilas Sarda, B. A., F. R. S. L

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The land trade of India extended to China, Turkistan, Persia, Babylon, and sometimes also to Egypt, Greece and Rome. Mr. Vincent says: “The country in the north with which India traded was China.”3 The author of Periplus, after describing the geographical position of China, says: “Silk was imported from that country, but the persons engaged in this trade were

Historical Researches, Vol. II, p. 297. The chief ports mentioned in Periplus, p. 30, are: (1) Barygaza (Bharouch); (2) Miziris (Mangalore); (3) Nelkynda (Neliceram); (4) Patala (Hyderabad in Sindh); (5) Calliene, (Gallian, situated over against Bombay); and the islands of Elephanta and Salsette. In addition to these Cosmos names Sindus (Sindh); Orrbota (Surat); Calliene; Sibor; Parti; Mangaruth; Salopatana; Nelopatana; Pudapatana.

211istory of India, p. 241.

3Vincent, Vol. II, pp. 574, 575. The author says “ the name China is of Hindu origin and comes to us from India.”

the Indians themselves.” It may, however, be added, in the words of an English critic :’ “ It is not improbable that silk was also indigenous in India even at a remote epoch.” 2

As regards the trade with central and northern Asia, we are told that “ the Indians make expeditions for commercial purposes into the golden desert I deste, desert of Cobi, in armed companies of .a thousand or two thousand men. But, according to report, they do not return home for three or four years.” The Takhti iSulentan, or the stone tower mentioned by Ptolemy and Ctesias, was the starting point for Hindu merchants who went to China.

Professor Heeren says: “By means of this building it is easy to determine the particular route as well as the length of time employed by the Hindu merchants in their journey to China. If we assume Cabal, or rather Bactria, as their place of departure, the expedition would take a north-easterly direction as far as the forty-first degree of north latitude. It would then have to ascend the mountains, and so arrive at the stone tower through the defile of Hoshan, or Owsh. From thence the route led by Cashgar, beyond the mountains, to the borders of the great desert of Cobi, which it traversed probably through Khoten -and Aksu (the Casia and Auxazia of Ptolemy). From these ancient towns the road lay throUgh Koshotei to Se-Chow, on the frontiers of China, and thence to Pekin, a place of great antiquity, if we are to understand it as the metropolis of Serica,

1Asiatic Researches, Vol. II, p. 286. See also Schlegel, Berlin, Calender, p. 9, (Edition 1829),

2See also “Art of Weaving,”

which, indeed, the accounts of Ptolemy would hardly leave any room to doubt. The whole distance amounts to upwards of two thousand five hundred miles.”‘

As regards Western Asia, Professor Heeren says that “ the Palmyrians, in addition to their commerce by land, exercised also a sea-trade with India.”‘

“After the decline of Rome,” says the Encyclopaedia Britannica, “ Bassora became the chief commercial mart, and to Ormus merchandise from India was brought.”3

India traded with Europe by sea as well as by land. The writer quoted above says: “The produce of India was also brought to Europe by other routes, namely (1) by the way of Palmyra, then a flourishing city, and thence to Rome and other Western cities, through the ports of Syria; (2) across the Himalaya mountains to the Oxus, thence to the Caspian Sea, and finally to its ultimate markets of Europe.”4

Foreign trade of a nation presupposes development of its internal trade. Specially is this true of a large country like India, with its varied products, vast population and high civilization. Professor Lassen of Paris considers it remarkable that the Hindus themselves discovered the rich, luxurious character of India’s products; many of them are produced in other countries, but remained unnoticed until sought for by foreigners, whereas the most ancient Hindus had a keen enjoyment in articles of taste and luxury. Rajas and other rich people delighted in sagacious elephants, swift horses, splendid

1 Historical Researches, Vol, II, p. 290.

2Historical Researches, Vol. II, p. 409 (Appendix IX). 3Hncyclopwdia Britannica, Vol. XI, p. 460.

4Eneyclopiedia Britannica, Vol, XI, p. 459.

peacocks, golden decorations, exquisite perfumes, pungent peppers, ivory, pearls, gems, etc., and consequently caravans were in continued requisition to carry down these and innumerable other matters between the north and the south, and the west and the east of their vast and varied country. These caravans, it is conjectured, were met at border stations and about ports by western caravans or ships bound to or from Tyre and Egypt, or to or from the Persian Gulf and Red Sea.”‘

Professor Heeren remarks: “The internal trade of India could not have been inconsiderable, as it was in a certain degree prescribed by nature herself.”‘ Royal roads were constructed all over the country from east to west and from north to south, in addition to the numberless rivers, along the banks of which considerable commerce was carried on.

Strabo, Plutarch, and Apollodoras agree in their statements that India had considerable trade roads in all directions, with mile stones, and was provided with inns for travellers. (See Strabo, Chap. XV, pp. 474 and 487). And these “roads,” says Heeren, “were planted with trees and flowers.”3

Active internal commerce was carried on in northern India along the course of the Ganges. Here was the royal highway extending from Taxila on the Indus through Lahore to Palibhotra (in Behar), and which was 10,000 stadia in length.’

Bamayana, too, mentions another road leading from Ayodhya (Oudh) by Hastinapur on the Jamna, through Lahore, to the city of Giniberaja, in the Punjab.

Periplus, too, after saying that “the Ganges and its tributary streams were the grand commercial routes

I See Ancient and Mediawal India, Vol. II, p. 348.

2Historical Researches, Vol. II, p. 2l7.

3Historical Researches, Vol. TI, p. 279.

I Strabo, p. 1010. Pliny also speaks of it in his Natural History Vol. VI, p. 21.

of northern India,” adds that the “ rivers of the Southern Peninsula also were navigated.”‘

According to Arrian, the commercial intercourse between the eastern and western coasts was carried on in country-built ships.

Periplus again says that “ in Dachhanabades (Dakshina Patha of Sanskrit, or the Deccan) there are two very distinguished and celebrated marts, named Tagara and Pluthama,2 whence merchandise was brought down to Barygaza (Baraunch).

Ozene ‘ (Ujjain) was one of the chief mart’s for internal traffic, and supplied the neighbouring country with all kinds of merchandise. It also became the emporium of foreign commerce. It transported Indian products to Barygaza, and was a celebrated depot of the Produce of more distant and northern countries.

Fairs were an important vehicle of trade, and were introduced in every part of the country. A large concourse of people assemble at these fairs in different seasons for the purpose of exchanging merchandise as well as discussing religious and national topics. Even now lakhs of people assemble at Hardwar, Benares, Allahabad, on the banks of Nerbudda and Other places.4

IPeriplus, p. 39.

2For the iudentification of these two places, see Elphinstone’s “India,” p. 223, footnote. “ Tagara remained for 2,000 years the great emporium of the Mediterranean commerce.”—Heeren.

3 Historical Researches, Vol. II, p. 280.

4” The almost innumerable crowds that yearly flock to Benares, Jagan Nath and elsewhere, amounting to many hundred thousands of souls, would obviously give rise to a species of commerce.”—llistorical Researches,’ Vol. II, p. 279. [For an account of fairs at Hardwar, see Hardwicke’s accounts of it in the Asiatic Researches, Vol. II, p. 812; where he says that two-and-a-half lakhs of souls assemble every year, while on the occasion of Kumbh the number is many time larger.

Regarding these Hindu fairs, Mr. Elphinstone says: “Indian fairs have strong resemblance to those of England. But no assemblage in England can give a notion of the lively effect produced by the prodigious concourse of people in white dresses and bright-coloured scarfs and turbans, so unlike the black head-dresses and dusky habits of the North.”‘

Mrs. Manning says thas the Hindus traded even in the Vedic period, “and the activity in trade thus early noted has continued to be the characteristic of the country.”

The Encyclopaedia Britannica says: “It (India) exported its most valuable produce, its diamonds, its aromatics, its silks, and its costly manufactures. The country, which abounded in those expensive luxuries, was naturally reputed to be the seat of immense riches, and every romantic tale of its felicity and glory was readily believed. In the Middle Ages, an extensive commerce with India was still maintained through the ports of Egypt and the Red Sea; and its precious produce, imported into Europe by the merchants of Venice, confirmed the popular opinion of its high refinement and its vast wealth.”3

1 Elphinstone’s History of India, p. 179. He also remarks that “many such places are also amongst the celebrated marts for the transfer of merchandise.”

a Ancient and 11/ediwval India, Vol. II. p. 347.

3Encycloriwdia Britannica, Vol. XI, p. 446. Foreign commerce on such a gigantic scale as described above was one of the principal causes of the immense riches of ancient India,
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