Editor's Note: This transcript was automatically transcribed, so mistakes are inevitable. You can contribute by proofreading the transcript or highlighting the mistakes. Sign up to be amongst the first contributors.
Hello and welcome to the History of India podcast. This is Series five, Episode B by the Masters Win Part two.
Let's start with a tall tale. One day there was a courtesan and she had just given birth. And she looked to the newborn baby and realized that it was a boy.
Now, a boy was no good for her, couldn't carry on the family trade, so she had the boy thrown out into the dust. And usually that would be the end of the sad tale. But this time it was different, this time the stars were aligned. That little baby was destined to grow up and become a great man, destined to become the treasurer of the kingdom. Now, the current treasurer of the kingdom was around and about, and he had an astrologer and his astrologer noticed that the stars were aligned, noticed that a boy had been born who had a great future boy had been born, who would go on to become treasurer of the kingdom.
So he went and told his boss, the current treasurer. His boss thought for a while and then called over his slave girl, his slave girl's name was Kali. And he said to look go everywhere around the city and find out who's given birth to a baby boy today. Hey, take this 1000 gold coins by that child and bring it back to me.
Zakani left and she went around town asking until finally she found a man who was carrying what seemed to be a baby boy who must have been born today. He said, yes, he very young, isn't he? I found him in the dust just today and I claimed him as my own son.
Kylie, after much persuasion, bought the child for a thousand gold coins and carried it back to the treasurer and the Treasurer's wondering what to do at that time. His own wife was pregnant and he thought, hey, if my wife gives birth to a daughter, then I'll simply marry my daughter off to this boy here and he'll become treasurer and she'll have a good life.
But if I give birth to a son, I'll kill this boy I've got here because he'll be a rival to my son.
The time came when the treasurer's wife gave birth and she gave birth to a son. So the treasurer called over his slave girl again, hey, come here, take this boy, take this this boy that you brought me and take him down to the cowshed. And in the morning, just when the cows are coming out, throw the boy down right in front of the gate and watch. Make sure they trample and make sure he's completely dead. And then return to me and tell me what you see.
Sukardi took the slave boy, went out to the cowshed, waited until morning when the gate was just opened through the baby boy out.
Now, normally, the cows would come out of the gate first and then the bull would come out behind them, but as Collie was throwing the baby boy, the bull pushed his way to the front of the queue and he pushed his way as soon as the gate was out, straight over where the boy was. And then he stood stock still and the cows had to push either side it into the left and to the right.
And the cowherd was thinking, hey, what's going on here?
Normally the bull comes out last, but there is just standing right in the middle of the gateway.
The cowherd came out and he saw underneath the bull, this little baby boy, and he claimed him as his own son, Carly had been watching in the bushes and she snuck back to the treasurer and told him about all she had seen.
He said, here, here's a thousand gold coins, go to the cow herd by the boy back and bring him back to me.
So she did.
After much persuasion, she managed to buy the child for a thousand gold coins and she brought him back to the Treasurer.
The next day, the treasurer summoned his slave again and said, look, take this child, throw him out where they cremate bodies, no one will look for him there.
No one will find him and then he'll die from the exposure.
But you just hang back, you watch from the side and you wait until he's completely dead.
So she took the baby boy. She went to the cremation ground. She threw him in the bushes, and then she watched and she waited. Just then, Goatherd was going by with his crew of goats in one of the nanny goats went off into the cremation ground, the herd ran in to catch her, and just as he was running, he passed by. What's that, the bushes. He saw the baby boy and he claimed him as his own son.
Carly snuck back to the Treasury and told him all that she'd seen and he said, here, here's a thousand gold coins, go go to the herd and buy the boy back.
Second, he went and after much persuasion, she managed to buy the child for a thousand gold coins and brought him back to the Treasurer the next day, the treasurer some day slave again and said, look, I've had enough of this, take the child, go to the ravine and just throw him in and watch to make sure that he's dead. So he took the child to the ravine and threw him down and watched the child fall. And as she watched the child dying, splitting in two, and that's the end of the story.
I'm just kidding. That didn't happen at all.
The child got caught in a nest of soft leaves and along came a Rademaker at the bottom of the ravine and and saw up there. This was also a boy.
That's a child. That's a boy. And the read maker claimed him as his own son.
And Carl, not back to the treasurer and and said, this is all that I've seen. And he said, here's a thousand gold coins go in by the child back and bring him back to me. And so she did. After much persuasion, she brought the child for a thousand gold coins and brought him back to the Treasurer.
The treasurer was getting tired of all this.
Now, it clearly wasn't working. He abandoned his plans for murder for a while.
And in the meantime, the boy grew up in his household alongside the Treasurer's own son, who is around the same age.
After a few years, the treasurer came up with a different plan. The problem was that he was trying to do it all on his own. He thought, I'll get other people in on it. So he went to the baker and he said, look, I'm going to send you my I suppose is kind of my son, but he's not mine. What I want you to do is kill him, put him in your kill and bake the guy.
I'm going to send him to you, OK? The baker agreed he is a thousand gold coins, you're going to do it sure. The treasurer went home and he called the boy over to him and he said, look, here's a note, take it to the baker. So he left and he was heading to the baker and he came across the Treasurer's own son, his kind of brother playing a game in the dust. Hey, what are you doing?
I'm taking a note to the baker. Give your father.
Our father told me to. What are you doing? Oh, I'm. I'm just playing this game. I'm losing. Hey. Hey. You're good at the game. I tell you what. I'll take the note and you finish my game. And so it was agreed the Treasurer's own son took the note to the baker and the Treasurer's kind of son finished off the game and he won. And when the game was over, his kinder brother hadn't yet returned.
So he went home and the treasurer saw him and he said, hey, where's. Where's my son? So is kind of son told him all that happened and the Treasurer, as soon as he heard it, ran out of the door and sprinted towards the Bakers house, and just as he was running, the baker heard him and came out to see him in and said, hey, hey, hey, Treasurer, what's all the fuss? Don't worry.
I did exactly as you asked. The boy is baked and not in a good way. He's gone. The treasurer fell to his knees and wept. A few days later, he came up with one final faultless plan to kill this boy. He called him and he said, here, here's a note, I want you to go out into the country, I want to go and find my guy, my superintendent, he runs 100 villages, is a powerful man.
Show him the note. How do I get there?
Well, you just go that way and then you'll find a village there and stop in that village to find the treasure of that village is kind of a sub treasuries kind of under me and tell him that you're my son. He's a friend. He'll put you up, he'll he'll give you some food, and then you've got one more days travel until you're going to go and find my superintendent. The boy took the note, he couldn't read the note, I mean, he hadn't been educated why he would have been educated when his kind of father was trying to kill him all this time.
So he just took the note, how would it firm in his hand and he left.
For a day, he walked and then he came to a village and there he asked around for the treasurer and he said, Hey, I'm the son of the chief treasurer.
Your friend, he was invited into the House and the lady of the House, the mother of the house, really liked him, thought he was really quite a dear.
And he said, come sit down, sit down.
She called over her daughter's slave girl and our daughter's slave girl was always coming and going in inside and out of the house on errands because her daughter, the daughter of the house, was young and pretty and so obviously wasn't allowed out.
So the slave girl had to do all of the work for her.
And the slave girl had just been leaving the house. And somehow, Aaron, the mother had said, no, no, don't worry about that and come over here. We've got a guest.
They need his feet. He's had a long journey. He's been walking all day.
So the slave girl came over and washed his feet and then she rushed upstairs back to her mistress, the daughter of house, and said, hey, there's this really good looking young man down there.
And I heard I heard that he's the chief treasurer's son. Right now. He's asleep on the couch. When everyone had gone to bed, the daughter of the house crept down the stairs. She saw the boy on the couch asleep. She liked the look of him, she saw a letter in his hand, she took it and she uncurl and started to read it and she realized that this letter was this boy's death warrant, that he was marching straight into death.
It instructed the superintendent of 100 villages to kill the boy, Hubo, who bore the letter.
The daughter of the house thought this isn't on at all. She wrote her own version of the letter. And she slipped it into his hand. The next day, the young boy set out again and he went on to the next village and he found the superintendent in charge of 100 villages. What is it? My my kind of father sent me with this letter for you. The superintendent opened the letter. It said, this is my son, I want you to throw him a big feast and then get him married to that treasurer's daughter in the next village, and after that, build him a lovely house, two stories high in the very center of the village.
When you've done all of that, come back and report to me. So the superintendent did exactly as he'd been ordered. There was a big feast thrown and then the Treasurer's kind of son was married off to the daughter and he built them a lovely house right into the center of the village. Two stories high.
So the chief trader is kind of son settled down to family life and the superintendent went back to the city to report that all was well.
All is well, cried the chief treasurer, the superintendent had just described him all that he'd seen, all is, well, the chief treasurer. Was boiling, he was overcome. Actually, his body was not reacting to this news, well, he ran to the bathroom. The the years of anger and frustration had finally produced in him a really terrible diarrhea.
He wanted to go out and see the boy and kill him once and for all, but he couldn't travel. He was always going to and from the bathroom, as one child went in the other chamber, pot went out. Pretty soon, the treasurer was seriously ill. He sent a message to in his sort of son, he was going to do what damage he could to this thing, this monster, before he died.
So the chief treasurer's kind of son came along with his new wife. And they went into the room with the chief treasurer on his deathbed. The chief treasure was near the end of his life now, but he had just enough energy to do the deed to make sure this boy never became anything important. He said. I do not leave anything to my son. Actually, no, he hadn't quite said that he hadn't had quite enough energy to do it right.
He'd said it wrong. He'd said, I leave everything to my son, that the two phrases are much closer in Sanskrit, so it's easier to get it wrong.
His kind of son's wife heard what had been said that the chief treasure had left all of his wealth to his kind of son. But he or she also saw in his eyes this doubt she saw that the chief treasure was about to take it back, about to correct it.
So she lay herself down, threw herself over his chest, weeping in apparent sorrow. But as she wept, she pushed the top of her head deep into his chest, painful.
It was a pressing down on him, pressing him out of existence. And so the chief treasurer died. The chief treasure is kind of son went in and informed the king of the death and the king thought, hey, he's a fine looking boy, he walks with serious purpose. I think I'll make him treasurer next to replace the old one, his father.
Meanwhile, his wife was sitting down with the slave woman, Carly, and they got to talking and by and by the way, said that she had killed the old treasurer, pretty old, if you ask me, confessing to murder like that.
But Carly wasn't actually appalled. She was happy. She told the wife about how the treasurer tried to kill the boy, her husband, so many times.
And when the boy came back and he said the good news, I'm the new treasurer, I'm the new chief treasurer. We're going to live a great life. He started preening about how amazing he was, how he had achieved so much in life, and his wife burst out in laughter. Why are you laughing? You laughing at me? Laughing at me? Why? You're not responsible for anything she said, and she told him the story of the chief treasurer, she told him the story about how he had tried to kill him so many times and how he had been saved over and over.
Her husband didn't believe her. He ran to the slave girl, mother Kali, who told him, yeah, it's all true. The boy was appalled and he never preened about his own achievements again. It's a crazy story. I'm pretty sure it's meant to be quite funny and it kind of is quite funny. Our interest today, though, isn't in the main characters so much as in Cali, the slave woman, the would be accomplice in the murder, though she seems to feel absolutely no responsibility in it.
And she's a sort of well-meaning surrogate mother to the boy. Yeah, this is our second special episode on slavery in the first episode. There are a bunch of disclaimers and caveats. They apply equally here.
I won't repeat it just so you don't get bored in this episode.
We're going to do the stuff that I found interesting that we missed out in the last episode based around the different parts of the life of the slave girl Carlie.
First, we're going to talk about the problems particular to being a woman slave. Second, we're going to talk about Buddhism and slavery story stories, a Buddhist one.
Actually, a lot of the stories we've heard so far have been Buddhists, their tales with some Buddhist moral or other, but maybe slightly surprisingly, the moral of the story is never that slavery is bad. So what's going on there? The third thing we're going to take a look at is the slave trade, and that's connected to this story, not really at all, but I just found it interesting. I couldn't find a story which involved a female Buddhist slave sold at the market, so.
And finally, we'll take a quick step back and zoom out from all this detail and look at how slavery is is changing over time, how it changed over the centuries. So that's the plan, a mishmash of stuff that I just thought was interesting. Redi. Let's go. Like a slave girl bought for a hundred gold pieces. That was a common phrase in ancient India, if someone called you a slave girl bought for one hundred gold pieces, they meant that you were Mique, that you were pliable, unlikely to cause a fuss.
100 was quite a lot of money for a slave. But if it was a slave girl and if it was someone who was docile, well, maybe it was worth the money. The standard slave for much of ancient Indian history was a woman she thought of a slave.
Back then, you probably thought of a woman slave, probably a young one, a girl in the texts. It's the women slaves who are most often mentioned by far.
This king had 100 women slaves that had a thousand. This treasurer had a few dozen, that sort of thing.
In fact, this focus on female slaves goes all the way back to the earliest writings, all the way back to the Rigveda, where at least one of the authors is the son of the Darcy.
There were so many female slaves in literature, probably for the simple reason that back then there were just lots more female slaves than male slaves. The men were killed in war and and their women folk dragged off to slavery, although women slaves were more likely to serve in households than their male counterparts.
So they were more likely to be close to the people writing these texts. And that could be part of the reason that they appear so often.
Palaces were notoriously full of female slaves, by far the largest number of slaves seem to have been owned by kings. Like I said, in one case, a king had thousands of them.
Seems likely to be an exaggeration, but palace slave girls were real enough. And partly they just did domestic work keeping the palace going, though they also seem to have been taught in art acting or singing or dancing, playing on the Viña or the pipe thought reading, perfume, making, shampooing, stuff like that.
I don't know what I thought. Reading really works out to either and these arts they then used in their job.
They became part of the king's daily routine. Maybe they were part of the group who woke him up with music. And they started doing this fairly young, right? They play music from the king for the king from eight years old, and maybe when they got a bit older, they helping in his daily bath to.
Occasionally, the slave girls get wrapped up in the political world in some story or other, for example, Mexico was a slave girl in a palace and the king said to her one day, go and clean the bath and I want a bath. So she went and started to clean the tank when she caught sight of the king's son, the prince in the corner, he was looking a little bit shady and and Musiker might have wondered what he was doing there.
Lurking near the King's bath, though, she didn't actually get much of a chance to wonder what was going on because the prince killed her. The prince had been ready to kill his father, the king. And this slave girl had spotted him and ruined his plan. So he killed her and dumped her body down a well. You'll be pleased to know that she was found in the prince, was caught in and thrown into prison, at least for a bit, although the prince did get out and go on to rule the kingdom.
So not that much of a punishment. So in the palace, the slave girls could stop pretty young, but inevitably they grew into women slaves and then into old slaves, and that meant the end of their work, or rather, it meant that their work changed. They would be switched from front of house domestic chores to the back of housework, working in the storehouse, logging stuff around or working in the kitchen as a scullery maid.
But not all of the female slaves worked in the palace. A lot of female slaves, maybe most of them worked for rich families.
The richest families might have dozens of slaves, even moderately rich flats that might have one or two.
There's actually a case of a chap who's living in ruins, who's destitute, who's got no money, although he still has a female slave.
Slave girls would typically live in the house of their master, but not always in one of the stories, someone talks of being a slave in a former life.
She served a rich man in his house, but she had a husband who was a free man, a laborer.
And together, they built a little house to live in and they found some simple stuff to put in a water jug and a picture, a broom and a brassiere.
And they lived happily, which sounds lovely, though.
They didn't live a rich life. After all, she was just a slave and he was just a laborer. And when the hard times hit, they starved to death. But that's an exception. Almost all of these female domestic slaves would have lived in their houses, in the houses of their master, and almost all of them wouldn't have had husbands. Slaves were generally not allowed to get married. He may have had romantic relationships just like anyone else. There's quite a bit of chat about slave girls having lovers.
We've got the story of one slave girl who waited up all night for a man visitor who never came. And there were people who actually gave up their freedom, became slaves themselves because they wanted to be with a slave woman.
Slaves also seem to have started up mutual relationships with their masters, though I I find it really hard to understand how a relationship could be built from such an unequal starting point.
But but it did seem to happen.
I think we mentioned it briefly last episode. Anyway, so the slave woman is living in the rich person's house and they would do the work which the daughter in law of the house wouldn't do. They had cut their pulverise vices. They'd smear cow dung across the floor.
For those who don't know about it, it's common practice in India today. Still, it said to be antibacterial. It's pretty neat.
They'd bring in grass for fodder. They'd run out doing chores all the time, just like Kali in the story we've just heard, or or the slave girl of the daughter of the house in that story.
These women might have to also work in the fields from time to time as the need arose. You can get that having a slave girl about the house would make house work much easier for the women of the house. And we've got stories of wives nagging their husband, get me a slave girl, get me a slave girl, presumably because they wanted an easier life.
Sometimes domestic slave girls were given more specific roles, jobs with names, so there were wet nurse slaves, for example, they'd go with the daughter of House when she got married and moved away. And then there were the Khumba dasi, the jar slave girls you might call now. It was their job to go and get water all day. They're using the Khumba the job. We met one of these guys at the end of the last episode, actually Honaker the Jar slave who wrote the poem we heard.
But in ancient India, the term slave came with connotations. Your slaves were pretty, it was said they were good at dancing, good at singing. These were slaves who were most typically may be subject to sexual abuse. And actually, this seems to have just been an assumption that if you're a female slave, you'd be used in this way. Sometimes the word slave was just used to mean prostitute as if they were one in the same thing here.
We're going to talk about some pretty terrible stuff. Sexual abuse of slaves all the way up to rape seems to have been depressingly normal. There were some legal protection for a slave woman starting in the Morillon period.
At least raping a slave woman would get you a fine. It was the lowest of the major finds true, something like 30 pieces of gold or so. So around the cost of a slave girl. And it was a much lower fine than raping someone else, although rape in upper caste women and there wouldn't be a fine at all, you'd simply be hung on the spot.
There was also some protection for slave girls who got pregnant from the rape. It is during the Maurin period causing a slave girl to have an abortion that was also punishable by a fine and having a sex with your slaves daughter, that was punishable by the usual fine, plus the equivalent cost to getting married and providing her with clothing. So a bit extra. So slave girls had some protection from abuse, and it's not just in that period that there's some protection for slave girls in later periods to, for example, it's considered unclean to eat food that was given to you by slave girl in the night.
Presumably the idea here is you don't really want the slave girl coming into the master's bedroom in the middle of the night. But as time went on, the legal protection of slaves started to shift a bit, started to shift from protecting them as people to protecting the property of their owner. And here it gets really grim by the early centuries. And the law books were brutal. Slave girls were clearly being shared around between friends for sexual pleasure, so much so that there came to be a standard cost to Parnas a day.
And this is a time at which borrowing a cow cost you for Parnas a day or horse cost you 16 partners to use a slave go, you had to pay the fee, use actor permission of the owner, or else you'd pay a fine if you just took a slave girl and used her.
Although the fine was only a measly four partners, the same price as a cow for a day. It's not altogether clear whether the slave girls were consenting, presumably they didn't always consent, perhaps they never consented. The consent simply isn't mentioned in the law books. The children that came about as the result of these rapes were also subject to law, but again, it was pretty dehumanizing. Literally, the child belonged to the slave owner. That is the first child did, after all, says one of the slave books, if seed from your plant fertilizes my plant, then I get to keep the fruit.
So the same applies to cattle and camels and goats and slave girls.
They're the fertile soil. This is horrible stuff, I mean, it's horrible to talk about, of course, somehow more horrible to go around pretending that it never happened. We really couldn't do an episode on slaves and not cover this stuff.
But, of course, the most horrible thing by far would be living life like that.
It's the kind of thing you run out of words to describe. You just don't want to imagine that it was real. Maha. So you want to become a Buddhist monk, great, but hang on a second, I've got two questions for you. First, are you a free man? And second, do you have any debt?
If you answered no to either of those, then I'm sorry, you can't become a Buddhist monk.
Actually, that's the Sri Lankan test if you're asking to join a monastery in ancient India. The questions would be a bit different. Hang on. We've got the test paper here somewhere. The question about debt, well, if you're applying to be a Buddhist monk in ancient India, that that's no longer a deal breaker. You can still become a monk if you if you have debt provided, you can pay it off after you've joined. But the question about being free.
Yeah, that's that's got much stricter. I'm afraid you'd have to not be a slave of any kind. And if you were trying to become a monk, you'd be asked the question repeatedly, apparently asking the same question in many different waves. Are you a slave? Were you ever sold? Were you captured in war and made a slave?
So if you are a slave, you just can't become a Buddhist monk, so definite, no, no, you'd fail. Question number one, two, three, four and five on the entrance test.
And yet. Do you would find slaves in Buddhist monasteries? One of the tales about these stretches all the way back in time. To the Buddha. At that time and the Buddha was around, the king of the city was watching one of the Buddhist elders clear out a cave, clearing somewhere on the mountainside to live for himself.
And cleaning out a cave was hard work. The first you have to find the cave or an overhang on a cliff will do if you can't find one of them. And then you have to haul a huge load of firewood all the way up the mountain to where your place is. You have to stack the firewood in the cave or under the overhang or whatever, and then you set light to the firewood and once it's all burnt out, you kind of sweep out all of the charred remains.
You sweep out all of the loose bits of rock that have fallen off.
You clean out the whole thing, and then you have to haul a bunch of bricks up the mountainside to brick over the front of the overhang of the cave. And then you have to haul up a door to install and then a few other bits and bobs.
And there you have it. Well, OK, this is how Buddhist monks did it in Sri Lanka rather than India, but let's not spoil the story. So the king is there watching this Buddhist elder slave away, making his cave, and he says, hey, do you want any help? I can get an attendant to help you. Well, said the Buddhist monk, I like that.
But I'd best check if see if it's OK or words to that effect.
So the monk went to Buddha and asked if it's OK to have someone help. And and the good news was that, yeah, the Buddha said it was OK.
So the monk went back to the king and said, yes, yeah, please send someone to help me. The king was delighted and he agreed to do exactly that. And then the king completely forgot to do anything about it. I find myself doing this far too often. I agree to do something nice for someone else. And the mere agreeing counts in my mind is mission accomplished. I forget to actually do what I've agreed to do.
I guess it was the same for the king. He forgot a while later, he saw the monk again, still working hard, and again, the king promised that he'd send someone to help. But again, the king forgot.
And that kept on happening five times.
The king saw the monk five times. The king promised help. Five times the king forgot.
And then finally, one of the monks pupils gathered up some courage and went to the king and he said, Hey, all of that help you promised, please just just send us a guide to help. We could really do with it.
Oh, I'd completely forgotten. The King said, have I really promised?
You promised more than once how many times I asked the King. You promised five times. Ah, then I'll give 500 people to help a whole village. And this time the king was true to his word. So this was a monastery gaining 500 monastery attendance there called were these monastery attendance slaves? Well, you kind of, yeah. They were given to the monastery as property, they belong to the monastery, they said in another version of the story they were given to the monk personally and they had housing built near the monastery to make sure they could serve their.
And in fact, it's not just that story, there's quite a lot of evidence that Buddhist monasteries own slaves, although most of the evidence is for monastery in Sri Lanka, where the records are a bit better.
Slaves were given to Buddhist communities, for example, by kings, they captured some men in war and they gave them to the Buddhist community.
But you might also have slaves given in wills when someone died. There was also something a bit like debt slavery going on, people who couldn't afford to eat went to do slaves work in the monastery just to survive.
And to be very clear, these slaves you'd find in them in the monastery or these attendants tendency sort of semi slaves, they weren't monks. You couldn't be a slave of any sort and be a monk. And the very fact that they weren't monks was actually part of why they were so helpful. Over time, they came to do extra work, not just the physical manual labor, not just repairing the buildings and so forth, they came to act as middlemen.
If someone came and tried to give money to the monks, the monks weren't allowed to accept that.
But these days they could accept it and it could transform it into stuff that's useful for the monks. Usually these slaves were owned communally, owned by the the the monastery community rather than individually. Just like slaves in the old fashioned republics of India had been owned communally. In fact, that rule, the monks could be owned communally, but not individually.
That was something laid down by the Buddha himself, apparently. Now, all of this might seem very strange, but had railed against the caste system. And that's absolutely true, although not perhaps quite in the way that we think of today, but Buddhahood certainly allowed people from all cars to become monks and to be treated equally when they when they joined the Buddhist community.
But if he had built the Buddhist community as a place for equality, then how come there were slaves right there in the monastery doing the dirty work? And why weren't slaves allowed to join the community properly to become monks and nuns, to live Buddhist life to a full. Well. Let's not get overexcited here, ancient Indian Buddhism did take a step back from slavery, at the very least, the monks were not allowed to take part in the slave trade.
And lay people were asked not to accept slave boys or girls as gifts, though in the same sentence, they were also asked not to accept cockerels, pigs' cattle's fields or raw flesh or raw grains.
So I don't think the passage holds up as a shining example of treating slaves as human beings. But there is a fair amount of the tax, a genuine urge to make Marsters less cruel to their slaves, even if that stops well short of asking for the abolition of slavery.
There is no hint of protest or reform anywhere in the Bush tax, as one historian puts it. And Buddhism is far from alone in this, by the way, the monks of other religions, both inside India and outside, they banned slaves from joining their orders and other religions also typically accepted slavery.
You don't find any hint or protest or reform of slavery in the Bible, for example, as the famous Christian slavery abolitionists knew all too well.
So but it is not really different from other religions in its treatment of slavery, but the details of Buddhism as a way of dealing with Stehly slavery still shed some light on ancient in early medieval India.
Some historians argue that by the time these rule books for monks were written and the stories that we've heard were written, Buddhist monks had started to bend over backwards to accommodate the traditions around them, to do whatever they could to avoid giving offense to the people living nearby.
The remarkable thing about monasteries on this view was just that they were so unremarkable, the rules inside the monastery walls adapting to the customs outside.
Whether those historians have the right account or whether they're overreacting, I'll leave it to you to judge. We're in Gujarat. It's towards the end of the period we're interested in, so this is the early medieval period. A young girl is brought to the crossroads of the town. She is being sold as a slave. How on earth did this happen, how on earth did she get there? Her life had started out promisingly enough. She was born into a high cost family, but then she'd been abandoned by her father and by her husband, and she'd been reduced to begging.
And the fact that there was just war almost constantly running through this part of the country just hadn't helped.
We've been hearing about these wars in the main line of podcast's in the season, the IMiDs invading down here, the Rasht recruiters, the empire of the South running through again and again on their way to defeat their northern rivals.
Will all of that war had a real human consequence and the consequence was happening right at those crossroads. So now this girl has sold herself into slavery. She's got little other choice and the agreement of her sale is being drawn up. On such and such a day, on such and such a year, so-and-so buys this slave girl from so-and-so. But the so and so, by the way, that that's really what it says in the text, that's not me adding it.
It's actually a Sanskrit word, amica, which means so and so. This is a draft version of the document that we've got. The slave deed then goes on to list witnesses identifying marks on the slave girl and then. The duties of the slave are laid out. It's the usual stuff sweeping, bringing water, bringing few, throwing out human waste, milking, weeding general housework.
In exchange, the draft says the owner of the slave will give her food and clothes.
If she was interrupted, if her family came back, if her father or brother or husband came to interfere while she was a slave, or if she disobeyed any order of her master, then she would be beaten cruelly.
And if she threw herself down a well to try and end all of that life, all of that cruel treatment, then her master would be blameless, as pure as one who bathe in the Ganga, completely innocent of all crimes. Yeah, this was an agreement which promised treatment so harsh that driving someone to suicide was already anticipated and excused as a clause in the contract.
Imagine being party to such an agreement knowing that what was awaiting you was so bad it had to put it. It's not my fault if you kill yourself, Clauson. The slave girl was sold and taken away by a rich merchant of Iesha, by the way, someone from a lower cost.
And she wasn't alone in being sold are the slave sale agreement drives around the place, a couple of slaves captured in battles between Fuda Three Kings a Slave sold by her former master after her husband died.
The new slave girl is on a well-worn path. And this cell is all too real, I'm afraid, I mean, I fudged some of the details and we don't know the names, but these are real slave sailors. These are real documents that we have. Judging from later lawbooks, there was even a sort of money back guarantee which applied to slaves and some other goods, if you took your slave back the day after you'd bought them, you could get your money back, though.
There was a three percent reduction. If you took them back on the third day, it would be a six percent reduction.
There's also the mention of a possibility of trying out a slave for a whole month if they're a slave girl or half a month if they're a slave boy.
The slave trade was a dirty business, dirty both morally and ritually. It's something that Brahmins were forbidden from getting involved in, even in times of extreme need.
And it doesn't seem to be nearly as brisk a business as it was in the West. They just weren't as many slaves in India this time, and unlike the West, there was no particular location for selling slaves, no slave market to speak of.
Slaves were just sold at the crossroads or sold in the normal markets. We even know the cost of slaves. There was the phrase which we mentioned, slave girl worth 100 pieces, but in reality the price for a slave girl hovered around 30 gold coins. It seems to have been reasonably constant over space and time in early medieval India. Now, if you were younger, you'd sell for a higher price if you had fair skin, I'd bump up the price to this is on a slave girl.
So slave girl about the age of 16, reasonably fair, nicely proportioned limbs would sell for 30 gold coins, but a slave girl of 10 would would sell for much more.
As we know, the price of slaves, not only from the slaves, our documents, but also from mathematical textbooks, of that time, students were made to work out the price of various women in these grim exercises.
The correct answers were twenty point eight three for your standard 16 year old slave girl, and it's thirty three point three three gold coins for a 10 year old girl.
India was even in a small way part of the international slave trade.
In ancient times, Indians were being sold in the streets of Alexandria, although they weren't slave women, they were eunuchs, and there are romantic tales of people being captured by robbers and then sold off to contacts in Persia.
The international slave trade also travel the other way, slaves coming into India, slave girls were imported in ancient times to the famous port cities in the west of India to be sold at the palace to some king or other.
There's even rumor of slaves being imported from Southeast Asia. I'm afraid it's cavium time.
We've been trying to cover slavery over several centuries, actually, overall Mr. Millennia and slavery in India changed quite dramatically over that time.
So let's try and get a rough sense of how it changed. Try to paint a picture with a brush 100 years broad.
In the time of the first season of the podcast, the Maryan Empire, there were a lot of slaves and a lot of them worked in the field. This was a time when the huge cities were starting to be built and new land never before brought under the plow was being cultivated. So there was this need for a huge workforce, hence slaves in the field. But the myriad emperors put maybe the strongest legal restrictions on the abuse of slaves.
Emperor Ashoka, the Great himself, asked Moses to be kind to their slaves. Although some historians suggest that the Empire had some sordid motives in protecting slaves, large armies of private slaves beyond belonging to turn to private owners were a threat to the state's economic power.
And the more an empire, which is always looking for control, distrusted private slaves. And that's why they put the restrictions there.
I don't know. Skip forward a few hundred years and the picture had changed quite a lot by now, slaves are increasingly easy to distinguish from laborers. Fewer slaves work in the fields. The huge farms are anyway disappearing. Now they're being replaced by smaller fields, which could be managed by a single family.
So there are fewer slaves in the fields, but there are more slaves in the houses and they're there.
Given the dirty work and the law books are increasingly giving protection to slaves as property or protecting the slave owner from loss more than the slave from abuse, although that's not wholly the case.
After the Gupta era, in the early medieval period, slavery went into a bit of a decline, slaves were being replaced by people on Vitti, Vesty was the system where free people from the village, usually poor, were required to do work by the local chief right there to clean his house or do repairs or fill his granary.
This was forced labor, which in previous times had been done by a slave, but now is being done by people who were free but forced to do it, in some ways, this forced labor was no better than slavery. Women doing forced labor in the chief's house, for example, were just as vulnerable to sexual assault.
And that gets mentioned in the texts. But they weren't slaves. They were free folk. Slaves were still about, though, as we've seen, but perhaps they were considerably fewer of them in this period. That was about to change. Already during the attacks in northwest India, which we mentioned in the season, tens of thousands of people from Sind had been captured and sold off as slaves.
Slavery was about to change. There'll be a lot more slaves in the form of slavery were changed to and eventually slave markets would be set up in the cities of India, plugged into the international slave trade.
But that's a story. For another season. Grim stuff, and there's a lot we've left out. We've left out details about what people thought about slavery, about what slaves themselves thought about slavery, spoiler, they realize they're at the bottom of society and they realized that it sucked.
We've left out that great Sanscrit drama where one slave has a good master and does good work and the other as a cruel master. It's it's lovely. It's full of insights, but I just couldn't work out how to get it condensed enough.
Somehow we've left out Gozal of the Slave who founded one of the major world religions. We've missed out on the tale of the trickster Brahmin who hung himself from a tree and demanded to be given a slave girl. We missed out on the story of the slave who knew where the treasure is buried. The story of the slave women who, when offered a gift, just asked for a new pestle and mortar.
The story of the slave woman who got her nose cut off by a jealous wife, and a dozen other stories and features that I found fascinating or horrifying or both. We just couldn't find the time to pack it in.
But I thought we'd end with something a bit more light, a bit more flippant, a story that technically doesn't involve slaves, although it does involve people being accused of slaves, and one which reveals something about the ideal family life in ancient India.
It's a story about a wife and a husband who love each other. But the husband has to go on a business trip, business trip to Malaysia. Actually, it's from that magnificent book, The Ocean of Stories. The husband is Goozner, the wife is David Schmitter. And it goes like this. Then Gour said his father died and he himself was urged by his relations to go to the country of Qatar.
That's in Malaysia for the purposes of trafficking. But his wife, David Souter, was too jealous to approve of that decision, fearing exceedingly that he would be attracted by some other lady.
Then, as his wife didn't approve of it and his relations kept inciting into it, Gasana, whose mind was firmly set on doing his duty, was bewildered.
He went and performed a vow in the Temple of God, observing a rigid fast, trusting that the God would show him some way out of his difficulty.
And his wife, David Vitter, also performed a vow with him. Then Chiva was pleased to appear to that couple in a dream and getting them to read Lotuses the God said to them, Take each of you one of these notes in your hand, and if either of you shall be unfaithful during your separation, Leotis in the hand of the other shall fade, but not otherwise.
After hearing this, the two of them woke up and each beheld in the hand of the other, a red lotus, and it seemed as if they had got one another's hearts.
Then Gasana set out Lotus in hand and David Schmitter return remain in the house with her eyes fixed on the Flower Girl Center, for his part, quickly reached the country of Qatar and began to buy and sell jewels there.
And for young merchants in that country, seeing that the unfolding Lotus was ever in his hand were greatly astonished.
Accordingly, they got him to their house by an artifice, and they made him drink a great deal of wine. And then they asked him the history of the Lotus and Ibarguen intox and he being intoxicated, told them the whole story. Then those four young merchants know the and it would take a long time to complete his sales and purchase of jewels and other wares planned together, like the rascals that they were the seduction of his wife out of curiosity and eager to accomplish it, set out quickly for Tamira relapser without their departure being noticed there.
They cast a ballot for some instrument and at last had recourse to a female ascetic by the name of yoga, Coran Decha, who lived in the sanctuary of Buddha. They said to her in an affectionate manner, Reverend, madam, if our object is accomplished by your help, we will give you much wealth, she answered them.
No doubt you young men desire some woman in the city. So tell me about it. I will procure you the object of your desire, but I have no wish for money. Then she goes on for a bit about why she doesn't want money.
Now my sons tell me the real state of affairs. What woman do you desire? I will quickly procure her for you.
When they heard that they said procurers an interview with the wife of the merchant Sena named David Schmitter when she heard that the aesthetic undertook to manage that business for them as she gave those young merchants her own house to reside.
Then she gratified the servants that Grace and his house with gifts of sweetmeats and other things, and afterwards ended it with her pupil.
Then, as she approached the private rooms of Schmitter, a bitch there was Farson there with a chain would let not let her come near, but opposed her entrance in the most determined way. Then David Schmitter, seeing her of her own accord, sent to me and had her brought in thinking to herself, How can this person be coming for?
After she had entered, the wicked ascetic gave this division me to her blessing and treating the virtuous woman with affected respect, said to her, I have always had a desire to see you.
But today I saw you in a dream.
Therefore, I have come to visit you with impatient eagerness, and my mind is afflicted at the holding you separated from your husband for beauty and youth are wasted when one is deprived of the society of one's beloved.
With this and many other speeches of the same kind, she tried to gain the confidence of the virtuous woman in this short interview and then taking leave of her, she returned to her own house.
On the second day she took with her a piece of meat full of pepper dust and went again to the house of David Schmitter. And there she gave that piece of meat to the bitch at the door and the bitch gobbled it up, pepper and all then owing to the pepper dust. But tears flowed in profusion from the animal's eyes, and her nose began to run.
And the cunning ascetic immediately went into the apartment of David Schmitter, who received a hospitably and began to cry.
When David Shmita asked her why she shed tears, she said with affected reluctance. My friend, look at this bitch weeping outside here.
This creature recognized me today as having been his companion in a former and began to weep. And for that reason, my tears gushed through pity when she heard that and saw the bitch outside, apparently weeping.
David Vitter thought for a moment to herself, What can be the meaning of this wonderful sight? Then the aesthetic said to her, My daughter, in a form of birth iron. That bitch were two wives of a certain Brahmin, and her husband frequently went about to other countries on embassies by order of the King. Now, while he was away from home, I lived with other men I pleasure and so did not cheat the elements of which was composed and my senses of their lawful enjoyment who considered treatment of the elements and senses to be held to be the highest duty.
Therefore, I had been born in this birth with a recollection of my former existence. But she, in her former life through ignorance, confined all her attention to the preservation of her character. Therefore, she had been degraded and born again as one of the canine race. However, she too remembers her from above the wise devil. Schmitter said to herself, That's a novel conception of duty. No doubt this woman has lead a treacherous snare for me.
And so she said to her reverent lady for this long time of being ignorant of this duty. So procure me an interview with some charming man. And the ascetic said there are residing here some young merchants that have come from another country.
I'll bring them to you.
When she had said this, this returned home delighted. And David Schmitter of her own accord said to her maids, No doubt these scoundrelly young merchants, whoever they may be, a sign that underfeeding Lotus in the hand of my husband and have on some occasion, rather, when he was drinking wine, asked him out of curiosity to tell the whole story of it and have now come here from the island to seduce me.
And this wicked ascetic is being employed by that.
So bring me quickly some moine wine mix with Datura, and when you have brought it, have a dog's foot of iron made as quickly as possible.
David Schmitter, really quite a perceptive woman. When David Schmidt had given these orders, the maid executed them faithfully and one of the maids, by her orders, dressed herself up to resemble her mistress aesthetic.
For her part, she was out of the party for merchants one individual and bought him with her and concealing him in the dress of her people. She introduced him in the evening into the house of David Schmitter and coming out disappeared. Then that maid who his disguise.
David Schmitter. Kirsti persuaded the young merchant to drink some of that wine, drugged with the term that liquor, like his own immodesty, robbed him of his senses. And then the maids took away his clothes and other equipments and left him stark naked. Then they branded him on the forehead with the mark of a dog's foot and during the night took him and pushed him into a ditch filled of filth.
Then he recovered consciousness in the last watch of the night and found himself plunged in a ditch, as it were, in the hail of Avichai assigned to him by his. Since then he got up and washed himself and went to the house of the female ascetic in a state of nature, feeding with his fingers the mark on his forehead.
And when he got there, he told his friends they had been robbed in the way in order that he might not be the only person made ridiculous.
And the next morning he sat with a cloth wrapped around his branded forehead, giving an excuse that he had a headache from keeping awake so long and drinking too much in the same way.
The next young merchant was maltreated when he got to the house of David Schmitter, and when he returned home naked, he said, I put my ornaments on the table and as I was coming out, I was plundered by robbers. In the morning.
He also on the plea of a headache, put a wrapper on to cover his branded forehead in the same way all the four young merchants suffered in turns branding and other humiliating treatment, though they consider the fact, and they went away from the place without revealing to the female with ascetic the ill treatment that they had experience hoping that she would suffer in a similar way.
Skip a bit.
So the why is David Vitter embarked on a ship on the pretence of a mercenary expedition and came to the country of Qatar? Her husband was. And when she arrived there, she saw that husband of hers, Goozner, in the midst of a circle of merchants like consolation in external bodily for his seeing her afar off in the dress of the man, as it were, drank her in with his eyes and thought to himself, Who made this merchant be?
They looks so much like my beloved wife. So David Vitter went and represented to the King that she had a petition to make and asked him to assemble all his subjects.
The king, full of curiosity, assembled all the citizens and said to the lady disguised as a merchant, What is your petition? And David Vitter said, There are residing here in your midst four slaves of mine who have escaped the king.
Make them over to me, the king said to her.
All the citizens are present here. So look at everyone in order to recognize him, then take those slaves of yours.
Then she seized upon the four young merchants whom she had before treated in such a humiliating way in her house and had wrappers bound around their heads.
The merchants who is there, who are there, flew in a passion and said to her, These are the sons of distinguished merchants. How then can they be your slaves? She answered that she answered them. If you do not believe what I say, then examine therefore hers, which I marked with a dog servant.
They consented and removing the head wrappers of these four, they all beheld the dog's foot on their foreheads. All the merchants were abashed and the king being astonished himself. David Vitter. What all this meant? She told the whole story and all the people burst out laughing. And the king said to the lady, They are your slaves by the best of titles. Then the other merchants paid a large sum of money to that chaste wife to redeem those for from slavery and a find to the King's Treasury.
David Vitter received that money and recovered her husband and being honored by all good men, returned to her own city. It was never afterwards separated from her beloved.
And that's it for this episode. I hope it's been interesting. I hope there have been parts which have been enjoyable. I hope it hasn't been too bad. If you've been enjoying the podcast, please consider donating to my wife's charities, the Snail City Patrick Memorial Fund. There are details on the website. There's a link to that in the description.
Wherever you are, I hope you're doing well until next week. Take care.