Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/93

This page needs to be proofread.


INDIAN SOCIETY, 300 B.C. 89 as the Prasii under Chandra Gupta, exercised suzerain powers over other kings or dependent princes. The Indian village system is well described, each of the village communities seem- ing to the Greek an independent republic. Megasthenes remarked the exemption of the husbandmen (Vaisyas) from war and public services ; and enumerates the dyes, fibres, fabrics, and products (animal, vegetable, and mineral) of India. Hus- bandry then as now depended on the periodical rains; and forecasts of the weather, with a view to ' make adequate provi- sion against a coming deficiency,' formed a special duty of the Brahmans. ' The philosopher,' he says, ' who errs in his pre- dictions observes silence for the rest of his life.' Later Greek Invasions. — After the time of Alexander the Great the Greeks made no important conquests in India. Antiochos, the grandson of Seleukos, entered into a treaty with the "famous Buddhist king, Asoka, the grandson of Chandra Gupta, in 256 b.c The Greeks had founded a powerful kingdom in Bactria, to the north-west of the Himalayas. During the hundred years after the Indo-Greek treaty of 256 B.c. the Greco-Bactrian kings sent invading hosts into the Punjab ; some of whom reached eastwards as far as Muttra, or even Oudh, and southwards to Sind and Cutch, between 181 and 161 b.c But they founded no kingdoms; and the only traces which the Greeks left in India were their science of astronomy, their beautiful sculptures, and their coins. Some of the early Buddhist statues, after 250 b.c, have exquisite Greek faces; and the same type is preserved in the most ancient carvings on the Hindu temples. By degrees even this trace of Greek in- fluence faded away ; but specimens of Indo-Greek sculptures may still be found in the museums of India. Materials for Reference. The works most easily available to the English reader are Mr. McCrindle's admirable series of translations of the Greek writers, and fragments dealing with India, especially his Commerce and Navigation of the Erythrcean Sea; General Cunningham's Ancient Geography of India ; Weber's History of Indian Literature ; and the Reports of the Archaolo- gical Survey of India, especially of Western India. Mr. McCrindle's trans- lations are about to be republished by Mr. Constable under the title of The Invasion of India by Alexander the Great as described by Arrian, ' Quintus Curtius, Diodoros, Plutarch, and Justin (1892).