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Slavery in India

There is evidence of the existence of slavery or personal circumstances resembling slavery and bonded-servitude since ancient times. However the study of its history in India is complicated by contested definitions, ideological and religious perceptions, difficulties in interpreting written sources, and perceptions of political impact of interpretations of written sources.[1]

Though Megasthenes records an absence of slavery, he is contradicted by Indian sources. Unlike Greece and western nations however, in ancient India, a dasa was not employed in unclean work, could own property and earn for himself.[2] The term dāsa and dāsyu in Vedic and other ancient Indian literature has been translated as "slave", but also as "servant." Or it may mean religious devotee.[3][verification needed][need quotation to verify] Sources such as the Arthashastra, Smritis and the Mahabharata show that institutionalized slavery was firmly entrenched in India before the end of the first millennium BCE.[1]

Slavery as known from the Dharmasutras was domestic in nature.[4] Per the Manusmriti, a Shudra is born to be inferior to a Brahmin and servitude is ingrained in their nature.[5] Slaves born to slave mothers are known. War-captives might have also become slaves. Chandana, the first female disciple of Mahavira was a war-captive slaves. One could also become a slave for paying off debts or during famines for want of food. Enslavement was also used as punishment for crimes committed by a person.[6]

During Ashoka's war against Kalinga, 150,000 people were made captives.[7] Buddha forbade his followers from earning out of slave trade. Ashoka had inscriptions inscribed on rocks detailing the injunctions of abolition of slave trade after he converted to Buddhism.[8]

Historical examinations of slavery in India have largely emphasized the intensification or growth of this institution during the period of Muslim control of northern India. From 8th century, the slavery system started emerging as a dominant social institution, including in systematic plundering raids by Muslim rulers which netted them slaves.[9]

Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna during his invasions made thousands as slaves which resulted in their prices becoming very cheap. During the Delhi Sultanate period (1206–1555), references to the abundant availability of low-priced Indian slaves abound.[1] The Fatawa-e-Alamgiri compiled under Mughal emperor Aurangzeb laid out rules for slavery in the Mughal Empire.[10]

77 letters regarding the manumission or sale of slaves in the Majmua-i-wathaiq reveals that slaves of Indian origin accounted for over fifty-eight percent of those slaves whose region of origin is mentioned. The Khutut-i-mamhura bemahr-i qadat-i Bukhara, a smaller collection of judicial documents from early 18th century Bukhara, includes several letters of manumission, with over half of these letters referring to slaves "of Indian origin".[11]

During colonial time many Indians were taken into different parts of the world as slave by British Raj. Slavery was abolished in the British Empire with the passage of the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 and criminalized in the British Raj in the Indian Penal Code of 1861.[12][13][14][15]

Contents

Slavery in Ancient IndiaEdit

There is evidence of the existence of slavery or personal circumstances resembling slavery and bonded-servitude since ancient times.[1] Apastanba, Gautama and Vashistha Dharmsutras, Milindapanho, Arthashastra and Periplus of the Erythraean Sea refer to the sale of slaves.[16] Slavery as known from the Dharmasutras was domestic in nature.[4] Slaves in India received better treatment than in the west.[17]

Yajnavalkya recommended that a slave should be freed if he saved his master. An undated post-Mauryan inscription at Mathura suggests slaves could own property and make donation per their will. Dhammapada states that slaves couldn't own anything as they were a piece of property. Manu denies them any wealth and states that his possession belonged to the master. However, there is also evidence that slaves owned property. Per Kautilya, a slave could own property and it could be inherited by the master only in the absence of his family. Manu states that a son of a Shudra child from a slave girl could receive a share of inheritance with his father's permission. Yajnavalkya states that a Shudra's child from a female slave could receive inheritance with his consent and his legal son was obligated to give a share in the inheritance to his son from a female slave if he died without making any provision for his sons. In absence of the father's sons or grandsons, the son from a slave woman would receive the whole property.[18]

The Arthashastra, Manu and Narad laid down regulations for the practice. The status of a Das was different as compared to the west. Scholars of ancient India agree that their condition was much better than elsewhere.[19]

Vedic periodEdit

Per Ram Sharan Sharma and Thomas R. Trautmann, the Rigvedic term dasa for enemy tribes came to be employed to mean slave in the later Rigvedic period. They envisage that this was due to the enslavement of some of the enemy tribes by the Aryan settlers.[20][21] Per Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, the later usage of the term may not by itself mean the original people had such a status.[22]

Dasa also means "slave, servant" in Rig Vedic passages. In VIII.56.3, a man named Dasyave Ṿrka ('Wolf to the Dasyu") gives the poet "a hundred donkeys", "a hundred wooly ewes, a hundred slaves (dāsá) and garlands beyond that."[23] In Mandala 7, example of the master-servant relationship exists. In the Varuna Suktas, god is always shown as very great and a devotee very small.[24]

The term dāsa and dāsyu in Vedic and other ancient Indian literature has also been translated as "slave", but other scholars have translated it as "servant", its current meaning, or as "religious devotee", and as other abstract concepts depending on context.[3][verification needed][need quotation to verify]

Upinder Singh states that the Rig Veda is familiar with slavery, referring to enslavement in course of war or as a result of debt. She states that the use of dasa (Sanskrit: दास) and dasi in later times were used as terms for male and female slaves, suggests that initially ethnic differences may have been an important basis of enslavement. She adds that hymns in praise of gifts (dana-stutis) in later Rig Vedic books mention gifts of cows, horses, chariots, gold, clothes and female slaves given by kings to priests.[25]

The Atharva Veda mentions female slaves in its earlier portions. She is described as being wet-handed, smearing the pestle and mortar, and also throwing lye on the dropping of a cow, showing that she was engaged in domestic work. References suggest female slaves in early Vedic society were employed as domestic slaves.[26] In Rigveda 8:19:36 and the Chandogya Upanisad 5:13:2, men and women are mentioned being gifted as slaves.[27]

The sale and gift of both male and female slaves is referred to in the Mahabharata. In its stories, it speaks of slavery resulting from a loss in bet and manumission. The term dasi-bhava is used in relation to Draupadi, who is lost in a bet by Yudhisthira.[28] Those captured in war were often made slaves, "the vanquished is the victor's slave - such is the law of war", as stated in the Mahabharata.[29]

Aitareya Brahmana 2:19 relates that some seers while performing a sattra on the Sarasvati River, drove out Kavaṣa Ailūṣa to the desert, thinking him to be "the son of a slave-woman, a gambler, a non-Brahman" (dāsyāḥ putraḥ kitavo 'brahmaṇaḥ). While marred by thirst in the desert, he saw the Aponaptriyā ("Child of the Waters") hymn (Rig Veda 10:30) and went to the dear abode of the Waters which rose up after him and Sarasvati flowed all around him because of which the place came to be known as Parisāraka. Recognising their mistake, the seers called on him and attained the dear abode of the Waters by performing the Aponaptriyā hymn.[30]

Post-Vedic periodEdit

The canonical texts of Buddhism mention servitude. Buddha forbade earning money from slave trade. The Mauryan emperor Ashoka had his ban on slave trade inscribed on his stone edicts and called for slaves to be treated decently, though without completely outlawing servitude.[8] The Jain literature, Buddhist literature and Dharmsastras mention slavery. Digha Nikaya and Anguttara Nikaya mention Buddha forbidding Bhikshus from accepting slaves as gifts.[6] Buddha also exhorted for slaves to be treated kindly.[31]

Jain, Buddhist and Dharmsastra literature mention that slaves were brought and sold. Per the Nanda jataka, 700 panas were enough for buying a slave while Sattubhakta Jataka states 100 Karshapanas were enough. Slaves were also given as gifts. War-captives reduced to subjection mighty have also been sold or gifted. Chandana, the first female disciple of Mahavira belonged to this category of slaves. One could also become a slave for paying off debts. people were also made slaves during famines for want of food. The Vidhura-pandita-Jataka refers to men who were driven to slavery mainly on account of fear. Enslavement was also used as punishment for crimes committed by a person.[6]

In Buddhist literature, slavery is an assumed background and their donation to the sangha is allowed. Various terms are used like kalpikāra ("bondsmen"), kapyāri ("proper slave"), kalpiyakāra ("proper bondman"), parivāra, dāsa, and ārāmika; Junius P. Rodriguez states there is a problem in translation for the last three. In several of the Vinayas, Buddha allows donation and use of domestic servants and slaves. One tradition narrates King Bimbisara asking Pilindavaccha if he needs an "attendant for a monastery" or a "park keeper" (ārāmika). Buddha upon being asked for permission stated, "I allow monks a monastery attendant". 500 such attendants were then given by Bimbisara to Pilindavaccha and they lived in a separate compound. A later vinaya of another tradition has a parallel version, in which the slaves are forced to work for the king as well. The slaves objected saying, "We belong to the noble ones," indicating them being a gift to the sangha. To clarify whom they beonged to, Buddha allowed them a separate dwelling.[32]

Slavery appears in Buddhist scriptures as a metaphor for human conditions. The parable of a dung sweeper ignorant of his master being his father and him being the truthful heir of a great wealth, presents menial servitude, though not really slavery, as a metaphor in Lotus Sutra for people being ignorant of their true Buddha nature. Another theoretical use of slavery is to express devotion like the Thai monk Buddhadasa ("Buddha's slave").[33]

In Samaññaphala Sutta, Ajatashatru after pointing out advantages derived by home-born slaves and other workers asks if members of the order renounce the world, do they derive any advantages in this life from their profession. Buddha points to him about the luxurious life of the king and that of a slave-servant who becomes a recluse to earn merit and live like a king. He asks, "The very man whom, under ordinary circumstances, you would treat as a slave-servant, — what treatment would you meet out to him after he had joined the Order?" The king confesses he would treat him with honor and respect. The discourse, Ram Sharan Sharma states, points out about reclusion offering immediate relief from poverty for lower orders and merit for a happier life in the next birth.[34]

Mauryan eraEdit

According to Megasthenes there were no slaves in India. The historian Kishori Saran Lal however states that it probably did exist.[35] Though Megasthenes records absence of slavery, it is contradicted by Indian sources. Sailendra Nath Sen, former professor of history at University of Calcutta, states that he might not have found the slave system in India similar to that of Greece and western nations where a slave was subservient to the master. In India, a dasa was not employed in unclean work, could own property and earn for himself.[2]

The Greek historian Arrian wrote in his Indiké states:[36]

There remains this relevant fact concerning India: all Indians are free, and no Indian is a slave. This value is common to the Lacedaemonians and Indians. But while the Lacedaemonians have Helots as slaves, that perform menial tasks, the Indians have no slaves of any kind, much less Indian slaves.[36]

Udai Prakash Arora and Ram Sharan Sharma point out that Arrian's work is based on Megasthenes whom Strabo considers unreliable.[37][38] Sharma mentions that Onesikritos' stated that absence of slavery was peculiar to Mousikanos, which included a large part of modern Sindh. Instead, they employed young men in the flower of their age, like the Cretans with the aphamiotai and Lacedemonians with helots. He states that this suggests that even the Mousikanoi had a class of people who worked as the helots for the whole society and weren't individually owned.[38] Arora states that in his attempt to idealize the Indians, Megasthenes was greatly inspired from Onesicritus' narrative about the Indians and Mousicanos. He states that the absence of slavery, lawsuits and formal contracts, marked as a characteristic of the Mousicanos, is generalized for all of India by Megasthenes.[39]

B. Breloer,[40][need quotation to verify] offer a different interpretation,[weasel words] and suggest that the word dasa in Sanskrit is better translated as "enemy", "servant" or "religious devotee" depending on the context.[citation needed]

Kautilya's Arthashastra dedicates the thirteenth chapter on dasas, in his third book on law. The Sanskrit scholar R. P. Kangle states that it denotes various types of "unfree" men who as Broeler points out are not the same as slaves in ancient Greece and they can obtain freedom upon paymnent of a ransom by working for the master and is entitled to a wage like a free worker.[41]

From Arthashastra it can be learned, that the state interfered if a slave was treated badly and the master was punished. If a slave was beaten or employed in mean work, the purchase value was forfeited by the master. If a slave girl was raped, the master had to pay a certain amount of money and twice the amount to the government as fine.[42] Per Kautilya, slaves brought, enslaved for court decrees or captured in war could be emancipated by paying ransom.[43]

In case a freedman was again sold or pledged, a fine of twelve panas was levied except for those who wanted to remain in slavery. If a female slave gave birth from a relationship with her master, she along with the child would be freed unless she wanted to remain in slavery for looking after his family.[44]

Kautilya differentiates between Aryas and Mlecchas and mentions punishments for reducing any of the four varnas to slavery. From R. P. Kangle's translation[45]:

For one selling or keeping as a pledge a minor Arya individual except a slave for livelihood, the fine is twelve panas for a kinsman in the case of a Sudra, double that in the case of a Vaisya, three times in the case of a Ksatriya, four times in the case of Brahmin. For a stranger, the lowest, the middle and the highest fines and death are the punishments respectively, also for purchasers and witnesses. It is not an offence for Mlecchas to sell an offspring or keep it as a pledge. But there shall be no slavery for an Arya in any circumstances whatsoever.

— Arthashastra, translated by R. P. Kangle[45]

During Ashoka's war against Kalinga, 150,000 people were enslaved. After this successful and bloody campaign he repented and turned to Buddhism.[7] Per the Shahbazgarhi edict believed by historians to have been drafted under Ashoka:[46]

"When the King, of Gracious Mien and Beloved of the Gods, had been consecrated eight years Kalinga was conquered. 150,000 people were thence taken captive, 100,000 were killed, and many more died. Just after the taking of Kalinga the Beloved of the Gods began to follow Righteousness, to love Righteousness, to give instruction in Righteousness. When an unconquered country is conquered, people are killed, they die or are made captive. That the Beloved of the Gods finds very pitiful and grievous..."[46]

Kātyāyana declares that a Brahmin can never be a slave and a Brahmin criminal must be simply exiled instead.[17] Ashoka's "Rock Edict 11" mentions the gift of dhamma as the best and is said to consist of: Proper treatment of slaves and servants, obedience to parents, liberality or genoristy towards friends, acquaintances, Brahmins and Shramanas, abstainment from killing living beings.[47]

Post-Mauryan eraEdit

A verse from the Manusmriti states that servitude for "shudra" is not an obligation but ingrained in his nature. Per the law of Manu, "He was created by the self-existent to be the slave of a Brahmin." It adds, "A sudra, though emancipated by his master, is not released from servitude; since that is innate in him, who can set him free from it?"[5][48]

By the time of the Gupta Empire, slavery was waning and it was in the state's interest to prevent its expansion. In South India, female slaves were attached to temples as devadasis.[49] Per Harshacharita, the last Shunga king Devabhuti was assassinated by his Amatya Vasudeva with the help of the daughter of Devabhuti's slave woman (Dāsi).[50] Professor Sailendra Nath Sen states the better treatment of slaves probably explains why Fa-hien doesn't record any slavery in India.[17]

Fifteen classes of "slaves", actually dasas, are found in the text of Narada, and they were distinguished from the fact that they were required to perform ritually polluting labour.[51] Seven types of slaves exist in Manusmriti – War-captives, he who serves for food, he who is born in a house, a purchased slave, a slave who is given, he who is received as an inheritance and he who was enslaved as punishment. A priest (Brāhmaṇa) could seize the goods of his slave. In addition, slaves were classed among a number of persons who couldn't become witnesses in a lawsuit, unless the qualified witnesses failed to give evidence (VIII, 70). Householders were forbidden from quarelling with them.[52]

The statement of Bardesanes on Kushanas indicates usage of slaves for domestic purposes.[53] He claims that Bactrian or Kushana women wore male clothes, rode on horses, were served better by slaves and slave-women, and slept with both slaves and foreigners without fearing abiut their husbands who regarded their wives as their masters.[54]

Slavery in medieval IndiaEdit

Slavery escalated during the medieval era in India with the Muslim invasions of India.[1][55][page needed] Wink summarizes the period as follows,

Slavery and empire-formation tied in particularly well with iqta and it is within this context of Islamic expansion that elite slavery was later commonly found. It became the predominant system in North India in the thirteenth century and retained considerable importance in the fourteenth century. Slavery was still vigorous in fifteenth-century Bengal, while after that date it shifted to the Deccan where it persisted until the seventeenth century. It remained present to a minor extent in the Mughal provinces throughout the seventeenth century and had a notable revival under the Afghans in North India again in the eighteenth century.

— Al Hind, André Wink[56]

Slavery as a predominant social institution emerged from the 8th century onwards in India, particularly after the 11th century, as part of systematic dethesaurization (plunder) and enslavement of infidels, along with the use of slaves in armies for conquest.[9]

Islamic invasions (8th to 12th century AD)Edit

Andre Wink summarizes the slavery in 8th and 9th century India as follows,

(During the invasion of Muhammad al-Qasim), invariably numerous women and children were enslaved. The sources insist that now, in dutiful conformity to religious law, 'the one-fifth of the slaves and spoils' were set apart for the caliph's treasury and despatched to Iraq and Syria. The remainder was scattered among the army of Islam. At Rūr, a random 60,000 captives reduced to slavery. At Brahamanabad 30,000 slaves were allegedly taken. At Multan 6,000. Slave raids continued to be made throughout the late Umayyad period in Sindh, but also much further into Hind, as far as Ujjain and Malwa. The Abbasid governors raided Punjab, where many prisoners and slaves were taken.

— Al Hind, André Wink[57]

Levi notes that these figures cannot be entirely dismissed as exaggerations since they appear to be supported by the reports of contemporary observers. In the early 11th century Tarikh al-Yamini, the Arab historian Al-Utbi recorded that in 1001 the armies of Mahmud of Ghazni conquered Peshawar and Waihand (capital of Gandhara) after Battle of Peshawar (1001), "in the midst of the land of Hindustan", and enslaved thousands.[58][59] Later, following his twelfth expedition into India in 1018–19, Mahmud is reported to have returned to with such a large number of slaves that their value was reduced to only two to ten dirhams each. This unusually low price made, according to Al-Utbi, "merchants came from distant cities to purchase them, so that the countries of Central Asia, Iraq and Khurasan were swelled with them, and the fair and the dark, the rich and the poor, mingled in one common slavery".

Delhi Sultanate (12th to 16th century AD)Edit

During the Delhi Sultanate period (1206–1555), references to the abundant availability of low-priced Indian slaves abound.[1][60] Many of these Indian slaves were used by Muslim nobility in the subcontinent, but others were exported to satisfy the demand in international markets.

The revenue system of the Delhi Sultanate produced a considerable proportion of the Indian slave population as these rulers, and their subordinate shiqadars, ordered their armies to abduct large numbers of locals as a means of extracting revenue.[61][62] While those communities that were loyal to the Sultan and regularly paid their taxes were often excused from this practice, taxes were commonly extracted from other, less loyal groups in the form of slaves. Thus, according to Barani, the Shamsi "slave-king" Balban (r. 1266–87) ordered his shiqadars in Awadh to enslave those peoples resistant to his authority, implying those who refused to supply him with tax revenue.[63] Sultan Alauddin Khalji (r. 1296–1316) is similarly reported to have legalised the enslavement of those who defaulted on their revenue payments.[63] This policy continued during the Mughal era.[64][65][66][67][68]

An even greater number of people were enslaved as a part of the efforts of the Delhi Sultans to finance their expansion into new territories.[69] For example, while he himself was still a military slave of the Ghurid Sultan Muizz u-Din, Qutb-ud-din Aybak (r. 1206–10 as the first of the Shamsi slave-kings) invaded Gujarat in 1197 and placed some 20,000 people in bondage. Roughly six years later, he enslaved an additional 50,000 people during his conquest of Kalinjar. Later in the 13th century, Balban's campaign in Ranthambore, reportedly defeated the Indian army and yielded "captives beyond computation".[68][70]

The Muslim army during Alauddin Khalji's conquest of Gujarat took away the wealth of both Muslim and non-Muslim traders. The Hindu slave Malik Kafur belonged to a Muslim khwaja. Iqtidar Siddiqui of Aligarh Muslim University states that this indicates slavery may have been present in pre-Muslim Gujarat.[71]

Levi states that the forcible enslavement of non-Muslims during Delhi Sultanate was motivated by the desire for war booty and military expansion. This gained momentum under the Khalji and Tughluq dynasties, as being supported by available figures.[1][68] Zia uddin Barani suggested that Sultan Alauddin Khalji owned 50,000 slave-boys, in addition to 70,000 construction slaves. Sultan Firuz Shah Tughluq is said to have owned 180,000 slaves, roughly 12,000 of whom were skilled artisans.[61][68][72][73][74][75] A significant proportion of slaves owned by the Sultans were likely to have been military slaves and not labourers or domestics. However earlier traditions of maintaining a mixed army comprising both Indian soldiers and Turkic slave-soldiers (ghilman, mamluks) from Central Asia, were disrupted by the rise of the Mongol Empire reducing the inflow of mamluks. This intensified demands by the Delhi Sultans on local Indian populations to satisfy their need for both military and domestic slaves. The Khaljis even sold thousands of captured Mongol soldiers within India.[62][72][76] China, Turkistan, Persia, and Khurusan were sources of male and female slaves sold to Tughluq India.[77][78][78][79][80] The Yuan Dynasty Emperor in China sent 100 slaves of both sexes to the Tughluq Sultan, and he replied by also sending the same number of slaves of both sexes.[81]

Mughal Empire (16th to 19th century)Edit

The slave trade continued to exist the Mughal Empire, however it was greatly reduced in scope, primarily limited to domestic servitude and debt bondage, and deemed "mild" and incomparable to the transatlantic slave trade.[82][83] Abd Allah Khan Firuz Jang, an Uzbek noble at the Mughal court during the 1620s and 1630s, was appointed to the position of governor of the regions of Kalpi and Kher and, in the process of subjugating the local rebels, ``beheaded the leaders and enslaved their women, daughters and children, who were more than 200,000 in number.[84]

The Augustinian missionary Fray Sebastiao Manrique, who was in Bengal in 1629–30 and again in 1640, remarked on the ability of the shiqdār—a Mughal officer responsible for executive matters in the pargana, the smallest territorial unit of imperial administration to collect the revenue demand, by force if necessary, and even to enslave peasants should they default in their payments.[85][page needed]

A survey of a relatively small, restricted sample of seventy-seven letters regarding the manumission or sale of slaves in the Majmua-i-wathaiq reveals that slaves of Indian origin (Hindi al-asal) accounted for over fifty-eight percent of those slaves whose region of origin is mentioned. The Khutut-i-mamhura bemahr-i qadat-i Bukhara, a smaller collection of judicial documents from early-eighteenth-century Bukhara, includes several letters of manumission, with over half of these letters referring to slaves "of Indian origin". Even in the model of a legal letter of manumission written by the chief qazi for his assistant to follow, the example used is of a slave "of Indian origin".[11]

The export of slaves from India was limited to debt defaulters and rebels against the Mughal Empire. The Ghakkars of Punjab acted as intermediaries for such slave for trade to Central Asian buyers.[83]

Fatawa-i AlamgiriEdit

The Fatawa-e-Alamgiri (also known as the Fatawa-i-Hindiya and Fatawa-i Hindiyya) was sponsored by Aurangzeb in the late 17th century.[86] It compiled the law for the Mughal Empire, and involved years of effort by 500 Muslim scholars from South Asia, Iraq and modern Saudi Arabia. The thirty volumes on Hanafi-based sharia law for the Empire was influential during and after Auruangzeb's rule, and it included many chapters and laws on slavery and slaves in India.[10][87][88]

Some of the slavery-related law included in Fatawa-i Alamgiri were,

  • the right of Muslims to purchase and own slaves,[10]
  • a Muslim man's right to have sex with a captive slave girl he owns or a slave girl owned by another Muslim (with master's consent) without marrying her,[89]
  • a Muslim master's right to acknowledge or decline recognition of children born to slave girls he "had sex with" - a recognition that affected whether the slave's children would have any inheritance, the inability of infidels (non-Muslims) to inherit,[90]
  • no inheritance rights for slaves,[91]
  • the testimony of all slaves was inadmissible in a court of law[92]
  • slaves require permission of the master before they can marry,[93]
  • an unmarried Muslim may marry a slave girl he owns but a Muslim married to a Muslim woman may not marry a slave girl,[94]
  • conditions under which the slaves may be emancipated partially or fully[88]

"Export" of Indian slaves to international "markets"Edit

Alongside Buddhist Oirats, Christian Russians, Afghans, and the predominantly Shia Iranians, Indian slaves were an important component of the highly active slave markets of medieval and early modern Central Asia. The all pervasive nature of slavery in this period in Central Asia is shown by the 17th century records of one Juybari Sheikh, a Naqshbandi Sufi leader, owning over 500 slaves, forty of whom were specialists in pottery production while the others were engaged in agricultural work.[95] High demand for skilled slaves, and India's larger and more advanced textile industry, agricultural production and tradition of architecture demonstrated to its neighbours that skilled-labour was abundant in the subcontinent leading to enslavement and "export" of large numbers of skilled labour as slaves, following their successful invasions.[96]

After sacking Delhi, Timur enslaved several thousand skilled artisans, presenting many of these slaves to his subordinate elite, although reserving the masons for use in the construction of the Bibi-Khanym Mosque in Samarkand.[97] Young female slaves fetched higher market price than skilled construction slaves, sometimes by 150%.[98] Because of their identification in Muslim societies as kafirs, "non-believers", Hindus were especially in demand in the early modern Central Asian slave markets, with Indian slaves specially mentioned in waqafnamas, and archives and even being owned by Turkic pastoral groups.[99]

Under the MarathasEdit

During the period of Maratha Empire, some slaves were able to enjoy what ever they used to earn and entitled to inherit the property of his father. In most cases the slaves were forced to work all their lives and their children were also slaves. The slaves were given food, shelter and clothes. In short, the slavery under the Marathas was different than the slavery in Europe and America. Some slaves were treated well and they were set free on several occasions, festivals and due to their old age. They were released on the suitable substitute for their owner and allowed to marry with the person of their choice. The marriage of slave girl means it was as good as her manumission.[100]

Under early European colonial powersEdit

According to one author, in spite of the best efforts of the slave-holding elite to conceal the continuation of the institution from the historical record, slavery was practised throughout colonial India in various manifestations.[101] In reality, the movement of Indians to the Bukharan slave markets did not cease and Indian slaves continued to be sold in the markets of Bukhara well into the nineteenth century.

17th centuryEdit

Slavery existed in Portuguese India after the 16th century. "Most of the Portuguese", says Albert. D. Mandelslo, a German itinerant writer, "have many slaves of both sexes, whom they employ not only on and about their persons, but also upon the business they are capable of, for what they get comes with the master.

The Dutch, too, largely dealt in slaves. They were mainly Abyssian, known in India as Habshis or Sheedes. The curious mixed race in Kanara on the West coast has traces of these slaves.[102]

The Dutch Indian Ocean slave trade was primarily mediated by the Dutch East India Company, drawing captive labour from three commercially closely linked regions: the western, or Southeast Africa, Madagascar, and the Mascarene Islands (Mauritius and Reunion); the middle, or Indian subcontinent (Malabar, Coromandel, and the Bengal/Arakan coast); and the eastern, or Malaysia, Indonesia, New Guinea (Irian Jaya), and the southern Philippines.

The Dutch traded slaves from fragmented or weak small states and stateless societies in the East beyond the sphere of Islamic influence, to the company's Asian headquarters, the "Chinese colonial city" of Batavia (Jakarta), and its regional centre in coastal Sri Lanka. Other destinations included the important markets of Malacca (Melaka) and Makassar (Ujungpandang), along with the plantation economies of eastern Indonesia (Maluku, Ambon, and Banda Islands), and the agricultural estates of the southwestern Cape Colony (South Africa).

On the Indian subcontinent, Arakan/Bengal, Malabar, and Coromandel remained the most important source of forced labour until the 1660s. Between 1626 and 1662, the Dutch exported on an average 150–400 slaves annually from the Arakan-Bengal coast. During the first thirty years of Batavia's existence, Indian and Arakanese slaves provided the main labour force of the company's Asian headquarters. Of the 211 manumitted slaves in Batavia between 1646 and 1649, 126 (59.71%) came from South Asia, including 86 (40.76%) from Bengal. Slave raids into the Bengal estuaries were conducted by joint forces of Magh pirates, and Portuguese traders (chatins) operating from Chittagong outside the jurisdiction and patronage of the Estado da India, using armed vessels (galias). These raids occurred with the active connivance of the Taung-ngu (Toungoo) rulers of Arakan. The eastward expansion of the Mughal Empire, however, completed with the conquest of Chittagong in 1666, cut off the traditional supplies from Arakan and Bengal. Until the Dutch seizure of the Portuguese settlements on the Malabar coast (1658–63), large numbers of slaves were also captured and sent from India's west coast to Batavia, Ceylon, and elsewhere. After 1663, however, the stream of forced labour from Cochin dried up to a trickle of about 50–100 and 80–120 slaves per year to Batavia and Ceylon, respectively.

In contrast with other areas of the Indian subcontinent, Coromandel remained the centre of a sporadic slave trade throughout the seventeenth century. In various short-lived expansions accompanying natural and human-induced calamities, the Dutch exported thousands of slaves from the east coast of India. A prolonged period of drought followed by famine conditions in 1618–20 saw the first large-scale export of slaves from the Coromandel coast in the seventeenth century. Between 1622 and 1623, 1,900 slaves were shipped from central Coromandel ports, like Pulicat and Devanampattinam. Company officials on the coast declared that 2,000 more could have been bought if only they had the funds.

The second expansion in the export of Coromandel slaves occurred during a famine following the revolt of the Nayaka Indian rulers of South India (Tanjavur, Senji, and Madurai) against Bijapur overlordship (1645) and the subsequent devastation of the Tanjavur countryside by the Bijapur army. Reportedly, more than 150,000 people were taken by the invading Deccani Muslim armies to Bijapur and Golconda. In 1646, 2,118 slaves were exported to Batavia, the overwhelming majority from southern Coromandel. Some slaves were also acquired further south at Tondi, Adirampatnam, and Kayalpatnam.

A third phase in slaving took place between 1659 and 1661 from Tanjavur as a result of a series of successive Bijapuri raids. At Nagapatnam, Pulicat, and elsewhere, the company purchased 8,000–10,000 slaves, the bulk of whom were sent to Ceylon while a small portion were exported to Batavia and Malacca. A fourth phase (1673–77) started from a long drought in Madurai and southern Coromandel starting in 1673, and intensified by the prolonged Madurai-Maratha struggle over Tanjavur and punitive fiscal practices. Between 1673 and 1677, 1,839 slaves were exported from the Madurai coast alone. A fifth phase occurred in 1688, caused by poor harvests and the Mughal advance into the Karnatak. Thousands of people from Tanjavur, mostly girls and little boys, were sold into slavery and exported by Asian traders from Nagapattinam to Aceh, Johor, and other slave markets. In September 1687, 665 slaves were exported by the English from Fort St. George, Madras. Finally, in 1694–96, when warfare once more ravaged South India, a total of 3,859 slaves were imported from Coromandel by private individuals into Ceylon.[103] [104] [105][106]

The volume of the total Dutch Indian Ocean slave trade has been estimated to be about 15–30% of the Atlantic slave trade, slightly smaller than the trans-Saharan slave trade, and one-and-a-half to three times the size of the Swahili and Red Sea coast and the Dutch West India Company slave trades.[107]

18th to 20th centuryEdit

Between 1772 and 1833, the British parliament debates, as recorded in Hansard confirm the existence of extensive slavery in India, primarily for Arabian and European colonial markets under the East India Company.[108] When Britain abolished slavery in its Empire, through Slavery Abolition Act 1833, it included a clause that allowed slavery inside India and enslavement of Indians for colonial markets operated by the East India Company.[109] Andrea Major notes,[110]

In fact, eighteenth century Europeans, including some Britons, were involved in buying, selling and exporting Indian slaves, transferring them around the subcontinent or to European slave colonies across the globe. Moreover, many eighteenth century European households in India included domestic slaves, with the owners' right of property over them being upheld in law. Thus, although both colonial observers and subsequent historians usually represent South Asian slavery as an indigenous institution, with which the British were only concenred as colonial reforms, until the end of the eighteenth century Europeans were deeply implicated in both slave-holding and slave-trading in the region.

— Slavery, Abolitionism and Empire in India, 1772-1843[110]

When the abolition did come into play in 1843, the officials that inadvertently used the term "slave" would be reprimanded, but the actual practices of servitude continued unchanged. Scholar Indrani Chatterjee has termed this "abolition by denial." In the rare cases when the anti-slavery legislation was enforced, it addressed the relatively smaller practices of export and import of slaves, but it did little to address the agricultural slavery that was pervasive inland. The officials in the Madras Presidency turned a blind eye to agricultural slavery claiming that it was a benign form of bondage that was in fact preferable to free labour.[111]

According to Sir Henry Bartle Frere (who sat on the Viceroy's Council), there were an estimated 8,000,000 or 9,000,000 slaves in India in 1841. In Malabar, about 15% of the population were slaves. Slavery was officially abolished in India by the Indian Slavery Act V. of 1843. Provisions of the Indian Penal Code of 1861 effectively abolished slavery in India by making the enslavement of human beings a criminal offense.[12][112][15][113]

Indentured labor system

After the United Kingdom abolished slavery by the mid 19th century, it introduced a new indentured labor system that scholars suggest was slavery by contract.[114][115][116]

In this new system, they were called indentured labourers. South Asians began to replace Africans previously brought as slaves, under this indentured labour scheme to serve on plantations and mining operations across the British empire.[117] The first ships carrying indentured labourers left India in 1836.[117] In the second half of the 19th century, indentured Indians were treated as inhumanely as the enslaved people previously had been. They were confined to their estates and paid a pitiful salary. Any breach of contract brought automatic criminal penalties and imprisonment.[117] Many of these were brought away from their homelands deceptively. Many from inland regions over a thousand kilometers from seaports were promised jobs, were not told the work they were being hired for, or that they would leave their homeland and communities. They were hustled aboard the waiting ships, unprepared for the long and arduous four-month sea journey. Charles Anderson, a special magistrate investigating these sugarcane plantations, wrote to the British Colonial Secretary declaring that with few exceptions, the indentured labourers are treated with great and unjust severity; plantation owners enforced work in plantations, mining and domestic work so harshly, that the decaying remains of immigrants were frequently discovered in fields. If labourers protested and refused to work, they were not paid or fed: they simply starved.[117][118]

Contemporary slaveryEdit

According to a Walk Free Foundation report in 2016, there were 46 million people enslaved worldwide in 2016, there were 18.3 million people in India living in the forms of modern slavery, such as bonded labour, child labour, forced marriage, human trafficking, forced begging, among others.[119][120][121][122][123]

The existence of child slavery in South Asia and the world has been alleged by NGOs and the media.[124] With the Bonded Labour (Prohibition) Act 1976 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (concerning slavery and servitude), a spotlight has been placed on these problems in the country. One of the areas identified as problematic were granite quarries.[125][126]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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  107. ^ Of 2,467 slaves traded on 12 slave voyages from Batavia, India, and Madagascar between 1677 and 1701 to the Cape, 1,617 were landed with a loss of 850 slaves, or 34.45%. On 19 voyages between 1677 and 1732, the mortality rate was somewhat lower (22.7%). See Shell, "Slavery at the Cape of Good Hope, 1680–1731," p. 332. Filliot estimated the average mortality rate among slaves shipped from India and West Africa to the Mascarene Islands at 20–25% and 25–30%, respectively. Average mortality rates among slaves arriving from closer catchment areas were lower: 12% from Madagascar and 21% from Southeast Africa. See Filliot, La Traite des Esclaves, p. 228; A. Toussaint, La Route des Îles: Contribution à l'Histoire Maritime des Mascareignes (Paris, 1967),; Allen, "The Madagascar Slave Trade and Labor Migration."
  108. ^ Hansard Parliamentary Papers 125 (1828), 128 (1834), 697 (1837), 238 (1841), 525 (1843), 14 (1844), London, House of Commons
  109. ^ An Act for the Abolition of Slavery throughout the British Colonies 3° & 4° Gulielmi IV, cap. LXXIII (August 1833)
  110. ^ a b Andrea Major (2014), Slavery, Abolitionism and Empire in India, 1772-1843, Liverpool University Press, ISBN 9781781381113, p. 43
  111. ^ Viswanath, Rupa (2014-07-29), The Pariah Problem: Caste, Religion, and the Social in Modern India, Columbia University Press, p. 5, ISBN 978-0-231-53750-6 
  112. ^ "Historical survey > Slave-owning societies". Britannica.com. Retrieved 4 December 2011. 
  113. ^ Islamic Law and the Colonial Encounter in British India Archived 29 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  114. ^ Walton Lai (1993). Indentured labor, Caribbean sugar: Chinese and Indian migrants to the British West Indies, 1838–1918. ISBN 978-0-8018-7746-9. 
  115. ^ Steven Vertovik (Robin Cohen, ed.) (1995). The Cambridge survey of world migration. pp. 57–68. ISBN 978-0-521-44405-7. 
  116. ^ Tinker, Hugh (1993). New System of Slavery. Hansib Publishing, London. ISBN 978-1-870518-18-5. 
  117. ^ a b c d "Forced Labour". The National Archives, Government of the United Kingdom. 2010. 
  118. ^ K Laurence (1994). A Question of Labour: Indentured Immigration Into Trinidad & British Guiana, 1875–1917. St Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-12172-3. 
  119. ^ Browne, Rachel (31 May 2016). "Andrew Forrest puts world's richest countries on notice: Global Slavery Index". Sydney Morning Herald. Australia. Fairfax. Retrieved 31 May 2016. 
  120. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/01/world/asia/global-slavery-index.html?mcubz=0
  121. ^ https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/country/india/
  122. ^ http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/india-has-the-largest-population-of-modern-day-slaves/story-PVP1mAQlFqLwOXFtE9EsII.html
  123. ^ http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/india-ranks-fourth-in-global-slavery-survey/articleshow/52528778.cms
  124. ^ Vilasetuo Suokhrie, "Human Market for Sex & Slave?!!", The Morung Express (8 April 2008)
  125. ^ "Modern slavery and child labour in Indian quarries - Stop Child Labour". Stop Child Labour. Retrieved 2016-03-09. 
  126. ^ "Modern slavery and child labour in Indian quarries". www.indianet.nl. Retrieved 2016-03-09. 

Further readingEdit

  • Scott C. Levi (2002), Hindus Beyond the Hindu Kush: Indians in the Central Asian Slave Trade, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society
  • Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. [1]
  • Salim Kidwai, "Sultans, Eunuchs and Domestics: New Forms of Bondage in Medieval India", in Utsa Patnaik and Manjari Dingwaney (eds), Chains of Servitude: bondage and slavery in India (Madras, 1985).
  • Utsa Patnaik and Manjari Dingwaney (eds), Chains of Servitude: bondage and slavery in India (Madras, 1985)
  • Andrea Major (2014), Slavery, Abolitionism and Empire in India, 1772-1843, Liverpool University Press,
  • R.C. Majumdar, The History and Culture of the Indian People, Bombay.
  • Andre Wink (1991), Al-Hind: the Making of the Indo-Islamic World, Brill Academic (Leiden), ISBN 978-9004095090

External linksEdit