officers who were the superintendents of women. A connection has been
suggested between these officers and the ganikadhyakshas or superintendents
Slaves and Hired Labour
Megasthenes’ opinion about the absence of slaves in India is not correct. He
was probably unable to recognise the system in India because of its marked
difference from the Western system (Greek and Roman). But there is clear
evidence of its existence in India in both Buddhist texts (especially latakas)
and the Arthasastra. Indian slaves (dasas) were treated very humanely and
were employed mainly for domestic work.
Hired labour occupied socially a better position than slaves, but their
economic position was worse than that of the slaves. Hired labour was
different from forced labour or visti, which probably did not exist in this
The social and economic position of outcastes was worse than that of slaves
as well as hired labourers. These outcastes or hinajah were considered
impure because of the nature of their occupations such as hide-cleaning,
tanning, etc. This was the main reason for their ostracism.
The pre-Asokan monuments were mostly made of wood or some other
perishable medium and the general use of stone started from the time of
Asoka. The replacement of wood by stone may have been partly due to the
influence of contact with Achaemenid Persia (where stone was extensively
used) and partly due to the denudation of the forests in the Ganges plains.
The artistic remains of the Mauryan period may be seen under the
following heads: (1) pillars and sculpture, (2) stupas, (3) caves, (4) palaces,
and (5) terracotta objects.