East Asia) were not on the same scale as with countries in the West, and also
they did not seriously affect the economy of the interior of the country.
However, these contacts, particularly with countries in South-East Asia,
produced far-reaching effects on the cultures of those countries.
                   GUILDS AND CORPORATIONS
  The law books of Gupta period lay down detailed rules regarding the
  functioning of the guilds and corporations. These corporate bodies not
  only performed important economic functions such as carrying out joint
  contracts, plying trade and receiving money deposits, but also performed
  judicial and executive functions. Epigraphic evidence of the period shows
  that the guilds not only issued coins, and seals, but also maintained their
  own militia, which, according to the Kalachuri inscriptions, was known as
  srenibala. The increasingly autonomous character of the guilds, as
  virtually independent units of production and political power, can be
  inferred from the rules which govern the relation between the guilds and
  the state. The earlier texts enjoin the king to pay respect to the customs of
  the guilds (srenidharma), but those of the Gupta times instruct the king to
  enforce the usages prevalent in the guilds.
  Brihaspati, for instance, lays down that whatever is done by the heads of
  guilds towards other people, in accordance with prescribed regulations,
  must be approved by the king, for they are declared to be the appointed
  managers of affairs. He also warns that if the usages of localities, castes
  and families are not maintained, the people will get discontented and
  wealth will suffer thereby. Thus, it seems that the guilds were free to act in
  whatever manner they liked, and the king was bound to accept their
  decision.
  However, on certain occasions the king could interfere in the affairs of the
  guilds. Narada lays down that the king shall prevent a combination of
  different guilds, probably of a hostile nature, the arming of these
  corporations without sufficient grounds. The king is also asked by Narada
  to prevent the guilds from embarking on anti-state, immoral or criminal
  actions. But all the above regulations clearly show that during the Gupta
  period the guilds were considered      capable of threatening the authority of