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Ancient History / Post-Mauryan Era

Post Mauryan Period Economy and Religion

Historians consider post Mauryan period as the age of mercantilism (Mercantile Age). Trade and economy was flourishing during this period. This period also witnessed number of changes in the religion.

Economy in Post Mauryan Period

  • Indo-Roman trade was in full swing during this period. Spices particularly pepper, cotton textiles (Muslin variety), pearls and gems were mainly exported to Roman empire.

  • European texts (books) were talking about the Indo-Roman trade

    • In the book, "Natural History" written by Pliny, he praised the quality of Muslin exported by India. Muslin showed status symbol in Rome. India was importing gold in exchange. Pliny asked Roman emperor to stop trade with India.

    • "Periplus of the Erythraean Sea" written in Greek language by an anonymous Greek sailor of Alexandria, talks about important port cities of India namely, (i) Barygaza (Bharukachcha) of Satavahanas, (ii) Muziris (Cochin), (iii) Poduke (Pondicherry), (iv) Masula (Machilipatnam) of Satavahanas (e) Ganges (Tamralipti, West Bengal). Totally 20 ports were mentioned in Periplus of Erythraean Sea.

  • Factors influencing for the rise in trade during post Mauryan period were

    • Discovery of Monsoons by Greek navigator Hippalus. It brought revolutionary changes in trade as there were no mechanized ships at that time.

    • In the old silk route that was going through the lands between China and Roman Empire, nomadic tribes were looting the traders. Because of this, the trade came to end through this land route.

      By this time, a new silk route got started, enhancing the trade happening between China and the Roman Empire. The new silk route was passing through Nathula Pass of Sikkim and then through the Seas.

Religion in Post Mauryan Period

  • A new religion, called Bhagavatism was born during this period. In this religion, group of five Gods were worshipped. It is called Pancharatra worship in which five Gods belonging to the same family of different generations were worshipped.

    The family is Vrishni of Yadu (Yadav or pastoral) tribe. This family originally belonged to Mathura region and later migrated to Dwaraka.

    The five different Gods are (i) Vasudeva Krishna, (ii) Sankarshana or Balarama or Baladeva, (iii) Samba (s/o Vasudeva Krishna and Jambavati), (iv) Pradyumna (s/o Vasudeva Krishna and Rukmini) and (v) Aniruddha (s/o Pradyumna).

  • Principles of Bhagavatism - It is anti-ritualistic religion. It emphasizes more on Bhakti. Most of the foreign rulers adopted this religion. Heliodorus calls himself as Parama Bhagavata and calls Krishna as Devadeva in his Besnagar inscription.