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Sri Aurobindo


Political Writings and Speeches — 1909-1910

Karmayogin: A Weekly Review

Saturday 12th February 1910 — No.32

Passing Thoughts

Aliens in Ancient India

We extract elsewhere a brief article on the above subject from the December Indian Review for which we had no space in our former issues. The ancient Indian treatment of foreign residents forms a curious contrast to the spirit of exclusion which is growing upon modern nations. We have our own doubts about that little privilege of exemption from suits for debt which Mr. Hayavadana Rau mentions with appreciation; it would obviously place the alien merchant at a disadvantage when compared with the scrupulous honesty of the Indian traders, and we are not sure that it may not have been a subtle stroke of Chanakya-like diplomacy to coddle the resident foreign middle-man out of existence while favouring the non-resident importer. The chief importance of the article is, however, the incidental light it throws on the organisation of life in ancient India. We are too apt to forget how noble, great and well-appointed a life it was. There were no railways, telegraphs or steamships, it is true, and democracy was beginning to go out of fashion in favour of a centralised bureaucratic monarchy. But in spite of these drawbacks, the ancient life of India was as splendid, as careful, as convenient, as humane, as enlightened in its organisation as that of any modern society or administration.


Later edition of this work: The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo: Set in 37 volumes.- Volume 8.- Karmayogin: Political writings and speeches. 1909-1910.- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1997.- 471 p.