Megasthenes Visit to India
Megasthenes was a Greek historian who came to India in the fourth century B.C. as a representative or ambassador of Seleucus Nicator. He lived in the court of Chandragupta Maurya for about five years (302-298 B.C.)
Megasthenes was born in 350 B.C.
Megasthenes has written an account of India and also that of Chandragupta’s reign in his book entitled ‘INDIKA”. This book is not at present available but most of its passages are found in the form of quotations in the writings of various Greek and Roman authors. From these passages we come to know that Megasthenes had tried to write about everything that he had seen in India—its geography, government, religion and society.
Most of the scholars attach a great importance to the information received from Megasthenes. He has written in detail about Chandragupta Maurya’s administration as well as the Indian society in the Mauryan period.
Megasthenes on Mauryan Administration
Megasthenes has given us the following useful information regarding the Mauryan administration.
About the King: Megasthenes gives a detailed description of the personal life of Chandragupta Maurya. He led a very splendid life and his palace was unique in its beauty. The king did not sleep in one room for two continuous days. He did not favor meeting the people too much.
About Civil Administration: Megasthenes has written a lot about the civil administration of Chandragupta Maurya. He writes that the king was an autocrat and he was the master of unlimited powers. He kept himself fully aware of the main events of his empire through his spies.
About the Indian Society: Besides dealing with the Mauryan administration Megasthenes has provided us very valuable information regarding the Indian society in the Mauryan period.
Megasthenes died on 290 B.C.