While slaves were employed in cultivation practices of the North East, there was also the case of the same institution producing a ruling dynasty in northern India. (Wikimedia Commons)
The institution of slavery, in its varied forms can be traced back to early centuries of ancient Indian history. Despite the common ground of labour relations that existed between master and slave, slavery in India was hardly a homogenous affair. While on one hand enslaved women worked as performers in elite Rajput households, on the other military slaves were brought in by Arab merchants in the Deccan. While slaves were employed in cultivation practices of the North East, there was also the case of the same institution producing a ruling dynasty in northern India. As explained by historian Richard Eaton, there was no single story of slavery in South Asian history. Each case was unique and must be placed in their own socio-economic, political context to be understood lucidly.
What is noteworthy further is that in India, slaves did not just stick to their position of inferiority. In many instances, they found themselves the opportunities to rise up the social ladder. While many of them rose up the political ladder, occupying high bureaucratic positions for themselves, many of them also contributed to the richness of Indian history by building elaborate architectural and art pieces, founding cities and developing the socio-economic system in the country.
Here is a quiz testing your knowledge of the institution of slavery as it existed in India, the changes it went through over time and the contributions made by it to enrich our country’s history.
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