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Dandin : Dasakumaracarita ;
(What Ten Young men did.)(7th century)

(from south India)

Taken from the translation by Isabelle Onians.


And the aged women replied: Good holy man, on the island of Kala Yavana there lived an excellent merchant of enormous wealth called Kala (meaning black) Gupta. His daughter, Suvritta, (good news), a joy to set eyes on, was married by Ratnodbhava, an attractive man of business who came from the mainland, son of the king of Magadha's minister. Endowed with delightful qualities, he had wandered the circumference of the earth, and now his father in law honored him with an abundance of fine property.



An ocean going ship from a 550AD fresco in Ajanta - South Central India

Note : Both the translator Isabelle Onians and the famous Indian historian Romila Thapar add that this is most probably a reference to Zanzibar or Madagascar (or one of the other offshore islands of Africa). This is the oldest reference of contacts between India and Africa. In total there are nearly no references at all in Indian literature to Africa, although substantial trade existed. Among the explanation might be the following: The Hindu law makers were declaring it a great sin for a Hindu to cross the sea, to cross the "black water", (8th century).... Ritual purity was becoming an obsession with both Brahmins and the upper classes....