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Ancient India.

By Mahamahopadhyaya Ganga Nath Jha, M.A., D. Litt.

[Sources of Information.-(1) Charaka-sımhitā, (2) Sushruta-samhitā, (3) Matsya-Purāna, (4) Agni-Purāna, (5) Brihatsamhită of Varāha-mihira, (6) Bhāvaprakāsha, (7) Våtsyāyana's Kāmasutra ]

From a study of the above books we learn how careful the older Indians were in regard to planning their towns and cities, building their dwelling-houses, and arranging their daily life. We shall find, in course of our study, that they elaborated minute rules on these points,--rules that could not but have been arrived at by a course of reasoning and induction based upon long experience. It is true that in this country religious motives have been assigned to nearly all rules of life; the reason for this lay in the fact that the people of this country have always been by their very nature extremely ratiocinative; rightly or wrongly, they must exercise their thinking power over anything that is told them; so that if an Indian is told to do something simply for the purpose of some ordinary visible result, he is apt to reason somewhat thus—' It may be that the following of the course of action suggested will lead to my happiness,—but the action is a difficult one,-will the happiness derived from it compensate for the trouble involved in the doing of the act ?'and being of a slothful temperament he is more likely than not to leave the action alone and thus earn present ease and comfort. With a view to counteract this tendency, our teachers felt it advisable to go to the other extreme and attribute an invisible superphysical result to nearly every course of action that they prescribed. This, however, need not prevent us from dwelling upon and laying stress on the obvious benefits derivable from the rules and regulations laid down.

The state of sanitation in any country can be determined by three factors—(1) by the way in which its towns and villages are planned, (2) the disposition of the dwelling-houses and (3) the ways of living. This paper therefore will be divided into these three parts.


With every 108 'villages' it was considered necessary to have a 'town', which was the centre of trade and business of all kinds. The points of difference between a 'village' and ' town' were that the town was protected by a ditch and a wall, while the village was not so protected; the town was inhabited mostly ly tradespeople, in addition to the king and his appurtenances, while the village was inhabited by agricultural people. In both these places, the presence of several roads and public squares was considered necessary; there used to be a large open space in the centre of the town. Within the town, the principal roads were 30 feet wide, and the side-alleys and lanes 8 to 12 feet wide. The open highway leading from one town to another was 100 feet wide. The village-roads were 60 feet wide. The reason for village-roads being wider than town-roads perhaps lay in the fact that, on account of the town being inhabited by well-to-do persons and being infested with all sorts of undesirable -men, there was greater danger of theft and robbery in the town than in the villages; and this made more compactness desirable. Even at the present day we find people in the villages having their

harvesting farms in open spaces away from the dwelling-houses, while in the towns everything has to be kept within sight. It was this fear of robbers which led the people of the town gradually to give up all consideration for sanitation and concentrate their attention on devising means for safety from robbers ; and it is the result of this that we find in our older towns toilay, where the more thickly populated parts, inhabited by the most well-to-do persons, have become mere dens where the sun's rays seldom reach.

The older Indians paid due attention to drainage. It is laid down that a town or a village should always be located upon sloping ground, the slope towards the north and south being considered most desirable; and it was considered very wrong to have ditches and pools in close proximity to human habitations.

Eight miles from the city there were hunting grounds, and four miles from there villages were located.

It is clear from the description of cities found in the Rāmām yana and the Mahābhārata that Indian towns in ancient times were clean, houses were placed apart from one another, the roads were clean, wide and well-watered and occasionally) perfumed ; and the markets and squares were carefully distributed. (Valmiki's Rāmāyana, Bālākānda). In the Kadambari Banabhatta also describes the city of Ujjayini as containing wide and clean roads and markets.

In Agni-Purāna (Adhyāya, 106) we find elaborate rules regarding town-planning. The area of the town should vary between 32 and 64 square miles; it should be surrounded by a wall-four gates on four sides, at least 9 feet wide, through which elephants may pass with ease ;-—the market-place should be broad ;-the shape of the town should be like that of the bow; every town and village has its own temple and places of worship;—the inhabitants were distributed in three lines, somewhat in the following manner :



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Cremation grounds.

S. So much for towns and villages. As regards building-sites We find detailed directions laid down in the Matsya Purāna and the Brihat-sanhita.

No dwelling-house is to be built upon barren land, or upon a slot that is sandy or damp. Special care should be taken in selecting a site, with a view to avoid the contingency of free access of light and air being endangered by the presence of obstructions in the shape of trees, etc. It is said that if there is a tree in front of the house, it gives rise to many undesirable results ; if, in front of the house there happens to be a puddle, there is sorrow in the household ; the presence of a well in close proximity to the house brings upon the inmates the disease of epilepsy, and the presence of a drain leads to suffering (Agni-Purāna, Adhyāya, 104). Nor were these people prone to merely propounding utopian rules; they were fully alivo

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