Megasthenes (340-282 BC), was the Greek envoy to the court of Chandragupta Maurya, emperor of Magadha. He was sent by Seleucus Nicator (Seleucus I), who unsuccessfully defended the areas overrun by Alexander the Great from Chandragupta. Indica, the result of his travels around India of that time was one of the first accounts of the country available to the West.

Indica does contain its share of errors and he substitutes terms of his own to record what he saw. Lord Krishna, for instance, is referred to as Heracles and Chandragupta is Sandrocottus. However, detailed description of the Magadhan capital of Pataliputra, the present Patna in Bihar, is noted for its accuracy. It also gives a reliable account of the administrative system then followed by the Mauryas. Indica also mentions quite a few philosophical issues related to Jainism.

Updated on 2nd September, 2015

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