The Sramana a high status sophistâ ascetic and physician
Many of the groups mentioned were not only philosophical and theoretical by inclination, but were also involved in a range of practical issues. Many of them practised medicine; they were physicians working with herbs, ointments, and dressings.110 Others worked closely with kings and royal courts as advisors and administrators and some specialised in astrology.
Later, about 300 BCE – as the region finally was consolidated into the Mauryan Empire -the Greeks sent Megasthenes as ambassador to the court of the new king Bimbisara. Megasthenes was impressed by the wealth and power of the new Empire. The Greek historian Strabo (64 BCE – 21 CE) in his Geography quoted some of Megasthenes’ observations of the Sramanas.
And with regard to the Garmanes [i.e. Sramanas], [Megasthenes] says that some, the most esteemed are called Hylobii [i.e. the forest dwellers], who live in the forest, [existing] on leaves and wild fruits, [wearing] clothings of tree bark, without [indulging in] sexual intercourse and wine. [He says that] they associate with the kings who, trough messengers, inquire about the cause [of things]; and who, through those [forest dwellers], serve and petition the divinityâ.
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