The Role of Temples and Trade Guilds in the Ancient Indian Economy
Now the question is, what was the basis, what was the (the) (structures) economic structure that was allowing all these trade to go back and forth? Now you may get the impression that it was all heroic traders and merchants who were putting their money on, life on (on) line and were trading with, making these great voyages. But in fact it was a lot more sophisticated than that. Many of these voyages actually happened, not by individuals going back and forth but through corporatized guilds. They are almost like companies, and many of them were caste based companies, most of them there in fact not caste based companies, some of them had names like the 500 and so on and said they all were most likely corporates multinational corporates and many of them lasted hundreds of years, who were doing this trade going back and forth. Some of them hired mercenaries to back up and protect their trade routes and they were very powerful and there were several of them in Southern India and what is even more fascinating is that much of the financing of this, was done by the temples.
Now the general impression is that the temples were rich because the Rajas were all handing over large amounts of money to these temples, but have been the seed money, but one of the reasons many of these temples have such a lot of gold was that in fact, they functioned as Banks and we have copper plate, lots of copper plate remains of contract between the guilds. So there were merchant guilds, there were artisan guilds and they had contracts. Then there were contracts between the merchant guilds and the financiers, which were the temples and that was the kind of structure in which much of this was going on.