Indian professional guild infantry
Self regulating professional guilds, called ‘Sreni’ formed an important part of the social fabric of the Indian sub-continent in the 3rd century B.C. Some of these were guilds of war-craft, and their members dedicated their lifetime to the art of war, conducting their affairs according to a strict code of ethics.
These infantry are equipped with the best that money can buy. For defense, they wear armour of iron and brass scales over a quilted cotton cuirass, with additional protection for the arms, legs and shoulders. For offense, they carry a large ‘sword-axe’ made of high quality iron from the mines of Magadha. At this point in history, the metal-craft of Magadha was well in advance of anything in the Mediterranean and so the equipment was of very high quality.
Heavily armoured, steeped in a warrior tradition and bound by a professional code of warrior ethics, these troops can be relied on to hold the battle line in the most trying of circumstances.
Historically, most of what we know of ancient Indian armies comes from Kautilya’s ‘Arthashastra’ (a manual on statecraft) and sparse depictions in Buddhist art (notably at Barhut and Ajanta). Kautilya makes it clear that troops from the ‘Sreni’ formed an integral part of the royal army and were trusted second only to the king’s own standing army. Scattered references from our sources also indicate that professional mercenary companies from India were in regular employment, fighting for and against the Achaemenids, and later for and against Alexander and his successors.