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By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Samudrayana, SamudrayAna, Samudrayaana

Samudrayāna literally means ‘travel by sea’.

Prohibition of Samudrayāna

It is strange that some of the dharmaśāstras prohibited samudrayāna or voyage by sea for the dvijas in general. The brāhmaṇas, in particular, includes the long list of ‘kalivarjya’.[1][2][3][4][5] The fear of varṇasaṅkara[6] was perhaps uppermost in their minds while doing so.

Religious Effects of Samudrayāna

It is an undeniable fact that many sages and savants like Agastya had traveled to foreign countries including the Middle East and the Far East. They went out to spread knowledge and the message of universal brotherhood.

Trade effects of Samudrayāna

Sea-voyage was quite flourishing even in the pre-Christian era. Trade and commerce contacts had been established with several countries both in the east and in the west. The Vijayanagar empire boasted 300 ports.


  1. Kalivarjya means that which should be prohibited in the age of Kali, starting from 3100 B. C.
  2. Baudhāyana Dharmasutras 2.1.51
  3. Manusmrti 3.158
  4. Manusmrti 166
  5. Manusmrti 167
  6. Varṇasaṅkara means mixing up of castes.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore