One of the earliest account of things Indian in my homeland comes from the 'Hungarian Encyclopedia' of the Transylvanian polyglot Apáczai Csere János (1625-1659). This is not a first hand account. I can envisage him sitting in a tavern somewhere in the Low Countries (where he studied, fell in love, etc.) listening to sailors' stories and taking notes. The entry on elephants is a bit bizarre. I don't have the text in front of me but I clearly remember the statement that these magnificient beasts can 'talk as humans' and their 'chief' agrees to some kind of contract with whom we now call a mahout
to work for them for a specified amount of food for a fixed timespan and so on.
Now, in the following I was to write about a curious little śāstra
I just found, but I see that it is widely available online so you can read it for yourself (and I can go back to work):
E.R. Sreekrishna Sarma (ed.), Gajaśikṣā by Nāradamuni, With the Commentary Vyakti of Umāpatyācārya, S.V.U.O. Journal Vol. XVIII, Sri Venkateswara University, Oriental Research Institute, Tirupati, 1975. - available here
Labels: elephants, online stuff