Petros di Sarkis Gilanentz, an Armenian observer of the invasion, reported that they extorted a considerable sum from the Hindu merchants of Isfahan. The Indian merchant communities in Persia continued to suffer as Nāder Shah Afšār (r.
Indo-Persian commerce waned as many Hindus fled to safer places or returned home; others are reported to have been so distraught at their financial ruin that they drank poison or simply died of grief (Gilanentz, p. 1736-47) ejected the Afghans from Persia but kept their anti-Hindu sentiments.
At that time, Central Asia was home to an estimated 8,000 Indian diaspora merchants, roughly 500 of whom lived in Bukhara.
The total number of Indian merchants involved in trade and moneylending ventures throughout Central Asia, Persia, Afghanistan, the Caucasus, and Russia was probably in excess of 35,000 (Levi, pp. It should be stressed, however, that, while many Indian diaspora communities remained continuously active for several centuries, they consisted of a rotating population of Indian merchants.
During that time, the agents actively participated in a number of commercial ventures, only one facet of which was the sale of merchandise (Levi, pp. The merchants of the Indian diaspora were trained to reinvest the retrieved cash in other commercial activities, most commonly in interest-earning lending ventures.
In the 1660s, Jean Chardin reported that more than 20,000 Multanis resided in Safavid Persia (see INDIA V.).
Considering that every caravan that brought Indian merchants to distant markets also brought hundreds, even thousands, of camel-loads of cotton textiles, these merchants were inclined to sell only a small percentage of the total, hoarding the rest for sale over an extended period of time in order to avoid saturating the market and consequently driving down the price of their commodities.
It was common for individual merchants to spend several years, occasionally even decades, in the diaspora before returning to India.
The vast majority of the Multani merchants belonged to a variety of Hindu commercial castes, although the diaspora also included a significant number of Muslim Multanis and smaller populations of Marwari Jain and, later, Sikh merchants.
From the late 18th century, observers began to refer to the majority of the Indian diaspora merchants in Central Asia and Persia by the designation Šekarpuri rather than Multani. A small minority of Multani firms had members who had abandoned their ancestral religion for the Sikh Khalsa and had relocated to the Punjabi city of Amritsar, where they established the commercial center of the Sikh diaspora.