Critically examine the implications of the Indian Feudalism on polity of early medieval India.

Model Answer:
Feudalism existed in Western Europe during the 5th century, and reached its zenith during 11th or 12th century. However, in context with ancient India, the system gradually developed from the beginning of the land grants to officers from the post-Maurya period, and further gaining momentum during Gupta Empire. With this, the kings gave up his control over almost all sources of revenue, including pastures, mines including hidden treasures and deposits.
Implications
Political decentralization: The weakness of the central power and large decentralization in the form of land grants made up semi-autonomous rulers, Samantas, Mahasamantas and others such as Rajpurushas, which further gave rise to class of small kingdoms.
Emergence of closed economy: With emergence of village as a self-sufficient unit of agricultural production and distribution, external trade declined and it resulted in a closed economy.
Changes in agrarian relations: Not only Brahmans, but free vaishya peasants dominated the agrarian structure and labour services provided by the Shudra. Under such grant system, the residents, including the cultivators and artisans, were expressly asked by their respective rulers not only to pay the customary taxes to the donees, but also to obey their commands. Furthermore, the peasants stuck to the land granted to the beneficiaries as they were instructed not to migrate to tax-free village and hence, isolated them from the rest of the world.

Question for UPSC Mains:
Critically examine the implications of the Indian Feudalism on polity of early medieval India.

Published: February 6, 2016 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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