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THi AGRARIAN 

IN ANCIENT INDIA 



.BY 
U. N. GHOSHAL, M.A., Ph.R 




FBINTBD BT BHUPBNBBALAL BAKHRJX 
4SF VBB C3ALOUTTA UNIVSESIXT PEBSS t SENATB HOUBH, 



Beg. No, 



To 

* 

Principal R. B. Ramsbotham, 
Scholar and educationist, 
In token of regard and 
esteem 



CONTENTS 



LECTURE - * 3PA< 

I The Beginnings of the System and its 
Development in the Literature of 
Law and. Polity ,,, ... 1 

IE A Historical Account of the System 

in Northern India (First Period) :.. 24 

m A Historical Account of the System In 

Northern India (Second Period) -.;. 47 

IV A Historical Account of the System in 
Northern India, '(Third Period) 
Retrospect and Conclusion ...62 



Ownership of the Soil in 

India - The Question of Private 

or State Ownership ... *.. && 

' i ' 

Notes 



LECTURE L 

THE BEGINNINGS OF THE SYSTEM AND* ITS DEVELOP- 
MENT IN THE LITERATURE OF LAW AND POLITY. 

The evidence of the science of Comparative 
Phildogy in relation to the Indo-European group of 
languages discloses the fact 'that the original Aryan 
stock was a people pre-eminently devoted 1 to 
pastoral pursuits, but not unacquainted with agri- 
culture. It appears from <the ! 'same evidence that 
the- Aryan society < was organised* beyond < doubt* on 
the 1 basis of the patriarchal family; and that it pro** 
bably comprised th6 larger unit of'the-clan as well,** 
When, after the f dispersal of the Aryans from their 
original home, one branch of' them' ultimately 
migrated into the land of the five rivers, theyiomA* 
the country already in occ>upatioii of alien* peoples; 
some of * whom, to judge by 1 the wonderful remains' 
of their civilization in the Indus vaUey, must have 
attained a high level of material greatness. Such an 
advanced material civilization would naturally be- 
toltea a/ relatively developed type' of social md politic 
calorganization, i and even' the confused: and impe?^ 
feet piotufe of the aborigiiiea in the llgreda SamJait* . 



2 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

furnishes some hints of their organisation in fortified 
villages (pura) under the rule of Chiefs. 2 It is, how- 
ever, with the institutions of the Indo- Aryans, of 
which the oldest written account is preserved in the 
Bgveda, that we have to begin our narrative of 
Ancient Indian agrarian conditions. The Vedic 
Aryans, at the dawn of their history, appear before 
us as a settled people largely devoted to agriculture, 
although the tending of domestic animals occupied 
an important place in their economy. 3 The unit of 
the Indo-Aryan society was the patriarchal family. 
Above it stood the vi& in the sense of ' clan,' and a 
number of the vi& groups formed the whole jana or 
4 people/ The gr&ma or ' village * consisted of a 
group of families united by ties of kindred, but what 
place it held in the scheme of tribal divisions, and, 
in particular what relation it bore to the vi$ with 
which it was immediately connected, it is impossible 
to state with any degree of certainty. 4 As regards 
the* form of the village organisation, it is possible 
that some of the types of villages known to later 
times, in which the land was held in collective 
ownership by the tribe or the clan, were already in 
existence among the non- Vedic peoples. 6 Among the 
Indo-Aryans, however, the arable land in the 
villages, and doubtless the homestead lands as well, 
were held in individual or family ownership, while 
the gnwss lands wei& probably held in common, 6 In 
so far . as the political organisation was concerned, 
the inhabi4aaat8 of the lower Indus valley, to judge 
fod?^u^ must have 

dewk^ powerful territorial States Among the 



t&mnttii , & 

Vedic Aryans, as might be expected from their situa- 
tion as settlers in the midst of a conquered popula- 
tion, monarchy was a well-established institution, 
and the Eg- Veda gives us glimpses of the king's 
functions in peace and war. 7 Originally, it seems, 
the authority of the Vedic king was completely sub- 
ordinated to that of the chiefs of the family and the 
clan, but afterwards, in the period of -the later 
Samhitas and the Brahmanas, it underwent consider- 
able development, no doubt in connection with the 
expansion of the Indo- Aryans over the rest of North- 
ern India. 8 A rudimentary organisation of the Vedic 
administrative machinery is suggested by a list of 
persons called ratnins (' jewels ') associated with the 
king at the royal consecration, and the title of one 
of these persons, namely the gramani (the village 
headman), which is as old as the Jftg-Veda, shows 
that the village was organised as a unit of adminis- 
tration in very early times. 9 

From tHe above outline of the early Vedic 
society and Government, it is natural to expect that 
the Indo- Aryan king would draw from the first con- 
tributions from his subjects for his own support. 
It is possible that such contributions which are called 
by the generic term ' bali ' 10 were at first made as 
voluntary gifts, but there can be BO doubt that after- 
wards they aaromed the character of regular and 
compulsory payments, and in fact became the dis- 
tinctive attribute of the relation between the king 
and ids subjects. 11 It may reasonably bei inferred, 
considering how the wealth of the Vedic Aryans 
consisted of flocks and herds and of the produce of 



4 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

their fields^ithat the payments by the subjects were 
made in kind. Indeed there is good reason to think 
that already at this early period the king drew his 
revenue from a certain share of the produce, although 
,&B yet it wU3,uadifferentiated from his contribution 
of /domestic animals. Thus weiave a text of the 
: Atharva / Veda 12 conveying the poet'a prayer .to^Indr a 
to portion the king ' in village, in horses, in kine.* 
Another passage of the same work 13 specifically fixes 
the king's dues at e which is much lower than 
the rate afterwards approved in the Smrtis for the 
royal grain-share. 

From the ^description of the characteristics of 
the Indo-Aryan villages given above, it might be 
conjectured that- th king's grain-share and other 
contributions were assessed more or less upon the 
individual villagers. A new type of village organi- 
sation is hinted at in several passages of the 
T^ittiriya Samhita. There we are told in connection 
witb the performance of certain sacrifices by a person 
desirous of winning a village (gr&makama) how the 
gods concerned 'assign him creatures led by the 
-noses '" how they * present his relatives to him and 
make the folk dependent upon him,' 16 and how they 
enable him. to grasp the mind of his equate. 16 These 
significant expressions can only, refer to the lordships 
of single villages no doubt acquii?ed . in ). the .first 
instance by-individual exertion v but afterwards 
^receiving the seal> of royal .confirmation. .Here, then, 
we ^av^ the oldest indication of the type of landlord 
villages knawn to later times. On the other Jtand, 

in favour ^ ofr 



, LECTtJBEI 5 

which became so important in later times, appear at 
this- period to have been, not indeed unknown, hut 
disapproved even by* the, priestly authors of ! the 
sacred <works. This is. shown by the story of the 
King ViSvakaimaniBhauvana, who, wheniftboui to 
give away the Earth to his priest at the^Sarvamedha 
sacrifice^ is reproved by the Earth herself in ;ihe 
following words : 

" No .mortal must give me away; them wast foolish, 

Vigvakanpan Bhauvana: 

She (the Earth) will sink iuto the midst of the water; 
Vain is this thy promise unto 



; Such is the dim outline of agrarian conditions 
that is presented by the oldest literary records o the 
Indo- Aryans, the Vedic Samhitas and the -Brah* 
manas. Let us now turn to the notices contained in 
the Smrtis, the Epics and the Puranas as well as the 
fuller description of the Artha&istra which together 
constitute the most systematic account of the 
methods and arrangements of Ancient Indian ad- 
ministration that has come down to us. As we have 
observed elsewhere, 18 ! the resemblance between the 
Artha&istra material on ; law and polity and that; of 
the Smrtia is so dose that we can unhesitatingly take 
them to be .the allied branches of a common system. 
.The roots of this, system should doubtless be traced 
to actual forms of State and bodies of law existing 
in ancient tames, -although it k impoesible to specify 
either the period of > time or the tract of country to 



4 THfi AGBAftlAN S^SlSM IN ANClElNT INDIA 



v In the Smrtis and connected works the system 
of administration is< described in the most general 
outline. Evidently the priestly authors of these 
works, while describing after their fashion ' the 
duties of the king,' felt little or no interest in the 
details of administration. Nevertheless the main 
outlines of the picture are not difficult to distinguish. 
Territorial monarchy, which is no doubt a develop- 
ment of the tribal kingship of the Vedic period, is 
now the recognised; if not the universal, type of 
polity. 19 A rudimentary form of administrative or- 
ganisation is implied by the reference to the council 
of ministers as well as various officials whose designa- 
tions and functions are not defined with sufficient 
precision. 20 For. the purpose of local administration 
there is a chain of officers placed in charge of units 
purporting to consist of one thousand, one hundred, 
twenty, ten and single villages. 21 Such mathemati- 
cal divisions evidently could have little or no appli- 
cation in actual practice. On the other hand, in 
contrast with the vague and undefined charges on 
agricultural land in the Yedic Samhitas and the 
Brahman as, the branches of land-revenue are now 
sharply dafierentiated from other items of taxation. 
The king's share of the agricultural produce is called 
&0& 22 which IB the old Vedio title of the royal contri- 
butions from Ahe subjects as well as tribute from con* 
quered enemies* Along with this is mentioned 
Mrenya which, as we fawe suggested elsewhere, 
means cish;charge upon certain special classes of 
crops.* 3 * Here we have . the oldest reference to the 
two forms of land-revenue which, as we shall; see 



later cm, are known also to the Artha^astra and may 
be traced in ancient times almost continucmsly ;frt>m 
the Gupta period onwards. Besides the payments 
in kind and in cash by the cultivators, there are other 
charges upon the agricultural and industrial income 
of the villagers, not to mention the< periodical cesses 
called feara in the Snirtis. 24 

Of the methods of assessment of the land- 
revenue our authorities give us little or no indication. 
To judge from the relatively undeveloped stage of 
political organisation in these works, it would seem 
that the revenue-demand in kind was assessed ac- 
cording to the primitive method of actual Division of 
the crops at the threshing-floor (now called bafai), 
or according to the method of Appraisement of the 
standing crops (now known as kankiit). Such 
methods, while attended with the advantages of 
simplicity and elasticity, must have led to grave in* 
equalities in respect of the burden imposed upon dif- 
ferent classes of lands, not to speak of the risk of 
entailing loss on the king's treasury through collu- 
sion between the State officers and the cultivators. 
TEat the former evil was recognised thus early is 
shown by the fact that while some authorities stick 
to the uniform rate of &, others ' recommend 
varying rates consisting of J, J a&d (or ) 
of the produce; 26 This differential scale of rates, 
which was doubtless intended to apply to different 
classes of soils or crops, evidently involved a more 
equitable principle of assessment than lie -rule of a 
uniform rate, All the above rates, it may be pre* > 
eumed, referred to the gross produce/ As > regard* 



8 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM -IN ANCIENT INDIA 



or cash-charge, it was assessed at the* 1 
remarkably low rate of ^ according to most 
authorities, 26 but the details of the assessment are 
altogether wanting. 

The rates of the land-revenue above mentioned 
relate to normal times. To these our authorities in 
common with the Arthadastra add otter rates apply- 
ing to the occasions of grave emergencies of the king. 
A text of Mami, as interpreted by most of the com- 
mentators, authorises the levy of J of the produce 
in place of the usual J, while a milder rule men- 
tioned in the same connection permits the levy of 
instead of the more usual ^ , w Such enhance- 
ment of the normal rates during a grave crisis might 
perhaps be justified in consideration of the backward 
stage of political organisation contemplated in our 
present works: Less excusable is the sweeping rule 
of the Mahabharata authorising the needy and dis- 
tressed king to seize the wealth of persons other than 
the ascetics and the Brahmanas. 28 It is easy to 
imagine the serious consequences which would follow 
strict enforcement of this dangerous doctrine. 
famous disbourses upon ' the duties of 
kings ' (r&fadharma} in the Ramayana- and the 
Mahabharata 19 give us glimpses into the views of our 
authorities regarding what may be called the State 
agricultural policy. In the first which takes then 
formal a series of questions put by the exiled Rama 
to his affectionate brxsther Bharata upon statecraft, 
the conciliatory 'treatment of cultivators is inculcated 
in general terms. The second discourse, which is 

brings 



LECTURE I 9 

out some fundamental principles of agricultural 
development that are known also to the Arthaastra. 
It inculcates the advance of seeds and provisions, the 
grant of agricultural loans and the construction of 
irrigation- works. 

Let us next consider the classes of Grants or 
Assignments of land mentioned by our authorities. 
As might be expected religious endowments made by 
the kings in favour of Brahmanas occupy in these 
works an important place. Yaj. indeed lays down 
in this connection what may be called the official 
procedure relating to the issue of royal charters for 
the donation of lands to Brahmanas. 30 Such endow- 
ments, evidently, were not only revenue-free but also 
perpetual, and accompanied with the right of aliena- 
tion. The class of Assignments properly so called is 
introduced to us in a passage which is common to 
the Manusamhita and the Mahabharata, and no 
doubt derived by both from the same source. 31 It 
mentions the scale of remuneration of officers in 
charge of the local administration. This may be 
shown in tabular form as follows : 

1. Lord of ten villages ... One ktda of land (i.e., 

as much land as can 
be cultivated by 
twelve oxen). 

2. Lord of twenty villages Five kulas of land. 

3. Lord of one hundred 

villages ... One village. 

4. Lord of one thousand 

villages ... One town* 

8 



10 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

No such provision is made for the remuneration of 
officers of the central government, who were pre- 
sumably paid in cash. Cash payment of troops, in- 
deed, is expressly mentioned in a passage which the 
Ramayana has in common with the Mahabharata* 32 
Of other classes of Assignments such as those made 
to members of the royal family for maintenarice^no 
trace is found in our authorities. Evidently assign-"" 
ments did not play as yet an important part, and the 
State officers in general maintained direct relations 
with the cultivators. In connection with the 
service-tenures just mentioned, it remains to add 
that the very primitive method of measurement used 
therein, which is based upon the number of oxen 
required for cultivation of the land, shows the 
extreme antiquity of the institution. 

Prom this brief account of land-revenue condi- 
tions in the Smrtis and connected works, it is a relief 
to turn to the abundant material that is preserved in 
the Artha^astra attributed to Kautilya or Kautalya. 
As the only surviving specimen of a class of literature 
that dealt, according to its definition, specially with 
the Art of Government in the widest sense of the 
term, it gives a fuller and a more concrete descrip- 
tion of the affairs of internal administration and 
foreign policy of States than any other work in the 
whole range of Ancient Indian literature. 

The date and authorship of the Kautillya have 
formed the subject of controversy among scholars 
almost from the moment" of its dramatic discovery, 
and the final solution of the problem seems to be as 
for oil m ever. Happily these difficulties are not of 



LECTURE I 11 

much importance for our present purpose. As we 
have shown elsewhere, 33 the work of Kautilya in- 
volved a compilation, or more properly a reconstruc- 
tion, of the material that had grown up in the older 
Artha^astra- literature. Accordingly the description 
of the institutions of government in this work may 
be safely taken to represent the traditional system 
that was current among the schools and authors of 
the science from early times. 

The Arthai&stra includes the land-revenue and 
connected charges in the class ' country-part ' 
(rastra), which itself forms a branch of a wider divi- 
sion into seven stated heads of revenue. 34 Another 
item included in the same class is slta which may be 
roughly translated as ' produce of the royal farms.' 35 
This latter class of lands, which is now met with in 
literature for the first time, is required to be culti- 
vated directly by the agency, of the Royal Steward 
or, in the alternative, to be leased to tenants on the 
principle of division of crops. In this last case the 
tenants providing the capital were to receive half 
the produce, while those who simply supplied the 
manual labour received J or j- of *he crop. This 
method of farming has its modern parallel in the 
practice of the Zamindars of Bengal and elsewhere 
who cultivate their private lands (called nt;-j'ote, 
kMmar, zirat, etc.), either by employing their own 
men, or else let them out to tenants (burgadcirs) on 
the same principle of division of crops. 36 

In connection with the rules relating to the 
cultivation of the royal farms the Artha^astrar has a 
difficult and obscure passage which seems to fcaean 



12 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

that when the tenants fail to cultivate the plots taken 
up by them, they should ordinarily pay the king's 
share of the crop according to contract or customary 
rates. This is the only reference to a method of 
assessment akin to what prevailed afterwards in the 
mediaeval period and has been designated as Con- 
tract. 37 "Under it a peasant came to terms with the 
assessing officer to pay a fixed sum of money annually 
for his holding, whatever crops he might grow. ' ' In 
the same context the ArthaSastra refers, again for the 
first time in literature, to water-rates (udakabhaga) 
levied apparently upon the tenants cultivating the 
irrigated lands belonging to the royal farms. 38 This 
tax, consisting doubtless of a share of the produce, 
is assessed at three distinct rates (| , J and J) 
for lands served by the State irrigation- works, and at 
the uniform figure of J for State lands irrigated by 
rivers, lakes, tanks and wells. To judge from later 
analogies, it seems probable that these charges were 
levied not as a substitute for, but in addition to, the 
ordinary item of land-revenue. 39 

Of the branches of land-revenue properly so 
called, by far the most important is bhaga ('the 
king's share of the produce '), which corresponds to 
the bali of the Smrtis/ Besides this there are the 
occasional and periodical cesses called bali and kara 
with which may be compared the kara of the Smytis. 
Another charge mentioned in the Smrtis, namely, 
Hranya, is well-known to the Arthaastra, though it 
is not included in its general scheme of classification, 
evidently because it was not held to be of sufficient 
importance. 



LBCTTTKEI 13 

Nothing illustrates more clearly the fullness of 
the data in the ArthaiSastra as compared with the 
Smrtis than the wealth of material which it furnishes 
into the details of land-revenue assessment. This 
may be gathered from the description of the functions 
of the officers severally called the samaharta, the 
sthanika and the gopa in another part of the 
ArthaSastra. 41 To begin with the lowest class of 
these officers, the gopa (loosely translated as ' village- 
accountant ') is required in the first instance to as- 
certain the total area of the villages (five or ten, as 
the case may be) within his jurisdiction by means of 
inspection of the village boundaries. He is also re- 
quired to ascertain the total area of the village lands 
by numbering cultivated and uncultivated fields, up* 
land and lowland soils, gardens of three distinct 
varieties, the village jungle, the homestead land, 
the sacred sites and the shrines, the embanked reser- 
voirs, the cremation-grounds as well as the sites for 
public charities, {he grazing grounds and the roads. 
On the basis of the above numbering the gopa is to 
prepare various registers, such as the register of 
boundaries and village fields, the. register of uncul- 
turable lands and the register of transfers, besides 
which he is to keep an account of the Government 
advances and remissions in respect of the villagers. 
He is also to compile what may be called census-lists 
of dwelling-houses and families under various speci- 
fied heads. Above the gopa stands the sthanika 
(' circle officer ') who is required in the cryptic to* 
guage of the ArthaSastra to superintend his charge 
(namely, ' the fourth part of the kingdom ') in the 



14 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

same manner as the gopa. Apparently he is expect- 
ed io prepare similar registers and census-lists for 
the larger area comprised within his jurisdiction. 
At the top of all stands tlie samaharia (' Collector- 
general '), whose functions comprise the preparation 
of a record of revenue-free lands as well as those 
liable to military Service, and above all the compila- 
tion of a virtual revenue-roll of the kingdom indicat- 
ing the Government dues payable from the villages 
under different heads. 

The above arrangements suggest some striking 
analogies with the advanced methods of Land- 
revenue Settlement in vogue in the provinces of 
British India at present. We may first point in the 
above account to the demarcation of village bound- 
aries, which still forms the necessary prelude to the 
process of Eevenue Settlement. Of equal interest is 
the reference in the above to what may be called a 
comprehensive topographical survey of the whole 
village involving not only the listing of the various 
classes of the village lands, but also their numbering 
probably by numerical signs. This process forms in 
the Artha6astra the basis of a record of boundaries 
and village fields, with which may be compared the 
khasrS, or * field-index ' of modern Settlements. Not 
improbably village maps were prepared then, as 
now, in connection with the field-registers. The 
Artfaagftstra account, moreover, refers to the classifi- 
cation of soils not only under the broad heads of up- 
land and lowland still known to the processes of 
modern Settlements, but also those of gardens under 
three distinct heads. In this connection it may 



LECTURE I 15 

be mentioned, as an example of the thoroughness of 
the arrangements concerned, that provision is made 
in the Artha^astra for inspectors being* deputed to 
selected villages to check the accuracy of the returns 
under the head of area and outturn of the fields, 
and so forth. Among other points of contact be- 
tween the system of the Artha^astra and that of 
modern times may be mentioned the fact that the 
gopa like the modern patwari was required to record 
changes in ownership through transfers, to keep the 
village accounts in respect of Government revenues 
and to prepare various statistical returns. Another 
feature reminiscent of the modern advanced methods 
is the grouping of villages by the samaharta into 
three grades, with which may be compared the 
division of villages into Assessment-circles, known 
to Settlement Officers in our own times. 

The prevailing method of land-revenue assess- 
ment in the Artha^astra may be deduced from the 
above facts. We may take it that for the purpose 
of assessment there was a standard or average figure 
for the State share of the produce for a known unit- 
area, and that the actual assessment was made by 
applying this figure to the returns supplied by the 
gopas as just mentioned. In other words we have 
here, in contrast with the primitive' methods of the 
Smrtis and connected works, an instance of what 
may be called the method of Measurement at fixed 
grain-rates. 42 It is needless to state that cash assess- 
ment of the land-revenue as a whole is unknown to 
the Arthat&stra as it is to the Smrtis. 



16 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

A word may be said in the present place as 
regards the share of the produce which was fixed in 
the Arthagastra as the basis of the assessment rates. 
The Artha6astra is well acquainted with the rate of 
| known to the Smrtis, but there is good reason to 
believe that it contemplated a differential scale of 
rates for different classes of soils or crops. 43 The 
Artha^astra, again, is completely silent about the 
rate 1 of hiranya C the cash assessment for selected 
crops ') which, as we have seen, is fixed at i in 
the Smrtis. 

The branches of land-revenue that we have 
considered so far together with their rates belong to 
the administration of the State in normal times. 
The Artha^astra, moreover, like the Smrtis provides 
for grave emergencies of the king, 44 Its rules under 
this head present some features of striking interest. 
In the first place the emergency tax, as it may be 
called, is known in the Artha^astra by a distinct title 
called pranaya (' the gift of affection '), with which 
may be compared the ' benevolences ' of the Yorkist 
and Tudor periods of English History. Its 
purely temporary character is proved by the fact that 
it is required to be levied once and not twice. In 
so far as the pranaya upon cultivators is concerned, 
it is assessed at different rates for different classes of 
soils, the maximum rate of the Artha^astra (namely, 
J or J) being almost identical with the highest 
rate of baM in Manu (namely, }). Another point to be 
noted in the present connection is that the 
Artha^astra recommends as a last resource what may 
he called the compulsory raising of a second crop by 



LECTURE I 17 

the cultivators. At the sowing season, we are told, 
the cultivators should enter into a written agreement 
making them liable to a fine of double th6 value or 
the amount of the crops destroyed through their 
negligence. When the crops are ripe, they should 
be forbidden to take away the ripe and the' unripe 
crops, the penalty for theft ranging from eight times 
the value to death. The'se remarkable rules not only 
carry the special jurisdiction of the king over the 
cultivators to the highest point, but they introduce 
us for the first time 1 to the institution of written 
documents regulating the relations between the 
State and the cultivators. 

The foregoing account of the duties of the 
samahartd and his staff of officers implies individual 
assessment of the villagers for the land-revenue. 45 
Thus to return for a moment to the census-list of 
dwelling-houses prepared by the gopa, we observe 
that he is required to specify not only whether the 
houses are? taxable or tax-free, but also the contribu- 
tions charged upon them severally under the heads 
of cash payment, unpaid labour, tolls and fines. 
Again, it may be noticed that the inspectors deputed 
to selected villages by the samdharta as mentioned 
above, are required to report on the dwelling-houses 
under the heads of revenue assessed and the revenue 
remissions. It therefore follows that the land- 
revenue and connected charges were assessed upon 
the individual holdings of the villagers. Another 
form of assessment, namely, the collective assess- 
ment of villages, is referred to in the ArtEa&ftstra 
under the technical title of iitfalcara* This 



18 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

means, according to the commentator, the lump 
assessment upon the villages, and it is evidently to 
fee distinguished from bh&ga which WAS assessed 
upon the individual villagers. In another context 47 
the ArthaSastra mentions the conversion of the lump 
Assessment (samksepa) into individual assessment 
(viksepa) and vice versa, as well-known modes of 
fraud practised by the revenue officials upon the 
king's treasury. Whether the collective assess- 
ment in this case was made through the village 
headmen or through farmers is a point on which the 
Arthadastra throws no light, but the probability is 
;n favour of the former alternative, since the head- 
man (called gramakuta, gramika, gramamukhya and 
gramasvamiri), unlike the farmer, is a well-known 
figure in this work. 

Some features of the State agricultural policy 
in the Arthaastra may be gathered from its descrip- 
tion of the methods of settling a tract of country. 48 
It appears that State-directed emigration already at 
this early period was well understood, for we are 
told that the king should attract emigrants from 
other countries or draw away the surplus population 
of his own kingdom for the settlement of territories. 
Further, the village was evidently taken to be the in- 
variable unit of administration, for the king is 
ifittcted to found villages consisting mostly of Sudra 
cultivators fwho were no doubt the most industrious 
of their class) at intervals of one or two krofas frotn 
each other. Suitable administrative centres were 
to be established around groups of 800, 400, 200 and 
10 villages. Proper provision was to be made lor 



10 



Grants or Assignments of land, for we are told that 
the king's sacrificial priest, spiritual preceptor and 
the domestic chaplain as well as the learned 
Brahmana, were to receive lands exempted from 
taxes and fines, while the superintendents, the ac- 
countants and so forth, as well as the gopas, the 
sthdnikas and others were to receive other lands 
without the right of sale or mortgage. By far the 
most considerable share of attention is, naturally 
enough, bestowed upon the revenue-paying culti- 
vators (karadas). With regard to these we are told 
that prepared fields were to be given to them for one 
generation, 49 but unprepared fields were not to be 
taken away from those making them fit for cultiva- 
tion, while with regard to cultivators who neglected 
their plots, their fields were to be taken away from 
them and assigned to others, or else given up to be 
cultivated by village labourers and pedlars. The 
above description illustrates the tenures of different 
classes of tenants settled on lands that may be pre- 
sumed to belong to the Crown. It shows that while 
the tenants neglecting cultivation of their fields were 
liable to be superseded by others, those who culti- 
vated the plots prepared at Government expense 
were allowed to hold them for a period of one gene- 
ration, and those who prepared the plots at their own 
cost enjoyed the privilege of hereditary possession 
thereof. It may be presumed from this that here- 
ditary occupation of holdings by the cultivators was 
the general rule in the settled villages. Apart 
from ensuring this very necessary provision for tbte 
security of the cultivators' tenures, the account of 
the Artha&stra is important as illustrating an en- 



ISO THE AGRABIAN SYSTBM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

lightened policy of agricultural development under 
the auspices of the State. We find that remissions 
of the revenue together with the advances of grain, 
cattle and cash, are enjoined to be made to the culti- 
vators on various occasions. Again the construction 
of reservoirs is required to be undertaken either by 
the direct agency of the State or else with its active 
support. On the other hand, it is a significant indi- 
cation of the extreme length to which the king's 
special jurisdiction over the cultivators could be 
pressed that he is enjoined to exercise a strict con- 
trol over their lives. Not only are the family duties 
in their case to be enforced by means of fines, but 
they are also forbidden to indulge in innocent re- 
creations lest there be obstruction in the cultivation 
of lands. 

Like the Smptis the Artha^astra is well ac- 
quainted with. Grants and Assignments of land As 
we have just seen in connection with the rules for 
settling a tract of country, the king is required to 
grant revenue-free lands to various classes of 
Brahmanas, Such grants were acc6iflp&!lied with 
lull right of alienation, since the grantees enjoyed, 
subject to a restriction to be presently mentioned, 
the right of selling and mortgaging their lands. In 
the same context the king is asked to give away out 
of the unculturable land soma forests to Brahmanas 
and hermitages to ascetics. Another class of grants 
is referred to under the title of atithya which means 
land granted to State officers for the purpose of pub- 
lic charities. 60 Such grants, it may be supposed, 
were of a permanent character like their counter- 
parts in Moslem India, namely the indm and the 



tfiOTtJfcfi! I gl 

mu'afi. We may mention in this connection the 
grant of lands for the support of the Queen and the 
Princes, which is referred to in the Artha^astra in 
the course of its description of the items to be entered 
by the Superintendent of Accounts in his register. 61 
We are however, left completely in the dark as re- 
gards the tenures of such grants. Turning to 
another point, we have already seen that the Artha- 
tfastra requires the king to grant lands out of freshly 
colonised tracts to sundry officials. Reference is 
made to the same class of lands in the list of contents 
of the Superintendent's register just mentioned. 52 
Such assignments may be compared with those 
forming the remuneration of village and circle offi- 
cers in Manu. In the Arthagastra, however, they 
amount to a mere usufructuary possession of the 
land, as the assignees are expressly debarred from the 
sale and mortgage of their lands. 63 Another class 
of service-tenures is mentioned in the Artha^astra 
under the title of ayudhlya which may be taken to 
mean land held on condition of supplying troops. 54 
These two types of Assignments may be broadly 
stated to be the Ancient Indian parallels of the watan 
and the jaigir of Moslem India. 65 

On the whole it may be concluded from a con- 
sideration of the evidence that Assignments do not 
play an important part in the ArthaSastra as com- 
pared with the system of direct assessment by the 
State officials. The remuneration of officers by 
means of land which has been mentioned above is of 
an eraaptfopn.! flfayoAte* an( j the Artha^astra else- 
where * gives a long lisi of persons on the royal 
establishment (including the Queen, tbe Princes and 



%% THE AGRAElAK SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

**5 ' .' 

the highest civil and military officers), who are 
arranged in grades according to their salaries. Be- 
ference is made in the same connection to the cash 
payments of individual troopers. The attitude of 
the Artha^astra with regard to Assignments is suffi- 
ciently indicated in another part of the work, 67 
where the author recommends the king intending 
to colonize waste lands to grant cash allowances, but 
not villages. 

We may next notice some clauses of the Artha- 
astra law relating to the sale of immoveable pro- 
perty (vastu), which give us a glimpse into the 
working of the land-revenue administration at this 
period. 58 The tax-payers (karada), we are told, 
should sell or jnprtgage only to their own class, and 
the same should be done by the Brahmana owners 
of rent-free lands, otherwise they should both be 
liable to a fine. The same penalty is imposed even 
upon a tax-payer settling in a tax-free (akarada) 
village. In this remarkable passage it will be seen, 
a distinction is drawn not only between the taxable 
and tax-free individuals, but also between taxable 
and tax-free villages, this last apparently referring 
to the entire villages that were granted by the kings 
in favour of temples or Brahmanas with complete 
immunity from taxation. As regards the restric- 
tion imposed upon the alienation of land in the above 
case, it was probably caused ,by the policy of pre- 
venting the confusion of different classes of tenures. 
The more stringent rule penalising a tax-payer for 
simply settling in a tax-free village has its counter- 
part in a clause of a Gupta land-grant to be men- 
tioned later on, and like the latter it was doubtless 



LECTURE I 23 

intended to prevent the loss of the king's revenue 
through collusive agreements between the privileged 
and the taxable classes. 

As a fitting sequel to the above description of 
the land-revenue system in ancient times, we may 
mention in conclusion the principal features of the 
system as described in the Sukramti which is be- 
yond doubt a work of the late mediaeval period. 69 In 
contrast with the vague lists *of varying rates of the 
payments in kind in earlier times, the Sukraniti ex- 
pressly mentions four distinct rates for as many 
different kinds of soils. It is curious to observe that 
the old traditional rate of J is here reserved only 
for the barren soils, while the richest soils are as- 
sessed at J of the crop. A more important contrast 
is presented by the fact that while the older autho- 
rities apparently make the gross produce the basis 
of assessment, the Sukramti seems to show that J 
of the net produce was taken to be the proper rate of 
the land-revenue. The Sukramti, moreover, refers 
to cash payments of the land-revenue, but unfor- 
tunately while it specifies the amount of this tax 
(namely, 100 silver kanas), the unit of land upon 
which it is changed is left unspecified. As regards 
the Mfethod of assessment the Sukramti expressly 
refers in one place to the measurement of lands ac- 
cording to standard units of measure and their 
classification according to fertility. On the other 
hand, there is a unique passage which refers to the 
employment of fanners or middle-men for the pur- 
pose of collection of the land-revenue. 



LECTURE H. 

A HISTORICAL ACCOUNT OF THE SYSTEM IN 
NORTHERN INDIA (FIRST PERIOD). 

In the preceding lecture an attempt was made 
to describe the development of the ancient Indian 
agrarian system from its crude and imperfect forms 
in the Vedic Samhitas and the Brahmanas into the 
more advanced types in the Smrti and specially in 
the Artha^astra literature. This description, it 
must be admitted, suffers from two great drawbacks, 
in as much as not only are the intermediate stages 
of development hidden from our eyes, but the data, 
such as they are, stand unrelated to their environ- 
ment in place and time. It will now be our endeav- 
our to trace as far as possible the historical evolution 
of the system among the different States and dynas- 
ties of Northern India down to the period of the 
Muhammadan conquest, when the ancient period of 
Indian history came to a close. A similarly com- 
prehensive survey of the history of the system in 
the Deccan and in Southern India, however desir- 
able it might be to complete our description, is for 
the present excluded from our consideration, prin- 
cipally because the wealth of material which it 
exhibits makes it the fit subject for an independent 
treatment. 

The oldest surviving account of social and 
political conditions in any definite part of India 



LECTURE H 25 

after the early Vedic period is preserved in the Pali 
canonical literature, which with the Jataka and the 
Dhammapada commentaries may be taken roughly 
to illustrate the conditions prevailing in Eastern 
India from the fifth to the fourth centuries before 
Christ. We learn from them how the land-revenue 
consisting of a certain share of the produce was a 
well-known institution in these times, and was 
signified by the same title (bali) as in the Smrtis. 1 
In actual practice the bali was liable to enhance- 
ment at the, king's discretion, 2 although the tradi- 
tional rate of J is well-known to our authorities. 3 
Beferences are accordingly found in the Jatakas to 
the oppressive imposition of bali by the king, 4 not 
to speak of the exactions and tyrannies of the tax- 
collectors (balisadhakas or niggahakas), whose name 
passed into a synonym for importunate demand. 6 

Other references in the Jatakas illustrate the 
methods of assessment of the king's share of the 
produce that were in vogue at this period. The 
Kama Jataka 6 tells the story of a Prince, who, after 
renouncing his claim to the throne in favour of his 
younger brother, goes to live with a merchant's 
(setthi's) family. When the royal officers (fS/a- 
kammikas) came to the village to measure the fields, 
the setthi asked the Prince to write to the king for 
remission of the bali which the latter accordingly 
granted. In this case, it will be noticed, the 
measurement of land by the State officers is imme- 
diately associated with the bali assessment. Pro- 
bably this implies the existence of a standard or 
average rate of the Government demand for a known 
unit-area, which could be applied for the assess- 

4 



36 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

merit of the individual holdings. In such a case we 
should have an exact equivalent of the method of 
assessment prevailing in Moslem India which has 
been aptly called Measurement. 7 The Kurudhainma 
Jataka 8 shows how this method along with simpler 
ones was simultaneously in use during the period to 
which it refers. This Jataka introduces us to a 
group of eleven persons who are renowned for 
what is called * Kuru righteousness.' Out of this 
group we are here concerned only with three per- 
sons, namely, the rajjugdhaka amachcha (shortened 
into rajjuka), the setthi, and the donamapaka (or 
briefly, dona). The first-named personage whose 
title literally means the rope-holding officer is des- 
cribed as measuring the field by holding one end of 
a rope tied to a stick, while the other end is held by 
the possessor of the field. Seeing a crab- 
hole at the spot where he wants to pitch 
the stick, he reflects that if he should place 
it in front, he would cause loss to the king's 
revenue, while if he were to place it behind, he 
would cause loss to the cultivator. Here, it will be 
observed, the official measurement of land is con- 
nected, as in the preceding example, with the assess- 
ment of the land-revenue. Probably in this case, 
too, we have to conceive the existence of standard 
rates of the land-revenue for known unit-areas. 
Again, in the above story the setthi (merchant) is 
filled with remorse for having unwittingly taken a 
handful of ears of corn from his field from which the 
king's share has yet to be paid. This doubtless 
points to the method of Appraisement of the^stand- 
ing craps. Lastly, in the above story the donama- 



LECTURE II 27 

paka, * the measurer with the drona measure/ is 
described in the act of measuring the king's share 
of corn (rajabhaga) , while sitting at the door of the 
royal granary. Having hastily rushed indoors 
owing to a sudden rainfall, he is filled with doubt 
whether he has thrown the grains used as markers 
over the measured or the unmeasured heap, and he 
reflects that if he has placed the markers over the 
measured heap, he has improperly increased the 
king's share and diminished that of the cultivator. 
This evidently points to the method of Division of 
the crop at the king's granary. 

The Pali works also tend to show that various 
classes of Assignment of land were known at this 
time. A stock phrase used in some discourses of 
the Digha Nikaya 9 to indicate the place of residence 
of individual learned Brahmanas is rajabhoggam 
rafiM dinnam rajaddyam brahmadeyyam. This 
phrase has been explained by the famous commenta- 
tor Buddhaghosa 10 in two different senses, both of 
which agree in making the Assignment amount to 
alienation of fhe king's political rights. This expla- 
nation is followed by Bhys Davids, 11 who translates 
the above phrase as ' a royal domain granted by the 
king, a royal gift ' (otherwise rendered as ' fief '), 
' with power over it as if he were the king. ' What- 
ever that may be, the above phrase at least proves 
that endowments of villages were granted by the 
kings in favour of the Brahmanas. Beference to 
the same class of grants is found in other stories of 
the Jataka and Dhammapada commentaries 1 * meji- 
tioning how the kings granted to individual 
Brahmanas the villages where they had their resi- 



28 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

dence. Another class of Assignments is referred to 
in two stories of the Jataka commentary 13 describ- 
ing how a king of Kosala granted a village to his 
daughter as her * bath-allowance ' (otherwise 
called ' bath-and-powder allowance ') while giving 
her in marriage to a king of Magadha. Here we 
have evidently to deal with a type of Assignments 
known also to the Arthagastra, namely, the Assign- 
ments made for support to the members of the king's 
family. That such assignments carried with them 
the right of alienation is shown by another Jataka 
story 14 which mentions how a queen promised five 
choice villages to a hunter as his reward for carrying 
out her wishes. Other stories in the Jataka com- 
mentary 15 refer in general terms to the grant of 
villages by kings to a wise man, to a merchant, and 
to an official. These evidently belong to the class 
of Assignments that were granted as reward of 
merit, or as an act of favour. 

A stock phrase used in some of the Jataka 
stories 16 to describe the villages assigned or proposed 
to be assigned by the kings introduces us for the 
first time to an important development of the pro- 
cedure in connection with such grants. In the 
cases in question the villages are described as 
satasahassutthanaka meaning ' that which pro- 
duces one hundred thousand pieces (of coins). 5 The 
figure itself is purely conventional, but a careful 
consideration of the context in which it occurs is 
enough to show that it corresponds to the process 
concerned with assignment which prevailed in Mos- 
lem India, and 'has been conveniently indicated 17 by 
the term Valuation. By this is meant ' the estimate 



LECTURE H 29 

of the probable future income from any area, re- 
quired in order to facilitate the allocation of grants 
or assignments to claimants entitled to a stated 
income/ Historical instances of this process will 
be found later on in the records of Eastern India 
belonging to the ninth and subsequent centuries. 
In the last quarter of the 4th century B.C. 
Northern India probably along with a considerable 
part of the Deccan was united under the powerful 
sceptre of Cfiandragupta Maurya (c. 322-298 
B.C.), who overthrew the great Nanda dynasty of 
Magadha, drove back the Macedonian garrisons from 
the Punjab and Sind, and pushed his conquests as 
far as the line of the Hindu Kush. In the reign of 
his grandson Asoka the empire reached outwardly 
the climax of its greatness, but at the same time the 
seeds of its decay were sown, and after the death 
of the great Emperor began the process of its disso- 
lution. The authorities throwing light upon the 
land-revenue arrangements of the Mauryas consist 
mainly of a few fragments from the lost work of 
Megasthenes, the famous ambassador of Seleucus 
at the court of Chandragupta, and a few references 
in Asoka *s inscriptions. Megasthenes is a faith- 
ful and accurate observer of institutions that came 
directly under his personal notice, although he 
was too prone to rash generalisations and too much 
inclined to believe in fanciful stories. His account 
of the administrative system of the Mauryas, which 
has been deservedly accorded a high weight, may 
safely be trusted to illustrate the conditions prevail- 
ing in the home provinces of the Empire with which 
he was personally acquainted. To the same region, 



30 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

as we shall presently see, belong the references in 
the Asokan inscription with' which we are here 
concerned. 

The important passage of Megasthenes bearing 
upon the Maurya land-revenue conditions occurs in 
the course of his description of the class of husband- 
men, that forms the second of his group of seven 
Indian castes.** Till very recently the two chief 
versions in which this account has been preserved, 
those of Diodorus and Strabo, were held to be 
mutually contradictory, in as much as while the 
former was alleged to state that the husbandmen paid 
beside the ' land-tribute ' a fouflE part of the pro- 
duce of the soil, the latter was held to state that the 
cultivators tilled the land on condition of receiving 
one-fourth of the produce. This difficulty has now 
been cleared up by the illuminating researches of a 
German scholar, 19 who has shown the Greek text 
formerly translated as ' Beside the land tribute ' to 
mean ' in the absence of special arrangement.' As 
thus explained, Megasthenes 's statement resolves 
itself into the following points : 

(1) According to one version, the tax paid by 

the cultivators to the royal treasury 
amounted to one-fourth of the produce 
m the absence of special arrange- 
ments, 

(2) According to another version, the culti- 

vators received from the king one- 
fourth of the produce as their wages. 
Both these elasses of cultivators, T it will be 
remembered, have their counterparts in the 



LECTURE II 31 

Arthagastra, the former corresponding to the culti- 
vators employed on the royal farms by the Royal 
Steward (situdhyak$a) and the latter corresponding 
to the revenue-paying (karada) cultivators. It is 
permissible to conclude that both classes of cultiva- 
tors were included in Megasthenes's original account, 
while each of the later writers who transmitted his 
description mentioned only one class to the exclusion 
of the other. If we take the account of the Greek 
ambassador to apply mainly to the central regions of 
the Maurya Empire with which he was doubtless 
principally acquainted, it would follow that within 
this tract of country the royal farms had become al- 
most as important a source of the king's receipts 
from land as the revenue-paying lands. When, 
further, the share of the crop received by the culti- 
vators on the royal farms is given by Megasthenes 
as one-fourth in place of the Artha6astra rate of 
one-half as well as one-fourth or one-fifth, this may 
be taken to indicate that the tenants were employed, 
as a rule, on the terms more advantageous to the 
State in the Maurya period. In so far as the revenue- 
paving cultivators are concerned, the rate of the 
revenue-demand, it will be observed, is fixed at one- 
fourth which is precisely the rate prescribed by Manu 
and Kautilya for grave emergencies of the State. In- 
direct evidence of the enhanced rate of the Maurya 
land-revenue is furnished by the Bummindei pillar 
inscription of Asoka implying the king's reduction 
of bhaga to the rate of J to be a very great concession. 
The same inscription also testifies to the f aict that the 
agricultural cess called bali as in the* ArthaSSstra was 



32 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

in use along with the payment in kind (bhaga). It 
may be surmised that this high rate of the land- 
revenue demand, if not a legacy of the preceding 
period, was immediately connected with the im- 
mense development of the administrative machinery 
under Chandragupta Maurya, while it doubtless con- 
tributed along with other causes to the eventual 
downfall of the Maurya Empire. 

Of the method of assessment of the land-revenue 
in the Maurya period we have a hiixt in another 
extract from the account of Megasthenes. 20 Des- 
crib^ing a class of officers called the agoranomi 
(generally but incorrectly translated as * officers in 
charge of markets '), Megasthenes, according to 
Strabo's version, wrote as follows : 

" Some superintend the rivers, measure 
the land as is done in Egypt, and inspect 
the sluices, by which water is let out 
from the main channels into their 
branches/' 

In so far as the phrase ' as is done in Egypt ' 
is concerned, its purport is explained in another ex- 
tract from Strabo's work, which runs as follows : 
' * This exact and minute subdivision is neces- 
sitated by the constant disturbance of 
boundaries caused by the Nile in its in- 
undation in which it adds (to some) and 
takes away (from others), alters shapes 
and destroys the other signs by which 
the property o! one can be distinguished 
from that of another, so that it (the 
land) is to be remeasured repeatedly/' 



LECTURE n 33 

Here we have conclusive evidence of an official 
arrangement for measurement of alluvial lands 
evidently for the purpose of assessment. Probably a 
similar arrangement was in use with respect to other 
agricultural lands as well. This would lead us to 
expect that the method of assessment mentioned in 
the Artha^astra and the Jataka stories to which we 
have applied the convenient title of Measurement 
was used under the Mauryas as well. 

In the above-mentioned version of Diodorus it 
will be noticed that the class of husbandmen is stated 
as paying revenue (' land-tribute ') to the king. 
The version of Arrian gives the same account, since 
he describes the class of cultivators as paying 
1 tribute ' to the king and the independent cities a 
These statements which are expressed in very general 
terms need not be taken literally to mean that Assign- 
ments were altogether unknown, tor we have reter^ ' 
ence to them in the immediately preceding period. 
But we may safely conclude that direct assessment of 
the? cultivators by the State officials was the prevail- 
ing rule in Maurya times. That the Assignments to 
troopers or military officers at any rate were un- 
known at this period may be concluded from Megas^ 
thenes's testimony relating to the payment? of casBT 
salaries by the State to all branches of the army." """* 

Finally we may mention a reference in an ins- 
cription of the second century A.C., which gives us 
a glimpse into the agricultural policy of the Maurya 
Empire, The Girnar rock inscription ofuthe Satrap 
BudradSman (dated c. 150 A.C.) 28 stales .how the 

5 



34 THE AOBARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

Sudargana lake (' the Lake Beautiful : ) was con- 
structed by the governor of Chandragupta Maurya 
and was subsequently restored by the governor of 
Asoka. This record furnishes a practical illustra- 
tion of the care which was bestowed by the Mauryas 
upon the construction of irrigation-works in the 
most distant provinces of their Empire. In this they 
only followed the traditional policy of development 
that is sketched in the Smrtis and described more 
fully in the ArthaSastra. 

For some five centuries and a half after the 
death of Asoka the historical records throw but little 
light upon the conditions of land-revenue prevailing 
in Northern India. There is, however, good reason 
to believe from references in the inscription of 
Budradaman above-mentioned that the payments in 
kind and in cash by the cultivators were continued 
at least in the regions of Malwa and Gujarat under 
the same titles (bhdga and bali) as in the time of 
Asoka. In the same record reference is also made to 
the benevolence (pranaya), the periodical tax (kara) 
and unpaidrlabour (msti) which are likewise known 
to the ArthaSastra as familiar sources of financial 
oppression. 84 

Some light is thrown upon the agrarian condi- 
tions in Western India during this period by the 
inscriptions on the caves at Karle and Nasik belong- 
ing to two principal dynasties, viz., the Ksaharatas 
and the Satavahanas. 25 In so far as the former 
dynasty is concerned, the inscription^ of Usavadata, 16 
the son-in-law of the famous satrap Nahap&na, men* 



ISOTURE It 3 

tioning his gift of specified villages and fields in 
favour of temples, Brahmaijas and the Buddhist order 
show how Assignments to the members of the royal 
family were known at this time, and how these were 
accompanied with the right of full disposal of the 
lands concerned. We have a concrete instance of 
this kind of Assignment in an inscription of 
Gautamiputra Satakarm, the conqueror of Naha- 
pana, referring to a field that was formerly 
' enjoyed ' by Usavadata. 27 The records of the 
Satavahanas, mentioning the immunities and 
privileges granted in favour of charitable endow- 
ments, refer to the various burdens such as the visita- 
tion of State officers and troops, the fine for extract- 
ing salt which was a Government monopoly and so 
forth. 28 But except in one doubtful instance 29 there 
is no mention of a regular tax levied upon the village 
lands. On the other hand, the records refer to the 
royal allotments in the villages, as for example in 
one case 30 where King Gautamiputra grants what he 
describes as ' our field ' (amhakheta) to certain 
ascetics, and in another 31 where the same king con- 
fers one hundred nivartanas of land out of ' the royal 
field belonging to us * (rajakam kheta amhasata- 
kam). Here, then, in these oldest available references 
to agrarian conditions in Western India it would 
seem that the king's revenue was derived only from 
his own allotments in the villages, and not from his 
share of the agricultural produce. The evidence of 
the Satavahana records, further, shows that religious 
endowments created by the .kings ia* favour of 
Buddhist monks and accompanied with the usual im- 



M THE AGRARIAN StSTBM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

mrinities were common indeed the documents often 
Use a characteristic phrase called ' the immunities 
of the monks' land ' (bhikhuhala-parihara) .* As 
this class of endowments has always been looked upon 
as occupying a privileged position, it may be men- 
tioned that under the Satavahanas they were neither 
perpetual nor irrevocable. Thus in one case 33 the 
king is said to give away the land according to the 
custom of aksayanivi, which is a technical term 
signifying perpetual enjoyment without the right of 
alienation. In another instance 34 the king ex- 
changes one village for another formerly granted by 
him to certain ascetics. 

The oldest epigraphic records of South Indian 
dynasties, dating from about the third century of the 
Christian era, point to the fact that here again the 
royal revenue was derived from the king's farms or 
allotments in the villages, while land-revenue in the 
proper sense of the term was as yet unknown. Let 
us first take the records of the Pallava kings of the 
Prakrit charters, who are generally assigned to the 
third and fourth centuries A.C. and whose rule ex- 
tended not bhly over the Tamil and the Kanarese 
countries, but also over the Telugu territory. 36 The 
records of these kings which are very similar in 
language and style to those of the Satavahanas, 
.mention various immunities (pariharas) granted by 
the ruling authorities to the donees along with their 
dpn&tions of land the number ol the immunities 
being specified in one case as eighteen, but they 
make no reference to the assignment of the l#fcd- 
re venue. On the other hand, the record just referred 



11 87 



to mentions the king's gift of a garden along with 
certain lands and four ardhikas, while in another 
case the king's grant consists of a field cultivated by 
a named person. The reference to the ardhikas, who 
correspond to the ardhasltikas of the Artha&istra, 
shows that as in the earlier period the royal allot- 
ments were let out to the class of tenants cultivating 
them in return for half the produce. We next turn to 
the dynasty of the Brhatphalayanas who apparently 
succeeded the Pallava Kings of the Prakrit charters 
in the Godavari tract. 36 A record of King Jayavar- 
man of this dynasty conveying a village in favour of 
eight Brahmanas mentions various immunities that 
were granted to the donee, but not the slightest refer- 
ence is made therein to the immunity from the' land- 
revenue. Let us next consider the dynasty of the 
Salankayanas who apparently succeeded to the in- 
heritance of the Brhatphalayanas, and whose rule 
probably lasted from about 350 to 500 A.C. 57 A 
record of Vijayadevavarman of this dynasty mentions 
the king's gift in favour of a Brahmana of certain 
lands together with the house-site for the ardhikas, 
the donation being accompanied with the usual im- 
munities. Here, again, it will be observed, the 
king is described as holding farms or allotments 
which were cultivated by tenants on the principle of 
equal division of the crops, but no reference is made 
to the land-revenue. References to the royal allot- 
ments in villages are also found in the records of the 
Pallava kings of the Sanskrit charters, who have 
been assigned to the period from the fifth to the 
beginning of the seventh centuries. 38 Thus we have 



38 EBB AGRARIAN SYSTEM tN ANCIENT INDIA- 

one example" of a king conveying certain lands lying 
on the boundary of a specified village. In another 
-case 40 we are told that the royal allotment (rajavastu 
bhutva sthitam) in a certain village amounted to 
eight hundred pattikas (the Tamil equivalent of the 
Sanskrit nivartanas), out of which the king granted 
432 paltikas to an individual Brahmana. It should 
be added that neither of these documents makes any 
reference to the assignment of the land-revenue. 

From this digression into the history of the 
agrarian conditions in the Deccan and in 
Southern India, let us turn to Northern India, the 
greater part of which was ruled by the Imperial 
Gupta dynasty during the fourth and fifth centuries. 
The Gaya grant of Samudragupta dated in his ninth 
regnal year 41 (c. 339 A.C.) shows that in the domi- 
nions directly ruled by the Gupta Emperors the 
usual branches of the land-revenue were in use. In 
this record the revenues assigned by the Emperor to 
the donee are said to comprise meya (' what is to be 
measured ') and hiranya, of which the former evi- 
dently stands for the bhdga oHhe Artha^astra and 
the Asokan inscriptions, while the latter is the fami- 
liar title for cash payments by the cultivators. Direct 
reference is made to the payment of the land-revenue 
ia kind in the brief and enigmatic statement of Fa 
Hian, the famous Chinese pilgrim, who visited 
Northern India between 399 and 414 A.C. in the 
reign of the Gupta Emperor Chandragupta II. In 
the course of his brief sEetch of ' the Middle King- 
dom * (corresponding to the central regions of the 
Gupta Empire), he observes, 48 " Only those who cul- 
tivate the royal land have to pay a portion of the 



LECTURE II 39 

gain from it." As the term ' royal land ' in this 
extract has been elsewhere shown to mean the whole 
territory of the State, the evidence of the pilgrim 
confirms the statement in the inscriptions about the 
payment in kind. Of the methods of assessment of 
this branch of the revenue our documents give us 
practically no indication, but the testimony of Fa 
Hian just mentioned at least shows that the revenue- 
demand was fixed on the basis of a certain share of 
the produce, the amount of which, Jhowever, is left 
unspecified. The records of the Gupta Emperors, in 
the next place, tend to show that besides the land- 
revenue properly so called, the State income was de- 
rived from lands which the Emperor owned in the 
villages. In the aforesaid grant of Samudragupta 
the village is given away by the Emperor not only 
along with its revenues, but also with the uparikara. 
We have elsewhere 43 explained this ferm, which 
here occurs for the first time, to mean the rent paid 
by the temporary tenants. Evidently, then, the 
Government sometimes owned lands in the villages, 
which were leased to the cultivators. A clause of the 
Gaya grant, moreover, illustrates the stringent res- 
trictions which it was found necessary to impose 
upon the holders of pious endowments. According 
to this clause the donee thenceforth was not to ad- 
mit, on pain of confiscation of the endowment, the 
revenue-paying cultivators and so forth from other 
villages. This rule, like its counterpart in the 
Artha6astra to which reference has been made in the 
preceding lecture, was evidently intended to prevent 
what had become a frequent method of defrauding 
the Government treasury on the part of the owners 



40 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

~ of revenue-free lands. Another statement of the 
Chinese pilgrim tends to show tEat the Gupta 
Emperors were averse at least to Assignments for 
military service. " The men of the king's body- 
guard," says Fa EKan in the course of the same 
general description of the Middle Kingdom to which 
we have referred, " all have fixed salaries." 

A series of seven copper-plate inscriptions with 
known dates ranging from 432-433 to 533-534 A.C. 
which have been brought to light in recent years in 
North Bengal illustrates some features of land-re- 
venue administration in this outlying part of the 
..Gupta Empire. With these may be connected a set 
of five copper-plate inscriptions hailing from the 
Faridpur District of Eastern Bengal, which have 
been assigned on palaeographical grounds to the latter 
half of the sixth and the first part of the seventh cen- 
turies. 44 Both these sets of documents relate, with 
one exception, to the sale by State authorities of 
selected plots of land out of the unappropriated 
waste. As we have shown elsewhere, the evidence 
of the documents themselves proves that the Waste 
Iiand was held by the State in absolute ownership. 
The documents further mention the fact that the 
plots sold out of this waste were to be held in perpe- 
tuity, and ' according to the custom of non-destruc- 
tion of the principal/ It therefore follows that in 
the oldest period, to which the records in Bengal can 
be traced the State was not only the owner of the 
unappropriated waste, but reserved its right to 
the same to such an extent as to exclude 
even the occupiers by right of purchase from 
the privilege of alienation. Again, the docu- 



LBCTUBB II 41 

ments describe the waste land as exempted 
from all revenues (samudayabahya). Whether 
the plots after sale became liable to the revenue as- 
sessment is a point on which the records are silent, 
but it may be guessed that they became liable to a 
progressive enhancement of the revenue till the norm- 
al rate was reached. One other point remains to 
be mentioned in this connection. In the documents 
the intending purchasers are frequently mentioned 
as making a formal application for purchase of cer- 
tain kulyavapas of land according to the prevailing 
rates of sale for one kulyavapa, while the authorities 
at the time of making over the plots to them cause 
the lands to be severed according to the measure of 
8x9 reeds (nala). The first of these measures re- 
lated to the seed-capacities of fields (one kulyavapa 
comprising as much land as can be sown with a 
kulya of seed), while the second was evidently an ob- 
long measure comprising an area of nine reeds in 
length and eight reeds in breadth. We may then 
conclude that while the primitive measure by seed- 
capacity was in popular use from earlier times, the 
Gupta administration engrafted upon it the more 
improved measure according to the area of the land. 
Even this last improvement was not enough, as the 
reed consisted of varying units of length called has- 
tas. To produce a reliable standard it was neces- 
sary to fix the size of the hasta measure. This last 
step was taken in the documents from Eastern Ben- 
gal above-mentioned, where the lands are required 
to be severed according to the measure of 8 x 9 reeds 
* by the hand of the famous and upright Siva- 
chandra.'- 
6 



42 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

In the region of modern Bundelkhand and 
Baghelkhand two dynasties were in power almost 
contemporaneously during the Gupta period. These 
were the Parivrajaka Maharajas of Dabhala (or 
Dahala) who were feudatories of the Gupta Empire 
with known dates ranging from 475-476 to 528-529 
A. C. and the Maharajas of Uchchakalpa whose 
known dates range from 493-94 to 533-34 A.C. 45 
The records of the latter dynasty specifically men- 
tion the payment of the land-revenue in kind (here 
called bhagabhogakara) and in cash (called by the 
older title of hiranya), while those of the former 
dynasty are silent about them. Both groups of re- 
cords usually mention that the land is granted with 
ud#aftga and uparikara, which have elsewhere been 
taken to mean the rent from permanent and tempo- 
rary tenants respectively. This suggests that as in 
the central regions of the Gupta Empire there were 
State-owned lands in the villages, which were leased 
to tenants. An additional item of revenue men- 
tioned in some of the Uchchakalpa records is the 
tax on ploughs (halikakara), but nothing is explained 
about it. From the fact that in some of the docu- 
ments a portion of a village or even portions of two 
distinct villages form the object of the gift, it may 
be' surmised that the villages concerned were not as- 
sessed collectively, but with reference to the indivi- 
dual holdings. As might be expected, the records of 
both dynasties relate for the most part to religious 
and charitable endowments created by the kings in 
favour of temples and Brahmanas. A distinct type 
of grants, however, namely, that assigned to a cour- 
tier as a favour is probably referred to in ah Uchcha- 



LECTURE n 43 

kalpa document, where the clauses show that al- 
though it was perpetual, it could not be alienated 
without the king's consent. 

We may next notice a few isolated records of 
kings who were probably feudatories of the Gupta 
Empire ruling in different parts of Northern India. 
An inscription of a Maharaja Laksmana 46 belonging 
probably to 477 A.C. and assignable to the region of 
ancient Kau^ambi refers to the usual payment of the 
land-revenue in kind (called meya) and in cash 
(called hiranya). A record of Maharaja Nandana 47 
belonging to the region of Magadha and probably of 
the year 450-451 A.C. proves that as under the Pa- 
rivrajakas and the Maharajas of Uchchakalpa the 
pious endowments created by kings in favour of 
Brahmanas were held on the conditions of perpetuity 
and heritability and with the essential rights of 
ownership. We may refer, lastly, to two records 48 
belonging to the region of modern Indore, those of 
Maharaja Svamidasa (probably of 386-387 A.C.) 
and Maharaja Bhulunda (probably of 426-427 A.C.). 
Both these are concerned with donations of lands in 
specified villages by the kings in favour of named 
Brahmanas. The former document mentions the 
king's gift of a piece of cultivated land which forms 
the holding (pratyaya) of a certain merchant, and 
the latter more vaguely refers to the gift of a similar 
piece of land. From the fact that in these instances 
the holdings of individual cultivators are sought to 
be given away, it may be concluded that the villagers 
were separately assessed for the ' land-revenue and 
not in & lump sum. 



44 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

During the Gupta period Gujarat was ruled by 
various dynasties whose records illustrate to some 
extent the prevailing conditions of land-revenue. We 
begin with the Traikutakas who ruled Aparanta 
(Northern Konkan) together with Southern Gujarat 
in the latter half of the fifth century. 49 The land- 
grants of these kings mention various immunities 
and privileges granted in favour of the donee, among 
which is included the exemption from all dues 
(ditya), but the precise meaning of this last term is 
left unexplained. We next turn to the branch of 
the Katachuri kings who ruled Southern Gujarat in 
the latter half of the sixth century. 60 The land- 
grants of these rulers do not in general refer to the 
usual branches of the land-revenue in fact the 
terms meya and hiranya occur only in a land-grant 
of a feudatory of the dynasty. Separate assessment 
of the holdings of the villagers is proved by a record 
of the dynasty mentioning the king's gift of certain 
lands in a specified village. 

We now turn to the important dynasty of the 
Maitrakas of Valabhl whose rule began in the region 
of Kathiawar towards the close of the fifth century, 
and continued down to the last quarter of the 
eighth century when they were apparently over- 
thrown by the Arabs of Sind. 51 The land-grants of 
these sovereigns distinctly refer to the payments ID 
kind and in cash (called dMnyahiranyddeya). One 
grant, in mentioning the usual list of privileges as- 
signed to the donee, further distinguishes the 
item of dhanya from that of bhagabhogakara, 
both of which terms usually mean the payment 
in kind. . Probably the former is here to be under- 



LECTUBE II 45 

stood in the sense of a fixed contribution, while 
the latter consisted of a varying proportion 
of the produce. The Maitraka grants, moreover, 
usually refer to the udranga and uparikara 
items of revenue, which suggest that certain village 
lands were owned by the State. Most of these docu- 
ments, again, mention the king's gift (along with 
the royal dues derived therefrom) of fields or wells or 
both lying in the extremities of specified villages and 
forming in many cases the holdings (pratyaya) of 
named cultivators. This seems to suggest separate 
assessment of the individual holdings of the culti- 
vators. Lastly, while the known land-grants of the 
Maitrakas are concerned with the royal endowments 
in favour of temples, Brahmanas and monasteries, 
an official title referred to in some of these docu- 
ments introduces us for the first time to the class of 
farmers of the land-revenue. This is the dhruvadhi- 
karanika (otherwise called dhruvasthanadhikara- 
nika) ' the officer in charge of the dhruvas,' the last 
term being applied till recent times in Kathiawar and 
Cutch to denote persons who superintended the col- 
lection of land-revenue by the farmers on the king's 
behalf. 

Let us, in conclusion, cast a glance at the land- 
revenue conditions in the Deccan in the time of the 
Gupta Emperors. During this period the predomi- 
nant power in that region was that of the Vakata- 
kas. 62 The land-grants of these kings seem to indi- 
cate the development of the traditional system in 
three respects. We refer, in the first place, to the 
fact that the clauses of their grants not only men- 
tion various burdens from which the donee was to be 



46 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

exempted, but also specifically mention the immu- 
nity from taxes (fearc). When we remember that 
the documents of the preceding dynasties in the 
Deccan as well as in Southern India refer only to the 
burdens from which the donee was to be exempted, 
the Vakataka inscriptions may be taken to mark the 
beginnings of the land-revenue properly so called in 
this part of the country. In the second place, we 
have to mention that the lands or villages forming 
the object of the royal endowment are indeed some- 
times described merely with reference to their 
boundaries, but they are oftener stated in terms of 
the current land-measure (called bhumi) and in one 
case reference is made to the royal measure (rajama- 
na). In this last reference to an official standard of 
measurement we may notice a distinct advance as 
compared with the arrangements of the Satavahanas 
who were content to use the current nivartana land- 
measure. The third point relates to a clause in one 
of the Vaka^aka land-grants conveying a village to a 
body of one thousand Brahmanas. We are here in- 
troduced to a remarkable condition of the grant (^5- 
sana-sthiti) to be maintained by the donees as well 
as by the present and future rulers. Under its terms 
the donees are permitted to enjoy the grant in perpe- 
tuity in effect on the condition of continued loyalty 
and good conduct, failing which it is expressly de- 
clared that the *grant should be resumed by the king. 
When we consider how the endowments made in 
favour of Brahmanas have always enjoyed a highly 
privileged position, we cannot but look upon the 
above document as marking a noted departure from 
the beaten track. 



LECTUEE IH. 

A HISTORICAL ACCOUNT OF THE SYSTEM IN 
NORTHERN INDIA (SECOND PERIOD). 

In the previous lecture we have endeavoured, 
with the aid of the literary and epigraphic records, to 
bring down the history of the land-revenue system 
in Northern India to the memorable epoch of the 
downfall of the Imperial Gupta dynasty. It is pro- 
posed in the present lecture to continue the study 
down to the period marked by the collapse of the 
Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty of Kanouj which in the 
height of its splendour under King Mahendrapala 
(c. 890-908 A.C.) ruled the whole territory extend- 
ing from Northern Bengal to the Kathiawar Penin- 
sula and from the Himalayas to the Narmada. 

In the first half of the seventh century the most 
considerable power in Northern India was un- 
doubtedly that of Kanouj under the rule of the 
famous Harsavardhana (606-648 A.C.). 1 The land- 
grants of this Emperor refer to the usual branches 
of the land-revenue under the familiar title of bha- 
gabhogakara and kiranya. We are, however, left 
completely in the dark as regards the method of its 
assessment. A curious phrase used in the docu- 
ments, viz., ' with the piece taken out from the dis- 
trict, 1 probably shows that the revenue-free lands 
were excluded fropa the ordinary jurisdiction of the 
district authorities. 



48 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

Some light is thrown upon the land-revenue 
conditions prevailing in the country as a whole in 
the valuable but brief account of Hiuen Tsang, the 
illustrious Chinese pilgrim who visited almost every 
part of India excepting the extreme south between 
629 and 645 A.C. 2 In the course of his general 
description of India prefacing the detailed narrative 
of his travels in its different parts he observes, 
" Taxation being light and forced labour being 
sparingly used, every one keeps to his hereditary 
occupation and attends to his patrimony. The 
king's tenants pay J of the produce as rent/' This 
last statement, as we have elsewhere explained, re- 
fers to the payment in kind by the cultivators on the 
revenue-paying lands, which corresponds to the bha- 
gabhogakara of the contemporary inscriptions. We 
have here one of the few authentic instances of ap- 
plication of the uniform rate of J that is mentioned 
in some of the Smrtis. The evidence of the 
Chinese pilgrim, moreover, is important as show- 
ing/ what the historical records of the time fail 
otherwise to specify, that the revenue-paying culti- 
vators enjoyed in effect the advantage of hereditary 
possession of their holdings. 

In another part of his general description of 
India to which reference has been made just now, 
Hiuen Tsang observes, " Of the royal land there is 
a four-fold division. One part is for tlie "expenses 
of Government and State worship, one for the en- 
dowment of great public servants, one to reward 
high intellectual eminence and one for acquiring 
religious merit by gift to the various sects. " Here 
the term 4 royal land^ as we have elsewhere ex- 



LECTURE HI 49 

plained, stands for the whole territory of the State. 
Proceeding on this explanation, we may state that 
the first portion mentioned by the pilgrim evidently 
corresponds to the ordinary revenue-paying lands in 
the villages, and the third which has its counter- 
part in the Artha^astra is illustrated (as we shall 
presently see) by historical examples in Gujarat and 
the Central Provinces in the tenth and eleventh cen- 
turies respectively while the last is repre- 
sented by scores of examples in the Ancient 
Indian land-grants. The second class of lands 
referred to by the pilgrim belongs to the 
same category as the Assignments of lands to 
State officers mentioned in the ArthaSastra 
and the Smrtis. But while the latter authorities 
contemplate the bestowal of the Assignments only 
upon the lower officials (specially those concerned 
with the local administration), Hiuen Tsang's evi- 
dence shows that they were extended to the higher 
officers as well. As the pilgrim explicitly states in 
the same context, " The ministers of State and 
common officials all have their portion of land, and 
are maintained by the cities assigned to them.'-' 
The general increase of the Grants and Assignments 
at the expense of the Eeserved area directly admi- 
nistered by the king's revenue officers, is suggested 
likewise by Hiuen Tsang's division of the whole 
State territory into these parts. 

Of the minor kings and dynasties of the seventh 
century we have a few isolated records which im- 
perfectly illustrate the land-revenue conditions under 
their rule. A grant of Maharaja Bhlmasena IE be- 
longing to the region of Chhattisgarh in the Central 

7 



50 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

Provinces and of the year 601 of the Christian era, 3 
refers to the items of revenue called meya, hiranya 
and suvarna. The first tvto terms evidently stand 
for the usual payments in kind and in cash 
by the cultivators, but the distinction which 
is sought to be drawn in this document 
between the payment in cash (hiranya) and 
the payment in bullion (suvarna) is altogether 
exceptional. We may next refer to a land-grant of 
a feudatory in the region of Orissa and dated ap- 
parently in 602-603 A.C. 4 This document provides 
an instance of a religious endowment that was 
granted on the condition of perpetual enjoyment 
without the right of alienation (aksayanwi). In the 
extreme north-east of India we have for this period 
the Nidhanpur copper-plate inscription of Bhaskara- 
varman, King of Kamarupa, 5 who was the contem- 
porary of Harsa of Kanouj. In this document it is 
mentioned how an endowment of land originally 
granted to a Brahmana by the king's great-great- 
grandfather became liable to revenue (karada) owing 
to the subsequent loss of plates, and how the king 
BhSskaravarman afterwards renewed the grant in 
favour of the family of the same donee. Here, then, 
in the oldest period to which the records carry us 
back in Assam, the villages are already found to be 
liable to a tax (feara), of which, however, the pre- 
cise character is left unexplained. It further ap- 
pears that a close scrutiny was maintained by the 
Government over the charitable endowments which 
could be made liable to revenue for loss of the title- 
deeds. Incidentally it may be remarked that the 
above inscription mentions in a list of officers at- 



LECTURE lit 51 

testing the grant a Marker of Boundaries (slmapra* 
data), which points to a regular organisation for the 
demarcation of village boundaries unlike the loose 
arrangement of the Smrtis. Of a slightly later date 
than the inscription of Bhaskaravarman is the 
Tipperah grant of a Chief called Lokanatha, 6 who 
ruled some portion of Eastern Bengal in the latter 
part of the seventh century. It records an endow- 
ment that was granted by the Chief to a temple and 
to a community of Brahmanas within a forest re* 
gion ' having no difference of natural and artificial/ 
This seems to show that as in the Artha^astra the 
forests were regarded as the property of the State. 

To the end of the sixth and first part of the 
seventh centuries belonged the Gurjara dynasty of 
Broach in Gujarat. 7 The land-grants of these kings 
refer to the udranga and uparikara, pointing to the 
existence of State ownership of lands in the villages. 
In two documents the objects of the gift are stated 
to consist of certain fields which are described ac- 
cording to their seed-capacity. This seems to show 
that unlike the dynasties of Gujarat ruling in the 
preceding period, the Gurjaras were content to use 
the primitive method of measurement by seed-capa- 
city even in their official documents. 

In the outlying territory of Nepal which was 
ruled during the fifth, sixth and early part of the 
seventh centuries of the Christian era by a Lich- 
chhavi dynasty, 8 the surviving records point to the 
fact that the payments of the land-revenue in kind 
and in cash were in use under the well-known titles 
of bhdgabhogakara and hiranya respectively. Other 
taxes of a more or less peculiar character to which 



52 THE ARABIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

reference is made in these records include the inter- 
esting mallakara, that is, the tax which was raised 
for defence against the Mallas, or for payment of 
tribute to them. There was, besides, the obligation 
of supplying load-carriers specially for the Tibet ser- 
vice (bhottavisti). A curious feature of the religious 
and charitable endowments of this dynasty is that 
the donees are not altogether exempted from the bur- 
dens devolving upon the revenue-paying lands, but 
are charged with them at a reduced rate or are made 
liable to a pecuniary fine alone for specified offences. 
For the eighth century of the Christian era we 
have a few records of local kings illustrating the 
agrarian conditions in their time. An inscription of 
Jivitagupta n of the later Gupta dynasty 9 who be- 
longed to the early part of the eighth century, refers 
to udranga and uparikara, which prove the exist- 
ence of State-owned lands cultivated by tenants in 
the villages. An inscription of the Chahamanas of 
Broach of the year 756 A.C. 10 mentions a king's gift 
of one-fourth of a village to a Brahmana and one- 
fourth to another. This evidently involved the as- 
signment of revenues that were assessed separately 
upon the lands concerned. We now turn to the 
land-grants of the kings of Sarabhapura u belonging 
to the region of the Eaipur and Bilaspur districts of 
the Central Provinces, which have been assigned on 
palaeographies! grounds to the eighth century. These 
tend to show that the payment of the land-revenue 
in kind was in vogue under its usual title. Two 
grants of Tivaradeva, 12 king of South KoSala (cor- 
responding to the modern Central Provinces), which 
have been assigned to the middle of the eighth cert- 



LECTURE ra .53 

tury, mention not only the payment in kind (bhaga- 

' bhogakara), but also a strange revenue-term called 

daradranaka which Fleet took to mean either an 

' MR 

agricultural cess or a marriage-tax. 

We have now arrived at the important epoch in 
the history of Northern India that is marked by the 
rise of the Eajput dynasties. This event is memor- 
able as introducing for the first time the type of 
monarchies organised on clan lines, which was 
afterwards so widely prevalent in Rajputana. 13 In 
this type of clan-monarchies, as they have been 
called, to distinguish them from the usual class of 
single rulerships prevalent elsewhere, the central or 
at any rate the best part of the kingdom is appro- 
priated by the king, while the outlying portions are 
assigned to the lesser chiefs of the clan. The king 
levies the land-revenue entirely from his demesne, 
while the Chiefs only contribute aids in time of 
war, fees on succession, and so forth. 

The most important of the Kajput dynasties 
that arose in Northern India during the present 
period was that of the Gurjara-Pratiharas of Ka- 
nouj. In the latter half of the ninth and early part 
of the tenth centuries they became the leading 
power in the territory between the Himalayas and 
the Narmada. The inscriptions of these kings 
contain van unusually large number of refer- 
ences to estates held by the Chiefs of the 
royal and other clans under their rule. Thus 
we have examples of grants made by a Chief of 
the Chahamana clan, 14 by a Chief of the 
Guhila clan, 15 by a Chief of the Chaulukya (or Cha- 
lukya) clan of Kathiawar, 16 by a Chief of the 



54 THE AOBABIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

Chhinda family ruling in the region of the modern 
Pilibhit district of the United Provinces, 17 and last- 
ly by a Chief called Mathanadeva of the Gurjara- 
Pratihara lineage, who claims to have obtained his 
allotment as his own share (svabhogavapta) . 1B An 
allusion to a clan-Chief's estate is apparently made 
in an inscription of the reign of Mahendrapala II 19 
mentioning the donation of three villages by three 
brothers of the Tomara clan who were in the service 
of the Emperor. Reference is made in other records 
of the Gurjara-Pratiharas to a number of Chiefs who 
held the town of Siyadoni under the suzerainty of 
the Emperor Bhoja and his three successors, 20 and 
to a Chief (mahasamanta) who was in possession of 
a tract of country in Central India under the same 
Emperor Bhoja. 21 The typical allotment of the 
clan-Chief is mentioned in another document M 
where the village forming the object of the gift is 
located in a group of 84 villages, which the donor 
claims to have acquired by the might of his own 
arms. 

Apart from the class of Chiefs' estates just men- 
tioned, the older type of Assignments to officials is 
apparently referred to in an inscription of Mahen- 
drapala II. 23 It records the Emperor's grant of a 
village which was in possession of a certain tola- 
varggika-harisada, meaning probably an official of 
the name of Harisa<j,a. The contents of this docu- 
ment show that unlike the Chiefs who were entitled 
at least to create religious endowments out of their 
Estates, the Assignees practically held their lands 
at the pleasure of the Crown. With regard to the 
class of charitable endowments we may take the 



LECTURE m 65 

example of a Gurjara-Pratihara land-grant. 24 It 
mentions how a feudatory of King Nagabhata 
granted a village to a Brahmana with his suzerain's 
approval, and how subsequently the grant was res- 
tricted by the legal officers so that it had to be re- 
newed by Bhoja. Here we catch a glimpse into the 
close scrutiny which the legal officers of the Crown 
were wont to bestow upon the revenue-free tenures. 

The clauses of the Gurjara-Pratihara land- 
grants, while mentioning the privileges granted to 
the donees by the kings and Chiefs, show that alike 
in the Chiefs' estates and the Eeserved tracts of the 
king, the payments in kind and in cash were in use. 25 
In addition to these familiar items of revenue some 
of the Chiefs' records * refer to the rents from per- 
manent and temporary tenants (udranga and upari- 
kara), the cesses charged upon the crops at the 
threshing-floor (khalabhiksa), the extra contribu- 
tions charged upon every prastha measure of liquids 
and every shoulder-load of articles brought into the 
king's treasury (prasthaka and skandhaka) and so 
forth. 

A few words may be said in the present place 
about the methods of assessment followed by these 
rulers and kindred topics. Division of the crops at 
the threshing-floor is suggested by the revenue term 
khalabhiksd, just mentioned. Again, the famous 
Siyadoni inscription w mentions the donation by a 
whole town (sakalasthdna) of a field of which the 
length and breadth are specified according to the 
current hasta measure. Another record of the year 
876 A.C., 28 while mentioning the gift by a whole 
town (samastastMna) of a piece of land and certain 



6 THE AGEAEIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

fields, states that the former measured 250 x 20 
hastas by the Emperor's hasta measure (paramefoa- 
riya-hasta) , while the latter required 11 dronas of 
barley-seed according to the measure of Gopadri (the 
ancient name for Gwalior). These documents help 
to show how the primitive method of measurement 
by seed-capacity and the more advanced method of 
measurement according to the area of the land, both 
of which varied from place to place, were simul- 
taneously in use. They also tend to indicate how 
the Gurjara-Pratihara Emperors tried to effect an 
improvement by introducing a standard hasta 
measure. 

We now turn to another Eajput dynasty that 
held sway in Gujarat together with its branches and 
feudatories during the greater part of the ninth cen- 
tury. This was the great dynasty of the Eastraku- 
tas of the Deccan, who were the contemporaries and 
rivals of the Gurjara-Pratiharas of Kanouj. The re- 
cords of these rulers repeatedly refer to the clan- 
Chief's estate consisting of 84 villages and its sub- 
divisions, such as the groups of 42 and 12 villages. 29 
A curious feature of complexity is introduced in a 
Eastrakuta inscription of 910-911 A.C. 30 where the 
village granted by the king is placed in a group of 
10 villages included within a larger group of 84 
villages which itself is comprised in a group of 750 
villages. In this case the groups of 10 and 750 
villages, broadly speaking, have their counterparts 
in the administrative divisions of the Artha^astra 
and the Smrtis, while the group of 84 villages ex-~ 
a<5tly represents the normal allotment of the clan- 
Chief. Here, then, we have apparently an instance 



LECTURE HI 57 

of super-imposition of the typical arrangement of 
the clan-monarchies upon an older series of territo- 
rial divisions based upon the traditional system. The 
records of the Ra$trakutas refer both to the payments 
in kind (bhagabhogakara, bhogabhdga or dhanySya) 
and in cash (hiranya). Sometimes they are jointly 
indicated by the term dhdnyahiranyadeya. Refer- 
ence is also made in some records to the rent paid by 
the permanent tenants (udranga)* 

We may notice in this place an interesting in- 
scription of 917-918 A.C. 32 belonging to a Suras$ra 
Chief of Chapa lineage which is closely allied to the 
Gurjara stock. It records the Chief's gift of a vil- 
lage to a spiritual preceptor as his ' fee of learning ' 
(vidyadhana) . Here we have another historical 
instance of the type of endowments for learning 
which is referred to in the Arthagastra and vouched 
for by the high authority of Hiuen Tsang in the 
seventh century. 

Another Rajput dynasty of this period is com- 
memorated in an inscription of 973-974 A.C. 33 
which mentions a family of seven generations of 
Chahamana kings ruling in the region of Sambhar 
in Rajputana. From the large number of Assign- 
ments mentioned in this single document it may be 
inferred that they preponderated over the king's Re- 
served tract. Thus the donations of land mentioned 
in this document consisted of the following : : 

1. A donation by King Simharaja of one 
village in a specified group of 12 vil- 
lages belonging to his own domain (sva- 
bhoga). 
8 



68 THE AGEABIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

2. A donation by Vatsaraja, the brother of 
King Simharaja, of one village in a 
named district which he had obtained as 
his own allotment (bhoga). 

3. A donation by King Vigraharaja, son of 
Simharaja, of two villages. 

4. A donation by two sons of Simharaja, of 
two hamlets in a certain district which 
they had obtained as their own allotment 
(bhoga). 

5. A grant by the Duhsadhya (evidently a 
State official) of King Simharaja, of one 
village which was in his own possession 
(svabhujyamdna) . 

6. A donation by Jayanaraja (evidently a 
Prince of the ruling house) of one village 
which was in his own possession. 

Let us turn to the history of the 
States and dynasties in other parts of North- 
ern India that were more or l$ss contem- 
poraneous with the Gurjara-Pratiharas. We be- 
gin with the kingdom of Kashmir. The famous 
Kashmir chronicle, describing the exactions of two 
tyrannical kings called Sankaravarman (883-902 
A.C.) and Harsa (1089-1101 A.C.), mentions speci- 
fically that Jx>th of them appropriated the lands and 
villages belonging to the temples. 34 In this con- 
nection the chronicler further states that Sankara- 
varman paid a compensatory allowance (pratikara) 
to the dispossessed owners of the temple lands. Here 
we have a historical parallel of the institution which 



JLECTUEE m SO 

under the name of malikand played an important 
part in the revenue history of Bengal in the early 
period of British rule. 

We may next refer to an inscription of a king 
called Maha&vagupta * who ruled in the region of 
the Central Provinces sometime in the eighth or 
the ninth century. This document, while describ- 
ing the arrangements relating to a temple of Visnu, 
introduces us to a complex example of pious endow- 
ment. It mentions that five specified villages were 
to be divided into four shares of which three were 
reserved for the purpose of an alms-house, of repairs 
to the temple and of support to the temple servants. 
The fourth and the last share was to be divided into 
fifteen shares, of which twelve were to be enjoyed by 
as many learned Brahmanas on the condition that 
the shares would descend to their qualified heirs in 
the male line, failing which they would devolve 
upon the other relatives of the donees by their own 
choice and not by the orders of the king. The re- 
maining three shares were to be enjoyed by a 
Brahmana priest and two worshippers of the Bhaga- 
vata sect. All the fifteen shares were to be held 
without the right of gift, sale or mortgage. Here we 
have a curious instance of a revenue-free estate held 
on condition of heritability in the male line on proof 
of fitness but without the right of alienation. 

An inscription of Kulastainbha of the region of 
Orissa, 36 whose date has been assigned to the ninth 
century, records the king's gift of a village yielding 
42 silver coins (rupyas). This shows that in con- 
trast with the arrangements prevailing elsewhere 
cash assessment of the land-revenue was now in 



60 THB AGRARIAN SYSTEM IK ANCIENT INDIA 

use in a part of Eastern India. Moreover from the 
fact that the cash income from the entire village is 
mentioned in connection with the grant, we may 
guess that it refers to the process prevailing in 
Moslem India, which has been conveniently called 
Valuation. 

During the period from the end of the eighth 
to that of the eleventh century Bengal was ruled for 
the most part by kings of the famous Pala dynasty, 
while towards its close minor dynasties such as the 
Chandras and the Varmans shared the possession of 
the country with the Palas. 37 The records of these 
kings refer, to the payment in kind (bhagabhogakara, 
bkogabhaga, rajabhogakara, or more generally kara) 
and in cash (called hiranya or pindaka). Beference 
is also made occasionally to the rent of temporary 
tenants (uparikara). The mention of an officer called 
^a^hadhikfta ('the officer in charge of the sixth') in 
the earliest extant Pala inscription shows that as in 
the time of Hiuen Tsang the land-revenue in kind 
was assessed on the basis of a uniform rate of J 
of the produce. Further it indicates that the man- 
agement of this branch of the revenue was entrusted 
to a distinct department of the administration. The 
Pala records contain not the slightest reference to 
the measurement by reeds which prevailed in Ben- 
gal under the Imperial Guptas and their immediate 
successors, but one document apparently mentions 
the measurement of lands by seed-capacity along 
with the current measure according to the area. 
With regard to the pious endowments, it is enough 
to state that they were granted by the kings in per- 
petuity and with foil right of ownership. The docu- 



LECTURE III Cl 

ments, again, frequently refer to the gramapati ('the 
village headman') and the ksetrapa ('the lord of the , 
fields') and once to the dafagrantika ('the officer in 
charge of 10 villages'), but we have not the slightest 
indication of the part played by them in the land- 
revenue administration. 

Let us notice, in conclusion, a few records of 
kings ruling in other parts of the country and be- 
longing to the tenth and eleventh centuries. In the 
region of Assam the inscriptions of Balavarman (c. 
end of tenth century), Eatnapala (early part of 
eleventh century) and Indrapala (middle of the 
eleventh century), 38 furnish complete lists of burdens 
charged upon the ordinary revenue-paying lands 
from which the charitable endowments were ex- 
empted. These include the rent of temporary 
tenants (uparikard) as well as the ' oppressions ' 
exercised by members of the royal family and State 
officers together with those caused by the grazing of 
animals, the binding of elephants and the mooring 
of boats, all apparently belonging to the State ser- 
vice. These burdens naturally suggest comparison 
with those occurring in the inscriptions of the early 
kings of the Deccan and Southern India, to which 
reference has been made in another place. The 
grant of Balavarman, moreover, conclusively proves 
the prevalence of payments of the land-revenue in 
kind, for it mentions in .connection with the king's 
donation of certain lands the measures of rice pro- 
duced by them. 



LECTUBE IV. 

A HISTORICAL ACCOUNT OP THE SYSTEM IN 

NORTHERN INDIA (THIRD PERIOD) 

RETROSPECT AND CONCLUSION. 

In the last lecture the history of the land-reve- 
nue system in Northern India has been attempted to 
be brought down, roughly speaking, to the period 
marked by the collapse of the Empire of the Gur- 
jara-Pratiharas of Kanouj. We shall now try to 
pass in review the history of those dynasties that 
arose during the last phase of the ancient period, 
and were mostly swept away by the devastating 
flood of Moslem invasions towards its close. This 
will be followed by a brief retrospect of the ground 
that we have traversed, and some general reflections 
arising from its consideration. 

We begin our account with the history of the 
Rajput dynasties that arose on the ruins of the 
Gurjara-Pratihara Empire. One of the earliest 
dynasties to break away from the yoke of Kanouj 
was that of the Chandels of Jejakabhukti (modern 
Bundelkhand), who assumed independence in the 
middle of the tenth century and ruled with 
great glory till they were overthrown by Qutb-ud- 
din Ibak in 1203 A.C. 1 The land-grants of these 
kings refer in the compteter examples to the usual 
payments in kind and in cash under'the old familiar 



LBOTUBB IV 63 

titles. The further specifications in some of the 
grants that the king, the royal officers, the fores- 
ters, the irregular troops and the like, should re- 
nounce their respective dues, illustrates the more 
irregular charges that were ordinarily imposed upon 
the villages. In two documents the objects of the 
gift are stated to consist of certain lands described 
in terms of the primitive measure by seed-capacity 
along with the revenues derived therefrom. Evi- 
dently, then, the village lands were assessed, as in 
the Gupta period, with respect to the individual 
holdings of the cultivators. 

Nearly all the Chandel land-grants are concern- 
ed with endowments in favour of Brahmanas and 
temples. Their status is sufficiently indicated by 
a clause in one of the documents which expressly 
states that the donee is not to be obstructed with 
regard to the gift, sale or mortgage of the land. 
Another record which describes a family of scribes 
(kayasthas) holding high office under the Crown 
mentions that three of them received villages from 
different kings. These probably belonged to the 
class of Assignments granted to officials for service. 
Two other documents mentioning a royal gift of 
land as mrtyuka vrtti (' death-allowance ') to the 
heir of a person killed in battle with the Moslem 
Turks introduces us to a type of grants unknown 
elsewhere in Northern India. This partakes of the 
nature of military pensions to the heirs of soldiers 
killed in battle. 

Another Bajput dynasty that rose in power 
after the downfall of the Gurjara-PratihSras was 
that of the Haihayas or Kalachuris of Chedi (modern 



64 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

Central Provinces). 2 These kings declared inde- 
pendence after the middle of ihe tenth century, and 
attained considerable importance in the eleventh 
century, after which they virtually disappeared from 
history. The records of this dynasty prove the con- 
tinuance (under the old titles) of the usual pay- 
ments in kind and in cash. While most of the 
documents are concerned, as usual, with pious en- 
dowments, we have some examples of grants made 
for support of the king's family, which evidently 
carried with them the full right of alienation. Thus 
we have documents .conveying the grant of lands by 
a Queen-mother, by a Queen-regnant, and apparent- 
ly also by a Crown Prince. The grant of the Queen- 
regnant just mentioned consisted of two villages 
which were assigned by her to a certain sage as his 
vidyadhana (' fee of learning '), while the grant 
of the Crown Prince refers to a group of twelve 
villages within which the object of the gift was 
situated. 

We may mention in this connection an inscrip- 
tion of a king called Sodhadeva 8 belonging to a 
branch of the Ka^achuri dynasty that reigned in 
the region of the Gogra and Gandak rivers in Oudh. 
The document which is of the year 1077 A.C. re- 
fers to the payments in kind and in cash under the 
usual titles. Its principal interest, however, lies 
in the description of the object of the grant which 
consisted of lands amounting to 20 ndlukas measured 
by the standard rod called devakuftkastha. Here, 
then, we have another historical instance of the 
official use of a standard unit for the Measurement 
of lands. 



LECTURE IV 66 

The well-known Chalukya dynasty of Gujarat 
with Anahilvad as its capital was founded in the 
latter part of the tenth century, and it survived till 
the middle of the thirteenth century. 4 The records 
of this dynasty show that the usual payments in 
kind and in cash were in use under the old titles. 
Some documents refer to two additional charges 
called new margganakas and new nidhanas, which 
evidently stand for contributions of the nature of 
benevolences and cesses. When these terms are 
distinguished as c new ' in the above documents, we 
have probably to understand that the old contribu- 
tions called by the same titles had in course of time 
been absorbed in the permanent land-revenue assess- 
ment, and that afterwards fresh charges of 
the same nature were added to the list. This 
seems to register three successive stages in 
the revenue-history of the province, viz., the 
original assessment of the land-revenue, the 
imposition of additional cesses which gradually be- 
came a permanent charge upon land, and the intro- 
duction of fresh cesses over and above the land-re- 
venue and cesses combined. Another inscription 
of the same dynasty mentions the king's gift of 
certain lands belonging to three named cultivators 
along with the revenues derived therefrom. As in 
similar instances dealt with previously, this probab- 
ly shows that the cultivators' holdings were assessed 
separately. While the Ch'alukya land-grants deal 
mostly with pious endowments, one document by 
its use of a special title (talapada) for fully assessed 
land suggests that the later division of lands in 
Gujarat into those fully assessed for revenue 



66 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

those which were held on condition of service or for 
a reduced lump assessment, may be traced back to 
the present period. Lastly, we may note tKat the 
Chalukya records contain occasional references to 
the typical clan-Chief's estate of 84 villages and its 
sub-divisions, but these are mentioned in such a way 
as to imply that they had become absorbed in the 
king's Reserved tracts, and in fact had degenerated 
into convenient geographical divisions. Thus one 
document, conveying the king's gift of a village, 
includes it in a group of 42 villages which is com- 
prised in a larger territorial division called pathaka. 
In another case the land forming the object of the 
royal gift is located in a group of 126 villages in the 
Anandapura division which was in the king's own 
possession (svabhujayamana) . This unit of 126 
villages, it will be noticed, represents precisely one 
full-sized Chief's estate of 84 villages together with 
its half, but the description in the document shows 
that at the time of the grant it was no longer held 
by Chiefs, but had been absorbed in the king's 
domain along with the larger area in which it was 
included. 

The illustrious house of the Paramaras of Malwa 
which was founded early in the ninth century of 
the Christian era flourished till about the middle of 
the eleventh century. 6 The land-grants of these 
kings refer to the payments in kind and in cash un- 
der the usual titles, besides mentioning the rent from 
temporary tenants (uparihara). Two documents 
record the royal donation of villages held by a 
mah&sadhanika and a pratihara, both of these being 
titles of State officers. We have here 



LECTURE IV 67 

two historical instances of Assignments in favour 
of officials, and the clauses of the documents show 
that they were held at the pleasure of the Crown. 
Other records of the Paramaras refer to the Chief's 
estate of 84 villages and its sub-divisions, but in such 
a way as to show that these had become mere admi- 
nistrative divisions. Thus one document mentions 
a king's grant of a village which belonged to a group 
of twelve villages, while another commemorates the 
king's grant of village comprised within a group 
of 42 villages which was itself included in a dis- 
trict. 

The next Rajput dynasty to which we have to 
turn our attention is that of the Kachchapaghatas of 
Gwalior. 6 An inscription of this dynasty of the 
year 1088 A.C. mentions a certain town as belong- 
ing to the king, which probably shows by contrast 
that some other portions of the kingdom were held 
by Chiefs. 

The famous Gaharwar dynasty of Kanouj came 
into power towards the end of the eleventh century 
and flourished for nearly a century afterwards when 
they were swept away by the tide of the Moslem in- 
vasion. 7 The land-grants of these kings which have 
fortunately been preserved in large numbers indi- 
cate some striking developments of the traditional 
system. To judge from the number of times the 
items of revenue are mentioned in the documents, 
we may conclude that while the payment in kind 
(bhagabhogakara) held its place, the payment in 
cash (hiranya) fell into insignificance. Other re- 
ferences in the same documents show that various 
cessfes, sufch as those payable on aecotrnt of sped- 



68 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

fied State officers were in use along with certain 
taxes for which hardly any parallels existed before, 
such as the nearly unique Turuskadanda (either a tax 
raised for defence against the Moslem invaders, or 
what is less probable, a tax levied on resident Mos- 
lem Turks in the kingdom of Kanouj). One docu- 
ment mentions the king's gift of half a village to 
his purohita, while the other half is divided among 
nine learned Brahmaijas. This probably shows 
that the village lands, as in similar instances men- 
tioned before, were assessed separately for the land- 
revenue. Again, the records frequently describe the 
land that is sought to be given away in terms of the 
current naluka measure, but nothing is mentioned 
about a standard unit of measurement. Another 
document which assigns nearly a whole adminis- 
trative division (pattald) to a body of five hundred 
Brahmanas introduces us to a class of revenue-pay- 
ing villages (mkaragramas) which are distinguished 
from villages assigned in favour of temples and 
Brahmanas (devadvijagmmas). Probably the 
former class consisted of villages that were assigned 
to officials for service. 

We now turn to the records of the Chahamana 
houses of Marwar belonging mostly to the twelfth 
century, whose history brings to a close our survey 
of the Eajput dynasties of Northern India during 
the present period. The inscriptions of these dy- 
nasties mention a large number of estates held by 
the Queens and Princes, while they refer in one 
instance to the king's allotment. Thus one docu- 
ment 8 refers to a group of twelve villages which one> 
of the junior Princes had received from the reign- 



LECTURE IV 69 

ing King and Crown Prince. Another 9 refers to a 
town included in a division (bhukti) which appa- 
rently belonged to the Crown Prince. A third 10 
inscription mentions the Queen's grant of a village 
which was being held by her a6 her appanage 
(grasa). Reference is made in another inscrip- 
tion n to a temple situated in the allotment 
(bhukti) of the Queen. Two other records 12 men- 
tion a couple of junior princes as possessors 
(bhoktfs) of two named villages. Reference is 
made in another document 13 to the allotment (seja) 
of a prince (rajaputra) called Ajayadeva, while other 
records 14 mention the same Prince's grant of lands 
and wells no doubt out of his own allotment. On 
the other hand, a solitary record 16 mentions a Queen's 
donation of corn out of the Bang's estate (rajaklya 
bhoga). One of the Chahamana records 16 relates 
to a Chief's imposition of an annual cash assess- 
ment upon the villages comprised within his allot- 
ment. There the donor who is a junior Prince con- 
veys his order to each of the twelve villages in his 
allotment to pay every year at the month of Bhadra- 
pada commencing from the current year two 
dramma coins for the benefit of a Jaina temple. 

To complete our historical account of the land- 
revenue conditions prevailing in Northern India in 
ancient times, we shall now cast a glance at the 
history of the dynasties that ruled in other parts of 
the country during the present period. We begin 
with the record of a Chief called Klrtlpala 17 who 
ruled in the region between the Gogra and Gandak 
rivers and Nepal. From this document which be* 
longs to the year 1111 A.C. we learn that the 



70 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

donor's father acquired sovereignty over a country 
called Uttarasamudra by the might of his own arms, 
and that the donor subsequently acquired it by 
inheritance. This illustrates the class of Chief - 
ships acquired by conquest and inheritance. For 
the region of Assam we have two royal land-grants 
of this period, one of which 18 belongs to Vaidyadeva 
and has been assigned to the middle of the twelfth 
century, while the other 19 relates to a Chief called 
Vallabhadeva and is dated in 1107 Saka correspond- 
ing to 1184-85 A.C. The former document refers 
in general terms to taxes (kara) and their appurte- 
nances (upaskara) in respect of the villages forming 
the subject of the gift. In the same document the 
villages gijen away are described somewhat vaguely 
as yielding four hundred coins (chatuhatikam). 
This doubtless marks the wholesale use of cash 
assessments in place of the older payment in kind. 
It may also refer to the process of Valuation in- 
volved in the assignment of villages, of which we 
have spoken elsewhere. Lastly, the description of 
the villages as being in possession of a certain 
Gangadharabhatta (evidently a Brahmana) probably 
shows that we have here to deal not with religious 
endowments (which were usually perpetual), but 
with assignments held at the pleasure of the king. 
As to the other record, the grant of Vallabhadeva 
mentions the Chief's gift in favour of an alms-house 
of certain villages and hamlets as well as of four 
assistants with their wives and children. These last 
may be taken either to represent the king's slaves or 
the serfs attached to the royal domain* If we 
apply this h$t interpretation^ we have here an 



LECTURE IV , 71 

instance of a quasi-manorial estate belonging to the 
king. An undoubted reference to an estate of this 
type occurs in a grant of king Vijayarajadeva 20 rul- 
ing in the region of Orissa in the eleventh or twelfth 
century. It records in the form of a prasddapatta 
(' document of favour ') the king's donation of cul- 
tivated lands, wells, houses and house-holders 
together with a village with its bipeds, quadrupeds, 
fields and house- holders. 

In the early part of the twelfth century the 
well-known Sena dynasty rose in power in Bengal 
and it continued to hold sway till the close of that 
century when it was shattered by the Moslem inva- 
sion. 21 The land grands of the Senas prove the 
continuance of the usual payments of land-revenue 
in kind and in cash practically under the same titles 
as were in use elsewhere. On the other hand, in 
contrast with the vague descriptions in the Pala 
records the lands granted by the Sena kings are uni- 
formly specified in terms of the current land-measure 
according to reed-standards which varied in 
different parts of the country. As we have seen in 
another place, in the region of North Bengal under 
the Imperial Guptas the lands forming the object 
of the sale are similarly specified in terms of the 
current land-measure according to the reed-standard 
which was evidently not a uniform one. It there- 
fore follows that the official standards of measure- 
ment which were in vogue in Bengal under 
the Gupta Emperors were allowed by the 
Palas to fall into neglect, but were restored 
by the kings of the Sena dynasty. Other 
references in the Sena records point to the 



72 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

annual cash assessment of land in terms of the cur- 
rent silver coins (purdnas and kaparddakapumnas), 
and one of them mentions a standard rate of fifteen 
puranas for each drona measure of land. In these 
references we have a remarkable testimony to the 
wholesale substitution of cash assessments for the 
payments in kind prevailing in other parts of 
Northern India. 

Looking back over the ground that we have 
traversed in the present and the preceding lectures, 
we cannot fail to be struck with the contrast be- 
tween the great distance of time and place that it 
spans, and the meagre evidence that has come down 
to us. The sections on polity in the Smrtis and 
connected works, as we have seen, touch the ques- 
tion of land-revenue in the most general terms, 
while even the fuller account of the Artha^astra, 
leaves many important points in the darkness of 
obscurity. The historical records of States and 
dynasties leaves wide gaps in our knowledge, which 
sometimes extend over several centuries at a time. 
It is, however, not merely in the insufficient quan- 
tity, but also in the poor quality of the available 
material that we have to seek for the sources of the 
great draw-backs in the way of our narrative. The 
references in the Smrtis and the Artha^astra, such 
as they are, are incapable of being correlated (except 
in a very general fashion) to the conditions of time 
and place in which they had their origin, and the 
extent to which they reflect historical facts will 
always remain a matter of speculation. The evid- 
ence of the inscriptions has Ihe inestimable 
advantage of connection with known dates and 



LECTURE IV - 73 

geographical regions, but as this is derived mostly 
from the charters of the ruling authorities relat- 
ing to the endowment of lands (roughly correspond- 
ing to the farmans of Mughal Emperors in later 
times), it is by its very nature imperfect and frag- 
mentary. Nor do the observations of the foreign 
travellers throw much light upon the subject of our 
enquiry, for apart from the ambiguity and obscurity 
of their language they are expressed in this particu- 
lar case in too general terms to be of much use. 
On the negative side we find that with the excep- 
tion of some slight reference in the Kashmir 
Chronicle no class of records connects individual 
kings or chiefs or ministers with the history of the 
land-revenue administration. From this it follows 
that the history of the land-revenue system in 
Ancient India has to be written almost entirely 
without reference to the influence exercised by 
individuals upon its development. 

In the oldest period to which the historical re- 
cords in Northern India carry us back, viz., the 
fourth and fifth centuries before Christ, Grants and 
Assignments of lands of various kinds were known, 
but we have no means of ascertaining their extent 
and, with slight exceptions, the nature of their 
tenure. When the veil of obscurity is next lifted 
up before our eyes towards the 'close of the fourth 
century before Christ and, again, at the beginning of 
the fifth century of the Christian era, we find 
Megasthenes pd Fa Hian testifying to the exist- 
ence of direct relations between the Government 
and the cultivators, while Assignments axe not even 
noticed by them* In the Smj-tis and still more in 

1Q 



74 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

the Artha^astra Assignments in favour of State offi- 
cials are mentioned, but these are confined only to 
-the officers of the lower grades. The Arthagastra 
is also acquainted with Collective Assessment 
-of villages probably through the Headmen, 
as well as Assignments held on condition of 
providing troops, but these are mere names. By 
the early part of the seventh century, if we may 
believe thfe high authority of Hiuen Tsang, the 
.practice of granting Assignments to officers of all 
grades was well established. In the ninth, tenth 
and eleventh centuries the advent of Eajput dynas- 
ties introduced the institution of Chiefs' estates on 
a large scale over a considerable part of Northern 
India. But this development was not maintained 
under the Bajput houses of the twelfth century, 
whose records point on the whole to a general ten- 
jlency towards absorption of the older Chiefs' allot- 
ments in the king's domain 

On the whole, then, it appears that throughout 
the longest period of its history in ancient times 
Assignments played a relatively unimportant part 
in the agrarian system of Northern India, and the 
king's revenue officers as a rule dealt directly with 
the cultivators. Of farmers of the land-revenue 
our authorities practically make no mention, almost 
the ordy authentic example of their existence being 
found in the records of the Maitrakas of Gujarat. 
Truly, then, the dictum summing up the essence of 
the agrarian system in Moslem India, 22 namely, 
that the farmer and the assignee were normally the 
masters of the peasant's fate, would not apply to 

ancient period* As regards the method of 



LECTURE IV f 5 

assessment of the land-revenue, we have seen that 
already in the fourth and fifth centuries before 
Christ the methods of Division and Appraisement 
of the crops together with the method of Measure- 
ment were simultaneously in use in the region of 
Eastern India. The brief notice of Megasthenes 
probably shows that the last method was employed 
in the empire of Chandragupta Maurya. The 
Artha^astra describes an elaborate system of village 
registers and records which no doubt was the result 
of a long and unrecorded course of develop- 
ment, but we can only guess that it rested upon n 
basis of standard rates of assessment for known 
unit-areas, or in other words, that it involved the 
process of Measurement. In the dynastic records 
of subsequent times references are found from time 
to time to the employment of distinct standards of 
land-measure according to reeds (sub-divided into 
cubits) and wooden poles, but there is nothing to 
show what use was made of them for the purposes 
of assessment. 

To judge from the available records the land- 
revenue in ancient times was most often fixed on 
the basis of a certain share of the produce. This is 
not only indicated by the terms bh&gu and bh&ga- 
bhogakara signifying the payments in kind by the 
cultivators, but also by the explicit references in 
the Smrtis and in the Arthagastra and the testimony 
of foreign observers. As regards the specific amount 
of this share, the opinions of the Smrtis are at 
variance, for while some are in favour of a uniform 
rate of &, others mention varying rates of | t , aad 
J or A depending obviously upon tfae diffonnc&s 



76 TdE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

of soils and crops. In the popular tradition the rate 
of $ was accepted as the recognised standard of land- 
revenue assessment. 23 A uniform rate is also indi- 
cated in the few recorded historical instances, the 
demand being fixed at J of the produce in the 
Maurya Empire and at J in the time of Hiuen 
Tsang and under Pala rule in Bengal 

As regards the form in which the land-revenue 
was paid by the cultivators, we have seen how both 
the payments in kind and in cash occur simulta- 
neously in the Smrtis and the Artha^astra. Both 
may be traced with the help of the historical re- 
cords over a large part of Northern India during the 
period from the fourth to the twelfth centuries of 
the Christian era. Of these two groups of pay- 
ments the former occupied by far the more impor- 
tant position, while the latter seems to have been 
always of an exceptional character. 24 Quite dis- 
tinct from these is the cash assessment of entire 
villages, to which an early reference is made in the 
Jatakas and which is illustrated by historical exam- 
ples in Northern India in the ninth century and 
later. Cash payments are also mentioned in the re- 
cords of the Chahamanas of Marwar in the twelfth 
century. But the greatest advance in this respect 
was made in Bengal under the rule of the Senas. 
There we are introduced to cash assessments 
on lands at a specified standard rate for a definite 
unit-area. 

The nomenclature of the two principal items of 
land-revenue just mentioned offers an interesting 
subject for study. Hiranya as a revenue term is 
found not only in the Smrtis and the Artha^astra, 



LBCTUBB TV 7? 

but with the help of the contemporary inscriptions 
it may Be traced almost continuously over the greater 
part of Northern India from about the fourth to the 
twelfth century. As to the other item the Pali 
canonical literature which furnishes the oldest ex- 
tant account of social conditions in Eastern India 
applies to the payment in kind the identical designa- 
tion (bali} that is used in the Smrtis. The inscrip- 
tions of A6oka in the third century before Christ 
and of Eudradaman in the second century of the 
Christian era use the terminology of the Artha- 
astra, making bhdga and bali stand respectively 
for the payment in kind and the additional cesses. 
In the Gupta period and subsequent times other 
titles for the payment in kind came into use, such 
as meya, dhanya, and above all bhagabhogakara, of 
which the last had by far the widest application. 

We may next consider the point whether the 
ancient Indian agrarian system was of the Zemin- 
dari or the Eaiyatwari type. To a certain extent 
this question is a misnomer, since the precise con- 
notation of these terms together with the termino- 
logy is a creation of British rule. In a general 
sense, however, it may be said that so far as the 
scanty evidence enables us to judge, the Ancient 
Indian system had something in common with the 
latter type, but had little or no analogy with the 
former. To begin with the last point^ 
references are made in the records 
dynasties of ancient times to 
but nothing is known about 
the Chiefs had the right oj 
endowments out of their estat 



78 THE AGRABIAtf StSlBM IS AtfCIfiNT 



are to judge from the analogies of later times, the 
Chiefs probably were not liable to the land-revenue 
at all, but were bound only to contribute aids in 
time of war, the fees on succession and so forth. 
The assignees who held lands as remuneration for 
service are expressly excluded in the Arthagastra 
from the right of sale and mortgage, while the 
inscriptions recording the royal grant of endow- 
ments out of their lands probably show that they 
held their allotments at the pleasure of the Crown. 
On the other hand, within the territory directly ad- 
ministered by the king's revenue officers, or as we 
may call it, the Reserved tract, the State officers 
normally dealt with the individual cultivators. 
Testimony to this fact is furnished in the Artha^as- 
tra by the items included by the gopa in his register 
of dwelling-houses and in the inscriptions by the 
instances of royal conveyance of portions of villages 
along with the revenues arising therefrom to various 
individuals* 

The historical records of Northern India show 
that along with the land-revenue paid by the culti- 
vators, the king derived his income from what may 
be called his private lands. By the end of the 
fourth century before Christ, it seems, the royal 
f&rms let out to the cultivators on lease had become 
so important that according to one version of 
Megasthenes's description they formed the whole 
territory of the State* In the Arthagastra the pro- 
duce of the royal farms forms a distinct head of 
revenue which is included in the general scheme of 
revenue classification, while detailed rules are laid 
do wn for the guidance of the Royal Steward in 



LECTURE IV 70 

charge of the same. Between the arrangements of 
the ArthaiSastra and the Mauryas there is this 
important difference that the latter, besides engag- 
ing cultivators on terms more advantageous to the 
State, abandoned the method of direct manage- 
ment of the farms that is known to the former. In 
the dynastic records of Northern India from the 
Gupta period onwards frequent references are 
found, as the terms udranga and uparikara of the 
inscriptions testify, to the State-owned lands in the 
villages. 

In Western and Southern India the oldest 
epigraphic records belonging to the early centuries 
of the Christian era acquaint us with royal allot- 
ments or farms in the villages, which were generally 
leased out to cultivators, but they are silent about 
a land-revenue properly so called. The first distinct 
indication of this branch of revenue is found in this 
region in some records of the fourth century belong- 
ing to the Vakatakas of the Deccan. These facts 
strikingly corroborate a hypothesis formed long ago 
by Baden-Powell 25 on the basis of his observation 
of existing land-tenures in Coorg and in Chota 
Nagpore. According to this theory the Dravidian 
land-system was distinguished from the Aryan by 
the fact that in the former the king originally re- 
ceived only the produce of his farms in the villages, 
to which was only afterwards added the customary 
grain-share from nearly all village lands. 

We shall conclude this lecture with an estimate 
of the economic consequences of the system that 
we have b^een attempting to describe so far. The 
ArthaSastra shows a thorough grasp of the 



80 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

principles of agricultural development, and the 
slight notices in the Smrtis and connected works, 
as far as they go, are completely in accord with it. 
Such ideas evidently formed part and parcel of a 
general administrative tradition. At the same 
time the environment, so far as the materials enable 
us to judge, was normally favourable for their 
fruition. As the State dealt most often directly 
with the cultivators, it was in a position to work out 
its policy unhampered by the existence of a class of 
middlemen. The remarkably moderate extent of 
the revenue-demand, amounting ordinarily to no 
more than J of the produce, however much it might 
be supplemented by cesses and other extra charges, 
could not lead to a condition when the whole eco- 
nomic rent was swept away into the king's 
treasury. 26 In certain 'circumstances, it is true, 
the rules permit the supersession of the cultivators, 
and these may have occasionally been followed in 
actual practice. But the cultivators appear to have 
normally enjoyed the privilege of security of their 
tenures. If. then, the ancient records sometimes 
refer to oppressive burdens of the land-revenue and 
other charges, 27 it can be said with truth that the 
glimpses which the observations of the foreign 
travellers furnish into the actual condition of the 
people generally indicate a happy and contented 
peasantry. 88 



LECTUEE V, 

OWNERSHIP OF THE SOIL IN ANCIENT INDIA THE 

QUESTION OF PRIVATE OR STATE OWNERSHIP. 
t 

In the oldest stages of human association, the 
hunting and the pastoral, land could not for obvious 
reasons form the subject of appropriation. Even 
after the transition to the agricultural stage, culti- 
vation was at first of a shifting character, and accord- 
ingly the arable land (as distinguished from the 
homestead) was held only in temporary possession. 
Afterwards, with the application of intensive 
methods of cultivation and the growing scarcity of 
land, this primitive kind of possession was converted 
into a permanent right of property. 1 Now it is this 
relatively advanced stage of social evolution that the 
Vedic Aryans are found to Occupy at the dawn of 
their history. Regarding the early forms of property 
in land, while the view made classical by Sir Henry 
Maine and Emile de Laveleye 8 maintained the collec- 
tive ownership of land to have preceded the indivi- 
dual ownership, it was authoritatively held in later 
times 3 that individual ownership was the oldest form 
of property, while very recently it has been argued* 
that the complex conditions of primitive communi- 
ties preclude the fixing of convenient labels like 

11 



82 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

' communistic ' and ' individualistic ' to their idea 
of property. Whatever that may be, the evidence 
of the Eg- Veda Samhita shows that among the Indo- 
Aryans at any rate the arable land was held In indivi- 
dual or in family ownership, while communal owner- 
ship was probably confined only to the grass-lands 
lying on the boundaries of the fields. 6 Thus in one 
case a maiden describes her father's field along with 
the hair on his head as his personal possession. 
Eeference is made in another connection to the 
measurement of a field. Lastly, we have the signi- 
ficant title of a deity called ksetrasya pati (' Lord of 
the field ') meaning probably the god presiding over 
each field. 

It thus appears that the private ownership of 
land was an established institution among the Indo- 
Aryans in the oldest times to which their history 
can be traced. The immediately following period 
was attended, doubtless in connection with the ad- 
vance of the royal power during its course, 6 with 
Borne remarkable developments of the king's prero- 
gative over the soil. From this stand-point the 
statement of the Satapatha Brahmana, 7 namely, that 
every one here is fit to be eaten by the king except 
the Brahmana, is not of much significance, since it 
only embodies in a nut-shell the view that the royal 
contributions from the subjects which were at first 
probably fitful in their character had by this time 
become a general burden Devolving upon nearly all 
classes of the people. Of greater importance is the 
oft-quoted passage of the Aitareya Brahmana 8 de- 
claring $he VaiSyar from the point of view of the 



LECTURE V 88 

Ksatriya * to be tributary to another, to be lived on 
by another, to be oppressed at will.' 8 * These strik- 
ing phrases doubtless signify that the ruler's claim 
of taxing the masses of free-men was limited only by 
his own will, but there is nothing in them to indicate 
the king's ownership of the soil as distinct from his 
political superiority. 9 Finally we may mention a 
text of the Satapatha Brahmana 10 which states that 
to whomsoever the Ksatriya with the approval of the 
people or clan (vi) grants a settlement, that is 
properly given. This passage, evidently, refers to 
the public land of the folk or the State, and it seems 
to mean that while the king's gift of such land with 
the consent of the people was in accordance with the 
tribal or customary law, it was sometimes arbitrarily 
disposed of by the sole authority of the ruler. It is 
possible that originally in the period of the Eg- Veda 
the king could deal with the public land only with 
the sanction of the tribal assembly, but afterwards 
during the times of the later Samhitas and the 
Brahmanas the advance of the king's power had 
resulted in such land being looked upon as lying to 
some extent at the disposal of the Crown. ia * , Tie 
natural consequence of such development would be 
eventually to reduce the public lands to the condition 
of the king's private estates. But this step which 
seems to have been completed by the time of the 
Arthagastra was not reached in the period of the 
Br6hmanas. lob 

When we seek to pursue the developments of the 
ideas and institutions relating to the property m land 
after the efrly Veclic period, we have to tara io 



84 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

chapters and sections of the Arthagastra, the Smrtis 
and connected works, dealing with the branches of 
civil and criminal law (vyavahara) . Of the bodies of 
customary law, which no doubt were in vogue in 
large parts of the country in ancient times and to 
which occasional reference is made in the Brahmajji- 
cal works themselves, 11 hardly any trace has survived 
down to our own times. In these circumstances we 
have no other alternative than to depend almost en- 
tirely upon the evidence of the Brahmanical Sacred 
Law just mentioned, supplementing it where possible 
with the data of the historical records. 

The concept of ownership both as regards 
movables and immovables is known to the Brahmani- 
cal Sacred Law from early times. A remarkable 
feature of the Brahmanical law Is that unlike, e.g., 
the Germanic private law which it resembles in some 
respects, it distinguishes from the first even in res- 
pect of terminology the idea of ownership from that 
of restricted real rights. Thus ownership is indicated 
by the pronoun svam and the abstract terms svatva, 
svdmya, svamitva and so forth, while possession is 
usually indicated by the verb bhuj (' to enjoy ') and 
its derivatives. 12 The basis of property in land is 
indi<5ated by the well-known and oft-quoted maxim 
of Manu 11 given in support of his rule relating to the 
right to the issue begotten on a woman by a man 
other than her husband. We are here introduced to 
an old saying of * the sages who know the past * 
(p&rvavidah), that the earth (prthivi) is the wife of 
King Prtho, although, as the commentators point 
out, she ms afterwards possessed by many kings. 



LBCTUBE V 80 

We axe further told that the field belongs to him who 
first removed the weed, and the deer belongs to him 
who first wounded it. These maxims which evidently 
go back to a great antiquity imply, it is true, not a 
permanent right of ownership, but mere possession. 14 
But their great importance lies in the fact that they 
distinctly recognize the right of first clearing as 
constituting the original title to the land. 

In the later Smrtis the insufficiency of mere 
possession is again and again emphasised. Accord- 
ing to Yajnavalkya 16 possession (bhoga) acquires 
validity when it is accompanied by a clear title 
(agamena vtiuddhena) , and is not valid without the 
same. According to Brhaspati 16 possession becomes 
valid when it is coupled with legitimate title 
(sagamah)/ In the opinion of Narada 17 the man 
who takes refuge only in the plea of possession but 
cannot show his title resembles a thief. According 
to VySsa 18 and Pitamaha 19 the five elements of a good 
possession are that it should have a good title, should 
be of long standing, should be continuous, should 
be free from protest and should be enjoyed before the 
very eyes of the defendant. 20 

Finally, we may mention that the authors of 
tfee great mediaeval Digests of the Sacred Law evid* 
ently have a very clear notion of the concept of 
ownership. Thus according to Jimutavahana, the 
famous author of the Dayabhaga, who flourished in 
the 15th century, ownership implies the quality in 
tfae object owned of being used by the owner accord- 
ing to his pleasure. 21 According to NUakai^ha, the 



86 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IK ANCIENT INDIA 

author of the important Smrti Digest called the 
Vyavaharamayukha, who lived in the 17th century, 
ownership (svatva) is a special capacity produced by 
purchase, acceptance and the like. 22 More specific 
is the view of Mitrami&a, also of the 17th century, 
who observes that ownership is an attribute indica- 
tive of the quality in the object owned of being used 
according to pleasure. 23 

Eeverting to the ancient authorities on the 
Sacred Law, we shall now try to analyse the attri- 
butes that were associated with their idea of owner- 
ship. Some light is thrown upon this point by their 
description of the modes of acquiring property. 
According to Gautama 24 a person becomes owner 
(svami) by means of inheritance, purchase, partition, 
acceptance and finding. Manu mentions 25 seven 
lawful modes of acquiring wealth (vittagama), name- 
ly, inheritance, finding (otherwise explained as 
friendly donation), purchase, conquest, lending at 
interest (or teaching according to an alternative 
explanation), performance of work (or alternatively, 
' sacrificing for others ') and acceptance of gift from 
the virtuous. Narada declares 26 the six methods of 
acquiring wealth (dhanagama) to consist of inheri- 
tance (or finding), gift, purchase, the reward of 
valour, the dowry of marriage and what is acquired 
from kinsmen without issue. According to 
Bfhaspati* immovable property is acquired (fipt/oe) 
in seven ways, namely, by learning, by purchase and 
mortgage, by valour, by marriage, by inheritance, 
and by succession to the property of kinsmen without 



LECTURE V 87 

In the above it will be noticed that while some 
authorities have in view the ownership of things, 
others refer only to the more general idea of their 
acquisition. Nevertheless they imply in either case 
the association of the essential qualities of ownership 
(namely, sale, gift and bequest) with the possession 
of property. These attributes are also illustrated 
by numerous clauses and provisions of the law to 
which we now have to turn. For damage caused to 
his field by negligent herdsmen in charge of cattle, 
the ' owner ' (ksetnka) is entitled to compensation, 
besides which fines are payable to the king. 28 The 
theft of fields is declared as well in the Smrtis as in 
the Artha^astra to be a penal offence. 29 Besides this, 
the theft of land (including fields) is branded as a 
great sin in the section of the Smrtis relating to 
penances. 30 Above all, the Smrti as well as the 
Arthagastra Law permits the sale, gift, and mort- 
gage of land (with a few restrictions in some cases) 
in the clearest terms. This may be illustrated by 
the following examples. Both Gautama 31 and 
Baudhayana 32 include land in a list of objects "that 
may be properly given away. Gautama, it is true, 
while mentioning the occupations of different castes 
in times of distress, quotes 33 the opinion of some who 
held land to be a forbidden article of traffic (apaiiya) 
for distressed Brahmanas. But this restriction, 
which evidently was not universally accepted even in 
Gautama's time, was entirely done away with in the 
later Smrtis. 34 Manu'a rule* 5 declaring a Brfch- 
mana's acceptance of unprepared fields to fee less 
blameable than that of prepared fields shows that the 



88 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

gift of both classes of land was known in his time. 
A special branch of law in the Artha&istra permits 
the sale of immovable property (vastu) subject to 
the restriction that kinsmen are to have preference 
over neighbours and these again over the creditors, 
while outsiders should come last. 36 In this connec- 
tion a definite procedure is laid down for the sale of 
homestead lands as well as fields, gardens, irrigation- 
works and embanked reservoirs. In the same con- 
text the Artha^astra lays down the rule that tax- 
payers and the Brahmana holders of revenue-free 
lands (brahmadeyikas) should sell or mortgage only 
to their respective classes, 37 this provision being 
doubtless intended to safeguard the interests of the 
royal treasury against fraudulent transfers* The 
Arthagastra also allows full rights of sale and mort- 
gage to the founders and restorers of irrigation 
works (setu) The right of sale is also conceded by 
Brhaspati and Narada 39 who declare both movable 
(jaflgama) and immovable (sthavara) property to be 
vendible commodities (panya). It is interesting to 
remark in this connection that two of Brhaspati 's 
seven classes of legal documents are concerned with 
the gift and sale of landed property. 40 The Smrtis 41 
mention two kinds of pledges (&dhi), namely, usable 
(bhtigya, sopakara, etc.) and unusable (gopya), of 
which the former comprises lands, houses and so 
forth. The lease of fields is implied by the rule of 
ipastamba, Vyasa and Brhaspati entitling the owner 
of a field to compensation for Ipss caused by an in- 
coming tenant. 42 The Artha&istra refers not only 
to the lease of dwelling-houses, 4 ^ but also 



LECTURE V 

that of wells, rivers, tanks, rice-fields and 
gardens. 44 

From a careful consideration of the foregoing 
facts it will appear that the system of the Brahmani- 
cal law not only has a clear notion of the concept of 
ownership in general, but it also refers to the essen- 
tial qualities and attributes of private ownership of 
land. Such ideas and notions evidently gathered force 
and strength from the fact that institution of private 
property went back to the oldest times to which the 
history of the Indo- Aryans can be traced. It remains 
for us to show that the references in the general 
literature and in the inscriptions, as far as they go, 
are entirely in agreement with the evidence of the 
Sacred Law. In the Pali canonical literature which 
may be taken roughly to reflect the conditions in 
Eastern India from the 5th to the 4th century B.C., 
we have several instances of private! donations of 
lands to the Buddhist order. Among such examples 
may be mentioned the donations of pleasure-gardens 
by the physician Jivaka at Eajagrha, by the courte- 
san Ambapali at Vai&ili and above all by the 
merchant Sudatta (surnamed Anathapindika) at 
Sravastl. 45 In the last-named example the garden 
is granted by the donor after purchase from Prince 
Jeta, thus furnishing an instance of a double process 
of private transfer. Reference may be made in this 
connection to a Jfitaka story 46 which mentions how a 
Brahmana of the Magadha country gave a portion of 
his cultivated field to another. It is also not without 
significance that the Pali works sometimes 47 refer to 
the owners of fields (khettasamika). Turning tdthe 

12 



90 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

evidence of the inscriptions, we have two records of 
private transfers of land in the region of Western 
India during the early centuries of the Christian era 
when the country was ruled by the Ksaharatas and 
the Satavfthanas. In the one case 48 Dharmanandin, 
son of a Buddhist lay- worshipper (upasaka), gave 
away a field for the benefit of some ascetics living in 
one of the Nasik caves. In the other instance 49 
Usavadata, son-in-law of the Satrap Nahapana, 
purchased from a Brahmana for three thousand coins 
(k&rsapanas) a field formerly belonging to the Brah- 
mana's father. We may next refer to two records 60 
belonging to the Kangra district of the Punjab which 
bear a date corresponding to 804 A.C. These men- 
tion a number of donations made in favour of a Sivite 
temple, among which are comprised the following 
gifts made by private individuals : 

1. Half a plough of land in a certain village 

which was given by a Brahmana, 

2. A plough of land given by a merchant 

for the court-yard of tEe temple, 

3. Four ploughs of land in a certain village 

that were given by the two merchants 
who built the temple. 

Of mush greater, not to say unique, importance 
are two records of the time of the Gurjara-Pratihara 
Emperors of Ka&ouj, which relate to the gift of 
lapds by town corporations. In the first which is 
and is concerned with the ancient 



LECTURE V 01 

town of Gopadri (modern Gwalior) 81 the whole town 
(samastasthdna) makes a gift of a piece of land 
(bhumikkatyfa) in one village and two fields (k$etra) 
in another in favour of certain temples, and both the 
villages are expressly declared to be in its own posses- 
sion (svabhujyamdna). As the fields are said to be 
cultivated by named persons at the time of the grant, 
we have here an instance of leases by public bodies. 
In the other record 52 which is the well-known Siya- 
doni inscription we are told in the course of a long 
list of private donations in favour of templefe that in 
fflxa the whole town (sakdaslbana) made a 
gift of a field of which the length and breadth are 
specified according to the current hasta measure. 

In connection with the private donations of 
lands above-mentioned it might be argued that they 
belonged largely, if not wholly,, to the class of Assign- 
ments granted by kings with full rights of alienation, 
and not to the category of lands held independently 
by private owners. Some support is given to this 
supposition by the fact that the donors in some of 
the above instances belong to those very classes to 
whom grants or assignments of land were habitually 
made by the ruling authorities in ancient times, 
namely, the Brahmanas and the officials. On the 
other hand, it will be observed thai other donations 
are made by professional classes and even 1 
tions. On the whole it seems reasoi 
specially in view of the express rule^ 
and the Artha&astra permitting the 
land, that the donors in the above 
in some instances original owners 



02 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

A word may be said in the present place about 
the status of the cultivators of the soil in the clan- 
monarchies of the type afterwards prevalent in 
Rajputana, which we have traced back in an earlier 
lecture to the period of the Gurjara-Pratiharas. To 
judge from the strong sense of proprietary right 
that has survived among the peasantry in some 
Bajput States down to our own times, 63 it may 
reasonably be concluded that the same 1 right was 
claimed by their predecessors in' the clan-monarchies 
of earlier times. On the other hand, there is little 
doubt that the Chiefs' allotments were not here- 
ditary, but were granted to the individual possessors 
perhaps for life. This is shown not only by later 
instances from the history of the Bajput States, 64 
but also by the significant fact that such allotments 
as a rule are described in the numerous land-grants 
that we have analysed as being in the donor's own 
possession, and not as being handed down from his 
ancestors. 66 

We have now traced with the help of the legal 
literature as well as the historical records the deve- 
lopment of the concept of private ownership of land 
after the period of the Vedic Samhitas and the 
Brahman as. Let us now turn to the parallel con- 
cept of the king's prerogative over the soil, of which 
the* foundations were laid likewise in the early Vedic 
period. Beginning our account with the Artha&Lstra 
which, as usual, alone treats the subject with com- 
pleteness, we find that although it does not endorse 
in the fashion of the Aitareya Brahmana the king's 
unlimited claim of taxing the cultivators, it mentions 



LECTtJBB V 

certain special rights exercised by him over the 
revenu6-paying peasantry (karadas). Thus the 
king, as has been mentioned elsewhere, 56 is 
entitled in the case of colonized lands to 
evict those who have neglected to cultivate 
their fields. Again, in times of grave emergency 
the king's officers are permitted as a last resource 
to raise funds from the cultivators by the com- 
pulsory raising of a second crop from the fields. In 
the second place the Artha^astra introduces us to 
royal farms in connection with its classification of 
the heads of revenue. 67 Considering how a passage of 
the Satapatha Brahmana already mentioned ap- 
parently hints at the arbitrary disposal of tribal 
lands by the kings, 68 it is tempting to suggest that 
such lands in course of time were converted into the 
private estates of the Crown, and to identify these 
last with the royal farms of the Artha^astra. What- 
ever that may be, the above reference makes it clear 
that considerable tracts of agricultural land in the 
time of the Artha^astra were owned by the State. 
Above all the ArthaSastra attributes to the king 
certain specific rights over land, which may be con- 
veniently classified as follows : 

1. Right over the unoccupied waste, com- 
prising both the cultivable and the 
barren land. 69 The Artha^Sstra, as 
we have mentioned elsewhere, lays 
down elaborate rules for the settlement 
of new, or old but since deserted, 
tracts of country, 



94 THE AGRABIAK SYSTEM IN ANdENf 

2. Eight over waters. According to the 

Artha^astra the king is the owner of 
fish, aquatic animals and green vege- 
tables from irrigation-works (setu), in 
so far as these form articles of 
merchandise, 60 

3. Eight over mines. In the ArthaSastra 

mines (including salt-works) are held 
to be a State monopoly, and they are 
required to be worked directly by the 
State officers or else let out on lease, 61 

4. Eight over forests. In the Artha6astra 

forests form an independent head of 
revenue comprising three distinct 
branches, namely, those meant for 
game, for useful products of various 
kinds and for the rearing of 
elephants, 62 

5. Eight to the treasure-trove (nidhi). The 

Artha6astra includes treasure-trove in 
a list of royal receipts, while it lays 
down elaborate rules relating to the 
acquisition of the same by the king. 63 

The Smytis contain few specific references to the 
royal rights over land. Like the Arthagastra they 
contemplate the treasure-trove in general as belong- 
ing to the king. 64 Visnu like Kauftlya contemplates 
the mines as being a Government monopoly, but 
other authorities require the mines to be worked by 
private agency subject to the payment of a tax. 65 A 



LECTURE V 95 

special jurisdiction over the revenue-paying cultiva- 
tors is suggested by a rule of Manu 66 according to 
which the cultivator who allows his crops to be des- 
troyed through his own fault is liable to ten or five 
times the value of the government revenue (bhaga). 
Of a more general character is the right claimed for 
the king in a passage of Brhaspati, 67 namely, that of 
transferring lands in certain circumstances from one 
individual owner to another. In this passage 
Brhaspati, while treating the case of land which is 
taken away from one village and added to another 
by the action of a great river or of the king, first 
declares that the land so given belongs to him who 
receives it. For, as he says, fate as well as the 
action of kings rules the lives and fortunes of men, 
and hence what is done by them should not be trans- 
gressed. In the immediately following lines, how- 
ever, Brhaspati considerably modifies his position, 
for he says that what is done by the king out of anger 
or greed or trickery and what is given to another out 
of undue favour should not be given effect to, while 
what is taken away by the king from one possessing 
the land without a title and is given to another of 
superior merit should not be transgressed. 

The historical records of Northern India, frag- 
mentary and imperfect as they afe, illustrate from 
time to time the king's prerogatives with reference 
to the land, which, so far as they go, agree with the 
evidence of the Smrtis and the Artha^astra. Refer- 
ences to the royal farms or allotments in the villages 
which were often let out to tenants are to be found, 
as we have seen, in the extant records of the Mauryas, 



96 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

the Guptas, the Palas, the Paramaras, and other 
dynasties of Northern India. 68 The clauses of the 
land-grants dating from the time of the Satavahanas 
frequently show that the Government claimed the 
monopoly of salt. 69 The Gupta inscriptions in 
North Bengal show that in Eastern India the Gov- 
ernment claimed the right of disposing of the waste 
lands during the fifth and sixtfi centuries, 70 while the 
inscription of Lokanatha in the early part of the 7th 
century points to the State ownership of forests in 
the region of Eastern Bengal, 71 It may also be men- 
tioned in this connexion that the formulae of the land 
grants assigning the treasures and deposits to the 
donee show that treasure-trove was generally held to 
belong to the king. 

A careful consideration of the above facts leaves 
no room for doubt that they do not amount to royal 
or State ownership of the soil. 71 * Alike in the 
ArthaSastra and in the historical records the king's 
private estates are sharply distinguished from the 
general mass of agricultural lands which are charged 
with the burden of the land-revenue and attendant 
cesses. 78 The king's claim to supersede or fine 
negligent cultivators and to enforce the cultivation 
of a second crop in emergencies is to be connected 
with his sovereign authority, and not with his pro- 
prietary right, for, as we have seen above, private 
ownership of land in its essential features is recog- 
nised by our authorities, 72 * The apparently sweep- 
ing rule of Brhaspati is explained by the author in 
such a fashion as explicitly to deny the king the right 
of arbitrary transfer of the villagers'- holdings. 



LBCTUBB V 9T 

Finally, it may be mentioned that the group of the 
king's specific rights in relation to the land has its 
parallel in the regalian rights of the sovereign in the 
European States of the Middle Ages, and like the 
latter it doubtless served only to restrict 'the full 
exercise of the rights of the private owners. 73 

We are now in a position to understand the true 
significance of some famous texts of the ancient 
authorities imputing to the king in unequivocal 
terms the lordship of the soil. We begin with Manu 
who justifies 74 the king's levy of one-half of ancient 
hoards and of metals found underground by declaring 
that the king is the lord of the soil (bhumer-adhi- 
patir-hi sah). 7 ** The meaning of the last clause is 
explained in the clearest terms by the famous com- 
mentator Medhatithi who says that the king is the 
lord (prdbhu) of the soil, and should get a share of 
fhat which is produced from the land belonging to 
him (tadlyayd bhuvo yallabdham tatra yuktam tosya 
bhagadanam). Of a similar nature is the text quoted 
by Bhattasyamin (apparently from a Smrti work) 
in course of his commentary on a rule of the Artha- 
6astra requiring the cultivators on the king's farms 
to pay water-rates of varying amounts for irrigation. 
" By those versed in the sacred books," so runs this 
text, 75 " the king is declared to be the lord (pati) of 
land us well as water : with regard to other things 
the house-holders Ckutumbin) have the right ^of 
ownership (sv&mya). " More elaborate, as involv- 
ing not only the king's lordship of the soil, but also 
his constructive lordship ovefr his subjects, is the 
view of Katyayana. 76 The king, we were told, has 

13 



98 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

always been declared to be the lord (svamiri) of the 
soil and not of other things, for otherwise, (that is, 
as the commentator Mitrami^ra explains, in the 
event of absence of the lordship of the soil), he would 
not receive $ of the resulting product. Since the 
creatures inhabit the land, Katyayana goes on, the 
king is also declared thereby to be their lord, and thus 
he acquires the right to the agricultural tax (bali) 
arising from their action. 77 With the trend of these 
doctrines agree the views, whether implied or ex- 
pressed, of the foreign observers dating from the 
fourth century B.C. to the seventh century A.C. 
Thus Megasthenes, according to the two principal 
versions in which this part of his account has come 
down to us, declares unequivocally that the whole 
land in India was the property of the Crown. Again, 
Fa Hian at the beginning of the fifth century, and 
Hiuen Tsang in the second quarter of the seventh, 
used the significant expression ' royal land ' for the 
whole territory of the State. This may be taken 
to imply that as in contemporary China the State in 
India was held to be the owner of the soil. 78 

The above statements of the authorities on Law 
and Polity have been authoritatively held 79 to estab- 
lish the position that the land in Ancient India was 
owned in fact by the king. We may, however, well 
doubt the correctness of this view without repeating 
the evidence from the Sacred Law and the historical 
records given above. For, in the first place, the state- 
ments are laid down not as definite heads of law, but 
as arguments for justifying or explaining the king's 
right to fesvy specific branches of the revenue from 



LBCTUBB V W9 

land. They are, in other words, essentially of the 
nature of legal maxims in whose general and compre- 
hensive character they fully share. How inconclu- 
sive the doctrine of the king's ownership of the soil is 
even in the eyes of the authorities concerned, will 
best appear from one of the examples above- 
mentioned. In the text of Manu declaring the king 
to be the lord of the soil, he is constrained to refer 
to the traditional view of the taxes being the king's 
fee for protection as an additional argument for sup- 
porting his case, while he advances on behalf of the 
Brahmanas in the same context the still more sweep- 
ing claim to be ' the owners of everything/ a claim 
which indeed goes back to the period of the later 
Samhitas. As regards the opinion of the foreign 
observers on the present point, it may be said that 
Megasthenes's statement has not obtained much 
credence even from those who believe in the State 
ownership of the soil in Ancient India, while the 
testimony of the Chinese pilgrims is only implicit in 
its character. Perhaps the sole importance of the 
foreign notices lies in the fact that they definitely 
fix the periods of time during which the doctrine of 
the king's ownership of the soil was known in 
ancient times. 

By far the clearest exposition of the question 
regarding the ownership of the soil in ancient times 
is found in the works on Mlmamea which go back 
probably to the fifth century of the Christian era, 
and extend far down into the mediaeval period. The 
starting-point of the problem is the well-known 
passage of Jaimini's Mimamsa-sutras which states 



100 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

that the land is not to be given because it is common 
to all. 80 This is stated in the course of a discussion 
as to the things that may be given away as sacrificial 
fee at the VUvajit sacrifice where the sacrificer is 
required to give away all his belongings. Com- 
menting on this text Savara (c. fifth century A.C.) 
formulates a number of principles which were des- 
tined to be extended by other Mimamsa writers in 
subsequent times. Men enjoy lordship, he says, 
with respect to fields, but not with regard to the 
whole earth. The paramount ruler (sarvabhauma) 
is in this respect on the same footing as other men, 
the only difference between them being that he is 
entitled over and above to a certain share as his 
remuneration (nirvista) for protecting the rice and 
other crops. He is, however, not the lord of the 
soil (bhumi).** This important extract clearly dis- 
tinguishes between the State lands and the private 
lands on the ground that the former unlike the latter 
are incapable of being owned by anybody. More- 
over, it carefully analyses the essential quality of 
sovereignty which is held to involve the levy of taxes 
as the price of protection but not ownership. A 
passing reference to these ideas is found in a passage 
of the famous commentary on the Manusamhita by 
Medhatithi (c. ninth century), where he discusses 
the question whether land is capable of being given 
or taken away. 82 The next important reference is 
found in the Ng&yamdlavistara, a commentary on 
the MlmaifcaSrsutras from the pen of the renowned 
Madhava (fl. fourteenth century). His commentary 
On the above-named sutra of Jaimini may be sum- 



LECTURE V 101 

marised as follows. To the argument that the king 
might give away the State territory (mahabhumi) , 
he replies that it is not his property (svam) because 
protection of the kingdom involves sovereignty 
(rajya). Again, he conjures up the argument that 
the paramount ruler can give away the State terri- 
tory because in accordance with the maxim of 
Gautama Dharma^astra the land is his property 
(dhana). To this he replies in the following way. 
The Smrti text, he says, means that the king's lord- 
ship exists for suppressing the wicked and support- 
ing the virtuous : land is not the king's property 
(dhana) but the common property (sadharanam 
dhanam) of all creatures living thereon ; hence al- 
though private (asadharana) land can be given away, 
there can be no gift of the State land. 83 Here, it 
will be observed, the State land is distinguished from 
private land on the ground of its being incapable of 
individual ownership. Moreover the essential 
quality of sovereignty is explained as before to mean 
solely the exercise of the functions of Government. 
Next we come to Khandadeva (fl. first half of the 
seventeenth century), who wrote an important 
commentary on the Mimarhisa-sutras called the 
Bha^tadlpika. In this work he thus comments on 
the Sutra of Jaimini above-mentioned. In reply to 
an argument that the State land (mah&bhumi) can 
be given away by the paramount ruler because it is 
his property (dhana), it is stated that even the para- 
mount ruler has no proprietary right (svatva) over 
this land. Tor conquest even produces proprietary 
right only with regard to movables and immovables 



102 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM W ANCIENT INDIA 

owned by the enemy (fatrusvdmika) , while in so 
far as the State land is concerned it produces only 
the title of sovereignty (rajya). Now sovereignty 
consists only in protecting one's own kingdom and 
rooting out the thorns and for this purpose the 
collection of taxes from cultivators and fines 
from offenders, but no proprietary right to the land 
arises therefrom. When, however, property is 
acquired by purchase and so forth, it may certainly 
become an object of gift. 84 In the above passage it 
will be noticed, the ideas of the earlier Mimamea 
writers are expressed in the clearest terms. In so 
far as the State land is concerned, it is now clearly 
stated that the king is entitled only to sovereignty, 
while his proprietary right extends only to the 
specific possessions that he acquires by conquest, by 
purchase and so forth. These ideas are practically 
paraphrased by Nllakantha (c. latter half of the 
seventeenth century) in his Vyavaharamayukha 85 
which forms the legal section of his voluminous 
Digest called the Bhagavantabhaskara. He treats 
this point in the course of a discussion of the text of 
Gautama relating to the sources of ownership. In so 
far as the Ksatriya's sources of ownership are con- 
cerned, he observes that even conquest produces pro- 
prietary right only in respect of the movables and 
immovables belonging to the conquered. Where 
the conquered has only the right of taking the taxes, 
that only is acquired by the conqueror,, and not the 
ownership. Proprietary right with regard to the 
villages, fields and so forth, Nilakan^ha goes on, 
belongs to their respective possessors (bhaumika), 



LECTURE V 108 

and the king is entitled only to take the taxes. 
Therefore what is now technically called the gift of 
fields and so forth, the author states, amounts 
not to the gift of the land, but to the provision of 
allowances for subsistence. When, however, the 
houses, fields and so forth are purchased from the 
possessors, proprietary right certainly arises therein. 
Thus the king acquires thereby the merit of a real 
gift of land. 



ABBBEVIATIONS 

Ap. -Apastamba Dharmasutra. 

Baudh. Baudhayana Dharmasutra. 

Brh. Brhaspati Smrti. 

CHI. Cambridge History of India, Vol. I. 

Dhp. 

Commy. Dhammapada Commentary, P.T.8. ed. 
DN. Dlgha Nikaya. 

EB. Encyclopaedia Britannica. 

El. Epigraphia Indica. 

Gaut. Gautama Dharmafiastra. 
GI. Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, Vol. III. 

Inscriptions of the Early Gupta Kings and 

their Successors. By J. P. Fleet. 
GIF. Geschichte der indischen Litteratur. Von Dr. M. 

Winternitz. 
HPT. A History of Hindu Political Theories. By 

U. N. Ghoshal. 
HES Contributions to the History of the Hindu 

Eevenue System. By U. N. Ghoshal. 
IA. Indian Antiquary. 

IHQ. Indian Historical Quarterly, ed. Narendranath 

Law. 

JASB. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. 
Jat. Jataka Commentary (ed. Fausboll). 

Nar. Narada Smrti. 

SB. Satapatha Brahmaria. 

SBE. Sacred Books of the East Series. 
SMC, Smrtichandrika, Vyavaharakandam, Pt. I, ed. 

L. Srlnivisucharya, Mysore, 1914. 
TS. Taittiriya Samhita. 

Yaj. Yajfiavalkya Smrti. 

VAS. Vasistha Dharmasutra. 
Vi, Visi^u Smrti. 

VI. Vedic Index of Names and Subjects. By 

A. A. MacDonell and A. B. Keith. 
VVM. Vyavaharamayukha of Bha$a Nilakan^ha, ed. 

P. V. Kane, Bombay, 1926, 



NOTES 

LECTUEB I. 

1 Cf. Hermann Hirt, Die Indogermanen I, 251 ff . ; Otto 
Schrader, Reallexikon der Indogermanischen Altertums- 
kunde, s.v. Ackerbau, Familie, Stamm, Viehzucht; V. 
Gordon Childe, The Aryans, pp. 82-84; Vinogradoff, Out- 
lines of Historical Jurisprudence, Vol. I, pp. 220 ff. 

* See VI, s.v. Dasa for references. Cf. CHI, p. 86. 

8 Cf. CHI, pp. 99-JLOO. Also see the list of agricultural 
terms in English Index of VI (ibid, Vol. II, p. 571). 

* Cf. VI, s.v. Grama Jana, Vis; CHI, p. 91. All these 
terms bear a perplexing variety of senses. For the meaning 
of grama, see VI, s.v. Grama and Jana, and CHI, loc. cit., 
where reasons are shown for rejecting the older view of 
Zimmer (Altindisches Leben, pp. 159-160), namely that the 
Grama was a clan standing midway between the family 
and the tribe. 

5 For some typical views regarding the oldest type of 
the Indian village derived from experience of modern land- 
tenures, compare the following. According to C. L. 
Tupper (Punjab Customary Law, Vol. n, Introduction) the 
Punjab tribal customs completely corroborate the conclu- 
sions of Maine and de Laveleye that collective property 
preceded. several ownership. In particular, he thinks that 
the zemindari, the paftiddri, and bhdidchdra villages of the 
Punjab represent the successive stages in the evolution of 
the village. On the other hand Baden-Powell (Indian 
Village Community) holds that in India the village of 
separate holdings preceded and did not follow the type of 
the joint village. Kecently Professor Vinogradoff (op. cit., 
pp. 325-326) has set forth the view that of the three types 
of villages known to Modern India, namely, the r&iyatwdri, 

14 



106 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA: 

tke temindari and the patfidari, the last alone bears the 
stamp of the greatest antiquity. 

* See "VI, s.v. urvara and fcaetra (meaning ' plough- 
land ') And khila or khilya (' grass-land ' lying on the 
boundaries of the plough-lands). Also compare CHI, p. 90, 

7 See VI, s.v. Rdjan, and CHI, pp. 94-95, 98. 

8 See CHI, pp. 96-97, p. 180. 

I See VI, s.v. Ratnin and Gramanl; cf. CHI, pp. 91, 
180-181. 

w In the Vedic Samhitas and the Brahmanas bali is 
used in the sense of (a) contributions paid by the subjects 
to the king, (6) tribute paid by the conquered enemies, and 
(c) offerings made to the gods. Cf. VI, s.v. bait. 

II C/. HES, pp. 4, 5, 8. 

u Atharta Veda, IV, 22. Cf. HES, p. 6. 

Ibid, IH, 29. Cf. HRS, p. 5. 

" TS, II, 1, 1, 2. 

Ibid, H, 3, 2. 

M Ibid, 8, 9, 2. 

17 SB, XHI, 7, 1, 16, Eggeling's tr. (SEE, Vol. 44, 
pp. 420-421). 

Cf. HES, pp. 18-14. 

11 For the important reference to the gay,a or republican 
type of constitution in the Mahabharata, see ibid, XII, 107. 

C//HBS, pp/149-150. 

11 See HES, pp. 44, 152. 

See HES, p. 58. 

* For explanation and references, see HES, pp. 59-62. 
*Ibid, pp. 59-60, 64-65. 

w See HES, p. 68, for reference. 
See ibid, p. 59. 

v For discussion of this point with references, see ibid, 
pp, 182 and n. 

See HES, p. 188. 
Bam. II, 100 and MahS. II, 5. 
t Yaj. I, 878. 

* See BBS, pp. 168-159, for reference. 



SOTfiS 107 

w Bam. n, 100, 82-88; Maha, II, 5, 48-49. 

83 Cf. HPT, pp. 80-81. 

84 See HE8, pp. 27 ff., for reference. 

88 Bee HRS, pp. 29-84, for a full account of the subject. 

86 Cf. ibid, p. 82. 

87 For definition and references see W. H. Moreland, 
The Agrarian System of Moslem India, pp. 8, 140-141. 

88 Reference in HES, pp. 30-81, 88. 

89 Of. ibid, p. 88. 

40 See HRS, pp. 34-40, for full account with references. 

41 See ibid, pp. 46-53. 

43 The term ' Measurement ' is used in the text in the 
same technical sense as in Moreland, p. 7. 

48 Cf. HRS, p. 86. To the references there given add 
the following passages from Artha6astra, II, 8: ' Purvam 
siddham patchadavataritam,' l paichat siddham purvama- 
vataritam,' and * anyataiddham anyatkrtam,' which accord- 
ing to the commentator refer to different rates of assess- 
ment for different crops. 

44 See HRS, pp. 125-128 for full account with reference. 
See ibid, pp. 48-51. 

46 For reference see HRS, p. 87. 
47 II, 8. 

48 H, 1. 

49 Ekapurusikam in the original. This is here translated 
as ' for one generation ' on the analogy of the terms 
pauru$l, dvipaurusl and tripaurusl, bhukti in the Smrtis, 
meaning ' possession for one, two and three, generations ' 
respectively. Cf. Jolly, Recht und Sitte, Eng. tr., p. 201. 

50 See HRS, p. 68, for reference. 

61 The reference is to the phrase rdjftatcha patni- 
putrdnam ratnabh&mil&bham in Artha&astoa, H, 7. 

M The reference is to the preceding phrase rfrjopajivi- 
n&m pragraha-pradeta-bhoga-parihdra-bhakta-vetana-ldbham 
where pradeia is translated in the sense of allotment and 
bhoga in the sense of usufruct in Meyer's German tr. of 
the work. , 



108 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

*Cf. HB8, p. 45. 

M See HE8, p. 46, for full description with reference. 

tt See ibid, pp. 45-46, for a fuller consideration of this 
point. 

66 See ibid, pp. 154-156, for full description and refer- 
ence. 

87 Artha6astra, V, 8. 

68 Bee ibid, III, 10, for reference. 

68 See HES, pp. 66-67. 



LECTUEE H. 

1 See PTS Dictionary, s.v. ball and cf. Fick, Die Socialc 
Gliedemng (Eng. tr., p. 116). 

8 Cf. Jat, Vol. Ill, p. 9, which mentions how a king, 
in order to induce his unknown benefactor to coma to court, 
enhanced the bali three times in succession upon the village 
where the latter resided, with the result that his fellow- 
villagers persuaded him to see the king for remission of 
the tax. 

3 In the canonical story of the creation of kingship (DN, 
Vol. Ill, pp. 84-96) the people agree to pay- to King ' Great 
Elect ' one-sixth of the produce of their fields as his reward 
for protection (cf. HPT, p. 66). 

* Cf, Jat, Vol. V, p. 98, ibid, p. 240, etc. 

5 In J&t, Vol. IV, p. 862, the class of Brahma^as 
coming to the villages and towns and refusing to quit them 
unless given a gift, is compared to the tax-collectors 
(niggtiMka*). For the oppression of the tax-collectors, cf. 
Jat, Vol. V, pp. 98 & 

Jat, Vol. IV, p. 109. 
7 See Moreland, p. 7. 



KOTES 



6 The shorter version of the story occurs in the Dhp. 
Commy, Book XXV 2a, and the longer version in the Jat. 
Commy, Vol. Ill, p. 380. See HES, pp. 58-56, for a full 
description of this subject, and cf. Fick, pp. 116-117. 

See ibid, Vol. I, pp, 87, 111, 114, 127, 131, etc. 

10 Cf. the following extract from Sumafigalavilasini (on 
DN, III, 1, 1: " rdjaladdham bhoggam rdjabhoggam . . 
Brahmadeyyan ti setjhadeyyam, chattam ussdpetvd raja- 
samkhepe bhunjitabban ti attho. Atha vd rdjabhoggan ti 
sabbam chejja-bhejjam anusdaayantena nadl-titjha-pabbatd- 
disu sunke gahantena setacahattam ussdpetvd rannd hutvd 
bhufljitabbam. . . Brahmadeyyan ti setthadeyyam, yathd 
dinnam na puna gahetabbam hoti." 

11 See Dial, of the Buddha, Vol. I, p. 108, etc. 

12 See Jat, Vol. H, p. 166, Dhp. Commy, Vol. Ill, 
p. 125. This class of grants may be regarded as the ancient 
Indian parallel of the Moslem institution of the dltamgha 
or grant-under-seal which was concerned with the king's 
grant, in favour of a deserving officer, of the village or 
pargand where he was born. (See Moreland, pp. 127-128.) 

13 Jat, Vol. II, p. 237, ibid, p. 403. 
M Ibid, Vol. V, p. 44. 

16 Ibid, Vol. I, p. 354, Vol. Ill, p. 229, Vol. VI, pp. 
261, 394. 

* Ibid, Vol. H, p. 403, and Vol. in, p. 229. 

17 See Moreland, pp. 56, 209. 

18 See HES, pp. 167-170, for reference with a full 
account. 

w See Bernhard Breloer, Kautaliya-Studien, 1, 52 ff. 
a>HBS, pp. 171-172. 
81 HES, p. 167. 

** Cf. the following extract from Megasthenes' account 
of the fifth Indian caste, that "of warriors: " The entire 
force men-at-arms, war-horses, war-elephants and all are 
maintained at the king's expense " (Diodorus). A similar 
account is given in the versions of Strata and Arrian. See 
Monahan, Early Hi$tory of Bengal, pp. 148, 144, 160. 



110 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

El, YEH, 6. 

* Cf. HBS, p. 189. 

15 These are conveniently collected together in El, VU, 
7, and ibid, VIII, 8. 

* El, Yin, 7, No. 18. Ibid, VIII, 8, No. 10. 
El, VILE, 8, No. 4. 

18 See HES, p. 188. 

The reference is to El, VIII, 7, No. 14, where the 
concluding words were read by Senart as sakarukara sadeya- 
meya, and interpreted by him as equivalent to sodranga 
eoparikara sadhanya-hiranyddeya of the later land-grants. 

El, VHI, 8, No. 4. 
31 Ibid, No. 5, 
O/. HBS, p. 187. 
33 El, VIII, 8, No. 3. 

* El, VHI, 8. 

36 For the history of the Pallavas see now B. Gopalan, 
The Pattavas of Kanchi (Madras, 1928). The Pallava ins- 
criptions are conveniently arranged in chronological order in 
ibid, App. A. The eighteen immunities are mentioned in 
El, I, 1. 

86 For notices of the dynasty see Jouveau-Dubreuil, 
Ancient History of the Decean, gp. 84-88, etc. For the 
record of Jayavarman see El, VI, 81. 

37 Notices of the dynasty in Jouveau-Dubreuil, p. 89, 
Gopalan, pp. 78-76. For the inscription of Vijayadeva- 
varman see El, IX, 7. 

38 See El, XV, pp. 248-249. 
^lA, V, 12. 

EI, Vm, 28. 
GI,,No. 60. 

43 See HBS, pp. 191-192, for reference and description. 
See HBS, pp. 210-211. 
^ " See ibid, .pp. 196-209, for reference. 

#;For the dynasties of Bundelkhand see HBS, pp. 
209-215. Tjbe terms udr&bga and uparikara are explained, 



NOTES 111 

ibid, pp. 210-211. Grants of portions of villages are record- 
ed in GI, No. 23, IA, VIII, 8, ibid, 28. 

* El, II, 80; No, 452, in Kielhorn's List of the Inscrip- 
tions of Northern India (El, V, App.). 

El, X, B. 

El, XV, 16, Nos. 1 and 2. 

49 See HES, p. 215, for full account with reference. 

50 Eeference with full account in HES, p. 216. For 
the evidence of separate assessment, see El, IX, 45, men- 
tioning the kfcg's gift of one hundred nivartanas of land in 
a specified village in favour of a certain Brahman a. 

61 Eeference with full account in HES, pp. 217-222. 

68 See ibid, pp. 193-195. All the land-grants of the 
Vakatakas except GI, No. 56, mention akaradayl (' exempt 
from kara ') in the list of immunities granted to the donee. 
Among the immunities is included an obscure term called 
t&kloyaldvto'h, which has been translated by some as ' with 
fixed and unfixed taxes.' For the use of bhumi measure in 
the Vakataka grants, see El, III, 35, and GI, No. 55, of 
which the last has in addition the term ' the royal measure ' 
(rdjamana). For reference to the Sasana-tthiti, see GI, 65. 



LECTUBE HI. 

1 See HES, pp. 223-224, for reference. 

2 For reference with full account see ibid, pp. 225-226, 
228-229. 

8 See ibid, p. 215. 
See El, IX, 40. 
* 5 See HES, p. 224. 
See ibid, pp. 229-230. 
7 For reference see IA, XIH, 28, 
H; ibid, V, 5. 



112 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

* Full account with references in HBS, pp. 281-288. 

Ibid, p. 280. 
"El, XH, 28. 

a GI, No. 41; El, IX, 21 and 39. 

HBS, p. 242.. 

"For the clan-monarchies of Bajputana and their 
antecedents, see Baden-Powell, Land Systems, Vol. I, p. 
250; ibid, Indian Village Community, pp. 196 ff . 

" El, XIV, Pt. II and Pt. IV, No. 1. 

16 El, XIV, Pt. in. 

El, IX, 1 A and B. 

"El, H, 12. 

El, HI, 86. 

El, I, 80. 

El, I, 21. 

El, IV, 44 A. 

El, IX, 1A. 

El, XIV, 13, Pt. I. 

El, XIX, 2. 

El, IX A and B; El, XIV, 13, Pts. I and II. 

El, HI, 36, El, XIV, 13, Pt. II. Of. HBS, pp. 
236-288. 

El, I, 21. 

EI, I, 20, No. H. 

El, HI, 9, ibid, 17, El, VI, 28. 

El, VII, 6, cf. HBS, p. 241. 

" Beference in HBS, pp. 240-2411 

HBS, pp. 241-242. 

El, II, 8. 

M See HBS, pp. 250-251, for reference. 

El, XI, 19. 

El, XII, 20. Cf. HBS, p. 247. 

Seft HBS, pp. 242-246, for a full account with refer- 
ences. Beference to the measurement of land occurs in 
El,.. XV, 18. The Manahali grarit of Madanapala (JASB, 
1900) refers to a vimiatika bhftmi meaning probably an area 
of twenty unmanas of land. For reference to Gramapati and 



NOTES 118 

K 9 etrapa see IA, XV, ibid, XXI, El, XIV, 28, JA8B, 1900 
Reference to the Dd&agrdmika occurs in El, IV, No. 84. 

88 See HES, pp. 247-248, for a complete account with 
references. 



LECTUEE IV, 

1 For the more important references, see HBS, pp. 
252-256. Measurement, by seed-capacity is mentioned in 
El, XIV, 2, the description o a family of Kdyaathas in El, 
I, 80, No. H, and the grant of mrtyukavrtti in El, XVI, 20, 
Nos. I and II, 

* See HES, pp. 254-255, for reference. For grants by a 
Queen-Mother, a Queen-Eegnant, and a Crown Prince see 
El, H, 2, ibid. I, 81, and ibid, II, 12. 

s El, Vin, 9. 

* General references in HES, pp. 255-259. The new 
mdrgganakas and nidhdnaa are referred to in IA, VI and 
XXVII, the group of 42 villages is mentioned in IA, XVIII 
and that of 126 villages in El, I, 36. 

6 General references in HES, pp. 269-261. Villages 
held by a mahdaddhanika and a pratihdra are mentioned in 
IA, XIV and El, IX, 18 B. Groups of 42, 18, and 12 
villages are referred to in El, III, 7, ibid, IV, 20 and IA, 
XIV. 

8 See HES, p. 259, for reference. 

7 General references in HES, pp. 261-264. The grant 
of a village to the king's purohita and nine other Brahmanas 
is mentioned in El, IV, 11 S, and the ndluka measure 
occurs in El, V, 15 A and ibid, XIII, 20. The grant of a 
pattald (with stated exceptions) is recorded in El, XIV, 15. 

* El, IX, 9 B. 

* El, XI, 4, No. IV. 

* I bid, No. V. 

" Ibid, No. XVH. 

16 



114 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

Ibid. NOB. XV and XVI. 

EI, XIII, No. 18 B. 

M Ibid, A and C. 

" El, XI, 4, No. XVII. 

El, IX, 9 B. 

"El, VIII, 10. 

**Ibid, H, 28. 

"Ibid, V, 19. 

I6td, m, 44. 

11 See HB8, pp. 264-267. Annual assessment in cash 
IB mentioned in Nos. VII, VTEI, X, XI and App. No. 5 in 
N. G. Majumdar's Inscriptions of Bengal, Vol. III. The 
standard rate of fifteen purdnas for each drona area of land 
is mentioned in ibid, No. IX. 

23 See Moreland, The Agrarian System of Moslem India, 
f. 205, 

9 This was so especially the case that Kalidasa in his 
Sakuntala (Act V) applies the epithet sasthdMa-vftti ("one 
whose fee is one-sixth ") as a synonym for kingship. 

* Cf. HES, p. 244 and n. 

See Baden-Powell, Land Systems, Vol. I, pp. 119, 
677; Vol. HI, p. 476. 

* Against the statement in the text it may be urged that 
Kalhana (Raj at., IV, 140 ft.) credits Lalitaditya Jayapida 
(c. 724-760 A.C.), one of the most famous kings of ancient 
Kashmir, with a remarkable political testament enjoining 
inter alia that there should not be left with the villagers 
more food-supply than was required for one year's con- 
sumption, nor more oxen than were required for the tillage 
of fields. This, however, as has already been remarked, 
is not a genuine historical document, but it reflects the 
personal opinion ol {Be chronicler based upon his painful 
experience of feudal misrule in the country in later times 
(see Stein, Raj at. tr., Introd., pp. 37-88). 

17 For references to oppressive taxation cf. Jat, Vol. V, 
pp. 98 ff., A*tha6astra n, 1 (containing a passage where the 
king is warned against excessive levy of fines, unpaid labour 



NOTES 115 

and taxes), and the Girnar rock inscription of Budradaman 
(where the periodical taxes, unpaid labour and benevolences 
are referred to as potential sources of financial oppression). 
* The foreign notices relating to the condition of the 
people in Ancient India may be enumerated as follows: 

(1) " The Indians all live frugally, specially when in 

camp . . . They lead happy lives, being 
simple in their manners and frugal.*' (Strabo, 
quoted in Monahan, Early History of Bengal, 
p. 166). 

(2) " The second caste consists of the husbandmen. 

. . . Being exempted from fighting and other 
public services, they devote the whole of their 
time to tillage; nor would an enemy coming 
upon a husbandman at work on his land, do 
him any harm, for men of this class, being 
regarded as public benefactors, are protected 
from all injury. The land, thus remaining 
unravaged, and producing heavy crops, 
supplies the inhabitants with all that is re- 
quisite to make life very enjoyable. " (Diodorus 
quoted in Monahan, p. 142.) Very similar are 
the versions of Strabo and Arrian (ibid, pp. 
144, 149). 

(3) " The people are prosperous and happy, without 

registration or official restrictions " (Fa Hian, 
Giles' tr., p. 20). 

(4) " Taxation being light and forced service being 

sparingly used, every one keeps to bis heredi- 
tary occupation, and looks after his family 
property." (Hiuen Tsang, Watters' tr., with 
his own amended rendering of the last extract, 
ibid, Vol. I, pp. 176-177). 



THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 



LECTUEE V. 

General: The question of ownership of the soil m 
Ancient India in relation to the title of the State to be 
regarded as the ultimate owner has been a subject of contro- 
versy among scholars and administrators almost from the 
beginning of 'British rule in this country. A valuable 
summary of the principal views on this point is found in 
the Report of the Indian Taxation Enquiry Committee 
(1924-1925), Vol. II, App. IV. To the above we may add 
the important contribution of Prof. E. W. Hopkins, who 
held (India , Old and New, p. 221) that while the land- 
revenue in Ancient India was a tax, the ownership in land 
was divided between the king and the individual or the 
family. In recent times a fresh impetus has been given to 
the controversy by Vincent Smith whose pronounced view 
(EHE, p. 90) in favour of the State ownership of the soil 
has been vigorously attacked by K. P. Jayaswal (Hindu 
Polity, Pt. n, pp. 174-188). 

1 Cf. Jan. St. Lewinski, The Origin of Property, pp. 
648. 

* See Maine, Village Communities in the East and 
West; ibid, The Early History of Institutions, etc.; 
Leveleye, Primitive Property (Eng. tr. by R. E. L. 
Marriott). 

8 Cf. Lewinski, Chap. H. 

4 See e.g., EB, 14th ed., s.v. Property, primitive. 
8 See VI, s.v. urvarH and ketra. Cf. Hopkins, op. cit., 
p. 209. 

* Cf. CHI, p. 180. 

* V, 8, 8, 12; arid, 4, 2, 8. With this may be compared 
the epithet frequently applied in the Brahmaijias to the king, 
namely that he is the devourer of his people. 

* Ibid, VI, 29, with Keith's tr. in CHI, p. 128. 

* Cf. VI, s.v. Rdjan, rejecting the- view of Hopkins, 
op. cit. t p. 202. 



KOTE8 



* VIII, 1, 73, 4. 

*a Prof. Keith (CHI, p. 132; c/. VI, Vol. II, p. 216) 
refers in this connection to the modern parallel of some 
tribes of West Africa among whom the land belongs to the 
whole tribe according to the customary law, but the Chiefs 
claim the right of disposing of them as absolute owners. 
Probably the same practice was in vogue also in Anglo- 
Saxon England during the transition from the folk-land into 
the terra regis. 

10 b According to VI, s.v. Grama, the king's right to ap- 
portion the land with the consent of the clan (as mentioned 
e.g., in the text of SB quoted above) contains the germ of 
the later State ownership of the soil. It is difficult to 
support this view, since the king's right of apportionment 
just mentioned is apparently concerned with the disposal 
of the public land as distinguished from the land held in 
private ownership by the freemen. 

11 See Jolly (Recht und Sitte, Eng. tr., p. 3 and n.). 

**Cf. Jolly, op. cit. t p. 196. In the Arthaastra, HI, 
8-10, reference is made to a grhasvdmin, while the epithets 
of svdmin and svamya are applied not only with regard to 
immovable property in general, but also to the fields (faetra), 
irrigation-works (setubandha), the wells (kupa) and so 
forth. On the medieval Germanic law with, regard to 
property, c/. the following, " The concept of ownership as 
the fullest right that one <san have on a thing, as ' a right 
directed to the dominion over a thing as an entirety,' was 
known from the earliest times, not merely to the Germanic 
law of chattels, but also to the Germanic land-law. ' Eigen, ' 
a substantive participle of the verb ' eigan ' = ' haben,' to 
have, is a word of the common Germanic stock that was 
applied to lands to indicate that they belonged to some- 
body, that they were objects ' had ' or held by somebody 
. . . The conception of ownership, however, had not by any 
means the sharp definition in the mediaeval land-law which 
is familiar to us in the Romanized modern law. In parti- 
cular, it was not in principle dissociated from and opposed 



118 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

to restricted real rights/' (Budolf Huebner, A History of 
Germanic Private Law, Eng. tr., pp. 227-228.) 

U JX, 44. 

11 Cf. Vinpgradoff, Outlines of Historical Jurisprudence, 
Vol. I, pp. 824-826. 

*Yaj, H, 29: 

Agamena vituddhena bhogo ydti pramdnatdm 
avituddhdgamo bhogah prdmdnyam naiva gachchhati 

16 See SEE, IX, pp. 2 ff . 

17 The text (quoted WM, p. 80) is as follows: 

Baihbhogaib kevalark yastu Itirttayenndgamatii kvachit 
bhogachchhaldpadeiena vijfieyah sa tu taskarah 

18 The text (quoted WM, loc. eft.), is as follows: 

Sdgamo dirghaMfa&chdvichchhedoparavojjhitafy 
pratyarthisamnidhdnascha paflchahgo bhoga isyate. 

w The text (quoted SMC, p. 160) is as follows: 

Bagamd, dlrghakala chavichchhinnoparavojjhita 
pratyarthisaihnidhdnd cha bhuktih paftchavidhd amrtd. 

10 Cf. the statement of the Mitaksara (on Yaj, II, 27), 
namely that ownership (svatva) cannot arise from mere 
possession (bhoga), for then the possession of others' pro- 
perties by theft and the like would be valid. 

11 ' Yathetfaviniyogarhatvena idstrabodhitatvam ' 
(Dayabhaga quoted in Vyavaharamayukha, tr. by V, N. 
Mandlik, p. 8H n.). 

81 * Atha d&yddinirriay&payogi svatvam, tachcha kraya- 
pratigrahadijanyafy idktim&eqah,' WM, p. 69. 

28 ' Yathetfaviniyogdrhatdvachchh&dako dharmafy svat- 
vam,' Viramitrodaya, quoted, ibid, loo. cit. 

14 X, 89-41 : ' svdml rikthakrayasatiivibh&gaparigra- 



115. 



NOTES 119 

* The text (quoted WM, Notes, p. 57) is as follows : 

Labdhatit ddnakrayaprdptaik fauryaih vaivdhikatii tathd 
bdndhavddaprajdjjdtaih satlvidhastu dhandgamafy. 
17 Quoted Apararka on Yaj. II, 27. 

*Manu, VIII, 240-241; Arthatdstra, III, 10 (' Tadeva 
8an4dbhaksa^e kurydt vdtabhede dvigunafy. . . hitiifdprati- 
kdraih kurydt). 

Yaj, H, 155; GBrh., quoted WM, p. 243; Arthafiastra 
III, 9 (prasahydddne vdstuni steyadandah) ; III, 17 (mahd- 
paSumanuayaksetragThahiranyasuvarnasuksmavastradlndrn 
sthuldkadravydndm dvifatdvarah panchaiataparafy). 

30 In Gaut, XIII, 17, hell is declared to be the punish- 
ment for theft of land. Manu, X, 158, and Vi, XXVI, 18, 
mention theft of land as equivalent to that of gold (one of 
the four Great Sins). In Manu, XI, 163, and Vi, LII, 8, 
theft of fields (ksetra) is included with the theft of slaves, 
houses and so forth, among the sins expiable with the lunar 
penance. 

81 XIX, 17: ' hiranyam gaiirvdso 'fvo bhumistila- 
ghrtamannamiti deydni.' 

"in, 10, is. 
M vn, 15. 

34 See the list of forbidden articles of traffic in Ap, I, 
20, 12; Vas, II, 24 ff. 

88 X, 114. 

88 Arthafiastra, III, 9 (jftdtiadmantadhanikdh krameya 
bhumiparigrahdn kretumabhydbhaveyuh tato'nye bdhydh) 

87 Ibid, HI, 10 (karaddb karade$vddhdnaih vikrayafii 
vd kuryufy, brakmadeyikdh brahmadeyikeau). 

88 Ibid, HI, 9 (svdtmddhdne vikraye cha). 

89 Quoted, Vivadaratnakara, p. 189. 

lbid, VHI, 6-7. It is only in the late Sukranlti 
(I, 816) that the king is asked to forbid the sale of immov- 
able property without his sanction. 

C/, Manu, VHI, 148; Nar, I, 125. 



120 THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 

8ee Ap, H, 28, 1; Vyasa, quoted WM, Notes, p. 
226; Brh, quoted loc. cit. The ardhikas (otherwise called 
ardhastrine) are referred to in Manii, IX, 53, Yaj, II, 158, 
Vi, 67, 16. 

18 Arthafestra, HI, 8 (pratisiddhasya cha vasatah 
nirasyatatchdvakrayanam) . 

44 Ibid, HI, 9 (prakraydvakrayddhibhdgabhoga- 
nisrstopabhoktdratchaisdm pratikuryuh). 

46 For references see N. Dutt, Early History of the 
Spread of Buddhism and the Buddhist Schools, pp. 100, 
143-144, 158, 161. 

Jat., Vol. IV, p. 281. 

47 Cf. Milindapaftho, p. 47 (PTS. ed.). 
El, VHI, 8, No. 9. 

Ibid, No. 10. 

w Ibid, I, 16, Nos. I and H. 

51 Ibid, I, 20, No. II. 

Ibid, I, 21, 

63 Cf. the following extract from Tod's Annals and 
Antiquities of, Rdjasthan (ed. W. Crooke; Vol. I, pp. 
672-573): " The ryot (cultivator) is the proprietor of the 
soil in Mewar. He compares his right therein to the 
yk$aya dubd which no vicissitudes can destroy. He calls 
the land his bapota, the most emphatic, the most cherished 
and the most significant phrase his language commands for 
patrimonial inheritance. . . In accordance with this prin- 
ciple is the ancient adage not of Mewar only but of all 
Bajputana, Bhog ra dhanni Raj ho : bhum ra dhanni ma 
cho, ' the Government is owner of the rent, but I am the 
master of the land.' " 

84 Cf. Tod's account of the State of Mewar, quoted, 
Baden-Powell, Indian Village Community, p. 200 n. 

"In the feudal states of Mediaeval Europe similarly 
the alod was held in full ownership, while the fiefs along with 
the copy-hold and servile tenures were held in divided 



NOTES 121 

ownership between the grantor and the grantee. Of. 
Brissaud, A History of French Private Law, p. 269. 
88 Bee above, p. 19. 

87 Cf. above, p. 11. 

88 See above, p. 88. 

See ArthaSastra, II, 1-2. 

80 See ArthaSastra, II, 1 (matayaplavaharitapanytinam 
setuau raja sv&myam gachchhet). 
a See HES, p. 107. 
* See ibid, p. 109. 
88 Ibid, pp. 120-121. 
"Ibid, pp. 118-121. 
Ibid, p. 111. 
88 VIII, 243. 

87 O/. SBE, Vol. 35, XIX, 16-18. 

88 See above, pp. 31, 39, 60, 66. 

89 See above, p. 85, etc. 

70 See above, p. 40. 

71 See above, p. 51. 

71 a Contrast Hopkins, op. cit., pp. 222 ff. Prof. 
Hopkin's arguments, although supported by a considerable 
array of references, are vitiated by the fact that he fails 
to distinguish what may be called the regalian rights of the 
king from the right of ownership, while he attaches undue 
importance to the vague and general statements in the 
Smrti works about the king's proprietary rights. 

78 Thus the Arthadastra distinguishes clearly between 
the revenue terms 8lta and bhaga. (HB8, pp. 29 ff.) In 
the inscriptions udranga and uparikara are distinguished 
from bhdgabhogakara, hiranya and other charges. 

Hfc Indicative also of sovereign authority and not of 
ownership is the rule of Narada declaring immovable pro- 
perty that is held for three generations to be incapable of 
being alienated except with the king's sanction. 

71 For an account of the regalian rights in the Conti- 
nental States of the Middle Ages, see Huebner, A History 
16 



THE AGRARIAN SYSTEM IN ANCIENT INDIA 



of Germanic Private Law, pp. 268 ff . ; Brissaud, A History 
of French Private Law, pp. 281 ff. 
"TCI, DO, 

n* Quoted WM, p. 145. 

n Raja bhumeh patirdrtfab idstrajflairudakasya cha 
t&bhy&m anyattu yaddravyaih tatra sv&myaik kutum- 

bindm. 

70 Quoted Bajanitipraka&a of Mitramtera, p. 271. 

n Mr. K. P. Jayaswal (Hindu Polity, Pt. II, pp. 173- 
174, 179, 182-188) gives a different explanation of the above- 
quoted texts of Manu, Katyayana and Bhattasvamin, which 
tends to show that they give no warrant for the king's 
ownership of the soil. This view has been sought to be 
refuted in the author's paper ' Ownership of the Boil in 
Ancient India ' (IHQ, Vol. II, No. 1). 

See HBS, pp. 167-170, 191-192, 226-226, for reference 
and explanation. 

79 See Biihler's note on Manu, Vm, 39 (SEE, Vol. 25, 
p. 260 n.); Hopkins, India, Old and New, p. 223; Shama- 
astry, Eng. tr. of Artha&astra, p. 144 n.; Vincent Smith, 
Oxford History of India, 2nd ed., p. 90; Breloer, Kaufallya- 
Btudien I, p. 69. 

80 The text, (Mlmamsa-sutras, VI, 7, 2) is as follows : 
' na bhumfy sy&t sarvan pratyavititfatvat.' This important 
passage was first brought to the notice of Western scholars 
by Colebrooke (Miscellaneous Essays, Vol. I, pp. 320*821). 

81 The relevant extracts from the text of Savara's com- 
mentary may be given as follows: ' kjetrandm liit&ro 
manu$ya dftyante ( na krtsnasya prthivigolakasya. . . . 
y&vat& bhogena sdrvabhaumo bhu-mertBte tdvata anyo'pi na 
tasya ka6chidvi6e8ah sarvabhaumatve'sya tvetadadhikam 
yad a*au pfthivyam tambhutdnam vnhyddlndm raksanena 
wrtrf#a*ya kasyachid bhagasya iste na bhtimeh.' For the 
date of Savar* see Wintemitz, OIL, m, 426 and c/. Keith, 
Karma Mlmdihad, p. 9. 

81 The reference is to the following extract bom 
Medhatithi's commwitary cm Manu, VHt, ^: *arva- 



NOTES 123 

8&dhd,ra$arhd tarvajanopabhogyd kevdlam rdjdno rakad- 
nirddetamdtrabhdja ityabhiprdyafy. 

88 Bee Nyayamalavistara (ASS ed.), p. 858. For the 
term 'State territory' the original has mahdbhumi, of which 
the meaning is explained by Madhava's description of the 
same as gopatha-rdjamdrga-jald&ayddyanvitd (* endowed 
with the cattle-tracks, royal roads, tanks and so forth ') 
and his contrasting it with aeddhdranabhukhanda, * non- 
public land.' 

84 The text of Khandadeva (Mysore ed., p. 817) is as fol- 
lows: ' Yeyam mahdprthivl taaydsadrvabhaumadhanatvdt 
tena tadddnamiti prdpte adrvabhaumasydpi na taaydm avat- 
vam, jayasydpi cha tatruavdmikadhanagrhakaetrddiviaaya 
eva avatvotpddakatvdt, mahdprthivydntu rdjyamdtrddhik- 
drasyaiva jayena sampddandt rdjyam hi 8vaviayaparipdlana- 
kan^akoddhdranarupam tannimittakam cha tasya karqake- 
bhyah kardddnam dandy ebhyafoha dandaddnam ityetdvan- 
mdtram, na tvetdvatd tasydm svatvam. . . parikrayddttav- 
dham grhaksetrddikantu deyameva.' Prof. Keith (Karma 
Mimamsa, p. 12) fixes the date of Khandadeva 's death in 
1665 A.G. According to the latest Indian editor of the 
Bhat$adipika (Mysore ed., Vol. I, Introd, pp. iii-v) the 
author lived 50 years before the time of Shah Jehan (reigned 
1627-1658 A.C.). 

86 See ibid, p. 91. 



CORRECTIONS 

Page Line For Bead 

97 13 bhumer bhumer 

121 21 Hopkin's Eopkins's 

123 20 Khandadeva Khandadeva 



'M- 



BY THE SIMS AUTHOR 

HISTORY OF HINDU POLITICAL THEORIES 
(OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS) 

Select opinions on the first edition, 1923. 

Prof. A. B. Keith: It is unquestionably one of the 
most considerable contributions yet made to this interesting 
topic. The author's information is extensive, and what 
is more important in this matter, his judgment is normally 
extremely sound, and his views are effectively and clearly 



Prof. Hermann Jacob!:" The book certainly is 
a proof of the author's learning and extensive reading/' 

Prof. E. Washbura Hopkins:'* Its comprehensive 
treatment is admirable, and it throws new light on the 
relation between Brahmanic and 'Buddhistic theories of 
Government." 

Prof. Julias Jolly:" Some of the Sanskrit works 
used in it, such as the Rajamtiratnakara and the Ultima- 
yukha, have never been analysed before. The statements 
of Medhatithi, Apararka and VijfianeSvara in their cele- 
brated commentaries are also very interesting. The old 
theory of Prof. Max Miiller, that India has no place in the 
political history of the world, has been well refuted, like- 
wise the opinion that there is no provision in the Hindu 
system for the interests of the State and the development 
of the race. The importance of the ArthaSaetra for the 
reconstruction of political science has been well brought 

' 



of the American Oriental Sootetj:^-" Our 
author brings out very sanely the fundamental differences 



between what have been called the Hindu theories of the 
' social contract ' and the ' divine right of kings ' add 
their European analogs." 

Mind: "Dr. Ghoshal is one of the first to have 
opened up a 'branch of Indian speculation which has nev^r 

been investigated by Western scholars His book is 

written in the clearest idiomatic English and in a well- 
ordered and emphatic style, with a commendable urbanity 
in dealing with opponents. It will undoubtedly be an aid, 
as he says, in furnishing the data from an Eastern point 
of view, of a true science of Comparative Politics." 

International Journal of Ethics:" His work is excel- 
lently written and is a model of clear and sober judgment." 

The American Historical Review: " The author is 
well trained in both Hindu and Occidental learning. He 
criticises sanely the comparisons that have been made be- 
tween Western political theories and those of India; his 
attitude towards such comparisons is, generally speaking, 
reserved or even skeptical The book can be recom- 
mended to Western students of political theory as a sane 
interpretation, from the historical and comparative stand- 
point, of what the ancient Hindus accomplished in that 
field." 

The Spectator: " Professor Ghoshal of Calcutta haa 
written a History of Hindu Political Theories which is 
commendably fresh and stimulating. The author is 
familiar with Western political thought as well as with the 
teaching of the Sanskrit classics, and his comparisons 
between the two especially as regards kingship are of 
special interest." 

Rtefsta de#l Stndii Oriental!!: " Ghoshal dobbiamo 
uno studio eoddiefaeente, precise e bene infonnato su HQ* 
parte della letteratttfa e del pensiero dell 1 India, too 
anoora studiata come meritrebbe," 



Select opinions on the second edition, 2927, 

\ 

Prof. M. Wintemitz in Indologlca Pragensla: "I 

consider the work a most valuable contribution to the 
history of political theories in Ancient India/ 1 

Denteche 3UtetnneItang: " Ghoshal legt hier die 
zweite Ausgabe seines zuerst im Jahr 1928 erschienenen 
Buchee vor, ein grtadliches, sachlcundiges, besonnenes 
und fesselndes Weri, hoch erfreulich in garden und in seinen 
Gliedern. . . Eins der besten unter den vielen seit der 
Wiederauffindung des Kautilyatextes verpSentlichten 
Werke iiber altindische Politik und in seiner ganz 
geschichtlich gerichteten Eigenart wohl ohjie Nebenbtihler. " 

The Statesman (Calcutta) :" It forms a well- 
arranged, well-balanced and comprehensive review of the 
use, growth and decline of the political thought of the 
Hindus from the Vedic times to the *last phase, which 
extended almost up to the beginning of British rule in 
India." 



II CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE HISTORY OF 
THE HINDU REVENUE SYSTEM 

(PUBLISHED BY THE CALCUTTA UNIVERSITY, 1929). 
, Select opinions. 

Pwf. B. J. R*p0on: " It is a valuable contribution to 
the Economic History of Ancient and Mediaeval India.... 
Hie widely scattered evidence contained in the inscriptions 
und fa* copper-plate land-grants of Northern India has never 
before been so carefully collected and discussed/' 



4 

Prof, JL B. Keitfc: " It is a very valuable contribu- 
tion to our knowledge of the subject by reason of its objec- 
tivity and fbe effort made to elucidate the Kautillya 
Arthaastra by examination of the other evidence, in special 
that of inscriptions bearing on the topic. On the points 
examined the comparison of different records often throws 
admirable light." 

Prof. M. Winternitz: " This is * very important 
work on an interesting subject that to my knowledge has 
hitherto not yet been treated at all, and certainly not so 
fully and in such a scholarly manner. It is a valuable 
contribution to the history of Ancient Indian politics and 
economics." 

Prof. SylYain L6iri: " I wish to express my very high 
appreciation of this work. ... I know of very few books 
lately published which can, in my opinion, compare with ifc" 

Prof. Louis Finot: " An excellent contribution to a 
very important matter in the history of India. It is based 
on a careful study of the texts and affords many useful 
observations which will prove a great help for scholars who 
will take the subject in their turn." 

Sir Jadunath Sarkar in a notice of the book in the 
Modern Review writes:" The author who is a practised 
writer on Hindu polity and administration has carried pur 
knowledge of the subject a good dead forward by concen- 
trating light from the inscriptions by means of painstaking 
synthesis, while his knowledge of French and German has 
enabled him to utilize the latest published researches of 
European Orientalists. His ' Glossary of fiscal tarns ' will 
be particularly helpful not bnly to students of Ancient 
Indian polity, but also to epigraphists and SanskritiBts in 
general. * . The author's wide outlook and far-ranging 
comparisons will demand careful consideration of hie 
theories on the part of his critics, even when they differ 



The flam Literary Supplement: ''The Hindu 

revenue system, on the history of which Professor 
Gboshal speaks with high authority, is to be reckoned 
as one of the political achievements of the human 
race* . . The chief authorities are the Smritis, the Leviticus 
of Hindu scripture, and the famous Artha&astra, or Book of 
Government, by Kautiiya, a Western Indian of about the 
third century A.D. The rules and maxims of these authori- 
ties, says Professor Ghoshal, ' surpass the achievements of 
classical antiquity and tend to approach the ideas of Euro- 
pean thinkers in the 18th and early 10th centuries/ This 
estimate seems fully warranted." 



III. ANCIENT INDIAN CULTUREJN AFGHANISTAN 

(PUBLISHED BY THE GREATER INDIA SOCIETY, CALCUTTA, 1928), 
* > 

The Modem Review:" The book . . . gives for the 
first time a faithful rdsum6 of the latest discoveries in the 
field made by the French and German scholars/' 



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atf Prttafe of the Beitfti Belta 

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