Social Scientist. v 6, no. 66-67 (Jan-Feb 1978) p. 68.


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VIJAT KUMAR THAKUR

Beginnings of Feudalism in Bengal

THE ORIGINS and even the existence of feudalism in the Indian context are matters of great controversy among Indologists. While some scholars explicitly mention that "feudalism is a misnomer in the Indian context/91 others hold an altogether different view. R S Sharma identifies certain features of feudalism which are clearly noticeable from the Gupta, and more so from the post'-Gupta period onwards.2 He specifically asserts that during the post-Mauryan period, and especially from Gupta times, certain political and administrative developments tended to feudalise the state apparatus.8 In the light of these changes, D G Sircar's attempt to equate feudalism with landlordism and thereby to negate the very existence of an important sociological formation4 seems to be biased und untrustworthy.

The origins of feudalism in India and consequently in Bengal, have been sought in the land grants of the pre-Gupta period, which manifested itself from the Gupta and especially from the post-Gupta period onwards.6 This new development was mainly a result of the large scale transfers of land revenues and land to both secular and religious elements by princes and their vassals. The administrative rights over land were given up for the first time in the grants made to the Buddhist monks by the Satavahana king, Gautamiputra Satakarni, in



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