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India’s Ancient Past$
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R. S. Sharma

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195687859

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195687859.001.0001

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From Ancient to Medieval

From Ancient to Medieval

(p.287) 31 From Ancient to Medieval
India’s Ancient Past

R.S. Sharma

Oxford University Press

The central factor that eventually transformed ancient Indian society into a medieval society was the practice of land grants. The brahmanas were granted villages free from taxes which were collected by the king from the villages. In addition, the beneficiaries were given the right to govern the people living in the donated villages. Royal control was eroded through the payment of government officials by land grants. There is a distinct evolution of the landlordism and devolution of the central state authority by the seventh century. The important change in the agrarian economy is noted. The decline of trade led to the decay of towns. There was an increasing divine hierarchy in post-Gupta times. The Bhakti cult spread throughout India. Bhakti meant that people made all kinds of offerings to the god in return for which they received the prasada or the favour of the god.

Keywords:   medieval society, land grants, central state authority, landlordism, agrarian economy, decline of trade, decay of towns, divine hierarchy, Bhakti cult

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