Like the land ownership pattern, the revenue sys­tem of the post-Gupta period also suffered from several apparent contradictions. The land grants of the period referring to revenue or taxes refer to a term – bhagabhogakara.

The interpretation of this term is a matter of great dispute. Prof. A.S. Altekar, after splitting the term into two parts, opines that bhagakara was the land tax and bhogakara represented petty taxes paid in kind to the King or local officers.

Prof. L. Gopal is of the view that “the expressions bhagabhogaka or bhagabhogakara did not always indicate a single fiscal expression and their component parts, bhaga, bhoga, and kara, stood for three different taxes”.

Bhaga has been generally accepted as the King’s customary share of the produce. Bhoga was in the nature of privileges and rights of the landlord, such as supplies of fruits, firewood, flowers, etc. Kara has been interpreted as regular revenue, periodical tax or oppressive tax like vishti or forced labour.


Another term which appears almost universal­ly in the land grants of the period is hiranya, literally meaning gold. Some scholars are of the view that hiranya was a tax on mines. But it appears to be a lump sum assessment in cash upon villages rather than upon the individual cultivators.

In the grants of the post-Gupta period the terms udranga and uparikara also appear. The former was the tax levied on permanent tenants and the latter was the tax on temporary cultivators. These two taxes were probably two specific addi­tional state impositions. Uparikara was an extra tax charged over and above the land revenue.

In cer­tain land grants of the period people have been exempted from this oppressive tax. In the donated villages the donees had also the right to impose fines on the villagers for the commission of ten offences falling under dasaparadha. Besides, taxes were also imposed on water, animals, etc.; there were also contributions (prastlia) payable by the villagers to the officers.

Customs and tolls, ferry dues, tax on ploughs (hala-danda), etc. are also mentioned in several land grants and epigraphs of various dynasties of the period. Hiranya, bhagab­hoga, uparikara, and danda were the most com­mon taxes.


Land revenue which in theory was usually to the extent of one half, one-eighth or one-sixth of the produce, according to the fertility of the soil and yield, in practice varied considerably under the influence of the feudal system. Besides land revenue, the peasantry had to pay numerous other taxes also in the nature of extraordinary receipts.

The revenue was collected by the village head­man who received the supply of grain, milk, firewood, etc. as his remuneration. In Gujarat, private persons were granted grama pattaka upon agreeing to pay a fixed amount of land revenue in cash for the entire village. This system was like farming of revenues.

The Manasara gives a list of the increasing rates of revenue realised by various categories of rulers and vassal chiefs in the descending order. Thus, it is stated that the chakravarti, maharaja or ad- hiraja, narendra, parsnika andpattadliara received one-tenth, one-sixth, one-fifth, one-fourth and one-third of the produce as revenue.

Below the emperors, kings, bigger feudatories and the lower feudatories realised a greater amount in order to pay the amounts due to their immediate superiors. The burden of taxation, characterised by feudal exactions, privileges of the official and semi-offi­cial nobility, and by further complexities created in some regions on account of the growth of rural aristocracy claiming the right of realising dues from the villagers, must have become considerably heavy.


There was such a large variety in the nomenclature, number, and to some extent, in the rates and mode of collection of taxes that it is not possible to provide a uniform account of the agrarian structure of the post-Gupta period.

According to Huen-tsang, taxation was light and forced service sparingly used; the King’s tenants paid one-sixth of the produce as rent. According to the Smriti writers, the King could demand one-third or one-fourth of the crops in times of distress.

Manu and others permit the King to take one-sixth, one-eighth or one-twelfth of the yield of grain, one-eighth of grain in pods, one- tenth of crops grown on recently cultivated fallow land, one-eighth from lands sown in the rainy season, and one-sixth from those that had spring crops.

It seems that the rates varied according to the locality and time; but the general rate was one-sixth. The revenue was paid once a year or once in six months, according to the custom prevailing in the area.


As regards minerals, Huen- tsang has often made special mention of them in respect of particular countries, e.g. gold and iron of Uddiyana; gold of Darel; gold and silver of Bolor; gold, silver, bell-metal, copper, and iron of Takka; and gold, silver, redcopper, crystal lenses, and bell-metal of Kuluta.

Various land measures were used in different, parts of the country. Unfortunately, the area of a particular unit was not the same everywhere. This was partially due to the fact that measuring rods of different length were in use in different localities.

The cubit also varied according to the length of the hands of different persons. Often, Kings introduced special length of the measuring rod. Some of the most popular land measures were the nivartana, pattikahala, kedara, bhumi, khandukavapa, pataka, gocharma, kharivapa, kulyavapa, dronavapa, adhavapa, nalikavapa, etc.