Essay on Religious Grants given during Gupta Period to Post-Gupta period

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From the Gupta Period to Post-Gupta period, there were certain political and administrative developments which tend to feudalise the state machinery. One of the striking developments was the practice of making the land grants to “Brahmanas” a tradition which was sanctified by the injunctions laid down in “Dharmasastras”, the “Puranas” and the “Mahabharata”.

There were two most important characteristics of such grants the transfer of all sources of revenue and the surrender of administrative and police functions more frequently from the fifth century A.D.

The transfer of all source of revenue to Brahman by the ruler is evident from the land grants made by Vakatakas rulers from the Pravarasena II.

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In these land grants, ruler gave up this control over almost all sources of revenue including pasturages, hides & charcoal, mines, forest-labour and deposits.

Land grants of Gupta and Post-gupta period clearly shows that the ruler surrendered the administrative powers to Brahmanas donee.

Six land grants of Gupta period were given to the Brahmanas by the feudatories or “Samantas” in Central India. The inhabitants of those land-grants were asked not only to pay the customary tax to the beneficiaries but also obey their orders.

The surrender of police functions by the state to “Brahmanas” in the gifted land was begun from the post-Gupta period. Hence the royal donors began to confer upon the Brahmanas not only the right to punish thieves, but also to punish all the offences against family, property and person i. e. civil justice.

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“Abhyan tarasiddhi” terms was used to those grants which prepared the donees with such powers that they could easily change the beneficiaries into an independent pocket.

During the Gupta period, the grantees were not authorised to grant his rent or land to others.

But Indore grants (397 A.D. by a merchant during Guptas) authorises the grantee to enjoy field cultivate it and get it cultivated so long as he observes the conditions of “brahmadeya” grant. This is the first example of sub in feudation of soil.

This process of sub in feudation increased in the Western part of Central India in the fifth century A.D. and characterised the grant of Valabhi rulers to their donees in the sixth and seventh centuries.

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The priests in return of land grants were required to render religious services or spiritual welfare of the donors.

But their other duties were not mentioned in the charters. In this way, the burden of tax collection and maintenance of law and order was divided among the beneficiaries of land grants.

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