12 Class History Chapter 2 kings farmers and towns Notes
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Class 12 history chapter 2 notes, kings farmers and towns notes here we will be learn about the 16 Mahajanapadas and know what kind of economic political social system existed here.
Developments during the long span of 1500 years following the end of Harappan Civilization : –
🔹 There were several developments that took place in India during the long span of 1,500 years following the end of Harappan civilization. They are:
- Rigveda was composed by people living along the Indus and its tributaries.
- Agricultural settlements emerged in north India, the Deccan Plateau, and parts of Karnataka.
- Evidence of pastoral populations in the Deccan and further south.
- New modes of disposal of the dead, including the making of elaborate stone structures known as megaliths
- In many cases, the dead were buried with a rich range of iron tools and weapons.
The Sixth century BCE was a turning point in early Indian history: Reasons
🔹 There were several changes in economic and political life between 600BCE and 600 CE.The most important was the emergence of early states, empires and kingdoms. There were other changes as well like growth in agricultural production, emergence of new towns etc.
🔹 This era is known for some crucial developments. They are : –
- Emergency of Early states.
- Growing use of iron.
- Development of Buddhism, Jainism and other philosophical thoughts
- Development of coins
- 16 Mahajanpadas
Sources to know about Indian history between 600 BCE to 600 CE : –
Inscriptions : –
🔹 Inscriptions are writings engraved on hard surfaces such as stone, metal or pottery. They usually record the achievements, activities or ideas of those who commissioned them and include the exploits of kings, or donations made by women and men to religious institutions. That means Inscriptions are a kind of permanent evidence.
Janapada : –
🔹 Janapada means the land where a jana (a people, clan or tribe) sets its foot or settles. It is a word used in both Prakrit and Sanskrit.
Mahajanapadas : –
🔹 The total number of Mahajanapadas was 16, which is mentioned in the Buddhist Literature Anguttarnikaya, Mahavastu and the Jain Literature Bhagwati Sutra.
🔹 Although the lists vary. some names such as Vajji. Magadha, Koshala, Kuru, Panchala, Gandhara and Avanti occur frequently. Clearly, these were amongst the most important mahajanapadas.
🔹 While most mahajanapadas were ruled by kings, some, known as ganas or sanghas, were oligarchies, where power was shared by a number of men, often collectively called rajas.
Mahajanapada and their capital : –
🔹 Each mahajanapada had a capital city, which was often fortified. Maintaining these fortified cities as well as providing for incipient armies and bureaucracies required resources.
Rulers of Mahajanapadas : –
🔹 Major rulers of Mahajanapadas : – Bimbisara, Ajatashatru, Shishunaga (of Magadha), Chandpradyota (of Avanti), Banar, Ashvasena (of Kashi); Prasenjit (of Kosala); Brahmadatta (of the anng); Upchapar (of Chedi); Udayana (of Vatsa); Koravya (of Kuru); Virata (of Matsya); Avantiputra (of Surasena); And Chandravarman and Sudakshin (of Gandhara) were the main rulers of the Mahajanapadas.
🔹 Brahmanas began composing Sanskrit texts known as the Dharmasutras. These laid down norms for rulers (as well as for other social categories), who were ideally expected to be Kshatriyas. Rulers were advised to collect taxes and tribute from cultivators, traders and artisans.
Oligarchy : –
🔹 Oligarchy refers to a form of government where power is exercised by a group of men. The Roman Republic, about which you read last year, was an oligarchy in spite of its name.
Features of Mahajanapadas : –
- The sixth century BC is known for the rise of the sixteen Mahajanapadas.
- These states were either ruled by kings or Ganas (Sanghas)
- Each had its own capital often fortified.
- Some states maintained permanent standing armies recruited from the peasantry and regular bureaucracie
- Dharma sutras laid down norms for kings and other people.
- Functions of the rulers were to collect taxes and tribute from people.
First amongst the sixteen: Magadha
🔹 Magadha was an ancient kingdom located on the Indo-Gangetic plains in eastern India and spread over what is today the modern state of Bihar.
🔹 Initially, Rajagaha (the Prakrit name for present- day Rajgir in Bihar) was the capital of Magadha. Rajagaha was a fortified settlement, located amongst hills. Later, in the fourth century BCE, the capital was shifted to Pataliputra, present-day Patna, commanding routes of communication along the Ganga.
🔹 The early history of Magadha begins with King Bimbisara of the Haryak clan. The path on which he led Magadha to victory and progress ended only when Ashoka sheathed his sword after the war of Kalinga.
Factors responsible for the rise of Magadha : –
🔹 Between the sixth and fourth centuries BCE, Magadha became the most powerful Mahajanapada
- Powerful and ambitious rulers like Bimbisara, Ajatasattu and Mahapadma nanda.
- Availability of iron enabled the Magadhans to make tools and weapons.
- Availability of elephants in forests constituted an important part of the army.
- Fertile soil provided agricultural productivity
- Ganga and its tributaries provided means of cheap and convenient communication.
- Location of Pataliputra facilitated routes of communication along Ganges.
- Rajgriha, the old capital of Magadha was located amongst hills.
Languages and scripts : –
🔹 Most Asokan inscriptions were in the Prakrit language while those in the northwest of the subcontinet were in Aramaic and Greek. Most Prakrit inscriptions were written in the Brahmi script; however, some, in the northwest, were written in Kharosthi. The Aramaic and Greek scripts were used for inscriptions in Afghanistan.
An early empire ( Mauryan Empire ) 321-185 BC: –
🔹 The growth of Magadha culminated in the emergence of the Mauryan Empire. Chandragupta Maurya, who founded the empire (c. 321 BCE), extended control as far northwest as Afghanistan and Baluchistan, and his grandson Asoka, arguably the most famous ruler of early India, conquered Kalinga (present-day coastal Orissa).
Chandra Gupta Mourya : –
🔹 Chandragupta Maurya was born in 340 BC in Patna (Pataliputra) Bihar district. The Maurya Empire was the first empire of India. Chandragupta Maurya established the Maurya Empire. (Vishnugupta, Kautilya, Chanakya) was the teacher of Chandragupta Maurya.
Sources to know about Mauryan Empire ( in short points ) : –
- Account of Megasthenes (Indica)
- Arthashashtra by Kautilya
- Jaina Literature
- Buddhist Literature
- Puranic Literature
- Inscriptions by Ashoka
- Sanskrit Literary Work
Sources of information about Maurya dynasty : –
🔹 In knowing the history of the Maurya Empire, we get enough help from literature, foreign descriptions and archaeological material.
🔸 Among the literary sources, Arthashastra, which literally means financial management, by Kautilya/Chanakya, the Chief Minister of the Mauryan Empire, gives us a detailed description about the financial stakes of the Mauryan Empire. Buddhist, Jaina and Puranic literature as well as Sanskrit literary works mention the Mauryan Empire.
🔸 In foreign accounts, The report of Megasthenes who was an Ambassador of Greece had written a book called “Indica” in which he had recorded the information about the Mauryan Empire. Detailed record of administration and army of the region was also there in this book.
🔸 Among the archaeological sources, Asokan inscriptions that mention a policy called Ashoka Dhamma which was issued by a Mauryan king Ashoka, is a good source to understand the political policies. It had ethics related messages like respecting elders, respecting Brahmans, serving the poor.
Sources to reconstruct the history of Mauryan Empire : –
- Archaeological finds – sculptures, coins, rock edicts.
- Accounts of Megasthenes.
- Arthashastra composed by Kautilya.
- Buddhist, Jaina, Puranic literature and Sanskrit literary works.
- Accounts of Chinese travellers.
- Inscriptions of Ashoka.
Administering the empire : –
🔹 The mauryan king was the centre of the great administrative system. He enjoyed absolute power. The vast empire was divided into number of provinces. The mauryans had a strong standing army
🔸 1. Five Major Political Centres : –
🔹 There were five major political centers -Pataliputra, Taxila, Ujjaini, Tosali and Suvarnagiri to administer the vast empire.
🔹 These centres were situated on important long-distance trade routes. Communication along both land and riverine routes was vital for the existence of empire.
🔸 2. Role of the sub committees : –
🔹 Megasthanese mentioned a committee with six sub committees was organized for coordinating military activity. They looked after the navy, transport infantry, cavalry, chariots and elephants.
🔹 The second committee was to arrange bullock carts to carry equipments procure food for soldiers and fodder for animals and recruit servants and artisans to look after the soldiers
🔸 3. Measures of Asoka to hold his empire
- Asoka tried to hold his empire together by propagating dhamma.
- He appointed Special officers called dhamma mahamattas to spread the message of dhamma
Administrative features of Mauryan Empire : –
- Mauryan Empire was a Monarchy.
- There were 5 major political centres.
- The capital was Pataliputra and provincial centers were Taxila, Ujjayini, Tosali and Suvarnagiri.
- The Empire extended from North West India to Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Uttarakhand.
- The administration was strongest around the capital and provincial centres.
- The provincial centres like Taxila and Ujjain were located on long distance trade routes and Suvarnagiri was near a Gold mine in Karnataka.
- The army protected long distance movement of people and food.
- Megasthenes mentions a committee with six subcommittees for coordinating military activity.
- one looked after the navy,
- the second managed transport and provisions,
- the third was responsible for foot-soldiers,
- the fourth for horses,
- the fifth for chariots and
- the sixth for elephants.
- Megasthenes mentions a committee with six subcommittees for coordinating military activity.
Economic and political achievements of the Mauryan Empire : –
- Mauryan Empire was a strong empire in economic and political terms
- financial stability through good tax system
- Incorporation of new technologies in agriculture and good irrigation system.
- Security and stability in commerce and trade
- Transportation by road and water very easy and safe
- Expansion of Empire
- security of the empire and the subjects through strong military organization
- Establishment of an ideal state
- Divine image of the king among the subjects
- Establishment of a prosperous state in every way.
Emperor Ashoka : –
🔹 After Bindusara, his son Ashoka became the emperor. He was the third ruler of the Maurya dynasty. He had been the ruler of Ujjain and Takshashila during his father’s reign. Devi(Sakyani), Asandhimitra, Padmavati, Tishyaraksha and Karuvaki were the wives of Ashoka. Ashoka had 5 children, 3 sons, Mahinda, Tivala, and Kunala. And 2 daughters, Charumathi and Sangamitra.
Asoka’s Dhamma : –
🔹 Asoka was the first ruler who inscribed his messages to his people on stone (rocks and pillars)
🔹 He used the inscriptions to proclaim his principles of Dhamma. This included, Respect to elders
- Genorosity towards Brahmanas and others sects
- Kindness to slaves and servants.
- Religious tolerance towards other religions
Contribution of King Ashoka in Indian history : –
🔹 The contribution of Emperor Ashoka to in Indian History can be understood in the following points:
- Establishment of a strong empire.
- centralized administrative system
- Strong military organization.
- Establishment of courts
- concept of an Ideal state
- Establishment of Intelligence Department
- Expansion of empire
- Establishment of Dhamma
- Increase in commercial trade
- Good tax system
- Good roads and formation of Navy
How important was the empire?
🔹 When historians began reconstructing early Indian history in the nineteenth century, the emergence of the Mauryan Empire was regarded as a major landmark. India was then under colonial rule, and was part of the British empire.
- Evidence of amazing art
- Stone sculpture (identity of the empire)
- Records like Asokan inscriptions (different from others)
- Ashoka was a great ruler.
- The Maurya Empire could last only for 150 years.
Megasthenes : –
- Megasthenes was a Greek ambassador and a great historian.
- Megasthenes had written a book named Indika, from this book we get information about the Maurya Empire.
- Megasthenes told that there was 1 committee and 6 sub-committees for the operation of the army in the Maurya Empire.
Chiefs and kings in the south : –
🔹 Chiefdoms like Chola, Cher and Pandya emerged in South India (Tamil Nadu/Andhra Pradesh/Kerala). These states were prosperous and stable. It is mentioned in ancient Tamil Sangam texts.
🔹 Many chiefs and kings, including the Satavahanas who ruled over parts of western and central India (c. second century BCE-Second century CE) and the Shakas, a people of Central Asian origin who established kingdoms in the north-western and western parts of the subcontinent, derived revenues from long-distance trade.
Chiefs and chiefdoms : –
🔹 A chief is a powerful man whose position may or may not be hereditary. He derives support from his kinfolk. Generally, there are no regular armies and officials in chiefdoms.
functions of Chiefs and chiefdoms : –
🔹 His functions may include performing special rituals, leadership in warfare, and arbitrating disputes. He receives gifts from his subordinates (unlike kings who usually collect taxes) and often distributes these amongst his supporters.
Divine King : –
🔹 One means of claiming high status was to identify with a variety of deities. This strategy is best exemplified by the Kushanas (c. first century BCE- first century CE), who ruled over a vast kingdom extending from Central Asia to northwest India.
- The notions of kingship they wished to project are perhaps best evidenced in their coins and sculpture.
- Colossal statues of Kushana rulers have been found installed in a shrine at Mat near Mathura (Uttar Pradesh).
- Similar statues have been found in a shrine in Afghanistan as well.
- The Kushanas considered themselves godlike.
- Many Kushana rulers also adopted the title devaputra, or “son of god”
Kushana rulers exemplify themselves with the high status : –
🔹 One way of claiming high status was to identify themselves among variety of deities. This was best exemplified by the Kushana rulers.
🔹 Some historians feel that Kushana rulers considered themselves as god-like since they adopted titles like deva putra or “Son of God”.
🔹 Big statues of Kushana rulers were installed in shrines. (Eg.: Mat near Mathura in Uttar Pradesh). The notion of kingship they wished to project could be seen in their sculptures and coins.
Sources to know about Gupta Empire : –
- Prashastis (Prayag Prashasthi of Samudra Gupta)
🔹 Histories of the Gupta rulers have been reconstructed from literature, coins and inscriptions, including prashastis, composed in praise of kings in particular, and patrons in general, by poets
major changes that took place in the countryside during the said period : –
- The main source of income of the kings was land tax.
- Rent/Tax was strictly collected.
- Measures to increase yield by subjects and rullers.
- use of canals and reservoirs for irrigation.
- increase in crop yield with the use of iron-tipped plough.
- control of zamindars of the village over the agricultural laborers and farmers.
- Increase in production with the use of techniques and irrigation system.
- Increase in the income of kings and farmers.
- Evidence of land grant by the kings.
What was the king’s image among the public?
🔹 Historian have examined stories contained in anthologies such as the Jatakas and the Panchatantra. The Jatakas were written in Pali around the middle of the first millennium CE.
🔹 One story known as the Gandatindu Jataka describes the condition of the subjects of a wicked king. These included elderly women and men, cultivators, herders, village boys and even animals. In story :
- Kings frequently tried to fill their coffers by demanding high taxes.
- To escape from this situation, people abandoned their village and went to live in the forest. (as mentioned in Jataka story).
- Strategies aimed at increasing production to meet growing demand for taxes adopted.
- Transplantation is used for paddy cultivation in areas where water is plentiful.
Strategies for increasing production : –
- plough was used to increase the yield.
- iron-tipped ploughshare was used, it also played an important role in increasing the yield.
- To increase the crop, the farming community together started creating new means of irrigation.
- Hoe agriculture in semi-arid parts of Punjab, Rajastan and hilly tracks in North-Eastern and Central parts.
- To increase the crop yield, irrigation means like ponds, wells and canals were built at many places, which played an important role in increasing the yield.
Differences in rural society : –
- With the increase in production, differences arose among people engaged in agriculture.
- Buddhist tradition refers to landless agricultural labourers, small peasants and large landlords.
- Landlords and heads of village were more powerful and had control over farmers
- Sangam texts mention large landowners or vellalar, ploughman or uzhavar and slaves or adimai.
- Thus, differences in rural society were based on control over land, labour and technologies.
Land grants and new rural elites : –
🔹 From the early centuries of the Common Era, we find grants of land being made, many of which were recorded in inscriptions.
🔹 Some of these inscriptions were on stone, but most were on copper plates which were probably given as a record of the transaction to those who received the land.
🔹 The records that have survived are generally about grants to religious institutions or to Brahmanas.
🔹 Land grants were made to extend agriculture to new areas or to win allies by making grants of land. Land grants provide an insight into the relationship between peasants and the state.
Gahapati : –
🔹 A gahapati was the owner, master or head of a household, who exercised control over the women, children, slaves and workers who shared a common residence.
🔹 He was also the owner of the resources land, animals and other things that belonged to the household. Sometimes the term was used as a marker of status for men belonging to the urban elite, including wealthy merchants.
Manusmrti : –
🔹 It is one of the best-known legal texts of early India, written in Sanskrit and compiled between c. second century BCE and c. second century CE.
Agrahara : –
🔹 It was the land granted to a Brahmana who had the right to collect land revenue from the local people but was exempted from paying the same to the king.
Towns and Trade : –
🔹 Emergence of new Urban centres (sixth century BCE) -All major towns were located along routes of communication.
- Pataliputra – riverine routes.
- Ujjayini – land routes
- Puhar – near the coast
- Mathura were bustling centres of commercial, cultural and political activity.
New cities : –
🔹 many of these were capitals of mahajanapadas. Virtually all major towns were located along routes of communication. Some such as Pataliputra were on riverine routes.
🔹 Others, such as Ujjayini, were along land routes, and yet others, such as Puhar, were near the coast, from where sea routes began. Many cities like Mathura were bustling centres of commercial, cultural and political activity.
The history of Pataliputra : –
🔹 Each city had a history of its own. Pataliputra, for instance, began as a village known as Pataligrama. Then, in the fifth century BCE, the Magadhan rulers decided to shift their capital from Rajagaha to this settlement and renamed it.
🔹 By the fourth century BCE, it was the capital of the Mauryan Empire and one of the largest cities in Asia. Subsequently, its importance apparently declined. When the Chinese pilgrim Xuan Zang visited the city in the seventh century CE, he found it in ruins, and with a very small population.
Elites and craftspersons : –
🔹 The artefacts recovered from excavation includes fine pottery bowls and dishes, with a glossy finish, known as Northern Black Polished Ware, probably used by rich people.
🔹 The artefacts also include ornaments, tools, weapons, vessels, figurines, made of a wide range of materials gold, silver, copper, bronze, ivory, glass, shell and terracotta.
🔹 Organisations of craft producers and merchants were known as guilds or shrenis. These guilds probably procured raw materials, regulated production and marketed the finished product.
Occupation and merchant : –
🔹 By the second century BCE, We find short votive inscriptions in a number of cities. These mention the name of the donor, and sometimes specify his/ her occupation as well. They tell us about people who lived in towns: washing folk, weavers, scribes, carpenters, potters, goldsmiths, blacksmiths, officials, religious teachers, merchants and kings.
Trade in the subcontinent and beyond : –
🔹 From the sixth century BCE, land and river routes criss-crossed the subcontinent and extended in various directions : –
- overland into Central Asia and beyond, and overseas, from ports that dotted the coastline – extending across the Arabian Sea to East and North Africa and West Asia, and through the Bay of Bengal to Southeast Asia and China.
🔹 Rulers often attempted to control these routes, possibly by offering protection for a price. Those who traversed these routes included peddlers who probably travelled on foot and merchants who travelled with caravans of bullock carts and pack-animals.
Coins and Kings (Numismatics of the 6th century BCE onwards) : –
- Exchangers were facilitated by the introduction of coinage.
- Punch marked coins made of silver and copper were amongst the earliest to be minted and used.
- Coins were issued by kings, merchants, bankers and town people.
- The first coins bearing the names and images of rulers were issued by the Indo-Greeks.
- The first gold coins were issued in first century CE by the Kushans.
- Hoards of Roman coins have been found in south India. This indicates that there was a close connection between south India and Roman Empire.
- Coins were also issued by tribal republics For e.g. Yaudheyas of Punjab and Haryana (first century CE) issued thousands of copper coins.
- The Guptas also issued gold coins. These were remarkable for their purity. These coins facilitated long distance transactions.
Periplus : –
🔹 “Periplus” is a Greek word meaning sailing around and “Erythraean” was the Greek name for the Red Sea.
Numismatics : –
🔹 Numismatics is the study of coins, including visual elements such as scripts and images, metallurgical analysis and the contexts in which they have been found.
James Prinsep’s and it’s contribution as a historic development in Indian epigraphy : –
🔹 James Prinsep was an officer in the mint of the East India Company. He was an epigraphist who deciphered Asokan Brahmi Script in 1838. His contribution in the development of Indian Epigraphy was that he was able to decipher Brahmi and Kharosthi scripts used in the earliest inscriptions and coins, which were then used.
Meaning of Brahmi and Kharosthi scripts : –
🔹 Some of the most momentous developments in Indian epigraphy took place in the 1830s. This was when James Prinsep, an officer in the mint of the East India Company, deciphered Brahmi and Kharosthi, two scripts used in the earliest inscriptions and coins.
Piyadassi : –
🔹 Piyadassi means a pleasant to behold.
Deciphering Brahmi : –
- Most scripts used to write modern Indian languages are derived from Brahmi, the script used in most Asokan inscriptions.
- Scholars who studied early inscriptions sometimes assumed these were in Sanskrit, although the earliest inscriptions were, in fact, in Prakrit.
- It was only after decades of painstaking investigations by several epigraphists that James Prinsep was able to decipher Asokan Brahmi in 1838.
How Kharosthi was read : –
🔹 The coins of Indo-Greek kings contain the names of kings written in Greek and Kharosthi scripts.
🔹 With Prinsep identifying the language of the Kharosthi inscriptions as Prakrit, it became possible to read longer inscriptions as well.
Inscriptions : –
🔹 The inscriptions carved on the rock or metal are called inscriptions. In ancient times, kings had their works, achievements and edicts engraved on rock and metals, which are considered a good source of History But these also have some limitations.
Features of Inscriptions : –
- Donations made to religious institutions were recorded
- Engraving on hard surfaces such as stone, metal or pottery
- they are permanent records
- The earlier inscriptions were in Prakrit (the language used by the common people).
- They record the achievements, activities or ideas of the people who formed the team
- some of them go on dates
- Others have been dated based on epigraphy or writing style.
- epigraphy is the study of records
Historical evidence from inscriptions : –
🔹 Interpretation of inscriptions by historians :
- It is found that the name Asoka is not mentioned in inscriptions.
- Instead, the king is referred to as devanampiya (“beloved of the gods”) and piyadassi (“pleasant to behold”).
- There were a few inscriptions which also referred to the king as Asoka. These inscriptions are also containing such titles.
- By examining the content, style, language and paleography, of these inscriptions, epigraphists have come to the conclusion that they were issued by the same ruler.
Limitations of Inscriptional Evidence : –
🔹 Inscriptions have some limitations :
- Technical Limitations: letters are very faintly engraved, and thus reconstructions arc uncertain.
- inscriptions may by damaged or letters missing.
- it is not always easy to be sure about the exact meaning of the words used in inscriptions some of which may be specific to a particular place or time.
- several thousand inscriptions have been discovered, not all have been deciphered, published and translated.
- Many more inscriptions must have existed, which have not survived the ravages of time.
- Not everything that we may consider politically or economically significant was necessarily recorded in inscription.
- Routine agricultural practices and the joys and sorrow of daily existence find no mention in inscriptions, which focus, more often than not. on grand, unique events.
- The content of inscriptions almost invariably projects the perspective of the person(s) who commissioned them.