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date: 30 September 2022

Early Medieval Bengalfree

Early Medieval Bengalfree

  • Ryosuke FuruiRyosuke FuruiInstitute for Advanced Studies on Asia, The University of Tokyo

Summary

In the early medieval period (6th–12th centuries), diverse terrains of South Asia experienced the rise of regional political powers and the socioeconomic development that would later culminate in the formation of regions. Bengal was no exception and saw the plural strands of historical changes and developments, intertwined with each other. In terms of political process, the first phase of the strand consisted of the rise of subregional kingships after the collapse of Gupta rule in the mid-6th century and the growth of subordinate rulers under them in the subsequent centuries. It was followed by the emergence of regional kingships of the Pālas and the Candras traversing several subregions and the enhancement of their powers in relation to subordinate rulers in the period between the mid-8th century and the mid-12th century. The last phase was the integration of almost all the subregions under the Senas, with stronger control over subordinate rulers and rural society in the second half of the 12th century. In terms of social change, the emphasis was on the hierarchization of land relations from the cultivation of moderate plots by the family labor of peasant householders to the management of large landholdings with layers of overlapping land rights, of which the bottom consisted of actual cultivation by agrarian laborers. Social change also came about through the organization of hereditary occupational groups and the systematization of their mutual relations toward a jāti order. The growth of brahmins as a group—by establishing a clearer identity and imposing their authority in social reorganization—constituted another pillar of the historical process. Political and social processes conditioned, as well as were conditioned, by the economic processes of agrarian expansion and the commercialization of rural economy, which proceeded in the subregions of Bengal in different forms and paces.

Subjects

  • Agrarian/Rural
  • South Asia

Bengal and Its Subregions

Bengal, an eastern region of South Asia comprising Bangladesh and the Indian State of West Bengal, mostly consists of deltas, both active and moribund, and relatively higher old alluviums adjacent to them. The most prominent feature of this region is its river system constituted by the Ganga, the Brahmaputra, and their tributaries and distributaries.1 The sections of Bengal divided by those rivers, with different geographical conditions, constituted the four major historical subregions of Puṇḍravardhana, Rāḍha, Vaṅga, and Samataṭa (see figure 1).2

Figure 1. Bengal and its subregions.

Source: Reproduced from Ryosuke Furui, Land and Society in Early South Asia: Eastern India 400–1250 AD (London and New York: Routledge, 2020), 26.

Puṇḍravardhana, later called Varendra, was located to the north. The Ganga with its Padma channel and the Karatoya demarcated it from Rāḍha, Vaṅga, and the neighboring region of Kāmarūpa, the western part of Assam. Geographically, it mainly consisted of a Pleistocene terrace called Barind and flood plains, mostly old ones.3 Adjacent to the regions of Aṅga and Videha in eastern Bihar, Puṇḍravardhana received the cultural inflow from the mid-Ganga heartland earlier than any of the other subregions, as shown by the oldest inscription of Bengal from Mahasthan, in Brāhmī script assignable to the 3rd century bce.4 This inscription and the excavated sites of Mahasthangarh and Bangarh attest to the development of sedentary agrarian society and urban settlements in the 3rd century bce or earlier, under the political influence of the Mauryas or the other Magadhan dynasties.5

Rāḍha was located to the west, bordered by the Rajmahal and Chotanagpur hills. The Ganga and Bhagirathi demarcated it from the other subregions. The subregion consisted of lateritic old alluvium flanked by the coalesced fans, and the moribund and mature deltas along the Bhagirathi-Hoogly.6 Rāḍha saw the earliest occurrence of protohistoric settlements with evidence of agriculture, as indicated by the archaeological sites scattered all over the area, especially along the Ajay and Damodar valleys.7 The growth of sedentary agrarian society and the early state formation in the subsequent period are attested by the Susuniya rock inscription of mahārāja Candravarman assignable to the mid-4th century.8 In the coastal area, the urban settlements with implications of thriving seaborne trade rose up at the estuary of Ganga and its tributaries from the 3rd century bce onwards.9

Vaṅga occupied the southern part of Bengal. It was constituted by the Ganga Delta proper, which could be further subdivided into the moribund, mature, and active deltas.10 The area surrounded by the rivers Bhagirathi, Padma, and Meghna was the main part of the subregion, while its boundaries oscillated through the ages.11 The Baudhāyanadharmasūtra, datable to the period between the beginning of the 3rd century bce and the mid-2nd century bce, mentions Vaṅga together with Puṇḍra as one of the groups of people living outside Āryāvarta, and visiting those lands would incur the necessity of purificatory rites.12 It indicates a certain level of social organization attained by the local population, in which they could be perceived as ethnic groups with some territoriality. The progress in social organization is attested by the description of the conquest of Vaṅga people in Kālidāsa’s Raghuvaṃśa and the Mehrauli iron pillar inscription, both assignable to the beginning of the 5th century.13

Samataṭa was on the eastern fringe of Bengal, flanked by the subregions of Śrīhaṭṭa and Harikela to its north and south, respectively. It was a lowland that consisted of a delta and floodplains made by the activities of the rivers Surma and Meghna, and the Tippera surface with the low hill range of Lalmai at its eastern end.14 Śrīhaṭṭa corresponded to the depression called Haor basin in present Sylhet division and Harikela to the coastal area of the Chittagong district.15 The Meghna demarcated Samataṭa from Vaṅga.16 The earliest reference to Samataṭa is found in the Allahabad pillar inscription of Samudragupta, datable to the mid-4th century. It mentions the king of Samataṭa as one of the peripheral kings (pratyantanr̥pati) who acknowledged suzerainty of the Gupta king.17

Sedentary agriculture and agrarian society developed earlier in Puṇḍravardhana and Rāḍha, both of which were characterized by old alluvium and mature deltas, than in Vaṅga and Samataṭa with active deltas. The elements which contributed to the early development of the former subregions could be the relative ease of reclamation and the proximity to the mid-Ganga heartland, of which the latter also facilitated the early establishment of administrative apparatus and urban settlements. The basic pattern of agrarian expansion in Bengal inferable from these points is the one that advanced from the plains of Puṇḍravardhana and Rāḍha to the deltas of Vaṅga and Samataṭa, with encroachment on forest tracts at margins. The development of political powers also shows some diversity corresponding to this pattern.

Gupta Rule and Subregional Differences

The Gupta Empire extended its control to the subregions of Bengal to different degrees in the 4th century. Puṇḍravardhana came under its provincial rule as Puṇḍravardhana bhukti by the second quarter of the 5th century and had remained so until the mid-6th century, as attested by so-called land sale grants—inscriptions on copper plates which record sales of waste/fallow land plots (khilakṣetra) for donations to some religious agents, petitioned by individuals and approved by a local body called adhikaraṇa (office).18 Rāḍha, at least a portion covered by the Tāvīra viṣaya (district) adjacent to Orissa, was also under Gupta provincial rule in year 159 Gupta Era (477–478 ce) according to one land sale grant.19

By the time the Guptas had established provincial rule, Puṇḍravardhana had seen the emergence of sedentary agrarian society in which peasant householders called kuṭumbins wielded hegemony over the other social groups, and urban settlements where leaders of mercantile, artisanal, and clerical groups were dominant. Both groups had autonomy as collectives, so that the Gupta provincial administration under uparika (governor) had to collaborate and negotiate with them in diverse administrative settings. Adhikaraṇa was present at different levels of administration, including lower administrative units called viṣaya and vīṭhī, village (grāmāṣṭakulādhikaraṇa, “office of eight families of the village”), and city (adhiṣṭhānādhikaraṇa, “city office”). It functioned as a venue of collaboration and negotiation.20 It also functioned as an arena for local residents to negotiate their relations with each other. As members of vīthyadhikaraṇa (office of vīṭhī), the dominant section of kuṭumbins, including their upper strata called mahattaras and brahmins, confirmed their solidarity and dominance over other kuṭumbins and social groups. As members of grāmāṣṭakulādhikaraṇa, dominant kuṭumbins of a village decided on cases in another village, overriding kuṭumbins residing in the latter. As members of adhiṣṭhānādhikaraṇa, urban elites wielded hegemony over rural society of vicinity and extended their personal interests. What made adhikaraṇa members capable of these acts was their position mediating both local interest and state claim of territorial control, as representatives of local residents and a part of state machinery at the same time. The other members of rural society, in turn, negotiated their relations with dominant groups through the transactions at adhikaraṇa.21

As the dominant form of agricultural production was the one based on family labor of the kuṭumbin household, the mode of agrarian expansion in this period was limited to the reclamation of moderate plots of fallow/waste land (khilakṣetra), as inferable from the size and pattern of land donation described in land sale grants. Though the differentiation among kuṭumbins, both in terms of wealth and authority, was in progress in this period, it did not go far enough to create a sharp division among cultivators and a separation of landholding and cultivation, which would enable labor mobilization beyond the household.22

The state formation in Samataṭa, starting as a peripheral kingdom under the Gupta suzerainty, saw some progress by the early 5th century. The grant of mahārāja maheśvara Nāthacandra dated year 91 Gupta Era (409–410 ce), copied on the later grant of mahārāja Vainyagupta dated 184 Gupta Era (502–503 ce), attests to the rule of a subordinate ruler with autonomy to issue his own land grant. The attempt at state formation through the introduction of a bureaucratic apparatus modeled on the Gupta one is inferable from the titles held by his subordinate, mahāsāndhivigrahika and kumārāmātya, both of which are mentioned in the Allahabad pillar inscription of Samudragupta. The continued presence of subordinate rulers in Samataṭa is shown by the grant of Vainyagupta dated year 184 Gupta Era, in which he acknowledges suzerainty of an overlord. In four years, Vainyagupta grew to a semi-independent ruler with his own subordinate rulers with titles of mahārāja.23

Rural society in Samataṭa in this period consisted of landholders of diverse social backgrounds and occupations, with different sizes of landholdings held individually or collectively. It still lacked sharp stratification among constituents but was overborne by the power and authority of the king and his state apparatus.24

Agrarian development on Samataṭa in this period took the form of intensive reclamation of riverine tracts. Its intensity on the one hand is attested by the grant of Nāthacandra later approved by Vainyagupta, in which large tracts of cultivated land were purchased and donated by the king. On the other hand, reclamation was an ongoing process with room for further agrarian expansion, as shown by the donation of large plots of waste and marshy land in the grant of Vainyagupta dated year 188 Gupta Era (507 ce).25

The presence of religious institutions, Ājīvika saṃgha and Buddhist vihāras, is also prominent in Samataṭa. Their emergence as large-scale landholders—through the accumulation of land plots—and the contention among political powers over these institutions through patronage, both of which are detectable in the Gunaighar grant of Vainyagupta, presage the later development in the subregion.26

Rise of Subregional Kingdoms and Ascendancy of Landed Magnates

In the mid-6th century, subregional kingships with the sovereign title of mahārājādhirāja rose in Vaṅga, Rāḍha, and Puṇḍravardhana, as land sale grants mentioning their reign show. Among the four kings known to have ruled Vaṅga, Gopacandra extended his rule to parts of Rāḍha covered by Vardhamāna bhukti and Daṇḍa bhukti.27 Puṇḍravardhana was ruled by mahārājādhirāja Pradyumnabandhu, sometime after the collapse of Gupta rule, as attested by a land sale grant.28 From the end of the 6th century to the early 7th century, Jayanāga and Śaśāṅka rose to power in Gauḍa, the northern part of Rāḍha, and the latter extended his control to a wide area of eastern Bihar, Bengal, and Orissa. He had significant impact on the larger-scale political events in North India as archenemy of Harṣa, the king of Thanesar and then Kanauj.29

Those subregional kingships had administrative apparatus similar to the Gupta provincial administration and continued to interact with local society through the organization of adhikaraṇa. The adhikaraṇa and associated people continued to issue land sale grants, but the power relations surrounding them and the rural society they resided in had changed in a new political context. First, subregional kingships located within Bengal had tighter control over their territory than the Guptas who ruled their provinces from afar. Consequently, the state and its administrative apparatus showed more presence in rural society, as evident from petitions for land sale almost exclusively made by state officials and emergent subordinate rulers, who tried to extend their interest in rural society.30 Second, mahattaras ascended to form a layer of landed magnates dominating rural society. Excluding kuṭumbins and mercantile and artisanal elites from the process, they presided over petitions for land sale grants in collaboration with clerical groups which constituted members of the adhikaraṇa, forming a nexus with them.31 Those changes resulted in a confrontation between external political powers, thrusted upon rural society, and landed magnates having established their dominance in rural society. The balance tilted to the former so that land sale grants ceased to be issued; instead, issuing donative copper plate grants became the monopoly of kings and subordinate rulers. Some section of landed magnates, however, seems to have succeeded to join the lowest rank of subordinate rulers.32

Agrarian expansion proceeded by the reclamation of marshy lowlands adjacent to rivers in Vaṅga and Puṇḍravardhana, and forest and marshy tracts in Rāḍha. In Rāḍha and Puṇḍravardhana, the clustering of settlements—including agrahāras, villages donated to brahmins—was prominent. Agrarian development reached higher levels in this period, as indicated by the clearer border demarcation of donated land plots which were mostly cultivated land, not fallow/waste land as before. The change in power relations around rural society, especially with regard to the ascendancy of landed magnates, enabled the labor mobilization necessary for agrarian expansion by giving them command over the labor of kuṭumbins and other residents, though it was not so strong that the development swiftly reached its limit. The ascendancy of landed magnates and the emergence of subordinate rulers accelerated the separation of rights to share of products and cultivation by generating stratified land relations, which would fully develop in the later period.33

From the early 7th century onwards, Samataṭa and Śrīhaṭṭa saw the intensification of the formation of local power relations, namely the development of a subregional kingdom with a hierarchy of subordinate rulers, and an agrarian development with synchronic diversity. Bhāskaravarman, the king of Kāmarūpa, extended his control at least to Śrīhaṭṭa. In the mid-7th century, the Khaḍgas established their sovereign power in eastern Vaṅga and Samataṭa, to be followed by the Devas ruling Samataṭa in the 8th and 9th centuries. Meanwhile, the Nāthas and the Rātas, subordinate rulers under the unnamed common overlord, wielded semi-independent power in parts of Samataṭa in the second half of the 7th century. Agrarian expansion in these subregions showed synchronic diversity in patterns reflected on forms of land donation. In Śrīhaṭṭa and peripheral Samataṭa, reclamation of forest tracts was pursued by settling a large number of brahmins by initiatives of subordinate rulers, while stratified land relations with four layers of tenure holders was observed in eastern Vaṅga or western Samataṭa, indicating an advanced level of development. With a case showing an intermediate pattern in a riverine tract of Samataṭa, these patterns indicate the phases of agrarian expansion and development experienced in each locality, from newly reclaimed tract to areas of established sedentary society, with progress in the stratification of land relations.34

Harikela also witnessed the formation of a subregional kingdom and agrarian expansion in the 8th century, as attested by an inscription on a bronze vase recording a series of land transactions centered on a Buddhist vihāra called Dharmasabha vihāra under the reign of rājādhirāja Devātideva. The ascendancy of landed magnates in alliance with literate groups, witnessed earlier in Vaṅga and Rāḍha, is also detectable in the inscription.35 The subregion, on the other hand, had a close connection with the neighboring region of Arakan, as attested by a series of high-quality silver coins with a common motif and weight standard.36

In the 7th century, the emergence of Buddhist vihāras and other religious institutions as large-scale landholders became evident, though it had started earlier in Samataṭa, possibly in the 5th century. It was enabled by emerging stratified land relations in which upper land rights over scattered plots could be accumulated by these institutions. Its connection with royal patronage is also discernible in both the inscriptions recording royal land grants and the accounts of Chinese monk Yijing (635–713).37 Yijing also left an eye-witness account on the management of landed property by sharecropping at a vihāra in Tāmralipti.38

Regional Kingdoms and Change in Rural Society

From the second half of the 8th century to the end of the 11th century, the strong dynasties ruled the western and eastern halves of Bengal, respectively, with wide territories covering several subregions and beyond. One dynasty—the Pālas—who originated from Varendra, extended their territories to Rāḍha and eastern Bihar, and occasionally stretched their power westwards as far as Kanauj in conflict with the Gurjara-Pratihāras and the Rāṣṭrakūṭas in the late 8th century and the early 9th century under Dharmapāla and Devapāla. They kept tight control over Varendra, northern Rāḍha, and eastern Bihar until the end of the 11th century, while continuing their conflict on the western front against the Gāhaḍavālas and the Kalacuris.39 Another dynasty—the Candras—who started as subordinate rulers of Vaṅgāla, the coastal area of Vaṅga, under the kings of Harikela, rose to be sovereign rulers of almost all of eastern Bengal including Vaṅga, Samataṭa, and Śrīhaṭṭa in the first half of the 10th century.40 Meanwhile, some independent political powers with smaller territories ruled Daṇḍabhukti, the area of southern Rāḍha bordering Orissa, and Harikela, as attested by a few inscriptions.41

The regional kingdoms established strong control over rural society, as attested by the royal monopoly of the issue of copper plate grants, excluding adhikaraṇa and associated rural residents, and a vast range of resources and privileges transferred to donees, including rights over commons and power to mobilize the labor of local residents. The large number of officials included in the address of royal grants also shows stronger state presence. At the same time, the reference to local residents in the address of the Pāla grants, which indicates all of the residents by mentioning both the top and bottom layers—namely landholding groups (mahattama, uttama and kuṭumbin) and discriminated marginal groups (meda, āndhra, and caṇḍāla)—indicates the progress of stratification among rural residents who lost their autonomy in front of the enhanced state control, while the address of the Candra grants, which has only two categories of rural residents—people (janapada) and cultivator (karṣaka)—shows that social stratification did not proceed much in the territory of the latter. One element contributing to the stratification was the incorporation of marginal social groups like ḍombas as the lowest layer of the society, labeled by terms like caṇḍāla, and as agrarian laborers generally called pāmaras, which is expressed in verses describing moments of rural life incorporated to the Caryāgīti, a collection of Buddhist esoteric verses, and the Subhāṣitaratnakoṣa and the Saduktikarṇāmr̥ta, anthologies of Sanskrit verses.42

The constituents of state power most prominent under the regional kingships were subordinate rulers called sāmantas. While losing power to issue their own copper plate grants against royal monopoly, they still kept territorial control over a particular area, with their own agenda and stakes in rural society. Their negotiation with the king is detectable in the early Pāla grants donating village or land tract to religious institutions established by the subordinate rulers. They tried to safeguard a part of their territory from royal interference by making it a tax-free donated tract for religious institutions closely connected with themselves. The Pāla kings, however, curved such attempts at enclosure by limiting land and village grants to those for settling qualified brahmins associated with the kingship, who would represent royal authority in the villages they migrated to, and by tightening control over rural society through the measurement of the dimensions of the land of the whole village and the assessment of its production in currency units. These measures gave the Pāla kings the upper hand to their subordinate rulers, but also heightened tension between both parties.43

Negotiations between the king and his subordinate rulers focused on religious agents patronized by them. Buddhist vihāras rose to prominence by patronage of both the Pālas and the Candras, the dynasties officially claimed to be Buddhists. The Pāla kings not only supported old centers but also established new centers like Somapura and Vikramaśīla. The Candras patronized the Buddhist complexes around Lalmai Hill, which were established earlier by the Khaḍgas and the Devas. The royal patronage was not limited to Buddhist vihāras but also extended to Brahmanical institutions including temples and maṭhas.44 The other religious agents that gained importance in this period were the highly qualified brahmins who received royal land and village grants and held a stronger position in rural society with privileges. They acquired a clearer identity in reference to their academic qualifications and kinship relations, and constructed networks in rural space through multiple migrations and the formation of Brahmanical centers.45

Varendra under the Pālas saw a new round of agrarian expansion with the intensified stratification of rural society with low-class agrarian laborers, which enabled the mobilization of labor power necessary for large-scale reclamation. The descriptions of donated tracts in the Pāla grants indicate agrarian expansion to riverine lowland through the enterprises of landed magnates and subordinate rulers in excavating canals and ponds, leading to administrative rearrangements necessitated by settlement expansion. Agrarian expansion was accompanied by the commercialization of rural economy through the spread of rural markets (haṭṭa) and monetary transactions facilitated by imported cowrie shells. Agrarian expansion in Vaṅga and Samataṭa under the Candras, where the stratification of rural society was not so acute, reached its limit, while the peripheral subregion of Śrīhaṭṭa could still afford a large-scale royal grant settling six thousand brahmins. These eastern subregions experienced the circulation of high-quality silver coins from the 7th to the 10th century and the spread of rural markets to some extent, but monetization of the rural economy did not reach the level attained by contemporary Varendra.46

The rural society of this period, especially in Varendra, was confronting both social stratification within itself and enhanced control over it by political powers and religious agents patronized by them. Members of the rural society tried to counter these challenges by two forms of social reorganization. The first form was by maintaining the cohesion of rural society, especially peasant householders. This attempt, detectable in the Kr̥ṣiparāśara, a Sanskrit agricultural manual, failed to abet the stratification. The other form was through the construction of identities and networks of social groups based on common occupations, to be consolidated toward jātis. It was especially prevalent among literate and mercantile groups, of which the latter also organized a merchant association called vaṇiggrāma.47

The tension between the Pāla kings and their subordinate rulers, and between both of them and rural society, culminated in the Kaivarta rebellion which ousted the Pālas from Varendra in the last quarter of the 11th century and constituted the main theme of the Rāmacarita. It started as a revolt of sāmantas of Varendra led by Divya/Divvoka, a chief of a peasantized section of fisher folks called kaivartas, and developed to a large-scale rebellion with elements of popular protest against control of state and religious agents. Rāmapāla (r. 1078/79–1131) suppressed the rebellion by mobilizing the sāmantas of Rāḍha and Bihar, and it resulted in the heavy dependence of the Pāla kings on the latter including Vijayasena, the progenitor of the Sena dynasty.48

Toward the Formation of a Region: Political Integration and Social Development

After the reign of Rāmapāla, Pāla control was on steady decline, which was exacerbated by the conflict between Gopāla IV and Madanapāla (r. 1144–1165), nephew and uncle.49 Meanwhile, the Varmans, probably originating from Kaliṅga, Orissa, ruled Vaṅga after the Candras from c. 1080 to 1150. The Senas originating from Karṇāṭa first held position as a sāmanta of the Pālas in Rāḍha and expanded their territory to Vaṅga and a part of Varendra under Vijayasena (r. 1096–1159). They integrated almost all the subregions of Bengal by ousting the Pālas from Varendra sometime after 1165, just for a short period before losing their western and northern territory to the Turks led by Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khaljī at the beginning of the 13th century. The Senas continued their rule in eastern Bengal until the mid-13th century, while the Later Devas rose in Samataṭa and extended their power to Vaṅga after the decline of the Senas. Śrīhaṭṭa was ruled by the other line of kings.50

The Pālas tried to reestablish their control through the appeasement of subjects, the ascertainment of land rights, the assessment of production, and the reorganization of administration. But their dependence on sāmantas continued, and the latter became more autonomous in proportion to the weakening of Pāla control. Some even became independent, and one of them, the Senas, finally overtook their former overlord.51 The Senas attempted to strengthen their control over rural society by the imposition of a uniform standard of land measurement and the assessment of the annual production of settlements or land plots in a uniform currency unit of kapardakapurāṇa, a theoretical unit of account representing the value of a silver currency counted in cowrie shells. Though the former measure was abandoned, the latter, which was an improvement on the system started earlier by the Pālas in Varendra, was thoroughly applied to all the subregions under the Sena kings and enabled them to assess the agricultural production from rural settlements regardless of diverse standards of land measurement used in different localities, and thus to amass information and keep control over revenue from them. With their enhanced power, the Senas could keep their sāmantas under their control as holders of superior tenure over scattered land plots, with the exception of Ḍommaṇapāla who held his own territory and showed open defiance by issuing his own grant.52

The kingships of this period, including the later Pāla kings, showed strong inclination toward Brahmanical traditions. The royal subscription to particular dharma, socioreligious norms propagated by purāṇas and other Brahmanical texts, is evident in rituals of śānti (propitiation) and mahādāna (great gift) for which royal village and land grants were made to reward participating brahmins, and the compilation of the dharmanibandhas, theme-wise digests of dharma texts, under royal patronage. Highly qualified brahmins, who were constructing clearer identities and networks, established their presence and authority at royal courts as specialists of both rituals and dharma. The establishment of their authority was not limited to courts. The migration and network building of highly qualified brahmins reached the level at which their presence as “higher brahmins,” as opposed to the other ordinary brahmins, was acknowledged in the addresses of copper plate grants, and their identity was represented as subregional identity of Vārendra and Rāḍhīya, resulting from networks formed on Brahmanical centers of each subregion functioning as nodes. Their dominance in rural society, backed by royal patronage and the privileges conferred on them, grew stronger so that only they and other brahmins were informed of the royal grants in the later phase of Sena rule. Their dominance was underscored by their position as large-scale landholders accumulating superior tenures over plural land plots.53

The stratification of rural society continued in Varendra under Pāla rule as attested by the address of their copper plate grants, while it is not so visible in the addresses of the Varman and Sena grants pertaining to Vaṅga and Rāḍha, which mentions rural residents just as people and cultivators like the Candra grants. Some of the Sena grants, however, attest to growing social stratification manifesting itself as layered land relations in which rural residents were divided into landholders individually or collectively holding superior tenures and actual cultivators toiling under them. Meanwhile, artisans, merchants, and the other professional groups were undergoing the process of social organization based on their occupations.54

Social stratification and the organization of occupational groups were connected with a new phase of agrarian development and the commercialization of rural economy. The subregions of Bengal experienced in different timelines a new phase of agrarian development, especially at agrarian frontiers like the Bhagirathi estuary and areas close to the Madhupur tract, by the mobilization of labor of subordinate cultivators, and it resulted in another limit of agrarian expansion yet to be overcome. This agrarian condition brought out a tendency toward the intensive use of landed property, with emphasis on homestead land and gardens for growing products with commercial value. Commercial cropping of areca nuts and coconuts, already practiced in Varendra in the 11th century, spread to the other subregions. This tendency was connected with the commercialization of rural economy in all the subregions of Bengal, which was most evident in the spread of monetary transactions attested by the assessment of annual production in a currency unit.55 The commercialization of rural economy was also corroborated by the activities around rural markets, which was further connected with mercantile networks beyond Bengal, as the case recorded in the Sujanagar stone inscription shows. Mahāsāmanta Avūdeva, possibly an Arab merchant who became a subordinate ruler of Bhojavarman, presumably made monetary endowment in cowrie shells with his kinsmen abroad, which presupposed a wider trade network connecting them all.56

Social stratification and the organization of occupational groups provoked brahmins—who had established their authority in rural society—to intervene in the two forms of social reorganization attempted earlier, namely, the maintenance of the cohesion of rural society and the consolidation of social groups based on common occupations. The former took the form of festivals in the annual calendar prescribed in the purāṇas, of which the most important was the autumn goddess festival. These festivals were characterized by the participation of all the social groups in subversive merrymaking (with the temporary suppression of differences), by which they confirmed their solidarity. Brahmins tried to incorporate these festivals with popular elements and to regulate them by inserting themselves as officiating priests, with different degrees of success.57 The other attempt took the form of the systematization of a jāti order detectable in the narrative of a mixture of varṇas (varṇasaṃkara) in the Br̥haddharmapurāṇa. In this narrative, all the social groups except brahmins were defined as jātis resulting from intermarriage among four varṇas and the offspring of such marriages. They were deemed to be śūdras, both good (sat) and bad (asat), and “the lowest born” (antyaja). By mobilizing this old concept described in the scriptures like the Manusmr̥ti, brahmins defined all the existing social groups by Brahmanical social view and arranged them in a hierarchical order topped by themselves. They also defined the occupation of each group in a way that would not threaten their own intellectual hegemony.58 Those attempts of social reorganization conditioned the development in the late medieval and early modern periods, when Durgāpūjā became prevalent among landlords called zamindars, and the jāti order and its origin described in the Br̥haddharmapurāṇa was widely accepted.59

Discussion of the Literature

The studies on the early history of Bengal, including the early medieval period, which started as the decipherment of newly discovered inscriptions, took a more concrete form in the 1910s and 1920s with the compilation of collections of important inscriptions and studies on them by Akshay Kumar Maitreya, Rakhal Das Banerji, and Nani Gopal Majumdar.60 They were followed by the monographs of Pramode Lal Paul and Benoy Chandra Sen, and The History of Bengal, Vol. 1, edited by Ramesh Chandra Majumdar in the late 1930s and early 1940s.61 The focus of these early works was on political history, so that the other aspects, if ever discussed, were relegated to separate sections like “administration,” “society,” and “economy,” which describe these matters without much consideration on historical change and their interconnections. One important exception among the early studies was the work of Niharranjan Ray, first published in Bengali as Bāṅgālīr Itihās: Ādi Parva in 1949.62 He delineated the historical change of early Bengal society in terms of caste and class, and related economic factors like trade and urbanization.

From the mid-20th century, the socioeconomic history became the mainstay of the historiography on early South Asia in general, and the early history of Bengal also followed suit. The most important works in the 1960s and 1970s were those of Puspa Niyogi and Barrie M. Morrison, respectively, on the expansion of Brahmanical settlements and the political and cultural geography, both based on the analysis of inscriptions from Bengal.63 Both were conscious of subregional diversity within Bengal and the process of settlement expansion and regional integration. In connection with the heated debate on Indian Feudalism proposed by Ram Sharan Sharma, the works of Brajadulal Chattopadhyaya, Momtazur Rahman Tarafdar, and Bratindra Nath Mukherjee on trade and the monetary system in early medieval Bengal negated his theory of a closed agrarian economy and monetary anemia by providing counterevidences.64 Meanwhile, Abdul Momin Chowdhury elaborated on the political history of early medieval Bengal by incorporating the latest results from epigraphic discoveries in East Pakistan.65

Studies more concerned with the socioeconomic aspects of rural society in early medieval Bengal, based on the detailed analysis of epigraphic sources, appeared in the 1980s and 1990s, with due attention being paid to the contemporary discussions on early medieval historical change. A series of articles by Chitrarekha Gupta investigated the land system and process of agrarian expansion in each period of early medieval Bengal through the reading of copper plate inscriptions.66 Brajadulal Chattopadhyaya studied the rural settlements and society of Bengal by analyzing copper plate inscriptions with refined frameworks and pointed out the spatial and social interrelations among settlements.67 His insights, sharpened through his critical engagement with Indian Feudalism and other theories on early medieval South Asian history, gave perspectives to be followed by generations to come.68

The monograph of Kunal Chakrabarti took a different but fruitful approach to the formation of Bengal as a region.69 He focused on the process of cultural interaction and the making of regional traditions, in which brahmins tried to incorporate local cultures through the composition of localized purāṇas, with the aim to maintain their hegemony over other social groups. Around the same time, the works of Ranabir Chakravarti tried to locate early medieval Bengal in wider trade networks.70

Following the steps of the earlier generation and also prompted by the surge of new inscriptional discoveries, more scholars of younger generations have engaged in the early medieval history of Bengal since the end of the 2000s. Many of them contributed to the History of Bangladesh: Early Bengal in Regional Perspectives, edited by Abdul Momin Chowdhury and Ranabir Chakravarti, and some produced monographs including that of Ryosuke Furui delineating the early medieval history of Bengal as a socioeconomic process.71 Among the new questions raised by them, the most prospective was the monetary history of Bengal in reference to its connection with wider commercial networks, for which several articles were written.72

Primary Sources

Epigraphic Sources

The main source for studying early medieval Bengal is contemporary inscriptions. Though several corpuses were published, they are not comprehensive and vary in quality of edition.73 The surge of new discoveries in the first and second decades of the 21st century also requires the publication of an updated corpus incorporating all the relevant inscriptions edited in better quality.74

The most informative inscriptions are copper plate grants recording the transfer of property for religious purposes. They include both land sale grants issued by local bodies, which record the land sales petitioned by individuals, and royal grants issued by rulers. They provide information on factual matters including administrative apparatus, donated tracts, donees, and the terms and conditions of donations. Adding to that, the former gives clues to the activities of people around local bodies, while the latter often contains eulogies (praśasti) with implications for political history. The other inscriptions are diverse, ranging from short donative labels on images to long eulogies on stone slabs and pillars, which provide information about the individuals and social groups who left them.

Textual Sources

Among textual sources, the Rāmacarita of Sandhyākaranandin is important for narrating the deeds of Rāmapāla and his descendants centered on the Kaivarta rebellion. The text and its contemporary commentary provide not only a minute account of the event but also details of sāmantas participating in it.75 The Kr̥ṣiparāśara, an agricultural manual in Sanskrit, describes the agricultural operations and agrarian society of the mid-11th century, while some verses in the Subhāṣitaratnakoṣa and the Saduktikarṇāmr̥ta, anthologies of Sanskrit poems, give us a glimpse of rural life.76 The Caryāgīti, a collection of esoteric Buddhist verses composed in Old Bengali, contains depictions of marginal social groups and their interaction with sedentary agrarian society.77 The purāṇas composed in early medieval Bengal, especially the Br̥haddharmapurāṇa datable to the second half of the 13th century, present Brahmanical perception of social reality and their attempts at its reorganization.78

Foreign Accounts

Accounts of Chinese Buddhist monks, especially Xuanzang and Yijing in the 7th century, and Arab/Persian merchants and geographers in the 9th century, provide precious datable information.79

Further Reading

  • Basu Majumdar, Susmita. “Monetary History of Bengal: ‘Issues and Non-Issues’.” In The Complex Heritage of Early India: Essays in Memory of R. S. Sharma. Edited by Dwijendra Narayan Jha, 585–605. New Delhi: Manohar, 2014.
  • Bhattacharyya, Amitabha. Historical Geography of Ancient and Early Medieval Bengal. Calcutta: Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar, 1977.
  • Chakrabarti, Kunal. Religious Process: The Purāṇas and the Making of a Regional Tradition. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2001.
  • Chakravarti, Ranabir. Trade and Traders in Early Indian Society. 3rd ed. London and New York: Routledge, 2021.
  • Chattopadhyaya, Brajadulal. Aspects of Rural Settlements and Rural Society in Early Medieval India. Delhi: Primus Books, [1990] 2017.
  • Chowdhury, Abdul Momin, and Ranabir Chakravarti, eds. History of Bangladesh: Early Bengal in Regional Perspectives (up to c. 1200 CE), Vol. 1: Archaeology, Political History, Polity; Vol. 2: Society, Economy, Culture. Dhaka: Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, 2018.
  • Datta, Sanjukta. “In the King’s Shadow: Petitioner-Donors of Eighth–Ninth Century Pāla Copper Plate Land Grant Charters.” The Indian Economic and Social History Review 54, no. 4 (2017): 457–476.
  • Deyell, John, and Rila Mukherjee, eds. From Mountain Fastness to Coastal Kingdoms: Hard Money and “Cashless” Economies in the Medieval Bay of Bengal World. New Delhi: Manohar, 2019.
  • Eaton, Richard M. The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204–1760. Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1993.
  • Furui, Ryosuke. Land and Society in Early South Asia: Eastern India 400–1250 AD. London and New York: Routledge, 2020.
  • Ghosh, Suchandra. “Situating the Local Ruling Houses in the Samataṭa Area of the Trans-Meghna Region of Bengal—Sixth to Eighth Centuries CE: A View from Epigraphy.” In Clio and Her Descendants: Essays for Kesavan Veluthat. Edited by Manu V. Devadevan, 745–757. Delhi: Primus Books, 2018.
  • Majumdar, Ramesh Chandra. History of Ancient Bengal. Kolkata: Tulshi Prakashani, [1971] 2005.
  • Majumdar, Ramesh Chandra, ed. The History of Bengal: Vol. 1, Hindu Period. Patna: N. V. Publications, [1943] 1971.
  • Morrison, Barrie M. Political Centers and Cultural Regions in Early Bengal. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1970.
  • Mukherjee, Bratindra Nath. Media of Exchange in Early Medieval North India. New Delhi: Harman Publishing House, 1992.
  • Pal, Sayantani. “Religious Patronage in the Land Grant Charters of Early Bengal (Fifth–Thirteenth Century).” Indian Historical Review 41, no. 2 (2014): 185–205.
  • Ray, Niharranjan. History of the Bengali People: From Earliest Times to the Fall of the Sena Dynasty. Translated by John W. Hood, foreword by Sumit Sarkar. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2013.
  • Sanyal, Rajat. “The Pala-Sena and Others.” In History of Ancient India, Vol. 5: Political History and Administration (c. AD 750–1300). Edited by Dilip K. Chakrabarti and Makkhan Lal, 165–213. New Delhi: Vivekananda International Foundation and Aryan Books International, 2014.
  • Sircar, Dines Chandra. The Kānyakubja-Gauḍa Struggle: From the Sixth to the Twelfth Century A. D. Calcutta: The Asiatic Society, 1985.

Notes

  • 1. Haroun Er Rashid, Geography of Bangladesh, 2nd ed. (Dhaka: The University Press Limited, 1991), 9–42; and Oskar Hermann Khristian Spate and Andrew Thomas Amos Learmonth, India and Pakistan: A General and Regional Geography, 3rd ed. (New Delhi: The University Press Limited, 1984), 572–573.

  • 2. Amitabha Bhattacharyya, Historical Geography of Ancient and Early Medieval Bengal (Calcutta: Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar, 1977), 41–71; and Barrie M. Morrison, Political Centers and Cultural Regions in Early Bengal (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1970), 6–13, 151–154.

  • 3. Rashid, Geography of Bangladesh, 12–20.

  • 4. Dines Chandra Sircar, ed., Select Inscriptions Bearing on Indian History and Civilization, Vol. 1: From the Sixth Century B. C. to the Sixth Century A. D., 2nd ed. (Calcutta: University of Calcutta, 1965), 79–80.

  • 5. Md. Shafiqul Alam and Jean-François Salles, eds., France–Bangladesh Joint Venture Excavations at Mahasthangarh: First Interim Report 1993–1999 (Dhaka: Department of Archaeology, 2001); and Kunja Gobinda Goswami, Excavations at Bangarh (1938–41) (Calcutta: University of Calcutta, 1948).

  • 6. Spate and Learmonth, India and Pakistan, 586–588.

  • 7. Arun K. Nag, “Spatial Analysis of Pre- and Proto-Historic Sites in Ajay-Damodar Valley,” in Archaeology and History: Essays in Memory of Shri A. Ghosh, ed. Brij Mohan Pande and Brajadulal Chattopadhyaya (Delhi: Agam Prakashan, 1987), 265–280.

  • 8. Sircar, Select Inscriptions, 1:351–352.

  • 9. Gautam Sengupta, “Archaeology of Coastal Bengal,” in Tradition and Archaeology: Early Maritime Contact in the Indian Ocean, ed. Himanshu Prabha Ray and Jean-François Salles (New Delhi: Manohar, 1996), 115–128.

  • 10. Spate and Learmonth, India and Pakistan, 588.

  • 11. Bhattacharyya, Historical Geography, 56–62.

  • 12. Baudhāyanadharmasūtra, 1.2.14 in Patrick Olivelle, ed., annot., trans., Dharmasūtras: The Law Codes of Āpastamba, Gautama, Baudhāyana, and Vasiṣṭha (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2000), 198. For the date of text, see Olivelle, Dharmasūtras, 10.

  • 13. Chintaman Ramchandra Devadhar, ed., Raghuvaṃśa of Kālidāsa (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1985), 4.36; and Sircar, Select Inscriptions, 1:283–285.

  • 14. Rashid, Geography of Bangladesh, 28–29, 36.

  • 15. Rashid, Geography of Bangladesh, 24–26 (Śrīhaṭṭa); and Bhattacharyya, Historical Geography, 69–70 (Harikela).

  • 16. Bhattacharyya, Historical Geography, 67.

  • 17. Sircar, Select Inscriptions, 1:265, l:22.

  • 18. Toshio Yamazaki, “Some Aspects of Land-Sale Inscriptions in Fifth and Sixth Century Bengal,” Acta Asiatica no. 43 (1982): 17–36.

  • 19. Arlo Griffiths, “Four More Gupta-Period Copperplate Grants from Bengal,” Pratna Samiksha: A Journal of Archaeology, New Series 9 (2018): 30–35.

  • 20. Ryosuke Furui, Land and Society in Early South Asia: Eastern India 400–1250 AD (London and New York: Routledge, 2020), 46–56.

  • 21. Furui, Land and Society, 56–64.

  • 22. Furui, Land and Society, 66–67.

  • 23. Furui, Land and Society, 67–68.

  • 24. Furui, Land and Society, 73–74.

  • 25. Furui, Land and Society, 68–73.

  • 26. Furui, Land and Society, 75–76.

  • 27. Furui, Land and Society, 85.

  • 28. Arlo Griffiths, “New Documents for the Early History of Puṇḍravardhana: Copperplate Inscriptions from the Late Gupta and Early Post-Gupta Periods,” Pratna Samiksha: A Journal of Archaeology, New Series 6 (2015): 27–33.

  • 29. Ryosuke Furui and Arlo Griffiths, “A New Copperplate Inscription: Grant of the Village Kumudavillikā during the Reign of Śaśāṅka, Year 8,” Pratna Samiksha: A Journal of Archaeology, New Series 11 (2020): 99–100.

  • 30. Furui, Land and Society, 98–100.

  • 31. Furui, Land and Society, 86–98.

  • 32. Furui, Land and Society, 98–101.

  • 33. Furui, Land and Society, 102–105.

  • 34. Furui, Land and Society, 105–111.

  • 35. Ryosuke Furui, “Bangladesh National Museum Metal Vase Inscription of the Time of Devātideva and Its Implications for the Early History of Harikela,” Puravritta 2 (2017): 45–52; and Furui, Land and Society, 113–116.

  • 36. Nicholas G. Rhodes, “Notes on ‘Harikela’ and ‘Ākara’ Coins,” in Early Coinage of Bengal (c. 2nd Century BC–10th Century AD) [With notes on Harikela and Ākara coins by Nicholas G. Rhodes], ed. Shankar K. Bose and Noman Nasir (Kolkata: MIRA BOSE, 2016), 101–110.

  • 37. Furui, Land and Society, 116–119.

  • 38. Li Rongxi, trans., Buddhist Monastic Traditions of Southern Asia: A Record of the Inner Law Sent Home from the South Seas by Śramaṇa Yijing (Taisho Volume 54, Number 2125) (Berkeley, California: Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, 2000), 60–61.

  • 39. Rajat Sanyal, “The Pala-Sena and Others,” in History of Ancient India, Vol. 5: Political History and Administration (c. AD. 750–1300), ed. Dilip K. Chakrabarti and Makkhan Lal (New Delhi: Vivekananda International Foundation and Aryan Books International, 2014), 171–193; and Abdul Momin Chowdhury, “Pāla Realm: Making of a Regional Political Power,” in History of Bangladesh: Early Bengal in Regional Perspectives (up to c. 1200 CE), Vol. 1: Archaeology, Political History, Polity, ed. Abdul Momin Chowdhury and Ranabir Chakravarti (Dhaka: Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, 2018), 691–777.

  • 40. Abdul Momin Chowdhury, Dynastic History of Bengal (c. 750–1200 A. D.) (Dacca: The Asiatic Society of Pakistan, 1967), 154–189; and Shariful Islam, “Emerging Political Entities in South-East Bengal (Vaṅga-Samataṭa-Harikela),” in Chowdhury and Chakravarti, History of Bangladesh, 1: 610–641.

  • 41. Nani Gopal Majumdar, “Irda Copper-Plate of the Kamboja King Nayapaladeva,” Epigraphia Indica 22 (1933–1934): 150–159; K. V. Ramesh and S. Subramonia Iyer, “Kalanda Copper Plate Charter of Nayapāladeva,” Epigraphia Indica 41 (1975–1976): 199–205; Ramesh Chandra Majumdar, “Chittagong Copper-Plate of Kantideva,” Epigraphia Indica 26 (1941–1942): 313–318; and Gouriswar Bhattacharya, “An Inscribed Metal Vase Most Probably from Chittagong, Bangladesh,” in South Asian Archaeology 1991: Proceedings of the Eleventh International Conference of the Association of South Asian Archaeologists in Western Europe, held in Berlin 1–5 July 1991, ed. Adalbert J. Gail and Gerd J. R. Mevissen (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1993), 323–338.

  • 42. Furui, Land and Society, 131–141.

  • 43. Ryosuke Furui, “Subordinate Rulers under the Pālas: Their Diverse Origins and Shifting Power Relation with the King,” The Indian Economic and Social History Review 54, no. 3 (2017): 345–352.

  • 44. Furui, Land and Society, 148–150.

  • 45. Ryosuke Furui, “Brāhmaṇas in Early Medieval Bengal: Construction of Their Identity, Networks and Authority,” Indian Historical Review 40, no. 2 (2013): 229–236.

  • 46. Furui, Land and Society, 153–162.

  • 47. Furui, Land and Society, 163–169.

  • 48. Furui, Land and Society, 169–174. For the reigning period of Rāmapāla, see Shin’ichiro Hori, “On the Exact Date of the Pañcarakṣā Manuscript Copied in the Regnal Year 39 of Rāmapāla in the Catherine Glynn Benkaim Collection,” Bulletin of the International Institute for Buddhist Studies 2 (2019): 49–55.

  • 49. Ryosuke Furui, “Rajibpur Copperplate Inscriptions of Gopāla IV and Madanapāla,” Pratna Samiksha: A Journal of Archaeology, New Series 6 (2015): 56–57.

  • 50. Chowdhury, Dynastic History of Bengal, 189–264; Furui, Land and Society, 188; Islam, “Emerging Political Entities in South-East Bengal,” 642–658, 671–690; and Abdul Momin Chowdhury and Chitta Ranjan Misra, “The Sena Rule: Towards the Integration of Sub-Regions,” in Chowdhury and Chakravarti, History of Bangladesh, 1: 833–856.

  • 51. Furui, Land and Society, 189–190.

  • 52. Furui, Land and Society, 193–197.

  • 53. Furui, Land and Society, 202–209; and Furui, “Brāhmaṇas in Early Medieval Bengal,” 236–241.

  • 54. Furui, Land and Society, 209–214.

  • 55. Furui, Land and Society, 214–221.

  • 56. Ryosuke Furui, “Sujanagar Stone Inscription of the Time of Bhojavarman, Year 7,” Pratna Samiksha: A Journal of Archaeology, New Series 10 (2019): 119–120.

  • 57. Furui, Land and Society, 223–227; and Furui, “Brāhmaṇas in Early Medieval Bengal,” 242–244.

  • 58. Furui, Land and Society, 227–236.

  • 59. Bihani Sarkar, “The Rite of Durgā in Medieval Bengal: An Introductory Study of Raghunandana’s Durgāpūjātattva with Text and Translation of the Principal Rites,” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 22, no. 2 (2012): 325–390; and Ronald B. Inden, Marriage and Rank in Bengali Culture: A History of Caste and Clan in Middle Period Bengal (New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1976).

  • 60. Akshay Kumar Maitreya, ed., Gauḍalekhamālā (Kolkata: Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar, [1912] 2004); Rakhal Das Banerji, “The Pālas of Bengal,” Memoirs of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 5, no. 3 (1915): 43–113; and Nani Gopal Majumdar, ed., Inscriptions of Bengal, Vol. 3: Containing Inscriptions of the Chandras, the Varmans and the Senas, and of Īśvaraghosha and Dāmodara (Kolkata: Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar, [1929] 2003).

  • 61. Pramode Lal Paul, The Early History of Bengal: From the Earliest Times to the Muslim Conquest, 2 vols. (Calcutta: Indian Research Institute, 1939 and 1940); Benoy Chandra Sen, Some Historical Aspects of the Inscriptions of Bengal [Pre-Muhammadan Epochs] (Calcutta: University of Calcutta, 1942); and Ramesh Chandra Majumdar, ed., The History of Bengal, Vol. 1: Hindu Period (Patna: N. V. Publications, [1943] 1971).

  • 62. Niharranjan Ray, History of the Bengali People: From Earliest Times to the Fall of the Sena Dynasty, trans. John W. Hood, with foreword by Sumit Sarkar (New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2013).

  • 63. Puspa Niyogi, Brahmanic Settlements in Different Subdivisions of Ancient Bengal (Calcutta: Indian Studies: Past and Present, 1967); and Morrison, Political Centers and Cultural Regions.

  • 64. Ram Sharan Sharma, Indian Feudalism: c. 300–1200 (Calcutta: Calcutta University Press, 1965); Brajadulal Chattopadhyaya, “Currency in Early Bengal,” Journal of Indian History 55, no. 3 (1977): 41–60; Momtazur Rahman Tarafdar, “Trade and Society in Early Medieval Bengal,” Indian Historical Review 4, no. 2 (1978): 274–286; Bratindra Nath Mukherjee, “Commerce and Money in the Western and Central Sectors of Eastern India (c. A.D. 750–1200),” Indian Museum Bulletin 17 (1982): 65–83; and Bratindra Nath Mukherjee, Media of Exchange in Early Medieval North India (New Delhi: Harman Publishing House, 1992).

  • 65. Chowdhury, Dynastic History of Bengal.

  • 66. Chitrarekha Gupta, “Early Brahmanic Settlement in Bengal—Pre Pala Period,” in Sri Dinesacandrika: Studies in Indology (Shri D. C. Sircar Festschrift), ed. Bratindra Nath Mukherhee, D. R. Das, S. S. Biswas, and S. P. Singh (Delhi: Sundeep Prakashan, 1983), 215–224; Chitrarekha Gupta, “‘Khila-kṣetra’ in Early Bengal Inscriptions,” in Studies in Art and Archaeology of Bihar and Bengal: Nalīnikānta Śatavārṣikī: Dr. N. K. Bhattasali Centenary Volume (1888–1988), ed. Debala Mitra and Gouriswar Bhattacharya (Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications, 1989), 271–283; and Chitrarekha Gupta, “Land-Measurement and Land-Revenue System in Bengal under Senas,” in Explorations in Art and Archaeology of South Asia: Essays Dedicated to N. G. Majumdar, ed. Debala Mitra (Calcutta: Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, 1996), 573–593.

  • 67. Brajadulal Chattopadhyaya, Aspects of Rural Settlements and Rural Society in Early Medieval India (Calcutta: K. P. Bagchi, 1990), 18–69.

  • 68. Brajadulal Chattopadhyaya, The Making of Early Medieval India (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1994), 1–37, 183–222; and Brajadulal Chattopadhyaya, “State and Economy in North India: Fourth Century to Twelfth Century,” in Recent Perspectives of Early Indian History, ed. Romila Thapar (Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1995), 309–337.

  • 69. Kunal Chakrabarti, Religious Process: The Purāṇas and the Making of a Regional Tradition (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2001).

  • 70. Ranabir Chakravarti, “Early Medieval Bengal and the Trade in Horses: A Note,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of Orient 42, no. 2 (1999): 194–211; and Ranabir Chakravarti, Trade and Traders in Early Indian Society (New Delhi: Manohar, 2002), 142–159, 187–200.

  • 71. Chowdhury and Chakravarti, History of Bangladesh, Vol. 1: Archaeology, Political History, Polity, Vol. 2: Society, Economy, Culture (Dhaka: Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, 2018); and Furui, Land and Society.

  • 72. Susmita Basu Majumdar, “Monetary History of Bengal: ‘Issues and Non-Issues’,” in The Complex Heritage of Early India: Essays in Memory of R. S. Sharma, ed. Dwijendra Narayan Jha (New Delhi: Manohar, 2014), 585–605; Suchandra Ghosh, “Understanding the Economic Networks and Linkages of an Expanded Harikela,” in From Mountain Fastness to Coastal Kingdoms: Hard Money and “Cashless” Economies in the Medieval Bay of Bengal World, ed. John Deyell and Rila Mukherjee (New Delhi: Manohar, 2019), 77–108; and Sayantani Pal, “Media of Exchange under the Pālas and the Senas as Reflected in Their Inscriptions,” in Deyell and Mukherjee, From Mountain Fastness to Coastal Kingdoms, 53–76.

  • 73. Maitreya, Gauḍalekhamālā; Majumdar, Inscriptions of Bengal, Vol. 3; and Ramaranjan Mukherjee and Sachindra Kumar Maity, eds., Corpus of Bengal Inscriptions: Bearing on History and Civilization of Bengal (Calcutta: Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyay, 1967).

  • 74. For the updated list of inscriptions, see Furui, Land and Society, 258–272.

  • 75. Haraprasad Sastri, ed., Radhagovinda Basak, rev., trans., annot., Rāmacaritam of Sandhyākaranandin (Calcutta: The Asiatic Society, 1969). A new edition by Sylvain Brocquet, La geste de Rāma: poème à double sens de Sandhyākaranandin (Introduction, texte, traduction, analyse) (Pondichéry: Institut français de Pondichéry, École française d’Extrême-Orient, 2010), does not include the commentary.

  • 76. Girija Prasanna Majumdar and Sures Chandra Banerji, eds., trans., Kr̥ṣi-Parāśara (Calcutta: The Asiatic Society, 2001); Damodar Dharmanand Kosambi and V. V. Gokhale, eds., The Subhāṣitaratnakoṣa (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1957); and Sures Chandra Banerji, ed., Sadukti-Karṇāmr̥ta of Śrīdharadāsa (Calcutta: Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyay, 1965).

  • 77. Per Kvaerne, An Anthology of Buddhist Tantric Songs: A Study of the Caryāgīti, 3rd ed. (Bangkok: Orchid Press, 2010).

  • 78. Haraprasad Shastri, ed., Br̥haddharmapurāṇam, 2nd ed. (Varanasi: Krishnadas Academy, 1974). For dating and provenance of the localized purāṇas, see Rajendra Chandra Hazra, Studies in Upapurāṇas, 2 vols. (Calcutta: Sanskrit College, [958 and 1963).

  • 79. Xuanzang: Li Rongxi, trans., The Great Tang Dynasty Record of the Western Regions: Translated(sic.) by the Tripiṭaka-Master Xuanzang under Imperial Order; Composed by Śramaṇa Bianji of the Great Zongchi Monastery (Taisho, Volume 51, Number 2087) (Berkeley, California: Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, 1996); Li Rongxi, trans., A Biography of the Tripiṭaka Master of the Great Ci’en Monastery of the Great Tang Dynasty: Translated from the Chinese of Śramaṇa Huili and Shi Yancong (Taishō, Volume 50, Number 2053) (Berkeley, California: Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, 1995); Yijing: Li Rongxi, trans., Buddhist Monastic Traditions of Southern Asia; I-Ching: Latika Lahiri, trans., Chinese Monks in India: Biography of Eminent Monks Who Went to the Western World in Search of the Law During the Great T’ang Dynasty (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1986); and Ibn Khurdādhbih: Al-masālik wa’l-mamālik and Sulaymān al-Tājir: Akhbār al-Ṣīn wa’l-Hind in Arabic Classical Accounts of India and China, trans. S. Maqbul Ahmad (Shimla: Indian Institute of Advanced Study, 1989).