NCERT Notes for Class 12 History Chapter 2 KINGS FARMERS AND TOWNS

Class 12 History Chapter 2 KINGS FARMERS AND TOWNS

NCERT Notes for Class 12 History Chapter 2 KINGS FARMERS AND TOWNS, (history) exam are Students are taught thru NCERT books in some of the state board and CBSE Schools. As the chapter involves an end, there is an exercise provided to assist students to prepare for evaluation. Students need to clear up those exercises very well because the questions inside the very last asked from those.

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NCERT Notes for Class 12 History Chapter 2 KINGS FARMERS AND TOWNS

Class 12 History Chapter 2 KINGS FARMERS AND TOWNS

 

EARLY STATES AND ECONOMIES

(C.600 BCE-600 CE) (Political and Economic History from the Mauryas to the Guptas)

Introduction

  • 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, the emergence of new towns, etc.
  • Historians tried to understand these changes by using a variety of sources-Inscriptions, texts coins, etc. This is a complex process and sources do not tell the entire story.

Some developments during the long span of 1500 years following the end of the Harappan Civilization

  • There were several developments that took place in India during the long span of 1,500 years following the end of the Harappan civilization. They are:
  • Rig-Veda was composed along the Indus and its tributaries
  • Agricultural settlements emerged in many parts of the subcontinent.
  • The emergence of a new mode of disposal of the dead like Megaliths in central and south India.
  • The emergence of new towns and kingdoms.

The Sixth century BCE was a turning point in early Indian history:  Reasons

  • The sixth century BCE is often regarded as a major turning point in early Indian history.
  • This era is known for some crucial developments. They are:
  • Increased use of iron
  • Development of coinage
  • The emergence of early states and cities
  • Rise of new religions, namely, Jainism and Buddhism

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)
  • Power was shared by a number of men, often collectively called Rajas.
  • Both Mahavira and Buddha belonged to such ganas.
  • In the case of the Vajji sangha, the rajas probably controlled resources such as land collectively. 
  • Each had its own capital often fortified.
  • Some states maintained permanent standing armies recruited from the peasantry and regular bureaucracies.
  • Dharmasutras laid down norms for kings and other people.
  • The functions of the rulers were to collect taxes and tribute from the people.

Factors responsible for the rise of Magadha

  • Between the sixth and fourth centuries BCE, Magadha became the most powerful Mahajanapadas.
  • Having Powerful and ambitious rulers like Bimbisara, Ajatasattu, and Mahapadma Nanda.
  • The availability of iron enabled the Magadha to make tools and weapons.
  • The 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 the Ganges.
  • Rajgriha, the old capital of Magadha was located amongst hills.

The Mauryan Empire

  • The rise of Magadha culminated in the emergence of the Mauryan Empire.
  • Chandragupta Maurya (c.321BCE) was the founder of the empire who extended control up to Afghanistan and Baluchistan.
  • His grandson, Ashoka, the most famous ruler conquered Kalinga.

Variety of Sources to reconstruct the history of the Mauryan Empire

Historians have used a variety of sources to reconstruct the history of the Mauryan Empire. They are:

  • Archaeological find sculptures, Asoka’s inscriptions
  • Literary sources like Indica account of Megasthanese, Arthashastra of Kautilya, and Buddhist, Jaina, and Puranic literature.

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
  • Generosity towards Brahmanas and other sects
  • Kindness towards slaves and servants.
  • Religious tolerance towards other religions

Features of Mauryan Administration as mentioned in the Asokan Inscriptions

  • The Mauryan king was the center of the great administrative system.
  • He enjoyed absolute power.
  • The Mauryan had a strong standing army
  • The vast empire was divided into a number of provinces. 

1. Five Major Political Centres

  • There were five major political centersPataliputra, Taxila, Ujjaini, Tosali, and Suvarnagiri to administer the vast empire.
  • These centers were situated on important long-distance trade routes. Communication along both land and riverine routes was vital for the existence of the 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, and transported infantry, cavalry, chariots, and elephants.
  • The second committee was to arrange bullock carts to carry equipment 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.

New Notions of Kingship (Post-Mauryan period)

  • By the second century BCE, new chiefdoms and kingdoms emerged in several parts of the subcontinent.
  • Cholas, Cheras, and Pandyas in Tamilakam were known from Sangam texts.
  • Several states including Satavahanas and Shakas took advantage of long-distance trade.
  • Kushans (C First century BCE to first century CE) ruled over a vast kingdom extending from central Asia to North West India.
  • Their history has been reconstructed from inscriptions, coins, and sculptures. The notions of kingship they wanted to convey are well reflected in their coins and sculpture.
  • Huge Statues of Kushan rulers have been found in U.P and Afghanistan. This indicates that the Kushans considered themselves godlike. They claimed divine status and adopted the title devaputra, or ‘son of god’.
  • History of the Guptas (4th century CE) has been reconstructed from literature, coins, and inscriptions including prashastis (For e.g.The Prayaga Prashasti(Allahabad Pillar Inscription) composed by Harishena, the court poet of Samudragupta.)
  • What did subjects think about their rulers? Historians have tried to understand this by examining stories contained in Jatakas(written in Pali) and Panchatantra.
  • The jataka story indicates the strained relationship between kings and subjects. Kings demanded high taxes and peasants opposed this.

Strategies for increasing agricultural production

  • Use of iron-tipped ploughshare
  • Introduction of transplantation of paddy
  • Irrigation through wells, tanks, and canals
  • Hoe agriculture in semi-arid parts of Punjab, Rajasthan, and hilly tracks in North-Eastern and Central parts.

Differences in rural society

  • With the increase in production, differences arose among people engaged in agriculture.
  • The Buddhist tradition refers to landless agricultural labourers, small peasants, as well as large landlords.
  • Landlords and heads of villages 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

  • Land grants by kings were recorded in inscriptions.
  • Most of the records are generally about grants to religious institutions or to Brahmanas.
  • Prabhavati Gupta, daughter of Chandragupta II, was married into the family of vakatakas in Deccan.
  • According to Sanskrit legal texts, women were not supposed to have access to land.
  • But Inscription indicates that Prabhavati had access to land.
  • The inscription gives us an idea about rural people-Brahmanas, peasants, and others.
  • There were regional variations in the sizes of land donated.
  • 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.
  • However, groups such as pastoralists, fisher folk, hunter-gatherers, sedentary artisans, and shifting cultivators did not keep detailed records of their lives and transactions.

Towns and Trade

  • From c. sixth century BCE, urban centers emerged in different parts of the subcontinent.
  • The majority of the towns such as Pataliputra, Ujjaini, Puhar, Mathura, etc. were located along riverine or land routes.
  • Votive Inscriptions give us an idea about town people and this inscription also record gifts made to religious institution. 
  • In the towns, different types of people used to live such as washing folk, weavers, scribes, carpenters, potters, goldsmiths, blacksmiths, officials, religious teachers, merchants, and kings.
  • Artisans and traders organized themselves in guilds or shrenis. Guilds procured raw materials, regulated production, and marketed the finished product.
  • Trade was not confined to the subcontinent but extended to East and North Africa and West Asia and to Southeast Asia and China.
  • India used to export spices, fine pearls, ivory, silk cloth, medicinal plants, etc.

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 townpeople.
  • The first coins bearing the names and images of rulers were issued by the Indo-Greeks.
  • The first gold coins were issued in the first century CE by the Kushans.
  • Hordes 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.
  • From the c. sixth century onwards finds of gold coins are fewer. Historians are divided on this issue. Some suggest that there was an economic crisis following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. The decline of long-distance trade affected the prosperity of states, communities, and regions.
  • Others argue that new towns and networks of trade began to emerge around this time though finds of coins are fewer.

Decipherment of Inscriptions

  • James Princep, an officer in the mint of the English East India Company was able to decipher Asokan Brahmi in 1838.
  • The coins of indo–Greek kings contain the names of kings written in Greek and Kharoshti scripts.
  • European scholars compared the letters in both scripts. For e.g., the symbol for “a” could be found in both scripts for writing names such as Appollodotus

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 that 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 concluded that they were issued by the same ruler.

Limitations of Inscriptional Evidence

Inscriptions have some limitations:

  • Letters may be very faintly engraved
  • Inscriptions may be damaged or letters missing
  • It is not sure about the exact meaning of the words.
  • Inscriptions may not have lasted the ravages of time. Thus, what is available at present is simply a fraction of what was written.
  • Inscriptions may not provide a complete idea about the political and economic history
  • Inscriptions are written from the point of view of the person who commissioned them.
  • So, the routine agricultural practices may not be recorded in the inscriptions.

Keywords (Read Instructions regarding contents)

Inscriptions: Inscriptions are writings on stone, metal, pottery, etc

Epigraphy: Study of Inscriptions

Janapada: The land where a Jana (a people, clan, or tribe) sets its foot or settles.

Oligarchy: A form of government where power is exercised by a group of men

Girnar Inscription: The inscription mentions the achievements of the Shaka ruler Rudradaman and Sudarsana Lake

The Manusmriti: Legal texts of early India

The Harshacharita: A biography of Harshavardhana, the king of Kanauj composed by his court poet Banabatta.

Agrahara land : Land granted to a Brahmana. He was exempted from tax but had the right to collect tax dues from local people.

Votive Inscriptions: Votive inscriptions record gifts made to religious institutions.

Periplus of the Erythrean Sea : Periplus of the Erythrean Sea was composed by an anonymous Greek sailor (First century BCE).” Periplus” is a Greek word meaning sailing around and “Erythrean” was the Greek name for the Red Sea.

Numismatics: Study of coins.

 

Why century is often regarded as the turning point in early Indian history?

The sixth century BCE is often regarded as a major turning point in early Indian history.
This era is known for some crucial developments. They are:-
Increased use of iron
Development of coinage
The emergence of early states and cities
Rise of new religions, namely, Jainism and Buddhism

What are the main features of Mahajanapadas Class 12?

Most of the Mahajanapadas were ruled by powerful kings
These states were either ruled by kings or Ganas (Sanghas)
Power was shared by a number of men, often collectively called Rajas.
Both Mahavira and Buddha belonged to such ganas.
In the case of the Vajji sangha, the rajas probably controlled resources such as land collectively. 
Each had its own capital often fortified.
Some states maintained permanent standing armies recruited from the peasantry and regular bureaucracies.
Dharmasutras laid down norms for kings and other people.
The functions of the rulers were to collect taxes and tribute from the people.

What were the causes for the rise of Magadha Class 12?

Between the sixth and fourth centuries BCE, Magadha became the most powerful Mahajanapadas because of following reasons:-

 

Having Powerful and ambitious rulers like Bimbisara, Ajatasattu, and Mahapadma Nanda.
The availability of iron enabled the Magadha to make tools and weapons.
The 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 the Ganges.
Rajgriha, the old capital of Magadha was located amongst hills.

What were the main features of Ashoka’s Dhamma?
Or
What are the basic principles of Ashoka 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
Generosity towards Brahmanas and other sects
Kindness towards slaves and servants.
Religious tolerance towards other religions

Explain the role of sub-committees in coordinating military activities

Megasthanese mentioned a committee with six sub-committees was organized for coordinating military activity. They looked after the navy, and transported infantry, cavalry, chariots, and elephants.
The second committee was to arrange bullock carts to carry equipment procuring food for soldiers and fodder for animals and recruit servants and artisans to look after the soldiers.

Mention the strategies for increasing agricultural production from the 6th century BCE to the 6th century CE.

Use of the iron-tipped ploughshare
Introduction of transplantation of paddy
Irrigation through wells, tanks, and canals
Hoe agriculture in semi-arid parts of Punjab, Rajasthan, and hilly tracks in North-Eastern and Central parts.

Who was James Prinsep Class 12?

James Princep, an officer in the mint of the English East India Company was able to decipher Asokan Brahmi in 1838.
He contributed a lot to Indian epigraphy by deciphering two scripts, Brahmi and Kharosthi in the earliest inscriptions and coins.

How did Kushana rulers exemplify themselves with the high status?

Kushans (C First century BCE to first century CE) ruled over a vast kingdom extending from central Asia to North West India.
Huge Statues of Kushan rulers have been found in U.P and Afghanistan. This indicates that the Kushans considered themselves godlike. They claimed divine status and adopted the title devaputra, or ‘son of god’.
The Kushana rulers washed to project the notions of kingship in their coins and sculpture.
Colossal statues of Kushana rulers have been found installed in a shrine at Mat near Mathura and in Afghanistan.

Mention the ways in which the inscriptions of land grants help us to understand rural society in ancient times.

Land grants by kings were recorded in inscriptions.
Most of the records are generally about grants to religious institutions or to Brahmanas.
How did Kushana rulers exemplify themselves with the high status?
Kushans (C First century BCE to first century CE) ruled over a vast kingdom extending from central Asia to North West India.
Huge Statues of Kushan rulers have been found in U.P and Afghanistan. This indicates that the Kushans considered themselves godlike. They claimed divine status and adopted the title devaputra, or ‘son of god’.
The Kushana rulers washed to project the notions of kingship in their coins and sculpture.
Colossal statues of Kushana rulers have been found installed in a shrine at Mat near Mathura and in Afghanistan.

What are the five major political centers in the Mauryan empire?

Following are the five major political centers in the mauryan empire:-
Magadha province – Pataliputra.
Gandhara province (North-Western province) – Taxila.
Avanti (Eastern province) Ujjain.
Southern province – Swarnagiri.
Kalinga – Tosali.
These centers were situated on important long-distance trade routes. Communication along both land and riverine routes was vital for the existence of the empire.

What are the sources to reconstruct the history of Mauryan Empire Class 12?

Historians have used a variety of sources to reconstruct the history of the Mauryan Empire. They are:-
Archaeological find sculptures.
Inscriptions of Ashoka on rocks and pillars are most valuable sources.
Literary sources like Indica account of Megasthanese, Arthashastra of Kautilya, and Buddhist, Jaina, and Puranic literature.

What does Asokan inscriptions tell about the Mauryas?

Asoka was the first ruler who inscribed his messages on stone surfaces i.e. natural rocks and polished pillars.
He used the inscriptions to proclaim his principles of Dhamma.
Asoka tried to hold his empire together by propagating dhamma.
He appointed Special officers called dhamma mahamattas to spread the message of dhamma.

To what extent the epigraphists face limitations of inscriptional evidence?

Inscriptions have some limitations:-
Letters may be very faintly engraved
Inscriptions may be damaged or letters missing
It is not sure about the exact meaning of the words.
Inscriptions may not have lasted the ravages of time. Thus, what is available at present is simply a fraction of what was written.
Inscriptions may not provide a complete idea about the political and economic history
Inscriptions are written from the point of view of the person who commissioned them.
So, the routine agricultural practices may not be recorded in the inscriptions.

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