Kings Farmers And Towns (Early States And Economies) NCERT Textbook PDF

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Kings Farmers And Towns Early States And Economies

Chapter 2: Kings Farmers And Towns Early States And Economies

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.

He found that most of these mentioned a king referred to as Piyadassi – meaning “pleasant to behold”; there were a few inscriptions that also referred to the king as Asoka, one of the most famous rulers known from Buddhist texts.

This gave a new direction to investigations into early Indian political history as European and
Indian scholars used inscriptions and texts composed in a variety of languages to reconstruct
the lineages of major dynasties that had ruled the subcontinent.

As a result, the broad contours of political history were in place by the early decades of the twentieth century.

Subsequently, scholars began to shift their focus to the context of political history, investigating whether there were connections between political changes and economic and social developments.

It was soon realized that while there were links, these were not always simple or direct.

The sixth century BCE is often regarded as a major turning point in early Indian history. It is an era associated with early states, cities, the growing use of iron, the development of coinage, etc.

It also witnessed the growth of diverse systems of thought, including Buddhism and Jainism. Early Buddhist and Jaina texts (see also Chapter 4) mention, amongst other things, sixteen states known as mahajanapadas.

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 (p. 30), where power was shared by a number of men, often collectively called rajas. Both Mahavira and the Buddha (Chapter 4) belonged to such ganas.

In some instances, as in the case of the Vajji sangha, the rajas probably controlled resources such as land collectively.

Although their histories are often difficult to reconstruct due to the lack of sources, some of these states lasted for nearly a thousand years.

Between the sixth and the fourth centuries BCE, Magadha (in present-day Bihar) became the most powerful mahajanapada.

Modern historians explain this development in a variety of ways: Magadha was a region where agriculture was especially productive.

Besides, iron mines (in present-day Jharkhand) were accessible and provided resources for tools and weapons.

Elephants, an important component of the army, were found in forests in the region. Also, the Ganga and its tributaries provided a means of cheap and convenient communication.

However, early Buddhist and Jaina writers who wrote about Magadha attributed its power to the policies of individuals: ruthlessly ambitious kings of whom Bimbisara, Ajatasattu, and Mahapadma Nanda are the best known, and their ministers, who helped implement their policies.

Initially, Rajagaha (the Prakrit name for present-day Rajgir in Bihar) was the capital of Magadha.
Interestingly, the old name means “house of the king”.

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.

Language English
No. of Pages25
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NCERT Solutions Class 12 History Chapter 2 Kings Farmers And Towns Early States And Economies

1. Discuss the evidence of craft production in Early Historic cities. In what ways is this different from the evidence from Harappan cities?
Ans: Widespread and deep excavations in the early historic towns have not been possible due to the fact that these towns are still inhabited.

In Harappan Civilisation, we have been fortunate enough that excavations have taken place widespread. Despite this shortcoming, we have found many artifacts in the historic towns.

These throw light on the craftsmanship of those days. There is other evidence too, that throws light on the craftsmanship of those days.

The salient features of such evidence are as follows:
1. From the sights the fine pottery bowls and dishes have been found. They are glossy too and we call them Northern Black Polished Ware. It looks like they were used by the rich people.

2. There has also been evidence of ornaments, tools, weapons, vessels, and figurines. There is a wide range of items made of gold, silver, copper, bronze, ivory, glass, shell, and terracotta.

3. The donor inscription tells who all lived in towns in terms of professionals and craftsmen. It included washer men, weavers, scribes, carpenters, goldsmiths, ironsmiths, etc. It is notable in Harappan towns there is no evidence of iron use.

4. The craftsmen and artisans built their guilds too. They collectively bought raw materials, and produced and marketed their products.

2. Describe the salient features of mahajanapadas.
Ans: The salient features of mahajanapadas are as follows :

  • The most important mahajanapadas were Vajji, Magadha, Koshala, Kuru, Panchala, Gandhara and Avanti.
  • 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.
  • In some cases, as in the case of the Vajji sangha, the rajas probably controlled resources such as land collectively.
  • Each mahajanapada had a capital city, which was often fortified.
  • Brahmanas composed the Dharmasutras which laid down norms for rulers as well as for other social categories. The rulers were ideally expected to be Kshatriyas. Rulers were advised to collect taxes and tribute from cultivators, traders, and artisans.
  • Sometimes raids on neighboring states were conducted for acquiring wealth. These raids were recognized as legitimate means.
  • Gradually, some states acquired standing armies and maintained regular bureaucracies. Others continued to depend on the militia, recruited from the peasantry.

3. How do historians reconstruct the lives of ordinary people?
Ans: Ordinary people could not leave behind any historical evidence about their life. Hence, historians use a variety of sources to reconstruct the lives of the common people during ancient times.

The important sources are:
1. Remains of houses and pottery give an idea of the life of common men.
2. Some inscriptions and scriptures talk about the relation between monarchs and the subject. It talks about taxes and the happiness and unhappiness of the common men.
3. Changing tools of craftsmen and farmers talk about the lifestyle of the people.
4. Historians also depend upon folklores to reconstruct the lives of the people during ancient times.

4. Compare and contrast the list of things given to the Pandyan chief (Source 3) with those produced in the village of Danguna (source 8). Do you notice any similarities and differences?
Ans: The gifts given to the Pandya chief included things like ivory, fragrant wood, honey, sandal¬wood, pepper, flowers, etc. in addition to many birds and animals that were also given as gifts.

On the contrary, items produced in the village of Danguda included grass, the skin of animals, flower salt and other minerals, etc. In both lists, the only common item is a flower.

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