restricted the peasants’ mobility and made them subject to increasingly
intensive forced labour. In his article
“How Feudal Was Indian Feudalism?”
while accepting the fact that feudalism was not a universal phenomenon, he argues that this was not true of all the pre-capitalist formations. Thus
„tribalism, the stone age, the metal
age, and the advent of a food-producing economy
are universal phenomena.
They do indicate some laws conditioning the process and pattern of change’.
According to him, there was feudalism in India, even though its nature was significantly different. Feudalism appears in a predominantly agrarian economy which is marked by a class of landlords and a class of servile peasantry. It has been seen as a mechanism for the distribution of the means of production and for the appropriation of the surplus. When Indian Feudalism appeared, early critics argued that Sharma had mechanically imported the "Europeanist" model, especially in his invocation of the role of foreign trade as an instrument of socio-economic change. The construct of Indian feudalism by R.S. Sharma drew criticism from scholars like D.C. Sircar who was of the view that a large number of grants were made to Brahmins and other religious institutions, there was scant evidence of the existence of land grants of a secular kind with service tenures. For B.N.S. Yadava, the most important feature of Indian feudalism was the
samanta or the independent neighbouring chief
, who rose to prominence in about 600 or so. His main intention was to reinstall feudatories and court dignitaries and to reclaim them from the oblivion that their erstwhile vanquished status had relegated them to. Harbans Mukhia questions the very possibility of the existence of Indian feudalism. He begins in his article
“Was there Feudalism in Indian history?”
by arguing that there is no single, universally accepted definition of feudalism.
He actually contends that the term ‘feudalism’ itself is not conducive for
implementation in the context of any period in Indian history. He defines feudalism as
‘the structured dependence of the entire
peasantry on the lords’
. Such a system was specific to Western Europe between the 5
centuries. He considers feudalism as a
-way in the transition of the West European economy from a primarily slave-based system of agricultural production to one dominated by the complementary classes of the capitalist farmers and the landless agricultural wage-earner, but in which the