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A MARXIST HISTORY OF THE KADAMBAS

HISTORY I I YEAR III TRIMESTER 2014

Harshitha Dammu [2056] Date of Submission: April 12, 2014

National Law School of India University, Bengaluru

.............. 13 CONCLUSION ................ 3 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY ................................................................................................................................... 7 CHAPTER II: EARLY KADAMBAS AND THE AGE OF FEUDALISM ............................... INTRODUCTION ............. 8 CHAPTER III: THE KADAMBA POLITICAL STRUCTURE AND ITS DETERMINANTS .............................................................................................................. 5 CHAPTER I: PRE-FEUDAL KARNATAKA AND THE SATAVAHANAS .................... 17 NATIONAL LAW SCHOOL OF INDIA UNIVERSITY ....................................A MARXIST HISTORY OF THE KADAMBAS 2 TABLE OF CONTENTS Page No................... 15 BIBLIOGRAPHY .........................................................................................................................................................................................................

Marxian historians firmly believe that it is the people through the course of their struggle that make historical events and eventually history. The Kadambas were an influential ruling dynasty in Southern India during what many historians term as the ancient Indian period.A MARXIST HISTORY OF THE KADAMBAS 3 INTRODUCTION Much of written history has been the history of rulers.D Kosambi and Irfan Habib applied the Marxist methodology to their study of India’s past and made pioneering and refreshing contributions to the interpretation of the same. Marxist historiography centred its study on that of the working class and their social and economic constraints. D. most of these historians were from the northern part of the nation. For many. In an unprecedented approach. The contribution of the Kadambas to the history of Karnataka is significant. independent and unified cultural and political entity. The works of these scholars and academicians have initiated a process of reviving the highly subjugated Marxist historiography and in a small way. It is with the same view and purpose that the researcher has studied the history of the Kadamba State. one that the sphere of Indian historical writing had always been dominated by nationalist historians who used a completely different approach in their study of the past and two. the lost true history of the Kadambas. Hence it is not surprising that they were not very well acquainted with their history. a revolutionary obsessed with the liberation of people in India penned two brilliant volumes from a historical materialist standpoint. Their history had been sadly reduced to that of questionable origin myths and dry. historians considered only that and not everyday life of the people as worth recording. After the Second World War a new school of historical thought – Marxist historiography or historical materialism as is commonly known gained prominence in mainstream history. It was only during their rule that Karnataka emerged as a strong. For centuries. It was only in the late 20th Century that some eminent authors like R. NATIONAL LAW SCHOOL OF INDIA UNIVERSITY . This could have been for two reasons.S Sharma. In spite of this. it was the rulers and their politics that made history. The History of Karnataka in particular received attention after Saketh Rajan. factual accounts of rulers and their reign. for a very long time the Kadambas received very little to no reference in the general history of India.

This paper is thus an attempt to effectively understand the Kadamba State in its entirety by drawing a link between its social and economic structures and its political structure. For having used the Historical Materialism approach most social. Some of the institutions that developed during their rule must have definitely continued well into the Kadamba rule and influenced the nature of its polity. But it is not that feudalism erupted out of nowhere during the Kadamba age. economic and political developments mentioned have been explained as antagonisms in an existing society and the resulting transitions into new modes of production.A MARXIST HISTORY OF THE KADAMBAS 4 This research paper is a highly selective and condensed compilation of the major works of such Marxist historians in India. The seeds for its growth must have been sown before at an earlier time and this is the purpose for which the Satavahana State is also briefly analysed. NATIONAL LAW SCHOOL OF INDIA UNIVERSITY . In analysing the nature of the Kadamba State they have converged their views to come to the conclusion that it was feudalistic in nature.

NATIONAL LAW SCHOOL OF INDIA UNIVERSITY . To understand what determines the larger political superstructure of a State. To establish that the Marxist approach to understanding history is the best way to obtain meaningful and accurate history. Was the introduction of the feudal system purely a politico-legal decision by the rulers or was it influenced by the existing socio-economic structure of the Kadamba people at the time? 3. Considering that the socio-economic structure of a State almost always affect its polity. Aims: To analyse the political structure of the Kadamba State by way of studying the society and economy during its rule and its predecessor’s rule. Research questions: 1. Almost everything that is known about the Kadambas of Banavasi is sourced from inscriptions made during their rule.A MARXIST HISTORY OF THE KADAMBAS 5 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY Hypothesis: The Kadamba State was feudalistic in nature as a result of its socio-economic structure. There is absolutely no literary evidence dating back to their time that refers to them. What was the nature of the economy and society of Karnataka before the Kadambas? Did it contribute in anyway whatsoever to the rise of feudalism later in the Kadamba age? 2. Objectives: To elaborate on the hypothesis statement and come to a conclusion about its validity. how did Kadamba polity change with certain dynamic developments in its economy and society? Scope: The scope of the research paper has been expanded to include the Satavahana State as it is believed by the researcher that it helps in having a better understanding of the Kadamba State that emerged after it. Limitations: There were many rulers with the dynastic name ‘Kadambas’ but this study is limited to the Kadambas of Banavasi otherwise known as the Early Kadambas.

2. Page Number (Edition Number (if any).g. A Pre Feudal History of Karnataka – Keeping in mind the Marxist view that changes in society are a result of internal conflicts over production relations. Sub-Title (if any). Articles and book reviews have been studied but not used in the paper as research material.A MARXIST HISTORY OF THE KADAMBAS 6 Sources: The research has been sourced entirely from secondary sources i. Kadamba Kingdom during the Age of Feudalism – A study of the main features of the feudalistic Kadamba society and economy. Title of the Book. Year of Publication). Mode of Citation: A Uniform mode of citation has been followed throughout the paper. in this case a feudal State and not the other way round as is believed by most historians. Understanding Kadamba State by its society and economy – In furtherance of the main objective of proving that the socio-economic structure determines a state. books. Chapterisation: 1. It is basically an attempt to trace out the beginnings of feudalism.e. Karnataka under the Satavahanas and the changes their rule brought to its people and their productive relations has been briefly discussed.: Author. 3. The citation is for books is as follows:E. NATIONAL LAW SCHOOL OF INDIA UNIVERSITY . Place of Publishing: Publisher.

Sudras in Ancient India.1 A better understanding of the Kadamba State. Making History: Karnataka’s People and their Past .3 This new instrument of production signalled the end of primitive agriculture of tribal societies and established a State founded on class society with caste as its basis of division. Almost always. 98 (Bangalore: Vimukthi Prakashana. 1998). Aspects of Political Ideas and Institutions in Ancient India .A MARXIST HISTORY OF THE KADAMBAS 7 CHAPTER I: PRE-FEUDAL KARNATAKA AND THE SATAVAHANAS The transformation and development of society is a steady and often imperceptible process stretching over long periods of time.4 1 Saketh Rajan. 201 NATIONAL LAW SCHOOL OF INDIA UNIVERSITY . 160 3 DD Kosambi. the structure of an existing State has been determined by its preceding State. thus can only be achieved by studying the Satavahana State before it. An Introduction to the study of Indian History. The Satavahanas ruled parts of Northern Karnataka after the fall of the great Mauryan Empire.2 The earliest references to the use of an iron plough for agriculture in the Southern part of the Indian subcontinent comes from the Satavahana age around 240 BC. 240 4 RS Sharma. 2 RS Sharma.

6 (New Delhi: Agam Kala Prakashan. Although several factors forced this restructuring of the State. the land grants definitely helped create an intermediary landed class. They either refused to stick to the producing functions assigned to them or declined to pay taxes. The new socio-economic structure – some main features Existence of a landed intermediary class – Decentralised State As mentioned in the previous chapter. Chalukyas of Vatapi.5 Either way. and this itself was based on the emergence of a new class that was provided land grants by the king. 1984). 24 (Sirsi: Kadamba Institute of Cultural Studies. 6 BR Gopal.6 Now. 7 KV Ramesh.7 This can be seen from the fact that 5 Supra note 2. mostly to individual Brahmins and otherwise Jainas. rich merchants and military chiefs. administrators. who wielded considerable economic and political power. 1985). the chief measure undertaken by the State to ensure stability in the social order and otherwise legitimising State rule was issuing of land grants. Corpus of Kadamba Inscriptions.A MARXIST HISTORY OF THE KADAMBAS 8 CHAPTER II: EARLY KADAMBAS AND THE AGE OF FEUDALISM It is at this juncture that we come to discuss about the transformation of the Shudra mode of production into the feudal mode of production. in order to maintain the stability of the existing social structure of class division. the State had to be restructured. Land grants were seen as the most prized manner of payment and so replaced payment in cash. at 234. the main and the most relevant to the purpose of this paper is the rebellion of the labour class roughly corresponding to the third century AD. 1. NATIONAL LAW SCHOOL OF INDIA UNIVERSITY .

The Kadamba Kula. levy of forced labour. Bombay: Asian Educational Services.12 Another event that was a setback to the large Kadamba kingdom was its division into three smaller kingdoms. 314 (New Delhi: Abhinan Publications. 1980). Urbanisation in Ancient India. 1990). NATIONAL LAW SCHOOL OF INDIA UNIVERSITY .11 Taking advantage of relatively smaller opponent kingdoms. regulation of mines and agriculture. The later Kadamba rulers too were often engaged in wars with other contemporary rulers often losing parts of their own territory. A strong centralised bureaucracy. who neither held power in its direct form nor worked as part of their profession yet extracted surplus from the labour class and enjoyed all economic benefits that earlier accrued to the State when it held the ownership of land.9 The State now depended upon this class of landlords for taxes in kind and for military service thereby creating a hierarchy of feudal interests over the lands. However. This political instability continued until the first Kadamba king Mayuravarma rose to power and defeated all these kingdoms. The Feudal Element in Western Chalukya Polity. each tried to obtain suzerainty of the other. New Delhi: Macmillan India. 9 B.8 What this meant for the Kadamba Kingdom was that now. New Delhi: Macmillan India. Sheik Ali. maintenance of law and order and defence were gradually handed over to firstly the priestly or Brahmin class and then the warrior class. 8 VK Thakur. 4 (2 edn. 1981). even the now new Kadamba kingdom was not large enough or strong enough to retain centralised power. 354 (1 edn.A MARXIST HISTORY OF THE KADAMBAS 9 functions hitherto performed by State officials such as collection of taxes. 213 (1 edn. each headed by a rival member of the family. 12 Y Gopala Reddy. Karnataka and Maharashtra. which was a hallmark of the Mauryan State now gave way to decentralisation and with it the feudalisation of the economy and the society as a whole. 1981). The successors to Mayuravarma contributed to the kingdom by annexing new territories but that again only added to the political instability. there existed a new intermediary landed class apart from the ruling and labour class. Indian Feudalism. History: Its Theory and Method.M Moraes. 1931). 10 RS Sharma.10 Absence of an extensive empire The Satavahana Empire was vast sprawling over a major portion of modern-day Andhra. Their end resulted in the disintegration of the empire into smaller kingdoms with each being taken over by the strongest feudatory of the region. 11 G. 114 (Hyderabad: Victory Publishers.

14 Even the army sometimes was portioned off to the country as peasants. 162 (Abercrombie: Resistance Books. Another reason for this decline could have been the influence of the 13 Supra note 6. Private Property and the State. This entire process of urban collapse is again seen by Marxist historians as a universal characteristic of feudalism. at 279. the new decentralised Kadamba State dispersed State machinery and apparatus to rural areas in order to have better control of the now feudal lands. Hence there was a change of locale of ruling class to villages with them migrating from towns to villages. quite on the reverse. the city of Banavasi.16 This only speaks of the Kadamba State’s continuity with that of the Shudra holding system. Commerce suffered inevitably. the Kadamba State.A MARXIST HISTORY OF THE KADAMBAS 10 All in all. with its decentralised power and political instability did not qualify as an extensive empire.15 The depopulation of urban centres only meant the populating of villages. The Origin of the Family. 2004). 14 Supra note 8. 16 Supra note 1. Now. The urban economy that flourished under the Satavahana State enabled the ruling class to extract surplus from the rural areas using the strong State machinery from the cities themselves. at 154. This should not be seen as a retreat but as an advancement in the mode of production to feudalism as the political class however continued to reside in the political capitals of their respective kingdoms in this case.13 Self-Sufficient Rural Economy One major impact of land grants was the creation of villages as the new centres of power and as self-sufficient units of the economy affecting the existence of towns and cities and thereby causing their decline. This is a characteristic feature of early feudalism. Decline in Trade and Commercial Activity Following the urban collapse was the shrinkage of trade and commerce. 15 Frederick Engels. NATIONAL LAW SCHOOL OF INDIA UNIVERSITY . The merchant class that predominantly dwelled in towns and cities suffered a setback as a result.

Buddhism and Jainism were 17 O. 21 Supra note 1.19 The last indicator of poor trade is the decline of Buddhism in this era. 22 Supra note 1.20 The religion was tied to mercantile activity as they received generous donations from merchants and traders. at 156. NATIONAL LAW SCHOOL OF INDIA UNIVERSITY .18 This again could have been as a result of the self-sufficiency of rural economic units and their practice of local production and local consumption that had little or no use for coined money.P Prasad. Buddhist clergymen were the beneficiaries of land grants from the Satavahana rulers. As seen before in the first chapter. at 178.22 Under feudalism the feudal class derived its position from the land grants made to it by the king. 18 Supra note 18. 19 Supra note 16. This was because Buddhism was seen as the most developed of religious institutions that could channelize communication between the State and the labour class.17 Another indicator of poor trade was the paucity of coins for at least eight centuries since the inception of feudalism. Land was the principal realm of production at the time and all other activities generally corresponded to it.A MARXIST HISTORY OF THE KADAMBAS 11 rising social values iterated by the Brahmin class that might have tried to curb the growing status of the wealthy merchant class in relation to their own. So logically a fall in trade placed Buddhism in the backburner. Trade and commercial activity did take place but it was always low-key and did not contradict the existing feudal order. at 54.21 Economic relations under the religious superstructure Early feudalism was a period when caste as an institution gained immense economic relevance. Trade in the feudal era came to be feudalised. Sea-faring throughout the period of early feudalism was seen by Brahmins as unholy. 20 Supra note 5. 1989). It would however be fallacious to assume that trade had no place in the age of feudalism. 46 (New Delhi: Commonwealth Publishers. Caste is an integral part of the production relations as it fixes one’s relation to property and these relations cannot be altered. at 206. In the Kadamba State Brahmanism. at 101. Decay and Revival of Urban Centres in Medieval South India.

26 Romila Thapar. This transition was largely the result of the introduction of plough agriculture in various regions which changed the system of production.A MARXIST HISTORY OF THE KADAMBAS 12 patronised religions. NATIONAL LAW SCHOOL OF INDIA UNIVERSITY . if plough agriculture was the chief instrument of production that broke up the pre-class. 97 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press. So. Sheik Ali. of all types of feudalism. at 183. then the multiplication and consolidation of the caste system can be dated to the early feudal period of the Kadambas in the south. Caste in Indian History. it was Brahmin feudalism that dominated all. Essays in Indian History: Towards a Marxist Perception. Comprehensive History of Karnataka. pre-caste tribal social order and if plough agriculture spread to certain regions during the Shudra mode of production under the Mauryans and Satavahanas resulting in the rise of caste in these regions. 181 (Mysore: University of Mysore. Multiplication of Castes under Feudalism Caste as a social institution must have originated from the period of the breakdown of a classless society belonging to primitive communism to its transition to the Shudra holding mode of production. Interpreting Early India.26 The inference that can be drawn from this is that the spread of caste is related to the spread of plough based agriculture. 1993). broke the structure of tribes and clans and made caste the alternative form of social organisation.23 Sometimes the sustenance of these grants required entire villages of labour. the Brahmin Priests concerned themselves with less and less religious and more secular and stately functions and subsequently went on to become a part of the political structure as well. at 172. Hence. 25 Irfan Habib. Large pieces of land were given to these clergymen on a completely rent free basis. 164 (London: Wimbledon Publishing Company. 2002).25 This is almost simultaneous with the development of a class society in India. 24 Supra note 1.24 This class and caste hierarchy was reflective of the religious superstructure. Thus the religious and non-religious ideas and policies that were generated during the Kadamba period not only served but flowed from a landed feudal class.27 23 B. History of the Western Gangas. 27 Supra note 1. 1972). The long process over which tribes merged in with a generalised society must have been the beginnings of caste. The labour class was thus made servile to this new religio-political superstructure. Throughout the feudal Kadamba period.

30 Supra note 1.29 In the Kadamba State.28 The State of the Shudra holding system was centralised. NATIONAL LAW SCHOOL OF INDIA UNIVERSITY . Each district had control over at least a dozen villages under it. Thus the main task that they concerned 28 Supra note 1. the king was at the apex with his consisting of princes and the circle of ministers around him. was decentralised and it was structured on the basis of the natural economy that prevailed with its main body existing in the country. at 164. and at times even including the king. the territory of the kingdom was divided into provinces portioned off to either the princes or kinsmen who came to possess them on a hereditary basis with the passage of time. The task that remains now is to establish that these have determined the larger Kadamba political superstructure of Feudalism. The restructuring of the State was affected as a result of the effect of the land grants and the interests of the landed intermediary class which it now had to protect and serve. 29 Supra note 15. the study of some of the main Kadamba socio-economic features comes to an end. Each province was then sub-divided into districts headed by subfeudatories who formed the third tier of administration. its armed forces were based in major towns and cities if they were not deployed for suppression or war.30 Each of these officials starting from the court downwards. Each strata of the administration possessed its own body of men who were answerable to those above it. CHAPTER III: THE KADAMBA POLITICAL STRUCTURE AND ITS DETERMINANTS The most important determinants of the structure of a state are the nature of its economy. at 1. Below this. Finally each village was governed by a village assembly of elders. were paid by the ownership of villages and land. at 165. The feudal state on the other hand.A MARXIST HISTORY OF THE KADAMBAS 13 With this. the composition of the classes in power and the manner in which it organises its politics. Thus the Political hierarchy of the Kadamba State was 5 layered.

The Marxist theory of the State perceives the State as an instrument or agency of class rule.31 The Kadamba State has been described to be tributary from the tribute that the feudal lords pay. 1 (Moscow: Progress Publishers. at 169. if the Kadamba State were to be characterised. 33 Supra note 1.32 Using this. It is the instrument of suppression of one class over the other and comes into existence along with its special apparatus in order to facilitate this. it would be by the class that it serves. This is where the Marxist theory of State comes in handy. decentralised from the devolving of powers of management and administration to the feudal class and finally a peasant state as it is a characteristic of early peasant societies. 1977). All these attempts at characterising the Kadamba State are only partially correct. segmentary from the numerous independent individual segments that make up the State. Hence. This feudal class was directly related to the mode of production – the feudal mode and the specific society and economy that this class had created in its own exclusive interest. at 118. The State.A MARXIST HISTORY OF THE KADAMBAS 14 themselves with was the collection of revenue from these lands and not as one would assume with administration or war. 32 VIadimir Lenin. the Kadamba State is a feudal State and that has been determined by its feudal economy. the feudal class. They do not characterise the State in its entirety but merely look at one material aspect of it.33 31 Supra note 19. it’s landed intermediary class and decentralised administration. NATIONAL LAW SCHOOL OF INDIA UNIVERSITY .

A MARXIST HISTORY OF THE KADAMBAS 15 CONCLUSION A careful study of the Satavahana State has been proved to be fruitful for the purpose of having a better understanding of the Kadamba State. As an answer to the second research question. Nationalist historians emphasise on the rulers and their actions when on the contrary throughout the course of this paper it has been shown that it is the people that make history. then probably a Kadamba State might have never emerged. Religion and its institutions such as caste were used tactically to maintain a certain social and economic order as studied in chapter 2. the collective self-consciousness of the highly exploited Satavahana people forced the State to feudalise itself. This was the period when institutions such as caste and class came to be firmly established among the people and when productive relations became exploitative. however and modified its political structure in such a way that it would continue to hold the class system in place since it was integral to its existence. the history of the Kadambas had been much neglected and incorrectly represented by mainstream historians until a few Marxist historians reinterpreted their history using the historical materialism approach. Hence. As the historian Vico might have analysed. NATIONAL LAW SCHOOL OF INDIA UNIVERSITY . It is this exploitation by the Satavahana State that prompted the Shudra people to revolt and thus forced to State to restructure itself. if these instances hadn’t occurred. From Chapter 1. Nationalist historians’ factual history merely provides one with awareness of the past not understanding of it as it doesn’t analyse causes behind historical events. This is the link between the Satavahana State and the Kadamba State. it is now known that the Satavahana period saw the end of primitive communism in Karnataka and a transition into the Shudra holding mode of production. These actions was undertaken by the State in order to gain legitimacy for it rule and subsequent political stability. was highly influenced by the socio-economic conditions of the people of that time. The hypothesis statement thus stands correct. feudalism although a politicolegal decision. As mentioned in the introduction to this paper. It did. The only thing that now remains to be done is to establish that Marxist historiography is the best methodology that can be employed in the study of the past. The Kadamba State decentralised its bureaucracy that resulted in a highly stratified polity. This is the researchers answer to the third research question.

Inferring from all this. every event has been determined by the people alone. Marxist historians have this incredible insight and their work always reflects this. Nationalist historians on the other hand would have led one to the conclusion that it is the rulers who determine the nature of their society and economy. people who desperately struggled to break away from the clutches of the establishment and to free themselves from the exploitative relations of production. when it is so blatantly incorrect.A MARXIST HISTORY OF THE KADAMBAS 16 From primitive communism to the Shudra holding mode of production during the Satavahanas to feudalism under the Kadambas. but only saw it being made by the people. The rulers never made history. NATIONAL LAW SCHOOL OF INDIA UNIVERSITY . This is why Marxist historiography stands correct. Marxist approach to understanding history is the right approach to understanding the past.

11) RN Nandi. 7) Himanshu Prabha Ray. 1976). 15) RS Sharma. Sheik Ali. History: Its Theory and Method (1 edn. 12) Romila Thapar. 1993). 1998). Private Property and the State (Abercrombie: Resistance Books. History of the Western Gangas (1 edn. 2008). Indian Feudalism (cAD 300-1200) (New Delhi: The Macmillan Company of India. The Origin of the Family. 1986). Mysore: Prasaranga. Essays in Indian History: Towards a Marxist Perception. 1989). 3) BR Gopal. 14) RS Sharma. 1981). Caste in Indian History (London: Wimbledon Publishing Company. 4) DD Kosambi.M Moraes. 10) O. 13) RS Sharma. Making History: Karnataka’s People and their Past (Bangalore: Vimukthi Prakashana. Chalukyas of Vatapi (New Delhi: Agam Kala Prakashan. Comprehensive History of Karnataka. An Introduction to the Study of Indian History (2 edn. University of Mysore. 1980). Social Roots of Religion in Ancient India (Calcutta: KP Bagchi. London: Oxford University Press. Sudras in Ancient India (2 edn. 2002). 5) Frederick Engels. New Delhi: Asian Educational Services. 6) G. Monastery and Guild (1 edn. Interpreting Early India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press. 2) B. 1931). Corpus of Kadamba Inscriptions (Sirsi: Kadamba Institute of Cultural Studies. 1986).A MARXIST HISTORY OF THE KADAMBAS 17 BIBLIOGRAPHY 1) B. 9) KV Ramesh. New Delhi: Macmillan India. 1977). New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. 8) Irfan Habib. 16) Saketh Rajan. The State (Moscow: Progress Publishers. 2002).P Prasad. 2004). Decay and Revival of Urban Centres in Medieval South India (New Delhi: Commonwealth Publishers. Sheik Ali. 1985). 1991). 17) Vladimir Lenin. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. The Kadamba Kula (1 edn. Mumbai: Popular Prakashan. 1984). NATIONAL LAW SCHOOL OF INDIA UNIVERSITY . Aspects of Political Ideas and Institutions in Ancient India (4 edn.

1990). The Feudal Element in Western Chalukya Polity (Hyderabad: Victory Publishers. NATIONAL LAW SCHOOL OF INDIA UNIVERSITY .A MARXIST HISTORY OF THE KADAMBAS 18 18) Y Gopala Reddy.