Society & Economy In Post-Gupta Period

Society in Post-Gupta Period:

  • Brahmans who got huge land grants during the Gupta Period now started enjoying the hereditary rights over resources, mines and mineral. They began earning rent and royalty on such lands.
  • Rulers gave  the  brahmans  donees  the  right  to  punish  all  crimes  against  family,  private property, and personal safety.
  • After the 6th century, the second phase of urban collapse began, and these centres ceased to be towns. (Report of Hiuen Tsang, who visited India during Harshavardhana’s reign, attests to the fall of Buddhist settlements in northern India). Fall of urban centres led to the rise of village economy and society.
  • Post-Gupta literature such as the Kuttanimatam of Damodaragupta (7th century) is concerned with life in the countryside.
  • Earlier distinction between Dvija (twice born) and Shudra began to be modified in the period.
  • Proliferation of new castes: unequal distribution of landed property created social ranks which cut across social status based on varna considerations. The inclusion of the foreign ethnic groups and indigenous tribal chieftains in the Kshatriya varna as part of the ruling aristocracy, and the acculturated tribes in the Shudra varna not only swelled their ranks but also transformed the varna-divided society. Scribe or the kayastha community was a product of the socio-economic forces of the times.
  • Women: pre-puberty marriages were preferred, formal education was denied, property rights were denied, they were debarred from various sacrifices and ceremonies, the practice of Sati gained social acceptance. The change of women’s gotra upon marriage can be dated to the period after the 5th century CE. 

Economy in Post-Gupta Period:

  • Attachment of peasants, artisans and merchants to their respective settlements and restrictions led to the rise of closed economy.
  • Byzantium learned to breed silkworms in the mid-6th century CE. As a result, the silk trade suffered. The Huna invasions wiped-off any remaining ties with Central and Western Asia.
  • Long-distance internal trade, too, suffered owing to the weakening of links between coastal towns and the interior towns and further between towns and villages
  • The gold content of later Gupta coins was less than half that of Kushana coins.
  • there is evidence for barter and the use of cowries as a medium of exchange in daily transactions.
  • Agriculture:  Land-grants in tribal frontiers brought virgin land under cultivation.


  • Palli: A tribal village
  • Pataka: A part of a village
  • Ghosas: Settlements of herdsmen
  • Brahmadeyas: Villages which were donated to and inhabited by the brahmanas.
  • Agrahara: inhabited by brahmanas, were associated with non-brahmanas as well. The proprietary right of such villages, however, belonged to the brahmanas only.
  • Mangalams: Agrahara villages in South India.
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