Middle Kingdoms of India, Part 33


Coinage issued by the Maitrakas of Valabhi

May 26, 2015 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial presentation of India's great history, religious movements and temple architecture.

The Maitrakas

'The Maitraka Empire ruled Gujarat in western India from 475 A.D. to 767 A.D. The founder of the dynasty, Senapati (general) Bhatarka, was a military governor of Saurashtra peninsula under the Gupta Empire. He had established himself as the independent ruler of Gujarat in approximately the last quarter of the 5th Century.

The first two Maitraka rulers, Bhatarka and Dharasena I used only the title of 'Senapati' (general). The third ruler, Dronasimha declared himself as the Maharaja.[49] King Guhasena stopped using the term Paramabhattaraka Padanudhyata along with his name, like his predecessors, which denotes the cessation of a nominal display of allegiance to the Gupta overlords.

King Guhasena was succeeded by his son, Dharasena II, who used the title of 'Mahadhiraja'. His son, the next ruler, Siladitya Dharmaditya I was described by Hiuen Tsang as a "monarch of great administrative ability and of rare kindness and compassion". Siladitya I was succeeded by his younger brother, Kharagraha I.[50] A Virdi copperplate grant from 616 A.D. of Kharagraha I proves that his territories included Ujjain.' In a study of the history of early agrarian systems in Vedic culture, we find mention of the Maitrakas, and how they administered systems of land grants and taxation, or essentially revenue sharing with the ruling class:

"…the Maitrakas of Valabhl whose rule began in the region of Kathiawar towards the close of the fifth century, and continued down to the last quarter of the eighth century when they were apparently overthrown by the Arabs of Sind. The land-grants of these sovereigns distinctly refer to the payments in kind and in cash (called dhanyahiranyadeya). One grant, in mentioning the usual list of privileges assigned to the donee, further distinguishes the item of dhanya from that of bhagabhogakara, both of which terms usually mean the payment in kind. Probably the former is here to be understood in the sense of a fixed contribution, while the latter consisted of a varying proportion of the produce.

The Maitraka grants, moreover, usually refer to the udranga and uparikara items of revenue, which suggest that certain village lands were owned by the State. Most of these documents, again, mention the king's gift (along with the royal dues derived therefrom) of fields or wells or oth lying in the extremities of specified villages and forming in many cases the holdings (pratyaya) of named cultivators. This seems to suggest separate assessment of the individual holdings of the cultivators. Lastly, while the known land-grants of the Maitrakas are concerned with the royal endowments in favour of temples, Brahmanas and monasteries, an official title referred to in some of these documents introduces us for the first time to the class of farmers of the land-revenue. This is the dhruvadhikaranika (otherwise called dhruvasthanadhikaranika), ' the officer in charge of the dhruvas', the last term being applied till recent times in Kathiawar and Cutch to denote persons who superintended the collection of land-revenue by the farmers on the king's behalf."

In our next segment, we'll look at the religious history of the Maitraka empire, and some of the spiritual developments made under their patronage.


[49] Roychaudhuri, H.C. (1972). Political History of Ancient India, University of Calcutta, Calcutta, pp.553-4
[50] Mahajan V.D. (1960, reprint 2007). Ancient India, S. Chand & Company, New Delhi, ISBN 81-219-0887-6, pp.594-6
[50a] The Agrarian System in Ancient India by U.N. Ghoshal, M.A., Ph.D (1930)


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