Different Land Tenures
In the Gupta land grant inscriptions, certain specific terms of land tenure are
recorded. They are:
• Nivi dharma: Land endowment in perpetuity.
• Nivi dharma aksayana: A perpetual endowment which a recipient
could not alienate but could make use of the income accruing from it
• Aprada dharma: It means that a recipient has all rights to enjoy such a
property but no right to make a further gift of the same and can only
enjoy the interest and income from the endowed land, but not
• Bhumichchhidrallyaya: This meant rights, of ownership as are
acquired by a man making barren land cultivable for the first time,
and is free from liability to pay rent for it.
While the nivi dharma kind of trusteeship was prevalent in many parts of
north and central India, other kinds of trusteeship were probably followed
mainly in the eastern part of the Gupta empire. Therefore, they are very
frequently mentioned in inscriptions from Bengal.
In the Gupta period land survey is evident from the Poona plates of
Prabhavati Gupta and many other inscriptions. Location and boundaries of
individual plots were carefully marked out and measured by the record
keepers and influential men of the locality as mentioned in the Paharpur
copper plate. An officer called ustapala maintained records of all land
transactions in the district and the village accountant preserved records of
land in the village.
In the Gupta period we have about ten references in copper plates to land
sale. During the purchase of a piece of land, certain procedures were
followed. First the application