to more prosperous lands. Peasants, however,
    The other possible form which the peasants’ reaction to oppressive
conditions might take is the assertion of their land rights, as can be inferred
from the revolt of the Kaivartas in Eastern Bengal, described by
Sandhyakaranandi in the Ramacharita. The significance of the event can be
appreciated better if we bear in mind that the Kaivartas were deprived of their
plots of land given as service tenures and were subjected to heavy taxes. It
was probably a peasant uprising directed against the Palas, who made a
common cause with their vassals against the Kaivartas. But we cannot make
too much of this single event, for we have hardly anything else to illustrate
this form of reaction on the part of the peasants.
    The usual form of reaction therefore may have been migrations.
However, these could not be of much avail in the face of the self-sufficient,
almost closed, economic systems to which the peasants were tied down in
late ancient and early medieval times. Economic conditions and political
organisation being basically the same everywhere, migrations did not liberate
the peasants from the oppression of the princes and beneficiaries.
Self-sufficient Economic Units
The feudal order was based on more or less self-suf-ficient economic units
functioning in various parts of the country. This is indicated by the rarity of
coins, the prevalence of local weights and measures, and the transfer by the
kings and chiefs of income in cash and kind from trade and industries to the
    The decline of trade and petty commodity production is also indicated by
the decay of the urban sites. Archaelogical evidence shows that the Kushana
layers belonging to the 1st to the 3rd centuries AD are flourishing. The Gupta
layers belonging to the 4th, 5th and 6th centuries AD are in a state of decline,
and in many cases Gupta bricks are used in Kushana structures. In many
urban sites habitation disappeared after the 6th century AD. This is true of a
number of towns such as Hastinapura, Mathura, Kausambi, Varanasi, Vaisali,
Chirand, Rajagriha, and Champa. The same position obtains in Maharashtra,
Karnataka and Andhra. It is significant that nigama which earlier meant a
town came to mean a village in early medieval times.
    If we take into account all these  factors it would appear that marketisation