among feudatories) of the imperial Guptas.
subjugated the samantas (feudatories) in the whole of northern India. During
the sixth and seventh centuries AD the rulers of Valabhi, as mentioned
already, bore the title of mahasamanta or samantamaharaja. Gradually the
application of the term was extended from defeated chiefs to royal officials.
For example, in the inscriptions dated in the Kalachuri-Chedi era, from AD
597 onwards samantas and rajas took the place of uparikas and
kumaramatyas. Later, in the land grants of Harsha the terms
samantamaharaja and mahasamanta appear as titles of great imperial
Literary Evidence
Bana in his Harshacharita speaks of several types of samantas. Of them, the
samanta was the lowest and ordinary type of vassal. Mahasamanta was
obviously a step higher than the ordinary samanta. Satru-mahasamanta was a
conquered enemy chief. Aptasamantas were probably those who willingly
accepted the vassalage of the overlord. Pradhana-samantas were the most
trusted hands of the emperor, who never disregarded their advice.
Pratisamanta was probably a vassal opposed to the king or merely a hostile
vassal, though it cannot be said with any amount of certainty. Anurakta-
mahasamantas referred to by Bana only once, might be those who were
especially attached to their overlord.
Functioning of the System
Bana is the first writer to indicate the obligations of the samantas to their
overlord. It is evident from his Harshacharita that the first obligation of the
samantas is to pay yearly tributes to the emperor. For we learn from it that
Harsha had made his mahasamantas his tributaries (karada). In the areas
administered by the samantas the emperor realised annual taxes from them
and not from the subjects. Though it is not clear whether the vassals were free
to increase the taxes or to impose fresh ones, they were certainly held
responsible for royal taxes in their areas.
    According to Bana, the second obligation of the samantas is to pay
homage to the emperor in person. He informs us that the defeated
mahasamantas greeted the conqueror         by removing their crowns and head-