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Kerala PSC Indian History Book Study Materials Page 797Book's First Page
would not be felt much under the direct jurisdiction of the royal representatives who were mobile and not hereditary, but it could be rendered oppressive by the beneficiaries who were men on the spot with a hereditary, vested interest in the exploitation of the resources of the village. Moreover, the judicial and administrative authority which the landholders enjoyed must have added to their economic power over the inhabitants of the village. However, what mainly led to the servitude of the peasants was their transfer to the beneficiaries. According to the inscriptions, the practice of transferring peasants began in south India. A Pallava grant of the fourth century AD informs us that four share-croppers remained attached to a plot of land which was given away to the Brahmins, which implies that original cultivators were required to work on the land even when it was made over to the beneficiary. Gradually the practice came to embrace peasants, who seem to have been given away to the beneficiaries in Karnataka. A grant of the sixth century AD from the Bijapur district issued by an early Chalukya king of Badami donates 25 nivartanas of land along with all its produce, garden- cultivation, water and house (nivesa). Here the term nivesa is used not merely in the sense of a house but also of peasants living there, as is still done in popular parlance in the countryside. This conclusion is supported by a Ganga grant of the same century from the Ganjam district. It states that six halas of land (land that could be cultivated by six ploughs) along with four cottages (chaturnivesana-sahita) were constituted into an agrahara and granted free of taxes in perpetuity to god Narayana. From south India the practice of the transfer of individual peasants probably spread to central India. A Vakataka grant of the fifth century AD speaks of the gift of four houses meant for the use of cultivators (karsaka- nivesanani), which implies the making over of cultivators to the beneficiary. In Orissa the practice of transferring all the cultivators of the village to the beneficiary can be traced back to the sixth century AD. An inscription from the Koraput district assignable to that century advises the inhabitants of a village, cultivating land there and assured of their livelihood, to continue to live in the village, which is made over to the Brahmins. This implies that the cultivators are counselled to stick to the soil transferred to the recipient, although the fact that the village is transferred along with its inhabitants is not explicitly stated in the grant.