several economic rights which cut the economic ties between the central
authority and the donated areas. For the continuity and development of their
economy they were more dependent on the central government. The main
idea behind tying down the peasants and artisans to the lands and villages
they inhabited was to preserve the self-sufficient village economy. Further,
the conditions obtaining in the village which were independent of the
beneficiaries of land grants and were placed under the charge of the village
headman were not very dissimilar. According to Vatsyayana’s Kamasutra the
headman might compel peasant women not only to work in his fields but also
to spin yam so that his clothes might be supplied to him locally. Some of the
commodities thus produced were also put on sale, apparently to cater to the
simple needs of the villagers.
    That such local units were coming into existence is also evident from the
paucity of coins of common use from the Gupta period onwards. This factor
can be linked up, on the one hand, with the decline of internal trade and the
consequent necessity of producing local commodities to meet local needs
and, on the other, with the weakening of the power at the centre, which
gradually adopted the method of paying officials by grants of revenues or in
kind. It is indicative of the growing disuse of coins in post-Gupta times that
the religious endowments which were made in cash by the princes and
individuals in the first two centuries of the Christian era were now replaced
by grants of land. Further, in the post-Harsha period hardly any coin can be
ascribed with certainty to any ruling house. Of course, legal texts refer to the
use of coins, land charters mention taxes levied in hiranya, and some
inscriptions speak of the cost of construction and purchase in terms of
money; but very few actual finds can be ascribed to this period. In fact, the
absence of coins during the period 600–900 has been noted by several
scholars. It is therefore evident that coins in general became rarer from the
time of Harsha onwards, which leads us to the conclusion that trade suffered
a decline and urban life began to disappear.