the 17th century, according to them, saw the rise of the samantas as the
  feudatories leading to administrative decentralisation and the conversion
  of communal property into feudal property. This set the stage for one of
  the most interesting and significant on-going debates in Indian
  historiography. Significant changes took place in social and cultural life
  from the 4th to the 17th century. These changes were perceived by some as
  medieval factors, which would imply an identity between feudalism and
  medievalism in Indian context.
Epigraphic Evidence of Rise of Samantas The primary evidence was
sought in the vast corpus of land grants of early medieval times. These
charters, containing elaborate eulogies of the ruling house and the reigning
kings, had initially been used for the purpose of reconstructing dynastic
history. Now, scholarly attention has shifted to the operative part of the
charter, recording the actual creation of agraharas, i.e. revenue free plots of
lands or villages mostly in favour of religious grantees (an individual
brahmin or a group of brahmins, and/or a religious institution). As revenue
terms became more and more numerous, including a number of extra-
economic imposts (e.g. vishti or forced labour), in the copper plates, it was
not difficult to appreciate why inscriptions generally held taxes as
synonymous with pida or affliction or torture. The donees were supposed to
have not merely enjoyed revenue rights, but a number of administrative and
judicial rights as well. The grantees therefore, emerged as landed
intermediaries (svami or bhujyamanaka) between the ruler (mahipati) and the
actual peasantry (karshaka or krishyamanaka) and derived many material
advantages at the cost of both.
Archaeological Evidence of Urban Decay Intelligent juxtaposition and
analysis of the field archaeological data have also been done to draw the
conclusion that there was widespread urban decay—initially in the Ganga
valley and then affecting the entire subcontinent—as long distance trade and
the coin-based economy of the early historical times sagged with the decline
of the Indo-Roman trade. The ‘urban anaemia’ and ‘monetary anaemia’ took
place simultaneously in such a way that the officers of the realm could hardly
be paid in cash and had consequently,      to be paid in land. That ushered in the