Literary Evidence of Rise of Samantas The cumulative outcome of these
developments was supposed to be the unprecedented rise of the samantas as
feudatories. Evidence from early medieval texts— ranging from the
biographical and historical ones like the Harshacharita and the
Rajatarangini, to manuals on architecture like the Manasollasa and the
Aparajitaprichha—were cited to show the emergence and presence of
numerous layers of samantas enjoying diverse types of economic and
political rights. The samantas are held to have actually controlled political
affairs and this paved the way for fragmentation of sovereignty and political
decentralisation.
Emergence of Self-sufficient and Enclosed Village Economy The grave
conditions in the political sphere apparently matched the transformation of
the hitherto vibrant money-based economy into a self-sufficient and enclosed
village economy, in which the cultivators were reduced to the position of
dependent peasantry (asritahalika or baddhahala). Jaina texts like the
Yasastilakachampu of Somadeva, highly stylised Sanskrit court-poetry like
the Ramacharitam of Sandhyakaranandin and an anthology of Sanskrit poetry
(Subhashitaratnakosha) have been utilised for gathering the required
evidence of the abject poverty of peasants who suffered the most in the feudal
economic and political set up and, in utter desperation, occasionally staged
uprisings (though often abortive) against the lord or fled the area of an
extortionate feudal master. These readings of early medieval textual and
epigraphic materials persuaded the exponents of Indian feudalism that it was
a period of considerable economic decline and simultaneously, a fragmented
polity. The conditions in the Pratihara, the Pala-Sena and the Rashtrakuta
realms during these centuries are supposedly symptomatic of Indian feudal
polity, economy and society.
Three-Stage Feudalism
Rejection of Conventional Image of an Unchanging Indian Society
Some scholars, however, propose a three-stage formation of Indian
feudalism. Its genesis was traced in 300–600 AD, the period of its growth and
maturity in 600–1000 AD, and the period from 1000 to 1200 AD marked its
simultaneous climax and decline.   This scheme emphasised the possibilities of