the assumption that it merely comprised loose assemblages of mercenary
groups and hardly acquired the features of a well integrated and standing
army. The widespread conquests of the Cholas, including their famous
maritime expeditions, have been perceived as resource-gathering activities,
driven by their plunder motive. According to these proponents of the
segmentary model, the Chola ruler had little bureaucratic control outside the
Kaveri delta—the core area of the Chola state. So, how did the Cholas
maintain their hold over the intermediary and peripheral regions of the realm?
This, in their opinion, was done by relying on ritual sovereignty, expressed in
the construction of stupendous temples named after their Chola patrons.
Integrative State
New Look at the State as a Political Process These debates and different
approaches to the study of early medieval India have certainly enriched our
understanding. One of the positive results has of course been a renewed
interest in political history. This is apparent in the spurt of publications on the
study of the early medieval state in India. This is certainly a more complex
exercise than the traditional descriptions of exploits of rulers of different
regions; it looks at the state as an expression of a political process which
could not be separated from the contemporary socio-economic and religio-
cultural situations.
Alternative Approach of Non-aligned Historians Amidst and in spite of
the differences between the proponents of the segmentary and those of the
feudal polity, a point of commonalty between these two can be observed.
Both emphasise that early medieval polity was featured by a lack of
integrative elements. This has facilitated the emergence of an alternative
approach to early medieval polity. The latter mentioned approach does not
regard the early medieval polity as a mere outcome of the interplay of and the
fluctuation between the agents of centripetality and disintegration. This third
group of scholars, referred to as ‘non-aligned historians’, explains the
multiplicity of local and regional powers not by the criteria of feudal and
segmentary models, but by the spread of monarchical state society into areas
and communities experiencing pre-state (‘tribal’ non-monarchical) polity.
New Interpretation of Land Grants           and Temple-building Activities The