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Kerala PSC Indian History Book Study Materials Page 1105Book's First Page
In the process of the growth of regional cultures, three main factors or developments can be clearly identified. They are the emergence of regional kingdoms, the transformation of Brahmanism into a new kind of popular Hinduism, and the evolution of regional languages and literature. In certain regions of India like the eastern, the central and the southern, local rulers emerged who became regional kings using a new royal style as the model for the integration of local and tribal forces. In some ways this ‘development from below’ was similar to the formation of states in the Gangetic valley in the sixth century BC. There were generally three phases of this process. In the first phase, a tribal chieftain would turn into a local Hindu princeling; in the second phase, this prince would become a king surrounded by samantas (feudatories) and thus establish an ‘early kingdom’; and in the third phase, great rulers of ‘imperial kingdoms’ would emerge who controlled large realms and integrated the samantas into the internal structure of their realm. The expansion of early medieval regional kingdoms and the rise of the samantas created problems which could not be solved by means of the usual patrimonial arrangements made by the ancient kings. The main problem was the control of the outer circle of the samantas. Outright conquest and annexation of their territories would not only have required more resources and administrative capacity of the central dynasty but also a change in the royal ideology which measured the king’s prestige in terms of the number of tributary princes attending his court. Such princes were, of course, always eager to regain their independence and, if the central king suffered any kind of setback, they would try to increase their autonomy and cut the tribute due to him. Contemporary texts, therefore, describe the samantas as potential enemies of the king and their military contingents as the weakest link in the king’s defences. The success of the ruler of a regional kingdom, therefore, depended largely on his abilities to curb the power of his samantas and to instill some loyalty in them. But the inscriptions do not provide much evidence of a successful control of the samantas. In view of the instability of the samantachakra the king could really depend only on the core area directly controlled by him, but even this area, explicitly reserved for the ‘enjoyment of the king’ (raja-bhoga), was affected by the institutional changes in the early medieval regional kingdoms.