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
    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.