Land tenures

In the land grant inscriptions specific terms of land tenure are recorded. They are:

  • Nivi dharma: Land endowment in perpetuity
  • Nivi dharma aksayana: a perpetual endowment which a recipient could not alienate but could make use of the income accruing from it eternally.
  • Aprada dharma: It means that a recipient has all rights to enjoy such a property but no right to make a further gift of the same and can only enjoy the interest and income from the endowed land but not administrative rights.
  • Bhumichchhidranyaya: This means that the rights of ownership as are acquired by a man making barren land cultivable for the first time and is free from liability to pay rent for it.
  • While the nivi dharma kind of trusteeship was prevalent in many parts of north and central India other kinds of trusteeship were probably followed mainly in the eastern part of the Gupta Empire. Therefore they are frequently mentioned in inscriptions from Bengal. Land survey is evident from the Poona plates of Prabhavati Gupta and many other inscriptions. Location and boundaries of individual plots were carefully marked out and measured by the record keepers and influential men of the locality as mentioned in the Paharpur copper plate. An officer called ustapala maintained records of all land transactions in the district and the village accountant preserves records of land in the village. Agriculture remained the economic basis of society during the Gupta period. The Gupta rulers made it a point to increase agricultural production since land revenue was the primary source of income. Waste land was brought under cultivation. There were two principal harvests one for summer and the other for autumn. A large variety of agricultural crops, trees and medicinal plants were grown during the Gupta period. The main agricultural products of the period were wheat, rice, sugarcane, jute, oilseed, cotton, jowar, bajra, spices, incense and indigo.