Many scholars have questioned the use of the term feudalism to characterize the early medieval socio-economic formation in India.’ But the issues raised by Harbans Mukhiya? According to him, unlike capitalism, feudalism is not a universal phenomenon. But in my view, tribalism, the Stone Age, the Metal Age and the advent of the food-producing economy are universal phenomena. They indicate certain laws that optimize the process and pattern of change.
Tribalism is universal and continues to follow various forms of state and class society. There are many variations in tribal society. It can be combined with any form of subsistence such as cattle and other forms of pastoralism and hoe and plow agriculture. Agriculture requires co-operation and settlement in one place, and it forms a permanent base for tribal establishment. Many tribal societies practice jhum or jhum cultivation. But an improved type of agriculture creates substantial surplus and dents tribal homogeneity. Conditions emerge for the rise of classes based on status and wealth, and above all for mass exploitation of relatives by the few at the top. In such a situation, the tribal system is eroded.
Relatives are left free to marry and procreate of their own accord. But, despite these variations, tribal society has been found to be on a universal scale. Therefore, the concept of tribe is also useful for understanding the social structures contained in written texts.
The spread of tribal society need not be assumed, although it may have happened in some cases. While feudalism does not seem as universal as tribalism, in the Old World, it was undoubtedly more widespread than the slave system. The concept of peasant society is still unclear. If a peasant society was a system in which priests and warriors lived on surplus produced by farmers, which was augmented by the activities of artisans, such a society existed in many parts of the Old World. Tribalism, ‘peasant society’ or the slave system can arise due to internal and/or external factors. Similarly, it is not necessary to think in terms of the spread of the feudal system, although this has happened in some cases. For example, Norman feudalism in England was a result of the Norman conquest.
But there can be huge differences in the nature of tribal societies as well as in feudal societies. Marx said that feudalism assumes different aspects, and moves through its various stages in different orders of succession.’ But some features remain the same. It is also accepted by critics of Indian feudalism. Feudalism should be seen as a mechanism for the distribution of the means of production and the appropriation of surplus. It may have some broad universal characteristics, and may have characteristics typical of a time and region. Although land and agricultural products play a decisive role in pre-capitalist class societies, Characteristics of the land The distribution and appropriation of agricultural products varies from region to region. It cannot be argued that what developed in pre-capitalist Western Europe was the same as in India and elsewhere. Neither historical laws work that way, nor can feudalism be considered a monopoly of Western Europe. It is not possible to have a clear formula about feudalism. Most of what can be said about the universal aspect of feudalism is largely attributed to Mark Bloch and E.A. would be on the lines of Kosminsky. Feudalism mainly manifests itself in an agrarian economy marked by a class of landlords and a subject farmer. In this system, the zamindars extract surplus produce through social, religious or political means, which are called additional economic methods. This more or less seems to be the current Marxist view of feudalism, which considers slavery, ‘scalar property’ and ‘parcelized sovereignty’ as characteristics of the Western European version of the feudal system. The owner-farmer relationship is at the heart of the matter, and its essential component is the exploitation of property by its owner, controller, enjoyer or beneficiary. Apart from these basic universal aspects, feudalism can take many forms. The peculiarities of the system in some Western European countries do not apply to the different types of feudalism found in other regions. For example, evidence of peasant struggles against landlords in other countries has not been discovered in sufficient quantities. Similarly, artisanal and capitalist development in the womb of feudalism appears to be typical of the West European situation where agricultural development and substantial commodity production created major structural contradictions. the nature of religious beneficiaries, Who appropriated a large part of the land also varies from country to country. Thus, the church had a substantial amount of land in Portugal. Buddhist and Confucian establishments controlled the land in Korea, and Buddhist monasteries were also important in eastern India. Temples emerged as property owners in South India, and many Brahmins enjoyed a similar status in the upper and middle Ganges basin, central India, the Deccan and Assam. In northern India, religious grantees did not have to pay taxes to the state, although they did fulfill other obligations. But in Orissa and South India, in many cases, they had to pay taxes. Non-religious landowner middlemen also appear in various forms in India and in different parts of the world. In some areas of India, for example, in Orissa, We find tribal chiefs elevated to the rank of zamindars. In other regions, many administrative officials enjoyed a land tax from the peasants. Despite these differences, the basic factors, namely the presence of a controlling class of landowners and a subordinate peasantry, remained the same in the early medieval period and did not change until the central authority was strengthened by the sixteenth century.