Describe the economic and social conditions of the people living in rural areas from c. 600 BCE to 600 CE.

There was a differentiation amongst the people of rural are as:

Economic conditions:

  1. According to Jataka and Panchatantra, the relationship between a king and his subjects, could often be strained–kings frequently tried to fill their coffers by demanding high taxes. The peasants particularly found the demands oppressive. Escaping into the forests remained an option.
  2. Different strategies such as (a) shift to plough agriculture, (b) iron plough share for the growth in agricultural productivity, (c) the use of irrigation, through wells and tanks and less commonly, canals were ad-opted for increasing production.
  3. Land grants provide some insight into the relationship between cultivators and the state.

Social condition:

  1. There was a growing differentiation amongst people engaged in agriculture– landless agricultural labourers, small peasants, as well as large landholders.
  2. The large landholders, as well as the village headman emerged as powerful figures and often exercised control over other cultivators.
  3. There was gendered assess to property.
  4. A variety of occupations followed by the people belonging to different castes/varnas.

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