12 February 2019

Indian History - Paula Dynasty in Medieval North India

The period of early medieval India starts after the collapse of Harshavardhana's empire. During that period there were many small clans and states in North India. They all were called Rajputs. They ruled for 500 years from 7th century.

Rajputs comprises of Chauhans, Pratiharas, Rashtrakutas, Pawars, Solankis, Chandelas and others. During the time of Rajputs, there was another powerful dynasty called Pala dynasty.

Pala Empire

PALA was the name added to the names of the kings as suffix. They came into emergence from the middle of the 8th century and ruled for many years. They came into power in Bengal and Bihar and ruled from 760 - 1142 AD.


During the early medieval period, there were many independent states and small kingdoms. This made them to fight against each other for power. Those fights were continuous that both the economy and society of the country weakened. This situation provides a good chance for foreigners to attack and take over the country. Law and order was missing in the country during that period.

During the early medieval period Bengal was divided into two parts. Eastern part was called Vanga and Western Part was called Gauda. Around 730 A.D. considering the political situation, Gopala became the king of Bengal. He was able to bring order in the region. He is the founder of Pala empire.

Dharmapala (son)
Devapala (son)

Mahipala I


Dharmapala was the son of Gopala. He ruled between 780 - 815 A.D. He was able to develop Bengal as a leading state in North India. He brought control over Bengal and Bihar. He was a follower of Buddhism. He encouraged learning a lot. And that is the reason why he founded Vikramashila university. Before it was a university, Vikramashila was a Buddhist Monastry.

Dharmapala occupied Gangetic Doab() and invaded Kanuj. Kanuj was an important city in North India. He removed the king and placed his men as his nominee to the throne. But, the nominees and successors of Palas were not so efficient. They couldn't protect the glory of Pala kingdom.

Doab is a term used in India and Pakistan. Do means two, ab means river. It means that the region lying between the junction of two rivers. Her, Gangetic doab means the part of the Indo-Gangetic plain. The two rivers are Ganges and Yamuna. And the region between the junction of these two rivers is called Gangetic Doab.

The Palas from Doab region was thrown out by Rashtrakutas, where as the nominees of Palas in Kanuj were removed by Pratiharas.


Devapala was the son of Dharmapala. He ruled between 815 - 855 A.D. He took over both Assam and Kalinga. He defeated many Rajput clans and took control over them in Bihar. He encouraged arts. He constructed temples like Mahabodhi temple at Bodh Gaya.

Nalanda university became famous under Pala rule. Oddantapuri was another university founded by Palas. Vajrayana was a new form of Buddhism that was developed in Vikramashila university. It was spread to Tibet in 11th century.

Downfall of Pala empire

The Pala rulers after Devapala were not so efficient to handle the kingdom. After the death of Devapala, the Pala kingdom was destroyed. To the end of 12th century Muslim rulers occupied the Pala kingdom.

Mahipala I

The later Mahipala I is known as the founder of the second Pala kingdom. He ruled from 988 - 1033 A.D. He successfully recaptured the lost territories in northern and western Bengal.


The Pala dynasty had close trading relations with the countries of South-East Asia. They were in close contact with Shailendra Kings of Shrivijaya in Indonesia.

They introduced Feudal economy(). Trade was decreased. But agro economy flourished. Minerals were important in economic growth and development.

Feudalism was a political, military and social system in middle ages. It was based on the ownership of the land, resulting in the relationship between the lord and vassal. Lord is who donates the land. While, vassal is to whom the land is donated.

Pala kings were Monarchs. They followed Buddhism as well as Hinduism. Their army consisted of Infantry, Cavalry, Elephants and Chariots. There was a legend that, during the period of Dharmapala and Devapala they had a huge army of Nine Lakh soldiers. Their languages include Pali, Sanskrit and Prakrit.

Indian Polity - India as a Federal System of Government

India satisfies the features as a Federal system of government. But it is not a complete federation. India also has other qualities that deviates from the federal form. Of these some are unitary and some are unique.

America and Canada are two federal governments. Though they are federal, they have two different types of federation. India follows the Canadian model of federation.

The characteristics where India follows the Canadian government are:

  1. India and Canada are formed by integration, which means dividing one big union into small states, whereas America is an integration formed by uniting small states to form one nation.
  2. India and Canada use the term UNION in the pace of FEDERAL. They considered it more applicable for the functioning of their governments. But Americauses the word Federal.
  3. India and Canada gave more powers to the centre than the state. Though the states have their power and independence, they cannot surpass the centre. Thus, the centre is stronger than states in India and Canada. But, in America the powers are equally distributed to the centre and the states.

India satisfying federal features

Dual government

The government is divided between the centre and the states. The centre is assigned some fields to work on as well as the states are given some other functions to work. The division of power is done by the Constitution of India. It kept the Union at the centre and the states in the sides connecting the centre.

The matters of National importance, Defence, Currency, Economy, International Relationships and Communications are handled by the centre. The states handles the matters of regional interest, public order, agriculture, health, government and others.

Written Constitution

The constitution of India is a written constitution. It is also the lengthiest constitution in the world. At the time of adoption, Indian constitution contained a Preamble, 395 articles which are divided into 22 parts and 8 schedules. But at present, it contains a Preamble, 448 articles divided into 25 parts, 12 schedules and 101 amendments. The latest amendment 101 is on 8 September 2016, which is the introduction of Goods and service tax.

The constitution of India contains the structure, organisation, functions, power, implementation of both the central and state governments. It also set limits up to what extent should either the states or the centre should function or operate. It does so, to avoid conflicts and arguments between the centre and the states and to facilitate the smooth functioning of the government.

Division of powers

The division of power between the centre and the states is done by the constitution. The cnstitution divided the powers into three lists. They are the Union list, States list and the Concurrent list. These lists are in the seventh schedule of the constitution. The items in the union list are tackled by the Centre, the items in the States list are handles by the states. Where as the subjects in the Concurrent list are to be handled by both the Centre and the States. While dealing with the matters in the concurrent list, if any disagreement arises between the centre and the states, in this situation the constitution gave power to the centre to take over the situation.

There are also some items that does not all into any of these three lists. Such items are called Residuary subjects. The constitution gave the power over these residuary subjects to be dealt by the centre. Originally, at the time of framing the constitution, the union list consists of 97 subjects, states list consists of 66 subjects and the concurrent list had 47 subjects. At present, there are 100 subjects in union list, 61 subjects in states list and 52 in the concurrent list.

Supremacy of the Constitution

Without any doubt, the constitution is the supreme law of India. Everything works and functions as per the guidelines of the constitution in India. The power of division of power is with the constitution alone. It decides the works and duties that both the centre and the states have to follow. Whatever the centre or the states does they should be within the provisions of the constitution. If, in case of any deviations, those actions or laws will be declared invalid by the Supreme court or the High courts. Again this power of judicial review is given to the courts by the constitution. 

All the crucial components of the government like the Legislature, Administration and Jurisdiction, all function as per the constitutional provisions. This makes clear that the constitution is the Supreme in India.

Rigid Constitution

It is already known that constitution is the supreme in India. To maintain this supremacy, it should be rigid. A rigid constitution means, a constitution that cannot be amended or can be changed easily. it takes the action of both the states and the central governments and a special majority of the parliament and have to get approval from the legislatures to make an amendment. As all these processes are not so easy to implement, they definitely takes time, formation of committees, tons of discussions and reviews to result in intelligent, reliable, admissible and justifiable actions, the constitution os said to be a rigid constitution.

Independent Judiciary

The judiciary in India is independent from the government. It does not need to rely on the government to exercise its powers. In India, supreme court is the head of the judiciary. The constitution made judiciary independent to protect the supremacy of the constitution and to settle the matters involving centre and the states together. If the judiciary is not independent and is depending on the government, it cannot protect the powers of the constitution and also there will be bias in the decisions and the settlements made by the judiciary relationg to the Issues of the Centre and States.

Bicameral Legislature

The constitution provides the legislature of India to be Bicameral. Cameral in English means a judicial or government related, Chamber. Bi means two. Together, Bicameral means two chambers. In India, these two chambers are called Houses. These two house of legislature in India are the Upper house and the Lower house. Upper house is called Rajya Sabha. Lower house is called Lok Sabha. Rajya Sabha represents the states of India and the Lok Sabha represents the people of the country. Of these two, the Lok Sabha is powerful than Rajya sabha. Though less powerful than Lok sabha, there is a need for Rajya sabha. As it represents the states, it protects the states to secure its rights and interests when there is an unnecessary involvement of the centre. t speaks on behalf of the states. 

Indian government satisfies the features of a federal system of government. Still, it is not a complete federation. Because, India also has the features of the Unitary system of government and some other features, that are not federal nor unitary.

Indian Polity - Federal System of Government

Government of India has the features of the Federal system of Government.

What is a Federation?

Federation is a word derived from Latin 'foedus' which means treaty or agreement. By this, the meaning is to be derived as, a federation is a new political system that was formed through a treaty or agreement between different units. Different countries call these units by different names. For example, in US they are called States, in Switzerland they are called Cantons. They are called Provinces in Canada, Republics in Russia.

Again, to form a federation, there are two ways. One is integration and the other is disintegration. In the case of integration, independent states are combined together to form a union or nation. Whereas, in disintegration, one big nation is converted to a federation by giving freedom to the states or regions to promote regional interest. US can be taken as an example for integration, while Canada can be taken as an example for disintegration.

The oldest federation in the world is US formed in 1787, after the American Revolution during 1775 - 83.

Types of governments

There are two types of governments, Unitary government and Federal Government.

Unitary Government

It is the government where the whole power lies with one government, that is national government. In this type of government, the state or regional governments do not have individual power. They have to follow as per the instructions of the union or central government.

Some countries that follow unitary system of government are Britain, France, Japan, Norway, Spain, Belgium, China, Italy, Sweden.

Features of Unitary government

The unitary government is a single government, there is no place for any other government. The constitution of a unitary government varies, which means that, it may be a written or an unwritten constitution. Here, there is no need for the division of power, because all the power is enjoyed by the national government. In the unitary form of government, sometimes the Constitution enjoys supremacy and sometimes not. For example, in Japan, Constitution is supreme, whereas in Britain, Constitution is not supreme.

Not every country, following the unitary form of government, follows the same set of features. They vary from country to country. The quality of constitution in unitary form of government varies from rigid to flexible. Example for unitary government with rigid constitution is France, and for unitary government with flexible constitution is Britain. The judiciary also varies from independent to non independent. In the same way, legislature also varies from Bicameral, example Britain, to unicameral, example China.

Federal government

It is the government, where the central and the state governments function independently under their own jurisdiction. Here, the power is divided between the state and the central government by the constitution. They both have individual powers.

Some countries that follow federal form of government are US, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Russia, Brazil, Argentina.

Features of federal government

The federal government is different from unitary government in every aspect. The unique thing about the federal government is that it's qualities are fixed and they won't vary like that of the unitary government.

The government in the federal system is dual, that is, it has both central or union government and the state government. The constitution in the federal system is a written constitution. The federal government divides the power between the nation and the states. The supreme body in the federal government is the Constitution, and this is always a rigid constitution, which means, it is to easy to make changes or amendments to the constitution. Here, the Judiciary is independent, and the federal system follows a bicameral legislature, means, the Parliament has two houses Upper house and the Lower House.

India as a Federal form of Government

Indian History - Sources of Indian History

Indian History

Sources of the Indian History

  • About 4500 years ago earliest cities were found around River Indus.
  • About 2500 years ago Cities were found around the River Ganga.
  • The area south to River Ganga is Magadha.
  • About 2500 years ago Iraninans and Greeks came to India.
  • The people in the past moved from one place to another place for different reasons like fook, livelihood and also to escape natural disasters.

The name INDIA

Our country has different names like, Hind, Hindusthan, Bharatvarsha, Aryavart, India or Bharath. We derive the name INDIA from the River Indus, which means Sindhu in Sanskrit. Iraninans and Greeks called Hindos or Indos.

Sources of the Indian History

We can know the history from the Manuscripts and inscriptions. There are some site from the past which will help us to know our pasts. These sites are of three types:
  1. Habitation sites
  2. Factory sites
  3. Habitation cum factory sites
Now we will know six sources of Indian history
  1. Religious literature:

    • These are nothing but the religious or the spiritual texts that convey our pasts.
    • Vedas → They will tell us about the social life of Aryans, and their struggle with Dushyas.
    • Ramayana and Mahabharatha → our epics, tells the story of the kings and people of their respective ages.
    • Tripitakas → These are the Buddhist religious texts, that show the important events and social life of their time.
    • Jatakas and Nikayas → Give us the social history between 600 BC and 400 AD.
    • Angas → These are the Jain religious texts.
  2. Traditions - The Purans:

    •  The eighteen Puranas form an important source of history.
    • They provide the information about the royal families.
    • They are a mixture of Mythology, Tradition and History.
    • They provided material to bring into light, Epics to Mauryas, the Ceylonese tradition of Buddhists, Jain storie about Chandraagupte and Samprati.
  3. Secular and historical literature:

    •  These are nothing but the books that are non religious.
    • Some important texts
      • Vishakadatta's → Mudrarakshasa
      • Bana's → Harsha Charita
      • Chand Bardai's → Prithvi Raj Raso
      • Kalhana's → Rajatarangini
      • Bilhana's → Vikrama Charitha
      • Bhallala's → Bhoj Prabandha
      • Patanjali's → Grammar
      • Chanukya's → Arthasathra
      • Kalidas's → Dramas
  4. The evidence of Foreigners

    •  Foreign writers who visited the India in the past also contribute more to the sources of our history.
    • Greek Writers: 

      • Heredotus
      • Megasthenes → lived in the court of Chandragupta Maurya; He wrote the book 'Indica'
      • Arrian
      • Ptolemy
  5. Chinese Buddhist writers:

    •  They form the basis of our history between the 4th and the 7th centuries AD.
      • Fahein → wrote about the Guptas
      • Hiuen Tsang → wrote about Harsha
      • I-Tsing → wrote about the later Hindu Period
      • Alberuni's → 'Tekik-i-Hini', describes about the history of the 11th century
      • Taranath → he is a Tibet writer, he gave account of some Buddhist Kings.
  6.  Archeological Evidence

    1. Monuments

      •  Monuments are Ruins of the cities evacuated in India.
      • The most important such remains are:
        • Harappa
        • Mohenjadaro
        • Taxila
        • Pataliputra
        • Devagam
        • Bitrigaon
        • Cambodia
    2. Inscriptions

      • Inscriptions are found on Ashokan Pillar, Allahabad Pillar, Udayagiri caves and copper plates; these provided reliable information for the study of information of their respective periods.
    3. Coins

      • These provide historical information.
      • The Samudragupta's character and career has been primarily has been primarily built up from his coins.

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    Historical Background of the Indian Constitution

    Historical background of the Indian Constitution

    British came to India in 1600 as traders, with the name East India Company
    They got the trading right by Queen Elizabeth I
    In 1765, they got the Diwani right of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.

    Q: What is Diwani right?
    A: Right over revenue and civil justice.

    With 1858 Sepoy Mutiny, the British got direct responsibility for the governance of India and it continued till August 15, 1947.

    With Independence, there came a need for the constitution. In 1934, M n Roy suggested a constituent assembly, which was formed in 1946 and then constitution was formed and came into being on 26 January 1950.

    We have to note that the makers of the Indian constitution extracted ideas for framing our constitution, from other countries and it also had roots in the British rule.

    Now, let's discuss the acts and rules during the British rule and what aspects of those rules influenced our present day constitution.

    The British rule in India was divided into two phases -
    1. The Company rule from 1773 to 1858
    2. The Crown rule from 1858 to 1947

    Company rule 1773 - 1858

    During the company rule we have four rules or acts 
    1. Regulating act of 1773
      • Foundation of central administration in India
      • Establishment of Supreme court
      • Appointment of Chief Justice
    2. Pitt's India act of 1784
      • Amending the acts
    3. Charter act of 1833
      • Legislative powers
    4. Charter Act of 1853
      • Separating legislative and executive powers
      • Open competition system of selection of civil servants
      • Local representation in Indian Legislative council

    Crown rule 1858 - 1947

    During the crown rule there were five rules that were followed
    1. Government of India Act 1858
      • New office of Secretary of State for India vested with complete authority and control over Indian administration
    2. Indian Councils act of 1861, 1892, 1909
      • Decentralisation of Power
      • Portfolio system
      • Issuing ordinances
      • Indian council act of 1909 is also called Minto - Marley reforms
    3. Government of India act 1919
      • Formation of Upper House
      • Lower House
      • Elections
      • Central Public service Commission
      • Simon commission and Communal award comes under the Govt. of India act 1919
    4. Government of India act 1935
      • Division of power between the centre and the state
      • Appointment of governor
      • Separate electorates for depressed classes, women and labour
      • Establishment of RBI
      • Setting up Federal court
    5. India Independence act 1947
    Now we will see the inspiration from other countries for our constitution
    1.  Fundamental rights - USA
    2. The Parliamentary system of government - UK
    3. Directive Principles of state policy - IRELAND
    4. Emergency Provisions - GERMANY
    5. Amendment procedures - SOUTH AFRICA
    6. Preamble to the Indian constitution - FRANCE
    7. Federal model of Governance - CANADA

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