India received a great deal of gold from Central Asia and through, trade with the Roman Empire. Culturally, the Central Asian contacts with India led to a great outburst of literary activities. Many of the foreign princes patronised Sanskrit literature. Indian art made tremendous progress on account of the support of the foreign princes. Indian artists and craftsmen came into contact with the Greeks and the Romans, Particularly in Gandhara. As a result, a new kind of art developed.
The Central Asian contacts led to the development of science and technology. The contacts with the Greeks benefitted Indian astronomy and astrology. The practice of making leather shoes is said to have begun on account of these contacts.
Economy in the post Mauryan Age
The significant features of this period were monetisation of economy, development of crafts, growth of urban centres, flourishing trade and lesser control of state over the farming operations.
Expansion and Monetisation of trade and Economy
Monetisation of economy was on an unprecedented scale. The Indo-Greek rulers were the first to issue gold coins. Kushanas too issued gold coins in considerable numbers. The Kushanas perhaps issued the largest number of copper coins. Many nigamas also issued coins of copper and bronze. Money had penetrated deep into the life of common man during the post-Mauryan India.
Expansion of trade and monetisation of economy led to the growth of urban centres in the country. Urbanisation in this period has been termed as the third phase of urbanisation. In North-Western India, the main cause of urbanisation seems to be trade routes. Trade routes and urbanisation gave a boost to craft production. The Kushanas controlled the silk route, which started from china and passed through central Asia and Afghanistan and western Asia.
The Dighanikaya mentions about two dozen occupations. The existence of merchant donors show that they had prospered owing to the flourishing trade. Guilds became an important factor in urban life. The Guild system seems to have loosened the state control over the industrial life of the country. The Guilds functioned as administration of their trade. They fixed the rules of work, quality of the product and their prices.
Important changes in agricultural sector took place during this period. The state control loosened and individual farmers owning and practising agricultural became the norm. Milindapanho states that the person who brings the land under use is called the owner of the land. The State also took measure to increase the productivity of the land. Tanks seem to have been constructed by Shakas and Kushanas.
Various types of coins were in circulation in this period. Nishakha, Dinar Suvarna and Pala were gold coins. Shatman were silver coin. Kakani were coins of copper. Indo-Greeks were the first to issue gold coins, these coins had bilingual inscriptions.
The Purest gold coins could be attributed to Kushanas, Who also issued the maximum number of copper coins. Stavahanas were the first to issue lead coins. On Satavahanas were the first to issue lead coins. On Satavahana coins, can be found images of fish ships and condishells. On the coins issued by Vashishtaputra Puluyami, can be found image of ships with two sails while Yajna Satakarni’s coin bore image of boats.
Society in the Post Mauryan Age
This age witnessed many far reaching changes in the traditional concept of varna and within the varna system emerged jatis. The Situation was made more complex by the influx of large hoards of foreigners. Around 2nd century BC, the concept of Vratya and Varnasankara came into existence as a result of assimilation of the Nirukta. In the brahminical lawbooks of the period, an attempt is made for the first time to give a recognised status to a large number of tribes within the orthodox social System.
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