In Your Opinion, What Was the Prevailing Social System at That Time?

发布日期:2018-07-13   字体大小:   

It is recorded in the Buddhist scriptures that there was a fixed time each year during which the king presided over a ploughing ceremony in the fields, and the people tilled for him. This agrees with the clause of the Brahmin codes, which stipulates that the Sudras who lived off their own labor should pay taxes to the king through offering their labor. According to the notes made by the ancient Chinese translators, Ksatriya originally meant “land owner”. It may be inferred from this that by the time the caste system began to be well established, India had entered into a society of serfdom ruled by feudal lords. By the time of Sakyamuni, more changes had occurred in the newly emerging states. The Buddhist literature suggests that commerce at that time was flourishing with large-scale trade caravans and mercantile fleets. Thus merchants had solid economic strength. For instance, a very rich merchant named Sudatta, who made a gift of a garden to the Buddha, was of such great wealth that he compared riches with the prince of Kosala by paving the whole garden with gold. Handicrafts flourished too, with fine division of labor. Small enterprises of industry and commerce operated freely and played an important role in productive activities. A that time, there emerged tax-paying free peasants as well as tenant farmers. It is conceivable that, in the newly emerging states where the majority was of the mixed castes of Vaisyas and Sudras, Ksatriyas might not have been serf-owners, but representatives of a newly emerging landlord class. As early as 1,000 BC ironware appeared in India, and in this period, iron farm tools were widely used and agricultural productivity was greatly increased. Under these economic circumstances, partitioning by feudal lords was unfavorable to the development of commerce, of handicrafts and of agriculture in particular. History shows that the centralized construction of water conservancy and irrigation works was important in King Asoka, people had already cherished the ideal of “one world unified by the wheel-turning king”. In his childhood, the Buddha’s father and compatriots hoped he would become the wheel-turning king. The Buddha, though forsaking his throne, held the ideal common aspiration to have a centralized government to replace the state of division by the feudal lords. This desire inevitably came into conflict with the caste system. (From Essentials of Buddhism: Questions and Answers)

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