Critically examine the limitations of the inscriptional evidence in understanding the political and economic history of India.
The limitations of the inscriptional evidence in understanding the political and economic history of India are:
a. Thousands of inscriptions were discovered but only a few were deciphered and translated.
b. Inscriptions were composed in praise of kings and patrons. The court poet of Samudragupta, Harisena composed Prayag Prashashti. It was also known as the Allahabad pillar inscription. He described Samudraguupta as the most powerful king of the Gupta empire. He was considered as equally powerful to God and the protector of his poor subjects.
c. The context of the inscription only gave a view of the perspective of the person who commissioned it.
d. It did not give a clear view of the political and economically important facts of that duration. For example, the joy and sorrow of common people and the agricultural practices are not mentioned anywhere in these inscriptions.
e. History should not only tell us about the life of the kings and but also of the common people.
f. From the mid 20th century, historians became more interested in the political and economic changes of the society. This led to the fresh investigation of old sources to understand the ways in which the different social groups had emerged.
g. Sometimes many important letters were damaged or missing in the inscription. This made the work for epigraphist very difficult. The letters were at times very faintly engraved.
h. It is not always easy to be sure about the exact meaning of the words used in them. Some of them may be specific to a particular place or time. Scholars are constantly debating the various ways to read it.