The Rashtrakuta Empire: Central, Economic & Political Administration

in this article the following topics will be covered

  1. political administration
  2. central government
  3. village administration
  4. town administration
  5. economic administration
  6. military administration
  7. policing in villages 

Political Administration 

The empire usually extended over southern Gujarat, Marathi districts of the Central Provinces, Konkan, the whole of Maharashtra, practically the whole of the state of Hyderabad, Karnatak, and portions of the state of Mysore. Its northern boundary extended from Cambay to Houshangabad; the eastern boundary, which is rather difficult to determine precisely, probably ran through Houshangabad, Nagpur, Chanda, Warrangal, and Cudappah. The southern boundary was formed partly by the Northern Pennar, beyond which extended the Bana and the Nolamba principalities, and partly by an imaginary line starting from the sources of the Northern Pennar and passing through Chitaldurg to the Arabian sea.

The western boundary was, of course, the Arabian sea. Sometimes, as under Govinda III and Krishna III, the empire embraced wider areas, but the annexation of territories beyond the boundaries above indicated was temporary, for the Rashtrakūtas did not succeed in permanently amalgamating them with their empire. It should not be supposed that all these areas were directly governed and administered by the imperial government from Malkhed; for there were numerous feudatories enjoying vari ous powers of internal autonomy. How these were controlled by the imperial government will be indicated in a later chapter of this part.

This wide empire must obviously have been divided into several provinces for administrative purposes. The Rashtraküta land-grants usually refer to Rashtrapatis, Vishayapatis and Grümakalas in the stated order. The almost invariable. precedence given to Rashtrapatis makes is quite clear that Rashtra was the largest administrative unit and Vishaya was its subdivision.

Central Govt: King and Ministry

King-in-ministry was the normal form of the government in the Rashtraküja empire. Feudatory administrations were also governed by the same principle. The Yuvaraja had the status of a Pañchamahusabda Samanta and was invested with a necklace which was the insignia of his office, as would appear from the observation of Govinda III to his father, that he was quite content with the necklace with which he was invested by the latter at the time of his appointment as apparent. He was a member of the ministry, according to the Nitiastra writers of the period, and we find him exercising the royal prerogative of granting villages. Spiritual sanctions, effects of careful and proper education, force of public opinion, divi sion of power with a ministry, supremacy of established usage in the realm of law and taxation, devolution of large powers to local bodies whose government was democratic in sub stance if not always in form – these were the usual checks on monarchy.

ministers

Ministers under this administration were very important and influential members of government. Narayana, the foreign minister of Krshna III, has been described in the Salotg! inscription as another hand, as it were, Pratihastaḥ of the emperor, as dear to him as his own right hand. The Pathari Pillar inscription of the feudatory Rashtraküta chief Parabala states that he used to regard his premier as worthy of salutations by his own head.

Important Ministers

o Purohita – important member of the ministry.
o Amatya – the Revenue Member
o Mahakshapatalika – Inspector genral of records working under the Amatya
o Bhandagarika – Treasurer

Selection of Officers:

The selection was governed partly by military, partly by hereditary, and partly by educational considerations. The minister Narayana of Krishna III, who is described as a prominent poet, a skillful speaker, and a great expert in the science of polity, did not belong to a family of hereditary ministers, as was the case with his namesake just mentioned; he was very probably selected for his educational qualifications.

Village Administration

Districts or Vishayas were divided into several subdivisions known as Bhuktis comprising of about 100 to 500. villages. The officers over these divisions, which roughly corresponded sometimes to modern sub-divisions of the district, and sometimes to the Talukas, were known as Bhogikas or Bhogapatis. These officers did not usually possess the feudatory status but were generally commoners: Devanayya, for instance, who was administering Belvola 300 and was a favourite of Amoghavarsha J, was only a commoner. We sometimes find even these officers possessing feudatory titles, but these cases are exceptional and rare. These officers were appointed directly by the central government as shown already.

Bhuktis

Bhuktis were subdivided into smaller circles comprising of about 10 to 30 villages. Officers over these seem to have been appointed, as shown above, by the provincial or district officers. Very often even these petty posts went to military captains; we find the Ganga ruler Bütuga II appointing Maçalera to the post of the supervisor over Atkur as a reward for his conspicuous bravery in the Chola war. Imperial officers appointed over the subdivisions and Talukas administered their areas with the help of hereditary revenue officers. These officers were known as Nadgaoundas in Karnataka. Every village in our period was usually under the charge of a village headman, whose office was a very ancient institution both in the south and in the north. Like the headman of the Taluka and the district, the village headman was also a hereditary officer. He was more a representative of the people than a servant of the central government. The headman has been, since very early times, in charge of the defence of the village. In the Rashtraküta period the villages did not enjoy that amount of absolute peace, which they have under the present administration. There were constant wars going on, and every villager had then, unlike in the present time, the prospect of winning the general’s parasol. The population was well trained in the use of arms; even the bangle sellers could drive back armed forces and fight to the bitter end. The Village councils existed throughout the Rashtrakūta dominions, though their nature and functions differed to some extent in different localities. There were roughly speaking three types of the village councils in our period, the Tamil type, the Karnatak type and the Maharashtra and Gujarat type.

Town Administration

In the Rashtrakata period the cities and towns were in charge of prefects who were designated as purapatis or nagara patis. These officers are rarely referred to in the Rashtrakuta copper plate grants, but they are almost invariably mentioned in the grants of the Silaharas, who were the Konkan feudatories of the imperial power. (20) Military captains were often appointed to the posts; thus Rudrapayya, who was the pre fect of Saravatura or modern Soratur in Karnatak, was one of the body-guards of the emperor Krshna III.The city affairs were managed by the prefects with the help of non-official committees. administration of Gunapura in Konkan was vested in 997 A.D. in a prefect assisted by a committee of two bankers Ambus’reshthin and Vappaiyas’reshthin, a merchant called Chelappaiyu, a Brahmana named Govaneya and some others.

Economic administration

Taxation

Bhogakara represents the petty taxes in kind that were to be paid to the king every day. From the very nature of the case, these taxes in the form of betel leaves, fruits, vegetables etc., could have been exacted by the king only when he was on tour; they were, therefore, usually assigned in practice to local officers as part of their incomes. The lands which were charged this high percentage are situated in the fertile district of Tanjore, and it may be presumed that less fertile lands were charged a lower percentage. The land tax was collected usually in kind and rarely in cash; In the case of some special tenures, the taxation was either very low or non-existent. Mänya, Aradhamanya, Namasya and Balagachchu are the principal tenures to be noted in this connection. In the case of Mänya tenures, the land was entirely free from all taxes; neither Mel-väram (Governmen’s dues) nor Cudi-varam (inhabitants’ dues) had to be paid.

  • Bhutopattarapratyaya – The term Bhutopattapratyaya means a tax (Aya) on (prati) what has been taken in i.e., imported (upatta), and what has been produced (bhuta) in the village. tax on potters, shepherds, weavers, oilmen, shopkeepers, stall-keepers, brewers and gardeners. Sidda ya tax, i.e., a tax on articles manufactured, was levied at Badami in the 12th century. All these taxes will fall under the category. of Bhutopättapratyaya.

Exports and Imports

Among the articles of imports, the Periplus mentions inferior pearls from the Persian Gulf, dates,

  1. gold,
  2. slaves,
  3. Italian wine,
  4. but in small quantity,
  5. copper,
  6. tin,
  7. lead,
  8. topaz,
  9. storax,
  10. sweet clover,
  11. flint glass,
  12. antimony,
  13. gold and silver coins,
  14. and singing boys and girls for kings.

With some exceptions these must have continued to be imported even in our period, as they were not procurable in India and were required by her people. From Marco Polo we learn that Thana used to import gold, silver, and copper in the 13th century.

  1. Cotton yarn and cloth, both rough and fine,
  2. muslins,
  3. hides,
  4. mats,
  5. indigo,
  6. incense,
  7. perfumes,
  8. betel nuts,
  9. coconuts,
  10. sandal and teak wood,
  11. sesame oil,
  12. ivory

must have been the principal articles available for export: most of these have also been actually enumerated among the articles of export by the Periplus, Al Idrisi, Marco Polo, and Ibn Batuta.

military administration

The Indian armies in the time of the Rashtrakūtas had ceased to be chaturanga. for chariot as a fighting force was not used in our time. The epigraphical documents, while describing the military victories resulting in the surrender of war materials, refer to elephants, infantary and cavalry; chariots are mentioned only in connection with the insignia of honour of distinguished generals and military officers.The Rashtraküta forces did not consist of untrained or half trained soldiers. Regular officers were appointed to train different units. The recruits possessed a certain amount of military efficiency at the time of their enrolment. The Rashtrakūtas could very well have afforded to set a high test for admission to the army, e. g. requiring the recruit to show his skill in archery or riding as was done by some of the Muslim states in the 14th century. Most of the Rashtraküta emperors were themselves. distinguished soldiers and must have been, at least in theory, their own commanders-in-chief. The army had its own commissariat office. A number of merchants were engaged by this office for the purpose of meeting the needs of the army when on march. The army had its own commissariat office. A number of merchants were engaged by this office for the purpose of meeting the needs of the army when on march.

policing in villages

The policing arrangements of villages were under the supervision of the headmen. The village watchman was in the immediate charge of the work, and it was his business to detect all the crimes, especially the thefts, that may be committed in the village. If a theft or robbery was committed, he had either to find out the culprit or to trace his footsteps to a neighboring village; otherwise he was compelled to compensate for the loss.

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