Vijayanagar Empire: important offices and central-local administration

in this article the following points will be covered 

  • central government 
  • important offices
  • local government 

Central Govt

Important duties:

  1. The first and primary duty of the king was to afford protection to all his subjects and redress their grievances. In fact, these are the most elementary functions of any State.
  2. to maintain an efficient police organization in the State and to ensure the preservation of order and peace in the country. Connected with these was the duty of redressing the grievances of the people by the king.
  3. Another important duty of the State was the preservation of the social solidarity of the people by enforcing on them the duty of the observance of their svadharma based on immemorial custom and the authority of the Vedas.

Though the king was the most important organ in the body politic, he was never an autocrat. The powers of the king were generally limited by certain codes and institutions. Of course, there was no constitutional check on the rapacity and highhanded ness of a sovereign. But the administration was based more on conventions and experience than on constitutional laws. The independence of the sovereign was checked by various factors.

Imperial Council of Vijayanagar, certain problems present themselves for solution. The nature and composition of the Imperial Council, whether the members in it were hereditary or chosen otherwise, the qualifications expected of its members, how far the decisions of the Council were binding on the king-these may serve as examples of such problems. A vast empire like that of Vijayanagar could not have been ruled simply by a king assisted by a Council. The dry details of the administration must have been attended to by an efficient secretariat staff. The secretariat must have been divided into various departments each in charge of a part of the administration.

Important Offices:

o   Rayasasvami – writers employed in the office of Vijaynagar

o   Mudra karta – officer in charge of the royal seal

o   Ajnadharaka and Ajnaparipalaka – executors of the orders of the king

o   Vasal or Vasalkariyam – officer appointed for the purpose for granting permission to persons seeking audience with the king

o   Karanikkam – accountant

Local Government

An important feature of the administration of local areas was the active functioning of what may be called the local assemblies which administered the local areas. The government of the rural parts was organized in two ways; and there were two types of local institutions. The first was the Sabha or the rural council in the village and the second was the näda a larger rural division. Besides, in some places the people were organized into corporate associations and discharged some political functions. Among them were the professional guilds and mercantile corporations. Further the temple was an important institution that played a notable part in the economic life of the local areas.

The Ayagar system

An important feature of the village organization was the Ayagar system. According to it every village was a separate unit, and its affairs were conducted by a body of twelve functionaries who were collectively known as the Ayagars. These village functionaries were generally appointed by the government. The Ayagars had the right to sell or mortgage their offices. They were granted tax free lands (manyams) which they were to enjoy in perpetuity for their services. These Ayagärs had onerous responsibilities within their locality. They were the guardians of the peace within their jurisdiction. No transfer of property could be effected or grant made without the knowledge and consent of these village functionaries.

The village assemblies possessed the right of disposing of or acquiring lands or other kinds of property in the name and on behalf of the village.In the ganabhöga or samudayam villages, the village sabha acted in the name and on behalf of the village community as a whole. Thus it would appear that these sabhäs had their origin in the communal character of the villages, and they exercised full authority over the sale and purchase of lands on behalf of the community.

Tax collection

The next important function of the village Sabha was that of tax collection. The collection of taxes payable to the imperial government was at times entrusted to the village sabhäs or the úravar. Besides being the agents of the government for the collection of the state revenues, these rural assemblies had certain inherent rights for the levy of fresh taxes and the remission of old ones.

The nãdu was a larger political unit than a village. It had also an assembly which went by the name of nãdu, the members of which were called the nättavar. The nádu enjoyed similar powers as the village assembly but its jurisdiction extended over a wider area. Thus the nadu and the sabha were quasi-independent republics in the local areas managing local affairs, and bearing the responsibility for the carrying on of certain branches of the administration in the local areas.


Get Updates by Subscribing Our Newsletter

Leave a Reply