Administration of Vijayanagar, Source of Income and Cultural and Artistic Achievements, History UPSC Notes | EduRev

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Administration of Vijayanagar, Source of Income and Cultural and Artistic Achievements

Administration of Vijayanagar
 King

  • The king of the Vijayanagar empire was the fountain-head of all power in the State. He was the supreme authority in civil, military and judicial matters. 
  • This does not mean that he was a tyrant or an irresponsible despot. He was required to rule according to dharma. 
  • He was required to keep in view the goodwill and welfare of the people. He was required to bring peace and plenty to the kingdom. 
  • The ideal of kingship was given by Krishnadeva Raya in his Amuktamalyada. According to him, a crowned king should always rule with an eye towards dharma. 

Ministers

  • The Vijayanagar empire was a vast feudal organisation and the king was at the head of the whole system. 
  • He was helped in his work by a council which consisted of ministers, provincial governors, military commanders, men or priestly class and poets. 
  • The members of the council were not elected but were nominated by the king. 
  • The ministers were taken not only from the Brahmanas but also from the Kshatriyas and Vaishyas. The office of a minister was sometimes hereditary and sometimes not. 
  • The important officers of the State were the Prime Minister, Chief Treasurer, Custodian of the Jewels and the Prefect of the Police. 
  • The Prime Minister advised the king in all important matters. The Prefect was like the Kotwal and his duty was to maintain law and order. 
  • Nuniz tells us that the Prefect of Police was required to give an account of the robberies in the capital and that lessened their number. 
  • There was corruption everywhere. No merchant could see the king without offering bribes to many officers. 
      

Points To Be Remembered

  • There were a number of other lower classes, who had no say in social matters. These included Dombaras who gave jugglers to the country, Maravas or fisherfolk, Jogies, Praiyans, Boyees, Erkelas and Kallars.
  • The Senabovas were accountants, and kept the revenue registers of their villages or nadus.
  • There are references in inscriptions to adhikaris attesting partition deeds and confirming land grants.
  • The antrimars seem to have been civilians who controlled the working of the village assemblies and other local organisation.
  • The Parupatyagar was a representative of the king or a governor in a locality.
  • The temples were granted sarvamanya land.
  • Ayagars were granted tax-free lands manyam which they were to enjoy in perpetuity for their services.
  • Adapanayak had an income of 3,00,000 pardaos of gold and had to maintain 8,000 foot and 800 horse soldiers for the king’s army and remit two-fifteenth of his income to the royal treasury.
  • The nadalavukal, the rajavthadankal and the gandaraya gandakal were the names of the measuring rods in the empire.
  • The nature of villages were—devedana, brahmadeya, dalavay, agrahara or karagrama.
  • Kadamai, magamai, kanikkai, kottanam, kanam, varam, bhogam, vari, pattam, irai and kattayam were among the many terms used to denote the kinds of taxes collected in Vijayanagar.
  • It appears that bribery was not considered to be something wrong.

Justice

  • As regards justice, the king was the supreme court of justice. In all important cases, his word was final. Petitions were presented to the king or the Prime Minister by all those who had a grievance and those were disposed of according to merits. 
  • Civil cases were decided according to the principles of Hindu law and the usage of the country. Documents were attested by witnesses. People were fined for breaches of civil law. 
  • The administration of criminal law was harsh. Torture was allowed to find out the truth. Theft, adultery and treason were punished with death or mutilation. Sometimes a culprit was thrown before elephants who tore him into pieces. 

The Court

  • The rulers of Vijayanagar maintained a magnificient court and spent a lot of money for that purpose. The court was attended by nobles, learned priests, astrologers and musicians. 
  • Provincial Government
  • The Vijayanagar empire was divided into many provinces for purposes of administration. 
  • The terms used for the province are rajya, mandala and chavadi. 

Points To Be Remembered

  • Vyasaraja was the raja-guru or the great royal teacher of Krishnadeva Raya.
  • Sthanikas were in charge of the management of temples.
  • The Sultan of the Deccani state who was treated like a son by Rama Raya, and was the real brain behind the formation of confederacy of Deccani states against Vijayanagar was Ali Adil Shah.
  • Walking on fire for divine favours was very much popular.
  • Barbers were exempted from profession tax.
  • The rulers of Vijayanagar patronized Telugu language.
  • The community of acrobats was called dombars.
  • Athavane or Athavana was the Department of revenue.
  • The provinces were also divided into sub-divisions like venthe, nadu, sima, village and sthala in the Tamil portion. 
  • Venthe was a territorial division higher than a nadu. A nadu was a territorial division higher than a village. Kottam was a territorial division higher than a parru which again was higher than a nadu. 
  • Sthala was a portion of a land comprising several fields. It is not possible to state the exact number of the provinces into which the empire was divided. 
  • The view of H. Krishna Shastri is that the Vijayanagar empire was divided into six principal provinces. Each province was under a viceroy or Nayaka or Naik. 
  • The latter was either a member of the royal house or an influential  noble of the state or some descendant of some old ruling family. 
  • The village was the unit of administration. Each village was self-sufficient. The village assembly was responsible for the administration of the village. Its hereditary officers were the village accountant, village watchman, the superintendent of forced labour etc. 
  • These officers were paid either by grants of land or from a portion of the agricultural produce. 

Source of Income

  • The main source of income of Vijayanagar empire was land revenue and its administration was under a department called Athavane. 
  • Land was divided into three parts for purposes of assessment : wet land, dry land, orchards and woods. 
  • Under the Hindu law, the share of the state was one-sixth of the produce but it appears that the same was increased in order to meet the heavy burdens of the State. 
  • According to Nuniz, “All land belongs to the king and from his land the captain holds it. They make it over to husband-men who pay nine-tenths of the produce to their lords, who, in their turn, pay one-half to the king.”
  • In addition to land revenue, the peasants were required to pay other taxes such as grazing tax, marriage tax etc. 
  • The state got its income from customs duties, tolls on roads, revenue from  gardening and plantations and taxes from manufacturers, craftsmen, potters, washermen, mendicants, barbers, shoemakers and prostitutes. 
      
  • Abdur Razzatells us that the income from the prostitutes was 12,000 Fanams which was devoted to the maintenance of policemen attached to the office of the Prefect of the City. 
  • The people were required to pay a number of duties on articles of ordinary consumption such as grains, fruits, vegetables, fats etc. 
  • Only one road led to the city and it was controlled by a gate. The right of collecting the duties was given to the highest bidder. 
  • According to Nuniz, “The gate is rented out for 12,000 Pardaos each year and no one can enter it without paying just what the rentees ask, country folks as well as strangers....everyday enter by these gates 2,000 oxen, and every one of these pays three Vintees, except certain polled oxen without horns, which never pay anything in any part of the realm.”

The Army

  • The military organisation of Vijayanagar empire was under a department called Kandachara and its head was Dandanayaka or Dannayaka or Commander-in-Chief. The military organisation was of a feudal nature. 
  • The king had an army of his own but in addition to that, the provincial governors  were required to send their contingents in times of emergency. 
  • Nuniz tells us that the rulers of Vijayanagar could recruit as many soldiers as they pleased with the money at their disposal. 
  • The army consisted of the infantry, cavalry, artillery and camels. The Vijayanagar army was inferior in strength, patience and endurance to the Muslim armies. 
  • A lot of reliance was put on elephants who were practically useless in the face of archers and artilerymen.

Cultural and Artistic Achievements

  • The kings patronized Sanskrit, Telugu, Tamil and Kannada and many literary works of outstanding merit saw the light of the day because of their royal patronage. 
  • Sayana, the renowned commentator on the Vedas, and his brother, Madhava Vidyaraya flourished in the early years of Vijayanagar. 
  • Apart from popular imagination, there were poets and scholars of extraodinary merit in the Court of Krishnadeva Raya. 
  • Among them, the prominent were Allasani Peddana, the author of ‘Manucarita’ Nandi Timana, the author of ‘Parijatapaharana’, Bhattumurti, the author of ‘Narasabhupaliyam’. 
  • The later kings continued the literary traditions of their illustrious predecessors and many works on music, dancing, drama, grammar, philosophy etc. were composed. These were remarkable activity in the domain of art and architecture. 
  • Krishnadeva Raya built the famous Hazra temple, described by Longhurst as ‘one of the most perfect specimen of Hindu temple architecture in existence.’ 
  • The Vitthalsvami temple is another excellent work of architecture of Vijayanagar style.
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