UPSC : Social and Economic Condition - The Vijayanagar Empire, History, UPSC UPSC Notes | EduRev
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Social and Economic Condition
- The rulers of Vijayanagar were the followers of Vishnu but they followed a policy of religious toleration towards all.
- A study of the relevant material shows that women occupied a high position in society. They took part in the political, social and literary life of the country.
- According to Nuniz. “He (king) has also women who wrestle and others who are astrologers and soothsayers ; and he has women who write all the accounts of expenses that are incurred inside the gates, and others whose duty to write all the affairs of the kingdom and compare their books with those of writers outside; he was women also for music who played instruments and sing. Even the wives of the king are well-versed in music...It is said that he has judges, as well as bailiffs and watchmen, who every night guard the palace and these are women.”
- Men were allowed to marry more than one wife. This was particularly so among the rich.
- Child marriage was common. Big dowries were demanded at the time of marriage.
- The practice of sati was common and was sanctioned by the Brahmans.
- Abdur Razzarefers to the existence of brothels in the city where women of loose character lived.
- The Brahmans were held in high esteem by the rulers of Vijayanagar and no wonder they had alot of influence in the social, religious and political fields.
- Nuniz describes the Brahmans as “honest men, given to merchandise, very acute and of much talent, very good at accounts, lean men and well formed, but little fit for hard work.”
- There were no restrictions in matters of food. People took fruits, vegetables, oil and meat of all kinds except that of oxen or cows.
- According to Nuniz, “These kings of Bisnaga eat all sorts of things, but not the flesh of oxen or cows which they never kill in all the county of the heathen, because they worship them. They eat mutton, pork, venison, partridges, hares, doves, quails, and all kinds of birds; even sparrows, and rats, and cats, and lizards, all of which are sold in the market of the city of Bisnaga”.
- Bloddy sacrifices were performed in the Vijayanagar empire.
- According to Paes, on a certain festival, the king used to witness the slaughter of 24 buffaloes and 150 sheep.
- When the Mahanavami festival was over, 250 buffaloes and 4,500 sheep were killed on the last day.
- The empire of Vijayanagar was very rich. The foreign travellers who visited the Vijayanagar empire have paid tributes to its wealth and splendour.
- According to Nicolo Conti, “The circumference of the city (Vijayanagar) is 60 miles ; its walls are carried up to the mountains and enclosed the valley at their foot, so that its extent is thereby increased. In the city there are estimated to be 99,000 men fit to bear arms. The king is more powerful than all the other kings of India.”
- The prosperity of the Vijayanagar empire was due to the growth of agriculture, industries, trade and commerce. The state followed a wise irrigation policy. Industries were also encouraged by the state.
- Commerce was inland, coastal and overseas. Calicut was the most important port on the Malabar coast. If Abdur Razzais to be believed, there were as many as 300 sea-ports in the Vijayanagar empire.
- There were commercial relations with the islands in the Indian Ocean, the Malaya Archipelago, Burma, China, Arabia, Persia, South Africa, Abyssinia and Portugal. The exports from the Vijayanagar empire were cloth, rice, iron, salt petre, sugar and spices.
- The imports were horses, elephants, pearls, copper, coral, mercury, China silk and velvet. Edoardo Barbosa tells us that South India got its ships built in the Maldive Islands. The art of ship-buildings was well-known.
- The coins of the empire were those of gold, copper and silver. There were emblems of different gods and animals on them.
- They have three kinds of money made of gold mixed with alloy.
1. Varahas - weight about one mithkal, equivalent to two dinars.
2. Kopeki - which is called pertab, is the half of the first.
3. Fanam - is equivalent in value to one-tenth part of the last mentioned coin.
- Of the different coins the fanam is the most useful.
- They cast in pure silver a coin which is the sixth of the fanam, which they call tar.
- A copper coin with the third of a tar is called dijital.
- If any man receives from the Diwan an allowance in gold, he has to be paid by the darabkhana.