The foundation on VE in 1336.

The VE was founded by Harihara I and Bukka, two of the five sons of Sangama.

Robert Spell’s work – the forgotten empire (1901).

Three main theories regarding the origin of the founders of the VE.
1. the telugu, the Andhra or the kakatiya origin
2. the karanata (Karnataka) or hoyasala origin.
3. the kampili origin.

A2 the first theory, harihara and bukka were the treasury officers (pratiharis) of the last kakatiya ruler prataparudradeva kakatiya.

After the fall of the kakatiya kingdom to the tughlaqs, both brothers reached the present site of VN, where a Vaishnava saint Vidhyadara took them under his protection and inspired them to found the city and empire of VN.

The main support of this theory comes from kalajnana texts, particularly the vidyaranya kalajnana, and some other sources.

Royal crests and the administrative divisions of the empire of VN had been borrowed from the kakatiyas.
Rayas of VN greatly patronized Telugu language and literature.

A2 the second theory, Harihara and Bukka were in the service of the hoyasala king Vira Ballala III, who had founded the city of Vijayavirupakshapura, after the name of his son, which later became to be known as VN.

A2 the third theory, Harihara and Bukka were in the service of the Raya of Kampili. When Bahauddin Gurshap, a cousin of MBT, revolted and took refuge with the Raya of Kampili, the sultan attacked Kampili and annexed it to the DS.

During the course of this war, Harihara and Bukka were both made prisoners of war and taken to Delhi.

In 1335, when Tughlaq possessions in the south were in a stage of general turmoil, the sultan sultan released them and sent as commanders of the tughlaq troops to restore order in the south, where they came under the influence of a sage and declared their independence.

Harihara and Bukka, who founded the VE in 1336, were the sons of Sangama and named the first dynasty of VN after their father as Sangama Dynasty (1336-1485).

The second dynasty, founded by Saluva Narasimha, known as Saluva dynasty, ruled from 1485 to 1505.

The third dynasty, known as Tuluva ruled from 1503 to 1570.

The fourth or the Aravidu dynasty ruled till about the middle of the seventeenth century.

The Sangamas (1336-1485)

Harihara I (1336-56), aided by his brother Bukka, started an era of conquest and expansion.
The hoyasala kingdom was conquered by about 1346, and the Kadamba territories were annexed in 1347.

Harihara also sent two armies in 1352-53, one under prince Savanna and the other under Kumara Kampana annexed the Sultanate of Madurai to the VE.

This conquest has been widely discussed by his wife Ganga Devi in Madhura Vijayam.

Harihara I was succeeded by his his brother Bukka I (1356-77).

Bukka I sent an expedition against Rajanarayana Sambuvaraya, who earlier had been restored to his throne by
Harihara I and had probable asserted his independence soon after.

He also found with the Bahmani sultan Muhammad shah I and signed a treaty with him.

His son kumara kampana, who governed the tamil districts, proceeded south, and defeated the sultan of madura and annexed his dominions to the VE.

Bukka’s son and successor, harihara II (1377-1404), consolidated the new kingdom.

An invasion by the bahmani sultan mujahid shah was repulsed.

The sultan was assassinated on his way back to his capital and taking advantage of this turn events, harihara II invaded the konkan and northern Karnataka, attacked the reddi rulers, and occupied the Addanki and srisailam areas.

In 1398, he defeated the velamas and the bahamanis.

His death in 1404 was followed by a dispute about his succession and consequent political instablitliy.

His twos sons virupaksa I and Bukka II appear to have ruled one after the other for two years, and in 1406
Devaraya I ascended the throne.

Devaraya I had to face an invasion by firuz shah Bahmani, and was forced to surrender the fort of Bankapur to the Bahmanis.

Devaraya formed an alliance with katayavema, his relative and chief of the Reddi kingdom, to counter the activities of Anadeva Choda, an ally of Firuz shah Bahmani.

In a battle fought in 1415, Firuz came to the rescue of Anadeva and Katayavema was killed.

Four years later, devaraya captured Pangal and won a decisive victory.

Devaraya I in 1410, had a barrage across the Tungabhadra constructed. This greatly helped Ag.

He also got dug an aqueduct 24 kms long from the Tungabhadra to the capital.

He also encouraged the construction of a dam on the river Harihara for irrigation purposes.

Towards the close of devaraya’s rule the Italian Nicolo Conti visited the imperial city. He describes it as having a circumference of 96 kms and containing 90,000 potential soldiers.

Besides describing the city and its king, Nicolo Conti also mentions festivals like Dipavali, Navaratri.

Devaraya I was great patron of scholars.

It was to devaraya’s court that the gifted telugu poet srinatha, the author of Haravilasam and many other works, journeyed from the Reddy courts of Rajamundry and Kondavidu seeking recognition for his talents.

The ‘Pearl hall’ of the palace where he honoured men of eminence is immortalized in literature.

Devarya I died in 1442 and was succeeded by his son Ramachandra.

Ramachandra who had been associated with his father in the govt of Udayagiri since 1390-91, ruled as emperor of VN for six months only.

Ramachandra was succeeded by his brother Vijaya I.

He was also known as Vijayabhupati, Vijaya Bukka or Vira Bukka III.

Vijaya, who was a weak ruler, took no interest in the affairs of the govt and left it to the care of his son and co-regent Devaraya II.

Devaraya II was (1423-46) was the greatest sovereign of the sangama dynasty.

He was called ‘Immadi Devaraya’ and also ‘Proudha Devaraya’ or the great Devaraya by his subjects.

The commoners believed that he was the incarnation of indra, the celestial ruler of the hindu mythology.

The inscription speak of his title Gajabetekara i.e., the elephant-hunter.

Devaraya II had to face an invasion led by the bahmani sultan ahmad I in the raichur doab.

The bahmani sultan shifted his capital from gulbarga to bidar.

Devaraya II annexed kondavidu (AP) to his kingdom, attacked the Gajapati kingdom of orissa and subjugated a few chiefs in kerela.

Except the zamorin of calicut, all other kings and chieftains in kerela accepted his suzerainty.
Sometime in 1442, he sent a naval expedition against the sri lanka which, after being defeated, agreed to pay tribute to VN.

Devaraya II was a great patron of literature and himself an accomplished scholar in Sanskrit.

He is credit with the authorship of two Sanskrit works, Mahanataka Sudhanidhi and a commentary on the Brahma sutras of Badarayana.

The Persian ambassador Abdur Razzaq who visited his court gives a vivid account of the empire of VN.

The reign of Devaraya II was followed by the short reign of vrjayaraya II (1446-47).

The next ruler Mallikarjuna was young at the time of his accession and taking advantage of it, the Bahmani sultan Alauddin II and kapileshvara gajapati of orissa invaded VN, and the war ws prolonged until 1463.

Mallikarjuna died about the middle of 1465 by one of his own sons.

Another son of Virupaksha, Praudha devaraya, ascended the throne and almost at once murdered the patricide.

Saluva Narasimha (1485-90), ruler of the Chandragiri region and a powerful feudatory, usurped the throne and
saved the kingdom from an impending disruptions.

During the reign of the last Sangama ruler, Virupaksha, the Bahmanis captured Goam Dabul and Chaula and the Gajapatis of orissa captured Udayagiri and other places from VN.

The Saluvas (1485-1505):

Saluva Narasimha faught against the Sambetas of Peranipadu and the Palaigars of Ummattur, and quelled fissiparous tendencies within the empire. But he was defeated and imprisoned by Purushottama Gajapati and his release was secured to the surrender of Udayagiri in Nellore dist.

Before Saluva Narasimha died in 1490, he placed his two young sons under the care of his minister Narasa Nayaka and made him the regent of the kingdom.

The elder of the two, Timma, was crowned king but was murdered by a rival and so the younger, Immadi Narasimha was anointed.

The regent Narasa nayaka, however, removed him to Penugonda and kept him under control, himself donating the scene for over a decade.

Narasa nayaka come into conflict with Yusuf Adil Khan of Bijapur and Prataparudra Gajapati, and asserted his authority over several small chiefs in the south.

After his death in 1503, his son Vira Narasimha became the regent and continued to keep Immadi Narasimha under tutelage.

When immadi narasimha was assassinated in 1505, vira narasimha became the actual ruler and started what is known as the Tuluva dynasty.

The Tuluvas (1503-70)

Vira narasimha, son of narasa nayaka, founded the tuluva dynasty. After his brief reign he was succeded by his younger brother SKD (1509-29) who was the greatest ruler of VN.

The Portuguese traveler Domingo Paes stayed at VN during SKD’s reign.

SKD defeated the rebellious chief of Ummattur, the Gajapati king Prataparudra of orissa, the Adil shahi sultan Yusuf adil and his son Ismail Adil.

The whole of the raichur doab passed into the hands of VN.

He successfully invaded Gulbarga and Bidar and restored the puppet Bahmani sultan to the throne. To commemorate this act of restoration of the Bahmani monarcy, SKD assumed the title of Yavanarajya
Sthopanacharya or restorer of the yavana kingdom.
He also concluded a series of treaties with the Portuguese who were trying to capture the territories of Adil shahi kingdom, their common enemy.

His relations with the Portuguese were governed by two factors 1. common enemity with bijapur and 2. the supply of imported horses by the Portuguese to VN.

His political ideas are contained in his telugu work Amuktamalyada.

He was himself a scholar of Sanskrit as well as telugu. As a great patron of literature, he was known as
Abhinava Bhoja.

Asta Diggajas adorned the court of SKD. Among these poets, Peddana was personally honoured by the emperor for his proficiency in Sanskrit and telugu.

SKD’s reign is regarded as the classical phase of telugu literature and has been therefore, rightly honoured as Andhra Pitamaha.

He founded a town Nagalapur (near VN) and built tanks, gopurams and temples in various parts of empire.

After the death of SKD, his half-brother Achyuta Raya (1529-42) succeeded him.

The attempt of Rama Raya to become the de facto ruler by nominally installing the eighteen months old son of SKD as the king was foiled by his brother-in-law who brought Achyuta Raya from Chandragiri.

Achyuta raya had to repulse the invasion of Ismail adil khan for the seizure of the raichur doab.

He also defeated the Gajapati ruler and the sultan of Golkonda.

He soon patched up his quarrel with rama raya, but this angered saluva vira narasimha and drove him to the chieftains of Ummattur and the Tiruvadi raja in kerala, with whose help he started a revolt. It was put down and
saluva vira narasimha was taken prisoner.

Ismail adil khan died in 1534 and taking advantage of this Achyuta raya invaded bijapur and forced his son mulla adil khan to sue for peace.

The infant son of SKD died meanwhile and this weakened the position of Rama Raya.

He was, however, able to imprison Achyuta raya on his return from bijapur and proclaimed himself king.

The opposition of nobles, however, forced him to stop down and enthrone sadashiva, a nephew of Achyuta, and carry on the govt in his name.

Ibrahim adil shah soon close to invade VN. He entered nagalapur and “razed it to the ground” by way of reprisal for the treatment of Bijapur by SKD.

He also settled the dispute between Achyuta and Rama raya before he retired to his kingdom. It was agreed that Achyuta Raya would be a king, but Rama Raya was to be free to rule his state without interference. This agreement was observed till the death of Achyuta in 1542.

Achyuta was succeeded by his son Venkata I with his maternal uncle salakaraju tirumala as regent.
Tirumala’s intention were suspected by Varadadevi, the queen mother, who sought the help of ibrahim adil shah I; but the clever tirumala won him over.

Meanwhile, rama raya proclaimed sadashiva as the emperor; thereupon tirumala asked for help from bijapur.
Ibrahim adil shah invaded VN in spite of tirumala’s understanding with him. Tirumala, however, inflicted defeat.

Panic-stricken people proclaimed tirumala as the ruler. But, soon rama raya defeated tirumala in a few battles and seized the kingdom in the name of sadashiva who was ultimately crowned in 1543. but rama raya remained the de facto ruler.

Sadashiva raya (1543-69) was only a titular soverign; the actual govt was controlled by Rama raya.

The main aim of the foreign policy of Rama Raya was to make VN supreme.

The Deccani states of a confederacy of alliance which defeated the VN forces in the battle of Rakshasa Tangadi (Talikota) in January 1565. rama raya was captured and executed.

After this disaster the VN govt was shifted first to Penukonda and then to Chandragiri where he fourth or the Aravidu dynasty founded.

The Aravidus (1570-1649)

Founded by the Rama raya’s brother Tirumala.

Taking advantage of the weakness of the central govt, the nayakas of VN, such as the nayakas of Tanjavur, madurai, gingee etc. declared their independence.


Central administration

Achyutadeva raya had his coronation performed in the Tirupati Temple.

The imperial councils:

T.V.Mahilingam distinguishes between an imperial council and a council of ministers in VN.

The imperial council was a large gathering of nayakas from the provinces, feudal vassals, ‘pontifical heads’, scholars, poets, artists, merchants, and even ambassadors from foreign kingdoms.

Both SKD and his poet-laureate Peddana refer to such an assembly.

It may be compared to the Privy council in England whose functions were more ceremonial than administrative.

The council of ministes, compared to Kautilya’s mantiparishad, and a smaller in size than the imperial council, played a more important part in influencing the policy of the govt. though its exact number is not known, it is presumed that, like shivaji’s ashtapradhan, it consisted of eight ministers.

It is generally met in a hall called Venkatavilasamantapa.

The pradhani, “the forerunner of the maratha peshwa” was the PM and he presided over the meetings of the parishad.

High qualifications were expected of the ministers; age between 50 and 70.

Danadanatha and Sayana are known to have been the minister under both Bukka I and Harihara II; Dannayaka served as a minister for Devaraya I as well as Devaraya II.

Ministers bore the title dandanayaka but this only meant that they were ‘lords of the administraton’ and not ‘leaders of the forces’.

The Amukta malyada expresses the view that the efficieny of administration will rise or fall with the increase or decrease of staff.

The rayasam was an officer who recorded the oral orders of the king.

The office of rayasam should have been quite an honourable one, for those who held it prefixed it to their personal names.

The Sarvanayaka, the mudrakarta, and the vasalkariyam were some of the officers connected with the king and the court.

Abdur Razzak saw the working of the Secretariat at VN in a forty-pillar hall, called it the diwan khana and described how the records were kept and writers seated.

Kadamai, magamai, kanikkai, kattanam, kanam, varam, bhogam, vari, pattam, irai and kattayam were among the many terms used to denote the kinds of taxes collected in VN.

Land tax was the most important source of revenue.

Land was carefully assessed and the state claimed one-sixth of the produce as its share.

The nature of the villages (whether it was devadana, brahmadeya, dalavay agrahara or karagrama), the tenure of land, the properties of the soil, and the kind of crop raised, were all considered before a levy was made.

Inscriptions credited SKD with a systematic survey of his empire for the purpose of correct assessment.

The nadalavukal, the rajavthadankol, and the gandarayagandakol were the names of the measuring rods in the empire.

The house of a nattar was taxed at three panams, whereas that of a vetti was taxed at one-eighth of a panam.

The kondavidu inscription of SKD gives a list of 59 articles and the rate of taxes collected on them.

Onions and turmeric were taxed at the rate of one damma per bag, jaggery and ginger two dammas per bag.

Nuniz speaks of the city of Nagalapura alone getting 42,000 pardoas of duties for the articles taken to be sold there; according to him the rights to collect duties at a particular gate alone in VN was rented out for 12,000 pardaos every year.

The rate of tax differed from profession to profession.
A goldsmith paid 5 panams, a fisherman paid half a panam.

Inscriptions of sadasiva reveal the interesting information that he exempted barbers from paying taxes.

Excise duties were levied on the manufacture of salt and toddy.

Taxes collected in cash appear to have been known sometimes as siddhaya or ‘realised revenue’.

As regards collection itself, four different method were adopted.

The govt granted portions of the empire to certain persons, who were called nayakas, in return for military service and the payment of a fixed tribute to the imperial govt.

The revenue dept was known as asthavana and was presided over the minister for revenue.


The gold coins that they minted speak well of the prosperity of the empire.

The varaha, mentioned often in inscriptions, weighed about 52 grains; foreign travelers called the varaha was the panam; it was in large circulation.

Silver and copper coins were also not unknown.

Abdur razzak refers to a mint where the coins were made.

Private individuals also owned mints and enjoyed the privilege of issuing coins. This must have resulted in the circulation of coins in various sizes,shapes and standards causing hardship to the people.

The religion of most of the kings was vaishnavism.

The hanuman symbol on the coins of Harihara I and Bukka I, of venkatesha and balakrishna on those of SKD, of garuda in those of tirumala are significant.

Imams means gifted lands.

Inscriptions of virudhachalam and pennadam show that they exercised such a right.

The law of limitation held that mortgages would be valid for 20 years only.

An inscription of an officer of sriranga III says that mortgages should restore property to the owners without demanding any money for the transfer.

Abdur razzak refers to the pradhani functioning as the chief justice.

The assumption of the title dharmapratipalaka by the PM saluva timma indicates that he had judicial functions as well.

In the days of SKD, venkata tatayaraya was invested with powers to punish the followers of ramanuja who were guilty of lapses in social and religious matters.
A dispute regarding the right of worship in the tirukkamisvaram udaiya nayanar temple at aragalur in salem dist was heard with all the attributes of a regular court of trail.

Trial by ordeal is prevailed in that period.

Nicolo conti refers to three kinds of ordeals: licking with the tounge a red hot iron, carring a red hot iron or plate for several paces, and the commonest of all, putting two fingers in boiling butter.

SKD pleaded that those sentenced to death should given the chance to appeal for mercy three times.

A detestable practice in VN was the offering of lives of prisoners as human sacrifice. Even SKD offered such sacrifices to mark “the successful termination of his big irrigation scheme”.

Policemen were held responsible the detection of crime in their respective areas; those who failed to detect were fined. Both abdur razzak and nuniz make this point clear.

In the provinces, the police duties were performed by the kavalkaras under the nayakas.

The kavalkaras generally belonged to criminal tribes.

Sometimes the villages sold the right of policing; this was known as padikaval;

The tax collected from the villagers for paying the police was known as arasu svatantram.

Military organization:

The feudal levies constituted by a large portion of the VN army.

This class of feudatories who were bound by ties of military sevice to the king are said to have held lands of the king on an amaram tenure and were hence known in inscriptions as amaranayakas.

There were a special force at the capital which nuniz calls the “king’s guard”, consisting of foot-soldiers, horses and elephants.

They bore some resemblance to the ahadis of the mughal court.

In the VN army the Brahmins occupied an important place.

They were not only placed in charge of fortresses but were also appointed to lead the armies.

Brahmins were either generals or provincial viceroys.

Of the many branches of govt , the military dept was one and in the VN days it was called the khandachara.

The mainstay of the army was the cavalry; the kings owed their victory in many a war to the cavalry. They were so strong in it that they were called asvapatis.

Finding native horses weak and lean, SKD bought every year 13,000 horses; he was particularly fond of horses from Ormuz.

Nuniz speaks of SKD taking cannon to the raichur battle.
The description of the fort at Gutti as “the nave of wheel of the sovereignty” will hold good for other forts as well.

The forts were of four kinds: sthala durga, jala durga, giri durga and vana durga.

The forts erected in newly conqured areas were known as padaiparru.

Provincial government:

The kingdom in the extreme south were independent of VN; Barbosa and abdur razzak, the foreign writers, make sure of this.

A2 Paes, the Portuguese traveller, the empire under SKD had “six hundred leagues of coast, and across it three hundred and forty-eight leagues”.

It consisted of 17 provinces in the days of Achyuta Raya (1530-42).

Provinces were generally known as rajyas; they were sometimes called mandalams in the Tamil country and
pithikas in the knk region.

To distinguish minor rajyas from major ones, the later were called maharajyas; for example, Tiruvadi was a rajya whereas Chandragiri was a maharajya.

The kingdoms of Kandanur and Udaigiri forts may be sited as examples of forts serving as nuclei of provinces.


Princes were usually appointed governors of provinces.

Amongst the sangamas, Kampana I and Marappa, brothers of Harihara I; kumara kampana, son of bukka I; virupaksha I and devaraya I, sons of Harihara II; vira vijaya raja, son of devaraya I; and srigiri, son of vira vijaya raya were some of the princes who served as provincial governors.

The saluvas and the tuluvas departed from this practice because the rulers of these dynasties had only a few sons.

Sangama princes who ruled as governors assumed the title Udaiyar.

Sometimes officers of ability and experiences were also appointed as governors and occupied a position similar to that of prince-governors. Such governors were known as dandanayakas.

Harihara II appointed naraharimantrin as governor of the Banavase province after consulting his ministers.

Kampana I is known to have been succeeded by his son sangama II as governor of Udayagiri rajya.

Transfer of governor from one province to another was also not uncommon.

An inscription found in the Kolar (knk) speaks of the horse, the umbrella, and howdah of elephants as among the honours conferred on provincial rulers.

More important was their right to issue coins in their own names.
A2 Caesar Frederick, “every one (of the governors) stamped a small coin of copper”.

A copper coin of Lakkanna, a governor of Devaraya II, proves this point.

Naganna, the mahapradhani of devaraya I, governed Muluvagil rajya;

Lakkanna, the PM of Deva Raya II, held charge of various procinces successively;

Timmana, the mahapradhani of Mallikarjuna, was the lord of Nagamanga, a division;

Saluva Timma, the PM of SKD, was the governor of Kondavidu;

Saluva Vira Narasimha Nayaka, the PM of Achyuta Raya, governed Tiruvadi rajya.

These minister-governor administered their provinces through deputies known as karyakartas.

The governors had their own ministerial council; and such councils probably consisted of the pradhani, the olai, the dalavay, the treasurer, the samantadhikari, and a few others.

Deva raya II rescued the members of the left-hand and right-right communities from extortion by his governors and officers.

Nuniz gave a list of 11 governors, their income, and their contribution to the imperial govt. for example,

Adapanayak who had an income of 3,00,000 pardaos of gold had to maintain 8,000 foot and 800 horse soldiers for the king’s army and remit two-fifteenths of his income to the royal treasury.

Instances of provincial governors increasing their influence and power even at the expence of the imperial house.

Saluva Narasimha, governor of Chandragiri, usurped the throne of Virupaksha II, and founded the second dynasty in the history of VN.

Vira Narasimha, a minister, was another usurper who ruled during 1506-09.

The Nayakara system:

A2 this system the king was considered to be the owner of the soil and he distributed the lands to his dependents. Those who held lands from the king were called nayakas.

First, they had to pay a fixed annual financial contribution to the imperial exchequer which, A2 the chronicle of nuniz, was generally half their revenue.

Secondly, they were required to maintain for the king a sufficient number of troops and serve them in his wars.

The nayaka enjoyed comparatively greater freedom in his province.

It seems that the nayaka was not usually subject to transfer from one district to another.

The nayakas maintained two sets of officers at the imperial head-quarters. One of them appears to have been an officer in –charge of the military of his lord stationed at the capital.
The other officer whom the nayaka kept at the imperial court, was the sthanapati or civil agent who represented the interests of his master at the capital.

Local Government:

A province in the tamil country was divided into districts called kottams or kurrmas.

A kottam was divided into taluks known as nadus.

A nadu was divided into aimbadin melagaram or units of fifty villages;

Below this came the agarams.

But in the knk region territorial divisions and subdivisions were known by different names.

A province was divided into venthes, a venthe into simes, a sime into sthalas, and a sthala into valitas.

Brahmadeya villages, also known as chaturvedimangalams, were administered by assemblies called sabhas.

Sometimes the sabhas were also called mahasabhas or mahajanas; for example, the sabha of kaveripakkam was called the mahasabha and that of Agaraputtur the mahajan.

The sabhas appear to have been large bodies.

High qualifications were expected: they should have studied the four Vedas, gathered a good knowledge of the permormance of sacrifices.

The sabhas functioned as tax-collecting agencies for the imperial govts.

The sabhas exercised tremendous influence over the revenue policy of the state.

The sabhas had judicial power as well.

The sabhas are also known to have confisciated lands of the guilty and assigned with them to temples; for example, the assembly of Tirupperundurai confiscicated the lands of one Andan Pillai of Tirupatturur and gave them to the temple of Solapandya Vinnagar Emberumanar.

An assembly in a non-brahmadeya village was called the Ur.

The nadu:

The nadu was the assembly of a large territorial division.

The members of the nadu, known as the nattavar, figure in inscriptions selling lands and making sarvamanya gifts to institutions like temples.

The period from 907-1120 has been called “the golden age of the mahasabha”.

The ayagar system:

An important feature of the village organization was ayagar system.
A2 it, every village was a separate unit and its affairs were conducted by a body of 12 functionaries who were collectively known as the ayagars.

Once granted them, these ayagars had a hereditary right over their offieces.

The ayagars could sell or mortigage their offices.

They were granted tax-free lands (manyams) which they were to enjoy in perpectuity for their services.

The Temple:

The temples were granted sarvamanya lands.

SKD remitted 10,000 varahas in favour of the shaiva and the Vishnu temples in the cholamandalam and allowed the temples themselves to collect taxes worth that amount.

The temples functioned as banks.

Local officers:

The parupatyagar was a representative of the king or a governor in a locality. He functioned as the government’s chief tax collector in his locality, was incharge of the repair and maintenance of forts and works of public utitlity and acted as the trusty of the grants made by the king.

The adikari: every city and an every village had an adhikari. Doucments were executed in his presence.

There are references in the inscriptions to adhikaris attesting partition needs and confirming land grants.

The antrimars played an important part in village administration.

The nattunayakkars were persons of consequence.

Superintendents of nadus:

Sthalagaudika, men who rendered yeomen service, like constructing towers to forts, were appointed sthalagaudikas of village.

The senabovas were accountant and kept the revenue registers of their villages or nadus.

The madhyastha was a mediator, whenever lands were solds, these arbitrators fixed the price.

The periyanattuvelal is mentioned in connection with the attention of documents.

Society or social life of the empire of VN:

It was the last kingdom in the history of India in which the king is considered it their duty to protect and promote the traditional social order based on varnashrama system.

A common phrase used by numerous VN kings, sarvavarnashrama dharmangalannu palisutta (protector of the interests of all the varnas or castes) indicates that the state was not indifferent to matters of social importance.

The castes and classes:

Madhava and sayana (Brahmins), the learned commentators of the Vedas, were ministers under bukka I and harihara II. They could not be awarded death sentence.

As van linschoten points out: “the Brahmins are the honest and the most esteemed nation amongst the Indian heathens; for they always serve in the chiefest places about the king as receivers, stewards, ambassadors and such like officers. They are of great authority among the Indian people, for that the king doth nothing without
their counsel and consent”.

The absence of the kshatriya in the history of VN is due to the fact that the vitality was made up by the activities of the commercial and agricultural class.

The middle classes comprising the settis or chettis who belonged to the merchantile classes had relegated the kshatiryas into the background.

A most significant feature of the social history of the later VN period, was the rise of social conciousness among different communities. Attempts were made by them for evolution of social solidarity among themselves. The vipra vinodins were one such social class.

Like the vipra vinodins, artisans called the vira panchalas who consisted of black smiths, gold smiths, brass-smiths, carpenters and idol makers, fought among themselves for certain rights and privelages.

The belur inscription dated AD 1555 refers to the fight between artisans and cultivators.

Kaikkolas (weavers) were a prominent community. They lived generally round the temple precincts.

The tottiyans or combalattars were originally shepards and became petty paraigars in the south.

They followed the system of polyandry and post-puberty marriage. Often the bridegroom was younger than the bride. Their females are noted for loose moralities.

The women were allowed to have marital relations with the father or male relations of her husbands.

Divorce, remarriage and sati were also practiced by them. They were generally vishnavas.

Reddis: They came into prominence from the time of devaraya II.

Dombaras, who gave jugglers to the country.

Marawas or fisher folk

Jogies, paraiyans, boyees, erkelas, and kallars.

The advent of the budagas from the north to the south resulted in social upheaval.

Such lower castes which were granted privelages of the upper were known as sat-shudras or better or good shudras and were even allowed to wear the sacred thread without observing the prescribed ceremony or rituals.

Conflicts among the industrial classes divided into the velangais or right-handers and idangais or left-handers.

Position of women:

The state encouraged widow remarriage by not levying any marriage-tax on their marriage.

Women also were wrestlers, astrologers and sooth-sayers, body guards, accountants, writers, musicians and even went to the battle field.

Sati or sahagamana:

A2 inscriptions it was the gaudas and sometimes nayakas who were given to sati right. It was, however, voluantary.

Barbosa, nuniz, Caesar, Frederick, pietro della valle and other foreign travelers gave a vivid and realistic picture of this custom.

The widows commited sati two or three months after the death of their husbands.

Lingayaths performed it by being buried alive.

The custom was popular because the queens wanted to escape dishonour at the hands of muslims.

Shaving of the head of the was a punishment for not commiting sati.


Slavery also existed in the VN period, the desabaga or the sale of human beings was also not unknown. Both
male and female slaves.

Nicolo conti says, “they have a vast number of slaves, and the debtor who is insolvent is everywhere is adjudged to be the property of his creditor”.

The masters by and large treated them with kindness and consideration.


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