Sunday, March 2, 2014




For the past many centuries, all the social laws, traditions, justice etc., were drawn up according to these 'Needhi' books. 

VijayaNagara Empire flourished from 1336 AD and lasted until the rule of the Araveedu dynasty when it was destroyed 
to a great extent.
During its hey-day, there was a lot of taxation upon the 
peasants and farmers.
This was drawn out according to the Parasara Needhi Sastra.

A 'Gutti' or 'Guddi' is a certain measurement of area. 
It is supposed to produce thirty gunny sacks of sixty padi measures of paddy. This is an estimate. 

In those days, the land belonged to somebody.
The total harvested paddy was taken. One quarter of the harvest was taken by the land-owner. The farmer took half. 
The government took away one-sixth of the produce. The temples took away one in thirty parts. The Brahmins took one-twentieth of the paddy. 

On many occassions, the government would take away one-third. It depends on whether there is a war on. Or there was recruitment of soldiers. Or there might be a military campaign.
According to the circumstances, the government might even take away half of the produce.

Many a times, there will be wars. During such wars, territories might change hands rapidly. Under such circumstances whoever comes and goes will take away whatever the people have produced.

Apart from these, there was this system called
There were certain classes of people following certain professions or providing certain services to the society. 
Poets, teachers, washermen, barbers, Prohithar, astrologer, 
physician, mid-wife, territorial guardians, police, village chieftain, village accountant and such like. 
According to the size of their land, each land-lord would measure out the paddy and give it to each of these class of people. 

This is known as 'aLandhu pOduthal' or 'padiyaLaththal'. 
They are delivered in containers called potti or kottaans made of palmyra leaves. That is the measurement.

The agriculture tax levied by the government of Vijayanagar was - hold your breaths - catch on to something - 
now here it comes.....
Eighty-one crore varahans worth per year.
That would be eight hundred and ten million varahans.

Now, a varahan is a gold coin which is 3 grams in weight of a purity of 800. We are now using 916. 
It would be worth 4500 Rupees at the present market rate.
One hundred years ago, it was worth 3.5 silver rupees. 

Vijayanagar Empire was not structured like the  
medieval Cholza or Pandya empires or the Pallava Pandya 
empires before them or the three kingdoms and the feudatories 
of the Sangam Age.

It was totally different.
Something like over-lord and war-lords/barons system found in Norman England. 
Who copied from whom......
Well, thats a million dollar question.

Vijayanagar was based on a militaristic feudalistic system. 
The whole empire was divided into small holdings which were parcelled out to war-lords. These were under bigger 
war-lords called Nayaks who were under a MandalEswara. Mandaleswaras were under the emperor.

These war-lords were needed to maintain armies and 
hold the country firmly within their grasp. They were supposed provide the central government with so many so many soldiers, 
so many so many horses and so many so many elephants. And 
of course so many so many varahans every year.
The minor war-lords became the Palayakaarars or Polygars and later on the zamindars.
Their over-lords became the Nayak kings of Thanjavur, Madurai and Ikkeri. 

The polygars alone paid up sixty lakhs - six million varahans per annum to the central government. They sent only 
the remainder after deducting their own expenses and the army expenses. 

The Battle of Talikota(ThalaikkOttai) marked the beginning of the end of Vijayanagar. 
The territories of the empire shrunk. The loss of the most productive and fertile territories like the Raichur Doab took a very heavy toll on the empire.
Krishna Deva Rayar was the greatest emperor of Vijayanagar. 
His brother's son Sadhasiva Rayar was ruling after the 
Talikota Battle. 
During his rule, the income of the empire was a mere 
twelve crore varahans. That would be One hundred and twenty million varahans.
That was still a lot of money.

The government collected its agriculture tax as paddy or money. Collection as money was known as 'kaasaayam' 
and collection in the form of paddy was 'nellaayam'.

Taxation in the PudukOttai Samasthanam - 

KuRuvai paddy of the rainy season - one-third 
Sesame, Millet, Horse gram, Green gram, beans, etc., - one quarter part.
Other cereals like Varagu, saamai, Kambu, etc - one sixth.

Apart from these, there were other types of taxes on 
agriculture lands.
What would have remained for the poor vivasayi peasant?