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The Vijayanagar Empire

The Vijayanagar Empire

Empire of Vijayanagar , which had been founded in the time of Mohammad Tughluq in the 14th century , was a bulwark against the spread of Islam in the South . The contemporary King on the throne of Vijayanagar was Krishnadeva Raya .He was the greatest ruler of the Vijayanagar Empire . He was a great soldier and general . He was a patron of literature and art . Vijayanagar was at its height politically , economically and culturally . Foreign travellers and diplomats were dazzled by its wealth , prosperity and power .

Krishnadeva Raya was a great ruler and a man of justice , Krishnadeva Raya's kindness to the fallen enemy, his acts of mercy and charity towards the residents of captured cities were admirable . The royal reception and kindness that he invariably bestowed upon foreign embassies is also remarkable . His love of literature and for religion , and his solicitude for the welfare of his people are always admired by various historians .

The rulers of Vijayanagar were always fighting against the Bahmani Kingdom . Hardly a reign passed when there was no large scale fighting . The Bahmani Kingdom began to disintegrate after the execution of Mahmud Gawan . Krishna Deva Raya ( 1509-30 ) Krishna Deva Raya succeeded Vir Narasimha . He ruled from 1509 to 1530. He was the greatest ruler of Vijayanagar and one of the most famous kings in the history of India .He commanded his enormous armies in person , was able , brave , and statesmanlike and was withal a man of much gentleness and generosity of character . Krishna Deva Raya was a great warrior and he was always successful in the wars .

In 1512 , Krishna Deva Raya took possession of Raichur . In 1513 , he attacked Gajanati Prataparudra the ruler of Orissa in order to get back from him what had been snatched away by Orissa in the reigns of his predecessors . In 1514 he captured the fortress of Udayagiri . In 1515 , he captured the strong fortress of Kondavidu and other minor fortresses . When Ismail Adil Shah tried to recover the Raichur Doab Krishna Deva Raya defeated him in 1520 . The Bijapur territory was run over by the forces of Krishna Deva Raya and the fortress of Gulbarga was razed to the ground . Krishna Deva Raya had very friendly relations with the Portuguese He gave them many concessions because he gained by the import of horses and other things . In Albuquerque , the Portuguese Governor asked for permission to build a fort at Bhatkal and the same was granted .King Administration Of Vijayanagar The rulers of the Vijayanagar Empire were able to set up a very efficient system of administration . The king was fountainhead of all power . He was the supreme authority in civil , military and judicial matters . This does not mean a tyrant or an irresponsible despot . He was required to rule according to Dharma .

He keep in view the goodwill and welfare . He was required to bring peace and plenty to the kingdom . Krishna Deva Raya in his Amuktamalyada gave the ideal of kingship . According to him a king should always rule with an eye towards Dharma . Ministers A council of ministers , Provincial governors , military commanders , men of priestly class and poets helped the king . The king nominated the members . The ministers were not only from Brahmans but also from Kshatriyas and Vaishyas . The office 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 . The Court The rulers of Vijayanagar maintained a magnificent court . Nobles learned priests , astrologers and musicians , attended the court . Abdur Razzaq refers to the hospitality of the rulers of Vijaya nagar towards the Muslim plenipotentiaries .

Provincial Government The empire was divided into many provinces for administration . The terms used for the province are Rajya , Mandala and Chavadi . 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 .

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 nob of the state or some descendant of some old ruling family . Every Governor exercised civil , military and judicial powers . And required to submit regularly account of income and expenditure . He also helps with the military . If the Governor oppressed the people he was likely to be punished . His Jagir was confiscated if he did not send revenue properly . The Governors enjoyed a lot of autonomy within their jurisdiction . The village was the unit of administration and was self sufficient . 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 . The heads seem to form an integral part of the village assemblies . The king had his control over villages through an officer called Mahanayakacharya .

Sources of Income

The main source of income was land revenue and its administration was under a department called Athavane Land was divided into three parts

( 1 ) wet land

( 2 ) dry land

( 3 ) orchards and woods .

The share was one - sixth but increased in order to meet the heavy burdens of the State . In addition to land revenue the peasants were required to pay other taxes such as grazing tax , marriage tax , etc. The state got itsincome from customs duties , tolls on roads , revenue from gardening and plantations and taxes from manufacturers , craftsmen , potters , washermen " mendicants , barbers , shoemakers and prostitutes . The income from the prostitutes was also used for maintenance .

The people were required to pay a number of duties . A gate controlled only one road led to the city and it . The right of collecting the duties was given to the highest bidder .

The people were allowed to pay taxes in cash or in kind . As the taxation was heavy , sometimes people were given some relief in the form of reduction or remission of taxes if they made complaints about it or appealed directly to the king .


King was the supreme court of justice . Petitions were presented to the king or the Prime Minister . Civil cases were decided according to the principles law and the usage of the country . Witnesses attested documents . 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 . The rulers of the towns , the Nayaks and the Guadas , will see if a caste dispute arises in the country , they will summon the parties before them and advise . And as they have the power of punishment , the parties must act according to the advice given . This proceeding is to be free of cost .

The Army

The military organisation was under Kandachara and its head was Dandanayaka or Dannayaka or Commander - in - Chief . Military was of a feudal nature . The king had an army of his own but in need provincial governers send their army . It is not possible to give an exact numerical strength . 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 artillerymen .The provincial Governors were given a lot of autonomy and was responsible for the weakening of the central authority . Not much emphasis was put on military organisation and consequently the rulers of Vijayanagar could not smash their rivals .

Economic Condition

The empire of Vijayanagar was very rich . The foreign travellers who visited the Vijayanagar empire have paid tributes to its wealth and splendour . In the king's treasury there were chambers with excavations for them filled with molten gold forming one mass . All the inhabitants of the country , whether high or low , even down to the artificers of the Bazar , wore jewels and gift ornaments in their ears and around their necks , arms , wrists and fingers . The residents of the city of Vijayanagar carried on trade in precious stones . Things were in plenty and also cheap . The prosperity of the Vijayanagar empire was due to the growth of agriculture , industries , trade and commerce . They followed a wise irrigation policy . Industries were also encouraged by the state . 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 . The art of shipbuilding was well known . The coins of the empire were those of gold; copper and silver .

Medieval Period And Administration

The political life in India during period eighth to twelfth Century is especially dominated by the presence of large number of states . The Bigger states tried to maintain their influence in North as well as in South India . In this struggle , the main parties were the Pratiharas , the Rashtrakutas and the Palas in the north . The most influential kingdom in the South which emerged during this period was that of cholas . The chola power created the political unification of the large parts of the country .

The establishment of the Sultanate started a new phase in the history of Medieval India . It marked to the unification of northern India and parts of the Deccan for almost a century leading to the emergence of a number of kingdoms in different parts of the country . Some of these like Bahmani and Vijaynagara kingdom became very powerful . There were important changes in economic life during this period . New elements of technology were also introduced during this period .

Central administration

The Sultan dominated the central government as he was the legal head of the state and acted as the chief executive and the highest court of appeal . The Sultan was assisted by a number of ministers like Wazir , Ariz I mamalik , diwan - i - insha and the diwan - i risalat . After sometime , naib - ul - mulk or malik naib came into 38 tence . During the time of Ala - ud - din khalji , diwan - i - risalat dept was taken out of the hand of the Sadr and renamed di - wa

Local Administration

Local administration was vague and undefined and based on traditional system . The Provinces were divided into six parts headed by Shiqdars ( Police chief ) with main functions to maintain law and order and protect people against oppression of zamindars , and had to perform military obligation . The Shiqs ( Police regions ) were further divided into parganas and had different officials .

1. Amile

​Collected land revenues and other taxes .

​2 . Hazamdars

​Treasurer .

​3 . Qazi

​Civil officials .

​4 . Shiqdar

Criminal official .

​5 . Kotwal

Police head under Shiqdar .

​6 Fauzdar

Military official in charge of fort along with their adjoining territories .

7. Amin .

​Measure land

8. Qanungo

Maintained previous records of produce and assessment .

9. Patwari

​Village Record Keeper .

10 . At Panchayut level ,

​khuts , muqaddam , Chaudhary collected taxes and in lieu of their services , they were excempted from the taxes .


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