The king was the ultimate authority in the kingdom. He was also the supreme commander of the army. He was assisted by several high-ranking officers. The chief minister was known as the mahapradhani. He led a number of lower-ranking officers, like Dalavay (commander), Vassal (guard of the palace), Rayasam (secretary/ accountant), Adaippam (personal attendant), and Kariya-karta (executive agents). As Harihara I and his immediate successors consolidated their territorial acquisitions, they tried to organize the territory by creating administrative divisions called rajyas or provinces each under a governor called pradhani. Some of the prominent rajyas were the Hoysala rajya, Araga, Barakur (Mangalur), and Muluvay. As and when new conquests were made they were put under new rajyas. By 1400, there were five rajyas in the Tamil area: Chandragiri, Padaividu, Valudalampattu, Tiruchirappalli and Tiruvarur. The pradhani was either a royal member or a military officer not related to the royal family. The pradhani had his own revenue accountants and military to assist in his administration. Within each rajya, there were smaller administrative divisions like nadu, sima, sthala, kampana, etc. The lowest unit was of course the village. The rajyas lost their administrative and revenue status under the Tuluva dynasty due to the development of the Nayak system under Krishnadevaraya.

Nayak System

T he term Nayak is used from thirteenth century onwards in Telugu and Kannada areas in the sense of a military leader or simply soldier. Assigning the revenue of a particular locality to the Nayak for their military service is found in the Kakatiya kingdom during the thirteenth century.

conflicts in the Bahmani courts were much due to the migration of Turks, Afghans and Persians into the Deccan. As far the Vijayanagar area is concerned there took place migrations of Kannada and Telugu warriors and their followers into Tamil areas and elsewhere. Many of the Nayaka chiefs belong to these language groups. Peasants, artisans and other toiling groups were also part of this migration. The other consequence was the widening gap between the ruling class and the ruled. All the foreign visitors refer to the enormous riches and affluence enjoyed by the rulers, the officials and the upper echelons in the capital cities like Vijayanagar, Bijapur, and the like, in contrast to widespread poverty among the masses. They also refer to the prevalence of slavery. The state had to derive their revenue only by taxing the people. It is found that during the Sangama dynasty when the Vijayanagar rule was extended to new areas, their officers were harsh in tax collection, which provoked the toiling people to rise in revolt. One such revolt took place in 1430 in central parts of Tamil Nadu. This was the revolt in which all the basic producers joined forgetting their caste differences. The revolt took place due to the unjust and arbitrary tax demands of the government including the pradhani (governor), his military bodies, and the landlords. It is said the Vijayanagar Prince intervened and pacified the revolting people by allowing tax reduction. During the sixteenth century, under the Nayak system, the local Nayakas tried to encourage craft production, like weaving, by giving tax concessions now and then.The Vijayanagar period witnessed striking development in the field of non-agrarian crafts. Until the thirteenth century the economy was mainly agrarian. From the fourteenth onwards the economy became more commercial.

With the beginning of the era of money economy, circulation and use of coined money increased manifold. Artisans like weavers, smiths, and masons became more prominent in the society. These non-agrarian groups were generally called the pattadai (workshop people) or kasaya-vargam -that is- the group that pays taxes in cash. Large number of commercial and weaving centres came up in northern Tamil Nadu, Rayalasima and coastal Andhra. Naturally the textiles formed an important commodity exported from south Indian ports. Textiles became main commercial attractions for the Portuguese and other European traders who started coming from the early sixteenth century.

Leave a Reply