Impact of Vedic Culture on Society

by Kaushik Acharya | 2020 | 120,081 words

This page relates ‘Central Administration’ of the study on the Impact of Vedic Culture on Society as Reflected in Select Sanskrit Inscriptions found in Northern India (4th Century CE to 12th Century CE). These pages discuss the ancient Indian tradition of Dana (making gifts, donation). They further study the migration, rituals and religious activities of Brahmanas and reveal how kings of northern India granted lands for the purpose of austerities and Vedic education.

Central Administration

Rājan—The King:

The rulers of northern India based their provincial and central administration on the traditional Indian pattern. The highest authority of administration was vested in the king. The Smṛtis and Purāṇas considered the kings as divine beings. Manusaṃhitā[1] says that the kings were created for the protection of the world. From inscriptional evidences it may be said that the Gupta rulers popularized this theory of divinity of the kings in northern India in the period under discussion. In Allahabad pillar inscription[2] Samudragupta compared himself with Dhanadā, Indra, Varūṇa and Antaka exactly like Manusaṃhitā. The rest of the kings of different dynasties also believed in the divine origin of kings. Kings have been repeatedly compared to different gods and goddesses.[3] Many of the kings possessed essential qualities and qualifications as prescribed by the Sukranītisāra, Agnipurāṇa, Manusaṃhitā, and other works on the polity.

We see that both male and female rulers of the dynasties of northern India and the Odisha region have compared themselves with various divine beings as they used many titles before their names. Although in inscriptions, the heir to the throne usually referred him as meditating on the feet of their parents and predecessors, the successor king was only at the apex of the administrative organization, and the central administration in northern India was headed by the king always. The practice of passing over the throne to female members due to lack of eligible male heirs is not noticed, but if there is no male heir at all, that is another matter.

Though the kings claimed divinity, they were upholders of dharma and danḍa and worked within the structure of rājadharma (monarchy). According to monarchy, the king was to defend the country from internal disorders and external invasions and, most importantly, to maintain law and order of the respective provinces. In addition to protecting the people, the king had to work for peace, material prosperity, moral and spiritual values. He had to guarantee justice and efficient administration, justice for all irrespective of dignity, gender, caste, and creed. The king had to please all the people.[4] That is why he had to be more careful while granting land to a local or migrant brāhmaṇas.

Duties of the king were not only ensured the expansion of territorial boundaries and the preservation of peace, but also took on other aspects of life, such as social, economic, religious, and cultural.

The Queen:

Deogarh Inscription of Ādityasena (c. 670 CE)[5] records in Kṛta-yuga, having performed three Aśvamedha sacrifices with three ten (thirty) thousand jewels and three lakhs of golden ṭaṅkakas and having performed the gift ceremony called tulā-sahasra with a crore of horses, Ādityasena performed meritorious deed (kīrtti) in association with his chief Queen K os hadevī. Paramabhaṭṭārikā-mahādevi Queen Śri-Yaś om atīdevī was a strongpersonality as evidenced from the Madhuban Plates (c. 631-632 CE)[6] issued by the King Harṣavardhana of Puṣyabhūti dynasty. Jethwai Plates (c. 786 CE)[7] records the Rāṣṭrakūṭa Queen Śilamāhādevī daughter of the Eastern Cālukya King Viṣṇuvardhana IV, granted a village to two yajurvedīya vedic brāhmaṇas. The latter were well-versed in the four Vedas. Jodhpur Inscription of Pratihara Bauka (c. 837CE)[8] issued by Bāuka of Pratihāra dynasty records the social conditions of that time. Brāhmaṇa called Harichandra who married the daughter of a brāhmaṇa and, as the second wife, a Kṣtriya lady called Bhadra. His sons born of the brāhmaṇa wife become Pratīhāra brāhmaṇas and those born of queen Bhadrā became the Pratīhāra (rulers). Bh og abhaṭṭa, Kakka, Rajjila, and Dadda were born to Queen Bhadrā.

The queens of Bhauma-kara and Somavaṃsi dynasty had played essential roles in administration where Bhauma-kara queens used to wear royal crowns directly, and this is indeed an unusual phenomenon. A Grant of Bhauma-Kara Queen Vakulamahādevī (10th century CE)[9] records a grant of a village to a brāhmaṇa who was a student of the Āśvalāyana śākhā. The importance of this record lies in the fact that it is the only charter of the reign of this queen so far known. Māser inscription of a sulki chief (10th century CE)[10] issued by the King Kesarin of Śulkī dynasty records a gift of a village called Chakrahradī by Lakshmaṇarāja II’s queen with his consent (nṛpānumatyā). Some of the queens assumed imperial epithets like Paramabhaṭṭāraka, Parameśvari and among others. As we see, they were skilled in the art of government and held admirable positions in the administrative hierarchy in dealing with the situations.

Yuvarāja—The Crown Prince:

The Yuvarāja or the crown prince played a vital role in the administration who held a very high political position and assisted the king in the administration. We find Yuvarāja or crown prince to practice royal prerogative of granting lands.[11] In a situation, if a king had no son and the king was very old to rule, sometimes his younger brother was made Yuvarāja (crown prince).

The crown prince was adequately trained to shoulder various administrative responsibilities. He was learned, brave, and self-controlled. In Navsārī Plates (c. 671 CE)[12] of Cālukyas of Gujarat dynasty, the King Śryāśraya Śīlāditya used the epithet Yuvarāja, the same continued in his Mudgapadra grant (c. 668-69 CE)[13] and Surat Plates(c. 693 CE)[14] where he was called by the name Śryāśraya Śīlāditya-Yuvarāja. In the formal portion of the “Grant of the time of Saindhava King Agguka II (c. 832 CE)”[15] issued by the King Agguka II of Saindhava dynasty, addressed to Mantrī, Purohita, Amātya, Janapada, Yuvarāja, and others. So as in the inscription titled “Grant of King Jaika II (c. 915 CE)”[16] issued by The King Jāīka II of the same Saindhava dynasty. The inscription titled as “Kārītalāi Stone inscription of Lakṣmaṇarāja II (10th century CE)”[17] issued by the King Lakṣmaṇarāja II of Kalāchuris of Tripurī dynasty eulogizes Bhākamiśra, the Minister of Yuvarāja I. We don’t find any mention of Yuvarāja or the crown prince in the records of the kings rest of the dynasties of northern India.

Kumārāmātya:

A kind of officers, namely Kumāramātyas, used to live in the capital. The word Kumāramātya is a combination of two words; kumāra (prince) and amātya (Minister). They were the princes of royal blood. Kumārāmātya is a term which designated a type of official who was a prince who was from the king’s household and who functioned as Amātya (official secretary) of the royal family or Minister deputed to the localities to enforce the execution of imperial orders. The Kumāramātyas might have played the role of a Yuvarāja or crown prince.

J.F. Fleet opines that Kumāramātya means councilors or advisors of the crown prince.[18] According to Bloach the term means the Minister of the prince.[19] Perhaps they helped the crown prince to arrange administrative work properly. It is seen that often Kumāras or princes are mentioned in the charters as the Dūtakas or those deputed to convey the royal orders regarding the charter to the concerned village or locality.[20]

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Manusmṛti, chapter VII, p. 3.

[2]:

USVAE, vol. III, no. 20, pp. 38-43.

[3]:

Scriptures like Sukranītisāra, Agnipurāṇa, Matsyapurāṇa, Padmapurāṇa, and Mārkandeyapurāṇa ascribe affinity with various gods.

[4]:

R.C. Majumder, History and Culture of Indian people, vol. V, p. 272.

[5]:

USVAE, vol. IV, part II, pp. 260-265.

[6]:

Ibid., pp. 438-446.

[7]:

Ibid., vol. V, pp. 434-442.

[8]:

Ibid., vol. VI, pp. 185-191.

[9]:

Ibid., vol. VIII, pp. 78-84.

[10]:

Ibid., pp. 431-439.

[11]:

A.P. Saha, Life in Medieval Orissa, p. 18.

[12]:

USVAE, vol. IV, part II, pp. 270-274.

[13]:

Ibid., pp. 363-369.

[14]:

Ibid., pp. 546-553.

[15]:

Ibid., vol. VI, pp. 161-175.

[16]:

Ibid., vol. VII, pp. 32-38.

[17]:

Ibid., vol. VIII, pp. 191-200.

[18]:

CII, vol. III, p. 16.

[19]:

Annual Report of the Archaeological Survey of India, 1903-1904, p. 103.

[20]:

D.C. Sircar, Indian Epigraphical Glossary, p.166.

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