Temples of Munnur (Historical Study)

by R. Muthuraman | 2016 | 67,784 words

This essay represents a historical study of the Temples in and around Munnur, situated in the Dakshina Kannada district in the state Karnataka (India). Munnur is regarded as an important religious city for the followers of both Shaivism and Vaishnavism. The ancient history of Munnur traces to the reign of the Chola, from whom the city derives it's ...

Role of Village Assemblies

In the administration of temples during the medieval period the village assemblies played a significant role. The kingdom was divided into valanadus nadus, and urs for administrative convenience. Of them, the valanadu appears to be the major administrative division, while the ur (village), the lowest unit of administration. Local administration was carried out by local bodies variously called as the ur, the sabha, the nadu and the nagaram. While the first three were agrarian division[1] the latter was a merchant guild. Local bodies met in a common place, mostly in the mandapas of temples.[2] As the temples were the sanctified preserves,[3] meetings were preferred to be held in the mandapas. Several records refer to the effective functioning of such assemblies in cooperation with one another.

Regarding matters of temple administration, the Kings issued orders to these bodies. The local bodies paid special attention to temple matters. Local bodies discharged a wide range of functions. They included regulation of lands, supervision and cultivation of lands, management of irrigation works, collections and remission of taxes, law and order, justice,[4] trade, weight and measures and management of charities and temples.

During the medieval period, the assembly of the village was also known as ur. The ur refers to the assembly of a non-Brahmin village. In those days, each non-Brahmin village had an assembly of its own. The term Ur literally means a village or town.[5] Ur was the lowest but basic unit of local administration. Its members were known as urar. Generally meetings of the ur were held in the mantapas of the temples. It is known that all the people of the village including agriculturists[6] and professionals were its members. Perhaps, all the residents of the locality used to attend the meetings of the ur As a local administrative body, the wrapped much attention to the welfare of the temples[7] of the area.

In the temple administration, the local bodies (urar)[8] enjoyed certain powers, performed certain functions and had certain responsibilities too. They had a wide range of functions with regard to lands, their cultivation, disposal, sale and purchase, levy and collection of taxes and even the remission of dues. Though their influence in temple administration was unlimited, they had also to give certain undertakings which put some restrictions on their enjoyment of various powers. They were held responsible for some of the ills in the temple affairs. They were responsible to the people of the village in dealing with anything affecting them. Ultimately, they were responsible to the King also.

Footnotes and references:


A. Krishnaswami, Topics in South Indian History, Chidambaram 1978, pp. 354-359.


T.V. Mahalingam, South Indian Polity, Madras, 1967, p. 343.


I.P.S., No. 621; and also S.I.I., Vol. XIV, Nos. 67, 68 (even under the shade of trees and theatre halls in the centre of villages, meetings were held).


K.V. Soundarajan, The Art of South India -Tamil nadu and Kerala,Delhi, 1978, p. 25.


R. Kenneth Hall, Trade and State Craft in the Age of The Cholas, New Delhi, 1980, p. 20.


N. Karashima, South Indian History and Society. Delhi, 1984, p. 3.


Nilakanta -Sastri, K.A., The Colas, Madras,p. 492.


I.P.S., No. 621.

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