History Optional Paper-1 Solution – 2015: Q.5(c)
Q.5(c) Mention the salient features of the polity of Vijayanagara Empire under Krishnadevaraya.
The king was at the apex of the entire system. His authority was unlimited; he looked after civil administration, directed the military affairs of the kingdom and acted as the final court of justice.
Krishnadevaraya talks about the prevailing concept of kingship in his Amuktamalyada, where the king was assisted by a council of ministers in daily administration.
The kingdom was divided into a number of provinces called rajyas. Within these provincial regions, there were other big and small principalities, which exercised varying degrees of power.
The central government maintained only a small contingent as they were provided military help from the troops stationed at the provinces.
This administrative arrangement came to be known as the Nayankara system, in which outstanding military chieftains received local grants and privileged status as nayakas from the state. The territory under these military chiefs was called amaram.
The nayakas did not give any fixed revenue to the state; they merely rendered military service in return for the land and privileges granted to them.
The provinces were further sub-divided into kottams which were again divided into towns and groups of villages.
The self-sufficient villages was the basic unit of administration , where local affairs were managed by the village assembly through hereditary officials called ayagars. The ayagars were village functionaries who constituted group of families.
Autonomy of villages had diminished if compared with Chola period.
System of Justice
There was no regular judiciary system in the Vijayanagar kingdom. the king was the supreme court of justice, and his ruling was considered final in all important cases.
At the grassroots level, the village panchayat acted as a local tribunal while big towns saw the local governor acting as magistrate and judge. Judged by the modern standards, the code of punishments for criminal offences seem to have been very severe and barbarous.
Thus newer institutional apparatus in the form of the nayankara and ayagar systems at the central and provincial levels constitute the significant features of the Vijayanagara Polity.