Q.4(c) How could the local self-government under the Cholas adjust with their centralized administration structure? [2015, 10m]
The system of village autonomy with assemblies (Sabhas and Urs) and their committees (Variyams) developed through the ages and reached its culmination during the Chola rule. Uttaramerur inscriptions provide details of the formation and functions of village councils. Several works like maintenance of temples, agriculture, irrigation, collection of taxes, road construction etc was looked after by the local assembly through their committees. The Chola polity was absolute monarchy and had centralized military, revenue and provincial administrative structure. Adjustment of Chola’s centralized administrative structure with local self-government
(1) Generally, the Chola Emperors respected the decisions of these assemblies. Each assembly functioned autonomously in accordance with its own constitution based on custom and usage, and took care of the problems of its members at the local level. In matters affecting people of more than one assembly, decision was taken by mutual deliberation.
(2) The central government through its officers exercised general supervision and had right to intervene in the matter of village under emergency situations. The village assemblies had to take into account the policies of central government.
(3) There were close links between some of the Brahmana Sabhas and Chola court. Uttaramerur inscriptions state that the resolution of the Sabha was made in the presence of an official especially deputed by the King.
(4) Tanjavur inscriptions indicate that Raja Raja I issued orders to the Sabha of Cholamandalam to perform various types of services in the Brihadeshwara temple.
(5) Important brahmadeyas were granted taniyur status. Taniyur means ‘separate village’. They were considered independent entities and granted considerable functional autonomy.
(6) Those villages which were in the central region of Kaveri river basin were put under direct Royal control, while those regions which were far away and located in drier region were autonomous and contained the self governing institution.
(7) Local assemblies like Nagaram (assemblies of traders) acted as an agent of monarchy in regulating trade and markets.
(8) The assessment and collection of revenue were undertaken by local assemblies like Ur, Sabha and Nagaram, who passed the revenue onto the centre.
(9) Local administration through the assembly units greatly lightened the burden of the central government. It not only gave a chance to population to air its grievances and solving the problems. This strengthened the basis of the state by minimizing opposition to it as the people could not hold the government responsible for the matters.