Sunday, January 24, 2010

Vishtivandhakas



Vishtivandhakas were government servants. The post of Vishtivandhakas is mentioned in the Arthashastra of Kautilya. The officer procured the forced labour of Shudras on crown lands. During the Mauryan times, the forced labour had increased. The forced labour was called Vishti. The Vishti was later called begaar.

The post acquired significance during the Mauryan period because major social changes were taking place. The Brahmans were losing their social importance. Similarly, the Kashtriyas were also changing their profession and adopted other profession like trade. The Vaishyas were rising in social importance. They acquired large lands. They had organized themselves in guilds. They supported Buddhism and Jainism. Kautilya had mentioned several categories of offenders who were mainly from Sudra class. Kautilya had mentioned strict punishment for a Sudra offender if he called himself a Brahmin or raised a voice against the King. It suggests that the Sudras were becoming hostile towards priestly and ruling classes. Hence, with that background, the role of Vishtivandhakas increased in importance.

There was another feature which increased the importance of this post. The Sudras were allotted newly colonized areas. They were made to do Vishti which was supervised by Vishtivandhakas.



For a related reference Check : Corporate world of India : Jati, Sangha, Gana and Shreni

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