A Comprehensive Compendium of History, Culture, Lifestyle and Tourism of Odisha

Ancient Odisha

Administration of the Somavamsis

The political unification of Odisha under the Somavamsis brought with it an efficient administration. Due to political reasons, the Somavamsi kings shifted their capital from time to time. As they had no permanent capital, they issued their charters from different places like Vinitapura, Murasima, Suvarnapura and Yayatinagara. Yayatinagara, popularly identified with Jajpur, is very much familiar as the capital of the Somavamsis.

Position of the King

The king occupied the highest position in the realm of administrative structure. No doubt, kingship was hereditary but some times the ministers had a voice in the selection of a king as happened in the case of Yayati II. When a king was minor, someone from the royal family acted as his regent. The king exercised unlimited royal power. For promoting trade and commerce inside the country the king generously gave grants to the merchant community. For the promotion of learning, they granted lands to the Brahmins. To spread Brahmanism inside the land, they patronised the Brahmin, performed several Vedic sacrifices including Asvamedha sacrifice. They also built a good number of Saiva temples to meet the same end. All these activities show that though the Somavamsi kings were powerful, they were not despots rather on the other hand, they were liberals and looked after the welfare of the people.

Ministers and officials

The king was assisted by many important ministers and officers. Among the ministers important were Mantritilaka (Chief Minister), Mahasandhivigrahika (Minister of war and peace and also looking after the preparation of the charter) and Mahakshapatalika (Minister, preparing charter). The Mahasenapati (Commander-in-chief) looked after the army promotion of religion and morality. Besides, a number of officers like Samahartri, Sannidhatri, Outaka, Niyuktaka, Dandapasika, Mahakashapataia, Mahakshapataladhyaksha, Chattas, Bhattas, Ranaka, Rajaputra etc. The Somavamsis divided their kingdom into several mandalas corresponding to a province. A mandala was further divided into several bhuktis and each bhukti was further subdivided into bhoga, khanda and grama which was the smallest administrative unit under the Somavamsi kings. The Somavamsi rulers maintained large standing armies, consisting of infantry, cavalry and elephantry. The kings themselves were the supreme heads of the military forces and led them in battle.


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