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

Medieval Odisha

The Ganga Administration

In order to give stabilisation and consolidation to the vast empire, the Gangas introduced a well organised administrative system. Chodaganga being a foreigner to this alien land could very well realise his duty towards the people of Odisha. The Gangas devoted themselves for the material prosperity of their subjects by executing various humanitarian and welfare projects. This made them popular among his Odishan subjects.

The Gangas had a vast kingdom stretching from the Ganges in the north to Godavari in the south. The four hundred years unbroken rule of the Gangas gave a good opportunity for them to give good administration to the subjects of the Ganga dynasty.

Concept of kingship

They had a superior conception of kingship. They intended at realising the Kautilyan idea of providing Yogakshema to their subjects. They sought to work out the principle that the king must be learned, ideal, efficient and capable of upholding justice and promoting the welfare of the people. As the records of the Ganga rule show, kings like Vajrahasta-I, Anantavarman Chodagangadeva, Ananqabhirnadeva-lll, Narasimhadeva-I, and Bhanudeva-I were wise, benevolent and accomplished rulers. They were all well-versed in the canons of religion and statecraft. The Ganga kings assumed high sounding titles like ‘Maharaja, Maharajadhiraja, Parama Mahesvara, Paramabhattaraka, Trikalingadhipati, Paramavaisnava, Chakravarti, Gajapati, etc. They ruled the country in accordance with the principles laid down in the Niti and Smriti texts. They looked after the material prosperity and spiritual well-being of their subjects. Undoubtedly, the aim of the kings was the fulfilment of the desire of their subjects.

Power of the king

The king was the pivot of the government. Among the powers of the king, appointment of ministers, imposition of taxes, exemption of the subjects from taxes, building of temples, declaration of war and conclusion of peace, grant of lands to Brahmins, conduction of tours to different parts of the empire to acquaint with the problems of the subjects etc. were important.

Council of ministers

Though the king was the supreme head of the government, during the Ganga period, he exercised his authority in consultation with the council of ministers. The Ganga kings were assisted by several officials like Mantri, Purohita, Yuvaraja, Sandhivigrahika, Senapati, Dauvarika etc. In general, the ministers were called Patra-Samantas. The revenue minister was designated as ‘Mahapatra. The minister in charge of war and peace and foreign affairs was known as Sandhivigrahika.

Division of the empire

For the administrative convenience the Gangas divided the empire into a number of Mahamandalas (greater provinces). The administrator of a Mahamandala was designated as Mahamandalika (governor in chief). A Mahamandala was divided into a number of Mandalas (provinces). Every Mandala was under the charge of a Mandalika (governor). Further, a Mandala consisted of Vishayas or Bhogas (districts). A Vishaya or Bhoga was in charge of a Vishayapati or Bhaugika. A Vishaya or Bhoga consisted of anumber of gramas (villages). Each village was under the charge of a gramika.

Powerful army

The Ganga emperors maintained their rule over an extensive territory with the help of a powerful army. The Ganga rulers themselves were great warriors. The following designations of their army commanders are mentioned in the Ganga inscription – Sakata batapati (Supreme Commander of armed forces), Senadhyaksa (Commander-in-Chief), Senapati, Dalapati and Vahinipati. The army men could be recruited from all the four varnas – Brahmana, Kshatriya , Vaishya and Shudra. The army consisted of three wings elephantry, cavalry and infantry. Elephants were particularly used for striking terror in the heart of the enemies. The soldiers used various types of weapons in the wars, such as sword, dagger, shield, spear, mace, and bows etc.

Taxes , Land settlement and Land revenue

During the Ganga period the revenue system was sound. A variety of taxes like bheta, Voda, Paika, Ohour, Paridarsana etc. were being collected as is gleaned from the Ganga inscriptions. Land revenue was the major source of income for the Ganga government. One-sixth of the production of the land was collected as the land revenue. According to the land settlement, undertaken by Anangabhimadeva-1I1 of the Ganga dynasty had 9,49,60,000 acres of cultivable land in Odisha during his rule. Out of this amount of the total cultivable land 4,63,00,000 acres of land were tax-free lands, donated to the temples, Brahmanas, royal servants and others. The Ganga rulers donated lands, with all proprietary rights. Taxes were collected by the Ganga monarchs from 4,86,00,000 acres of undonated lands. Besides land revenue other sources of income for the state were duties on exports, imports and forest products and fines, court fees, salt tax etc.

Thus, the above fact shows that the Ganga kings were benevolent despots who always looked after the welfare of the people. They were also great patrons of art, architecture and literature. In fact, by their unbroken rule around four hundred years, they projected a wellorganised political set up which guided the future rulers of the Suryavamsi Ganapati dynasty and after. Undoubtedly, the Ganga administration brought peace, tranquility and stability to the people of Odisha for four centuries which is unparalled in the administrative history of Ganga dynasty.

1 Comment

  1. Anonymous

    Excellent topic elaborate…

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