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Rig Vedic Polity

The administrative machinery of the Aryans in the Rig Vedic period worked with the tribal chief in the centre. He was called rajan. Although his post was hereditary, we have also some traces of election by the tribal assembly called the samiti. The king was called the protector of his tribe. He protected its cattle, fought its wars and offered prayers to gods on its behalf.

Rig Vedic Polity
Rig Vedic Polity

Several tribal assemblies, such as sabha, samiti, vidatha, and gana mentioned in the Rig Veda exercised deliberative, military and religious functions. Even women attended the sabha and vidatha in Rig Vedic times. But from the political point of view important were the sabha and samiti

In the day-to-day administration, the king was assisted by a few functionaries. The most important functionary seems to have been the purohita. The two priests who played a major part in the time of Rig Veda were Vasishtha and Visvamitra. The next important functionary seems to be the senani. Princes received from the people voluntary offering called bali.

There were cases of theft and burglary, and especially we hear of the theft of cows. Spies were employed to keep an eye on such unsocial activities. The officer who enjoyed authority over the pasture ground was called vrajapati. He led to the heads of the families called Kulapas. or the heads of the fighting hordes called gramanis to battle. The king did not maintain any regular or standing arymy, but in times of war he mustered a militia whose military functions were performed by different tribal groups called vrata, gana, grama, sardha.

Tribal Polity
  • The chief was the protector of the tribe or Jana
  • However, he did not possess unlimited powers for he had to reckon with the tribal assemblies
  • Sabha, Samiti, Vidhata and Gana were the tribal assemblies. Of these, Vidhata was the oldest. These assemblies exercised deliberative, military and religious functions.
  • The two most important assemblies were the Sabha and Samiti. Samiti was general in nature and less exclusive than Sabha.
  • Women attended Sabha and Vidhata in Rig Vedic times.
  • A few non-monarchical states (ganas), are described whose head was Ganapati or Jyestha.

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