Discuss the social and economic conditions under the Vijayanagar rulers

Vijayanagar empire (1336-1565) was the last great empire not only in South India but also in the entire country that took care of its people well. It marked great progress in social and economic conditions.

Social Conditions

The Hindu society which formed the bulk of the population-adjusted itself to meet the challenges posed by Islam. In the process, the duties and rights of various communities and castes changed significantly.

Absence of Kshatriyas in the governance of the country is the significant aspect of Vijaynagar Empire. Rulers hailed from peasantry. They claimed and got the privileges hitherto enjoyed by the Kshatriyas. But rulers tried to perpetuate the Varnasrama Dharma for the empire is a Hindu state.

Brahmins occupied important positions as ministers, commanders of the army, and incharge of forts. Srikrishna Deva Raya’s Chief Minister Timmarasu was also an army general and a Brahmin.

Vaisya community controlled inland trade and played an important role in the economy of the state. Maritime trade was handled by foreigners like Persians, Arabs and the Portuguese.

Nobles led a luxurious life but the life of common people was not harsh.

Women enjoyed a respectable position. Even they professed wrestling and accountancy. Kings and nobles married many wives and kept concubines to show their exalted position in society. ‘Sati’, child marriage and Prostitution were recognised and freely practiced.

Economic Conditions

For economic prosperity, rulers paid great attention to develop irrigation facilities by constructing tanks and wells especially in drought-prone core region of the empire – present Rayalaseema. These huge tanks were called ‘Samudrams’ and they brought large areas under cultivation.

Main source of income to the government was land revenue. Land tax was varied according to the fertility of the soil and kinds of crops grown. Generally, rate of tax was 1/6th of the gross produce. Other sources were commercial tax, house tax, professional tax, marriage tax etc.

Tax on prostitutes was very high. Income from this source covered the expenditure of the police department of Vijayanagar city.

Though great strides are achieved in social and economic conditions under the Vijaynagar empire, the Vijayanagar period is regarded as the Golden age of Telugu Literature for its contribution to Telugu literature.

Synopsis

KeywordsVijaynagar Empire – Society and Economy
Q.No.2(b)
QuestionDiscuss the social and economic conditions under the Vijayanagar rulers.
PaperAPPSC Group I 2008 Mains Paper II : Section I   – History and Culture
SourceHistory of Andhra – P R Rao

Analysis

It is a direct question. A simple introduction followed by society and the economy of the Vijayanagar empire is sufficient. Then you can conclude it by providing an extra point regarding other achievements like the Golden age of Telugu literature or marvellous art and architectural features of the Vijaynagar empire.