Essay on the Revenue system that prevailed throughout India during ancient times


There was an elaborate revenue system in Northern India from 400 A.D. to 700 A.D. as the various territorial divisions along with officers mentioned in the land grants such 2S “Bhukti”, “Visaya”, “Ahara” and “Grama”, along with “Mandala”, “Vithi”, “Petha”, Patta”, “Sthali” and “Bhoga” which are found in the inscriptions of the specific regions.

The lowest territorial units is “Grama” as mentioned, probably in all the land charters from Northern India. Generally, “grama” term stood for “village” which was the smallest territorial unit for administrative purposes.

The “Vithi” seems to be the next larger unit in Eastern India. The next higher revenue unit was “Visaya”. “Mandala” terms has been used in Eastern India which is synonymously in the sense of district.


However, the Paharpur copper plate inscription and the Gunaighar grant of Guptas imply that a “mandala” must have been a fairly larger territorial unit. It can presumed that “mandala” was a larger territorial unit including “Visayas” in it.

“Bhukti” is another which is referred to in the Eastern Indian epigraphs. Since we do not have any reference to “bhukti” lying with in any other territorial unit as in case of “Visayas”.

It may be assumed that probably the “bhukti” was the largest revenue unit. There are some “bhuktis” recorded charters such as the Pundravardhana “bhukti”, the Vardhamana “bhukti” andtheDanda “bhukti”.

The Bhuktis” seem to have been important territorial divisions as the Danda “bhukti” is mentioned as having been governed by a feudatory. In this way “bhukti” continued to be the largest territorial and administrative unit during the Pala rule in Bengal.


In the Baghelkhand and Bundelkhand divisions of Central India, there is a reference to the revenue terms such as “Patta” or “Petha” in the charters of Uccakalpa and Parivarajaka rulers. Perhaps, it was sub-division of a “Visaya” which consisted more than one village. Thus, in central India “patta” or “petha” was the larger unit after village.

“Ahara” was another territorial unit, which was in vague in the Southern India (during the rule of Vakatakas ). Butthetenn “ahara” does seem to have been a very popular sub-division of a “visaya”. In the Gujarat and northern Maharashtra “pathaka” and “Bliaga” seem to be next larger units after “grama”.

They also formed the next larger units after village in the early Gurjara and Kalachuri Kingdoms. “Stliali” was the next larger division as it is evident from Maitraka records.

It seems to have been an indigenous division developed by Maitrakas as we do not get any reference in Northern India. “Pathaka” seems to have been next larger unit after “Sthali”.


The next larger division in Maitrakas plan of provincial territorial division seems to have been a “ahara”. In this way the revenue units name varies according to the region and its traditions but the basis of the units seem to be probably same.

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