What are the salient features of the Constitution of guilds?


The srenis and other bodies are contemplated in the late Sniritis to be headed by high executive officers (adlxyakshas or mukhyas) who are assisted by committees of two, three, or five persons called advisers for the public good (samukahitavadins) or for public business (karya-chintaka).

A high degree of administrative decentralisation is implied in the clauses relating to the authority of executive officers over their constituents.

According to Brihaspati, the adhyak- shas are permitted to punish wrongdoers by reprimand and censure as well as by excom­munication. Their judgments in the discharge of their duties are required to be respected by the King, for, as the author says, “such powers are regarded by the sages as delegated to them”.


The opinion of the advisers, according to Narada, is to be followed by the guilds and similar bodies. On the other hand, the King is to settle disputes be­tween the chief executive officers and the groups.

Conventions or Compacts of guilds:

Narada and Brihaspati give various examples of conventions or compacts made by the groups. Katyayana such compacts by the title of sthitipatras which defines as a deed of convention made by the and other for preserving their usages tact.

The corresponding title the conventions of the naigamas, srenis, the pugas, and other bodies, says Nar are to be enforced by the King, the only being made against them only when they are verse to the King’s interest, or are disapprove the people, or are harmful to the public good’s members of the groups,


According to Katyayana, are bought to follow their respective conventions or rules all their acts, subject to their obligation of per forming their individual duties (as laid down scriptures) and to obey the King’s order not conflicting with the same. The extreme penalty ol confiscation of property and banishment it prescribed by Brihaspati for a member who fails to perform his share of the convention, though he is capable of it.

Rights and Duties of the Individual Members: Narada prohibits mutual combination and unlawful wearing of arms, as well as mutual conflicts among the groups. Brihaspati lays down the ex­treme penalty of banishment for one who injures the common interest or insults those who are learned in the Vedas.

According to Katyayana, one committing a heinous crime, or causing a split, or destroying the property of the groups, is to be proclaimed before the King and ‘destroyed’. On the other hand, all members, we are told by Brihaspati, have an equal share in whatever is acquired by the committee of advisers or is saved by them, whatever they acquire through the King’s favour as well as whatever debts are incurred by them for the purpose of the group.

The evidence of the late Smriti law of guilds is corroborated in part by a certain type of clay-seals, which have been recovered from the excavations of Gupta sites at Basarh and Bhita (near Allahabad). These seals bear the legend nigama in Gupta characters (Bhita) and more particularly the legends sreni-kulika-nigama and sreni-sarthavaha-kulika-nigama (Basarh).


These names are often joined with those of private individuals. We have here a probable reference to conventions or compacts made by local in- trial and trading groups with private individuals or individual members.

Such documents should be called sthitipatras or sense of the late Smritis. We may quote the concrete example of the king of a guild in the time of the Gupta perors. The Indore copper plate inscription of Emperor Skandagupta records the (perpetual gift) of a sum of money by a donor to the local guild of oilmen for the of (daily?) provision of a fixed quantity of for a Sun-temple.

No doubt, the guild invested e sum in its own or other business for meeting e necessary expense out of the resulting income, Gupta record is in line with a number of ‘storical inscriptions of the earlier period record- g endowments by princes and private individuals in favour of guilds for regular performance of acts of piety or charity. The above ample illustrates the function of the guilds in the parity of bankers receiving private endowments pious and charitable trusts.

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