Brief notes on the Revenue System of Vijayanagar Kingdom


The chief sources of income were the revenue from the crown lands, tributes paid by the chieftains, and port and custom duties. Taxes were also levied on properties and houses and industries. Besides there were professional taxes and income from judicial fines. The land revenue varied from one-sixth to one-fourth of the gross yield.

It was levied after a careful measurement of dry soil and varied according to the fertility of the soil and irrigation facilities available. It was known as raya rekha or royal line, while the professional tax was levied on workers, the industrial tax was imposed on industries. Taxes were also realized on marriages, meetings and social organizations.

Local cases were levied for the up­keep of temples. Taxes were paid both in kind and cash. There were four methods of collection. The government appointed its own employees to collect the revenue. In the second the government gave a particular piece of land to individual bidders.


Thirdly, the government arrived at certain fixed amount with a group of persons to whom the collection of revenue from the village was entrusted. Lastly, the nayaks had been appointed by the government as head of provincial units in lieu of which they rendered military service and also payed a fixed tribute to the king.

However relief was given to the cultivators in case of failure of monsoon, drought or certain other unforeseable calamities. In spite of this, the taxes were quite heavy and there were cases where the people made representation or offered civil resistance which led to the reduction of the amount. Some of them even migrated to escape the heavy burden of taxes.

Major portion of the state expenditure was on the maintenance of a large standing army. The next charge on the state exchequer was public endowments and charities. Large amounts were given for the maintenance of temples. The Vijayanagar rulers undertook the construction of large irrigation and public works to increase the yield. It involved expenditure of considerable amount. Much money was spent on the up-keep of the king’s household.

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