Uttaramerur Inscription: Recording the Mode of Election to Village Assemblies in the Tenth Century A.D.

 

The Uttaramerur inscription, found in the village by this name in Chengalpattu district south of Chennai, has been studied and commented upon by many authorities, such as K. A. Nilakanta Sastri, S. Krishnaswamy Iyengar, etc. The text of the (from V. Venkayya, in Annual Report on Epigraphy, 1904), was kindly provided by Dr. R. Nagaswamy, an eminent archaeologist, epigraphist and art expert of South India, who has authored many scholarly works. 

 

King

Parakesarivarman, who conquered Madurai.

Date

On the sixteenth day of the fourteenth year.

Royal Order

Whereas a royal letter of His Majesty, our lord, the glorious Viranarayana, the illustrious Parantakadeva, the prosperous Parkesarivarman, was received and was shown to us,

The Village

We, the members of the assembly of Uttaramerur-caturvedi-mangalam in its own subdivision of Kaliyurkottam,

Officer Present

Karanjai Kondaya-Kramavitta bhattan alias Somasiperuman of Srivanganagar in Purangarambainadu, a district of the Chola country,

Settlement

Sitting with us and convening the committee in accordance with the royal command, made a settlement as follows according tothe terms of the royal letter for choosing once every year from this year forward members for the “Annual Committee”, “Garden Committee”, and “Tank Committee”:

Wards

There shall be thirty wards;

Qualifications

In these thirty wards, those that live in each ward shall assemble and shall choose for “pot-tickets” (Kudav Olai) anyone possessing the following qualifications:

 

(a) He must own more than a quarter veli of tax-paying land;

(b) He must live in a house built on his own site;

(c) His age must be below 70 and above 35;

(d) He must know the Mantrabrahmana, i.e., he must know it by teaching others;

(e) Even if one owns only one-eighth veli of land, he should have his name written on the pot-ticket to be put into the pot, in case he has learnt one Veda and one of the four bhasyas by explaining it to others.

 

Among those possessing the foregoing qualifications:

 

(f) Only such as are well conversant with business and are virtuous shall be taken and,

(g) One who possesses honest earnings, whose mind is pure and who has not been on any of the committees for the last three years shall also be chosen.

 

Disqualifications

 

(a) One who has been on any of the committees but has not submitted his accounts, and all his relations, specified below, shall not have their names written on the pot-tickets and put into the pot;

(b) The sons of the younger and elder sisters of his mother,

(c) The sons of his paternal aunt and maternal uncle,

(d) The uterine brother of his mother,

(e) The uterine brother of his father,

(f) His uterine brother,

(g) His father-in-law,

(h) The uterine brother of his wife,

(i) The husband of his uterine sister,

(j) The sons of his uterine sister,

(k) The son-in-law who has married his daughter,

(l) His father,

(m) His son;

(n) One against whom incest (agamyagamana) or the first four of the five great sins are recorded,

(o) All his relations above specified shall not have their names written on the pot-tickets and put into the pot;

(p) One who is foolhardy;

(q) One who has stolen the property of another;

(r) One who has taken forbidden dishes (?) of any kind and who has become pure by performing expiation;

(s) One who has committed sins and has become pure by performing expiatory ceremonies;

(t) One who is guilty of incest and has become pure by performing expiatory ceremonies.

(u) All these thus specified shall not to the end of their lives have their names written on the pot-ticket to be put into the pot for any of the committees.

 
 
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Mode of Election 

Excluding all these, thus specified, names shall be written for pot-tickets in the thirty wards and each of the wards in these twelve streets of Uttaramerur shall prepare a separate covering ticket for each of the thirty wards bundled separately. These packets shall be put into a pot. When the pot-tickets have to be drawn, a full meeting of the Great Assembly, including the young and old members, shall be convened. All the temple priests (Numbimar) who happen to be in the village on that day, shall, without any exception whatever, be caused to be seated in the inner hall, where the great assembly meets.

In the midst of the temple priests one of them, who happens to be the eldest, shall stand up and lift that pot looking upwards so as to be seen by all people. One ward, i.e., the packet representing it, shall be taken out by any young boy standing close, who does not know what is inside, and shall be transferred to another empty pot and shaken. From this pot one ticket shall be drawn by the young boy and made over to the arbitrator (madhyastha). While taking charge of the ticket thus given to him, the arbitrator shall receive it on the palm of his hand with the five fingers open. He shall read out the name in the ticket thus received. The ticket read by him shall also be read out by all the priests present in the inner hall. The name thus read out shall be put down (and accepted). Similarly one man shall be chosen for each of the thirty wards.

Constitution of the Committee

Of the thirty men thus chosen, those who had previously been on the Garden committee and on the Tank committee, those who are advanced in learning, and those who are advanced in age shall be chosen for the Annual Committee. Of the rest, twelve shall be taken for the Garden committee and the remaining six shall form the Tank committee. These last two committees shall be chosen by showing the Karai.

Duration of the Committees

The great men of these three committees thus chosen for them shall hold office for full three hundred and sixty days and then retire.

Removal of Persons Found Guilty

When one who is on the committee is found guilty of any offence, he shall be removed at once: for appointing the committees after these have retired, the members of the Committee “for Supervision of Justice” in the twelve streets of Uttaramerur shall convene an assembly kuri with the help of the Arbitrator. The committees shall be appointed by drawing pot-tickets according to this order of settlement.

Pancavara and Gold Committees

For the Pancavara committee and the Gold committee, names shall be written for pot-tickets in the thirty wards. Thirty packets with covering tickets shall be deposited in a pot and thirty pot-tickets shall be drawn as previously described. From these thirty tickets chosen, twenty-four shall be for the Gold committee and the remaining six for the Pancavara committee. When drawing pot-tickets for these two committees next year, the wards which have been already represented during the year in question on these committees shall be excluded and the reduction made from the remaining wards by drawing the Karai. One who has ridden on an ass and one who has committed forgery shall not have his name written on the pot-ticket to be put into the pot.

Qualification of the Accountant

Any Arbitrator who possesses honest earnings shall write the accounts of the village. No accountant shall be appointed to that office again before he submits his accounts for the period during which he was in office to the great men of the big committee and is declared to have been honest. The accounts which one has been writing, he shall submit himself and no other accountant shall he chosen to close his accounts.

King's Order

Thus, from this year onwards, as long as the moon and the sun endure, committees shall always be appointed by pot-tickets alone. To this effect was the royal letter received and shown to us graciously issued by Lord of Gods, the emperor, one who is fond of learned men, the wrestler with elephants, the crest jewel of heroes, whose acts i.e., gifts, resemble those of the celestial tree, the glorious Parakesarivarman.

Officer Present

At the royal command, Karanjai Kondaya Kramavitta bhattan alias Somasiperuman of Srivanganagar in Purangarambai-nadu, a district of the Chola country, sat with us and thus caused this settlement to be made.

Villager’s Decision

We, the members of the assembly of Uttaramerur Caturvedimangalam, made this settlement for the prosperity of our village in order that wicked men may perish and the rest may prosper.

The Scribe

At the order of the great men, sitting in the assembly, I, the Arbitrator Kadadippottan Sivakkuri Rajamallamangalapriyan, thus wrote this settlement.

 
       
 
 
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