Uttaramerur Inscription

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on April 14, mentioned an inscription from Uttaramerur in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, while discussing India’s democratic history. Uttaramerur has several inscriptions dating back centuries. The one referred by the Prime Minister was created during the reign of Parantaka I (907-953 AD).

Background and Significance

Uttaramerur is known for its historic temples built during the Pallava and Chola rule. The inscription mentioned by Modi is found on the Vaikunda Perumal Temple’s walls. It dates back to the ninth century CE and is an invaluable source of information about the functioning of the village assembly. The inscription is significant because it provides insight into the governance structure of that era, which was characterized by decentralization of power.

Details of the Inscription

The inscription describes the functioning of the local sabha, i.e., the village assembly. It mentions the qualifications for being a representative to the sabha, which includes ownership of a certain amount of land, having a house, being between the age of 35 and 70, and knowing mantras and Brahmanas. On the other hand, certain factors disqualify a person from consideration, such as not having submitted accounts while previously serving in a committee, committing any of the first four of the five ‘great sins,’ being associated with outcastes, and eating ‘forbidden’ dishes.

The representative is chosen for the village assembly through an elaborate draw of lots conducted by priests. Once elected, the member serves on important committees within the sabha, such as the garden committee, the tank committee, the annual committee, the committee for supervision of justice, the gold committee, and the five-fold committee. The committee assignments last for 360 days, and any committee member implicated in any wrongdoing is removed instantly.



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