Bhattadhikaran

Introduction to Bhattadhikaran

Bhattadhikaran was one of the notable administrative Tribunals of the Lichhavi Dynasty. The name Bhattadhikaran comes from two words: Bhatta, meaning Wise Brahmin, and Adhikaran, meaning Office. Hence, it was known as the Office run by Wise Brahmins.

The Inscription of King Amshuverma of Bungmati is one of the few inscriptions that mention Bhattadhikaran. According to the Inscription, the primary function was to ensure that the religious and legal practices and rules of the Lichhavi Dynasty were followed.

However, in multiple regions, the authority to investigate and maintain Varna Vyavastha was taken away from Bhattadhikaran’s jurisdiction. As a result, Paramasan, the Central Assembly during the Lichhavi Dynasty, had the opportunity handle these crimes.

The Bhattadhikaris who were the officials of Bhattadhikaran were considered wise and knowledgeable Brahmins by the populace.

Unlike The Four Major Tribunals (Kuther, Sulli, Ligwal, Mapchowk) that originated in The Kirat Dynasty, Bhattadhikaran, Paschimadhikaran, and Purvadhikaran originated in the Lichhavi Dynasty.

Officers of Bhattadhikaran

Brahmins, the So-Called Higher Caste, administered Bhattadhikaran. As The Kings themselves were Kshetriya, Brahmins were required to act as Religious Guides. The Maintenance of Dharma and Varna Vyayvastha was integral in Ancient Nepal, and the breach of such rules required expertise that could have been gained from the Dharma Shastras. Therefore, Brahmins were made the Officers of the Tribunal.

Functions of Bhattadhikaran      

Inscription of Bhattadhikaran
Inscription of Bhattadhikaran

                 

Dharma Sankar

Dharma Sankar was an important concern of the Kings of the Lichhavi Dynasty. Although some have confused Dharma Sankar with practicing other religions, it isn’t actually so. Dharma Sankar refers to the diversion of Castes from their occupation. In Ancient Times, Caste denoted an occupation more than it denoted Social Status and Prestige. Therefore, Each and Every Caste had to pursue occupations according to their Caste.

Therefore, Wise Brahmins were kept at the Bhattadhikaran to prevent the State of Dharma Sankar. They dealt with cases related to religion and Varna Vyavastha. Those that diverged from their own Hereditary Occupation were strictly punished by the Officers of the Tribunal.

Varna Vyavastha

Varna Vyavastha was a sui-generis practice of the Indian Sub-Continent where one inherited their Occupation which designated their Social Status and Class.

After the arrival of the Lichhavi Dynasty in Nepal, Varna Vyavastha was enforced in Nepal. King Supushpa is said to have enforced Varna Vyavastha although the truthfulness of the fact is still debated.

Varna Vyavastha created a secured loop of Occupations, Its Need, and the Individuals to conduct the occupation. Although this Division of Labor was effective, it wasn’t always accepted by the Lower Class.

This meant that the tasks of the Lower Class weren’t conducted by anyone and hence, it could cause a void in some important tasks. Therefore, Bhattadhikaran was given the responsibility of enforcing Varna Vyavastha.

Strict Punishment

Bhattadhikaran was known to have served Strict Punishment to those that didn’t follow their own occupation and revolted against the existing Social Norms and Values of the Society.

The Officers that were restricted from entering certain villages or Grams were also punished if they didn’t obey the instructions.

Conclusion

Bhattadhikaran was the Backbone of Varna Vyavastha Enforcement in Lichhavi Society. The Tribunal had the function of guaranteeing Ancestral Occupation, which when not practiced, led to Dharma Sankar.

Citation

Pokhrel, A. (2023). Bhattadhikaran – Itihasaa. Encyclopedia of Nepali History. https://itihasaa.com/lichhavi-administration/bhattadhikaran/