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Chaturvedimangalam – Meaning

Chaturvedimangalam was a village gifted to Brahmins in ancient India. Chaturvedi Mangalam, also known as agrahara, brahmadeya, brahmadesha, brahmapura, or simply mangalam, means a village granted to, or owned by Brahmin’s well versed in the four Vedas.

During the ancient and medieval periods, villages were granted to the Brahmins, usually tax free, by the ruling kinds or chieftains as acts of piety, and also to patronize Vedic learning and sacrifices. It is believed that this act of piety conferred merit on the rulers and ensures the welfare of the state and the community.

Often, the villages were named after the kings who donated them, e.g.

  1. Simhavishnu – Chaturvedimangalam (after Pallava King Simhavishnu (C 575),
  2. Srivari Mangalam (Vanamamalai in Tirunelveli district after the Pandyan king Varagruna I),
  3. Raja Raja Chaturvedimangalam (after the Chola king Rajaraja I 90-1010 CE)

The villages occupied a place of pride in the social and cultural life since they already were or were later developed as centers of learning. The Brahmins enjoyed considerable local autonomy in the management of their villages through their own sabhas (village assemblies.)

We get detailed account of the constitution of such an assembly and its various sub-committees functioning at a place called Uthiramerur (in Chengalpattu district) in the 10th century CE. Qualifications of age, education and character were laid down for the members of the assembly.

From the inscriptions found in Karnataka we learn that the agraharas were considered so important that queens and high ranking officers were put in charge to oversee and ensure their welfare, e.g. Lakshmidevi, the chief queen of Vikramaditya VI, was in charge of the administration of 18 agraharas in 1084 CE.