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Vanapala in Arthashastra Of Kautilya

Vanapala was the officer in charge of non-agricultural land, particularly the forests and is mentioned in the Arthashastra of Kautilya. A vanapala was appointed to take care of long stretches of land and make the best use of them. His job was to ensure that the grassy land was allotted to herdsmen for grazing. He had to also make provision for students of Veda to dwell in solitude and pursue their studies undisturbed in the wilderness of forest. It was his responsibility to guarantee the safety of the students and protection of their rituals.

The vanapala was also expected to build recreation parks for the king. The park should have a single entrance and by protected by a moat. It was to be made abundantly rich in shrubs, bushes, fruit-bearing trees and creepers as also in deer and other harmless animals. His duty also included creation of such forests that could yield forest products. These products were processed and marketed under his supervision.

On the border of the kingdom, vanapala had to establish a forest for elephants guarded by foresters. These foresters had to ensure that no one killed the elephants. The vanapala provided the king’s army with the required number of elephants. He thus looked after their catching and training with the help of the foresters. He maintained an up-to-date record of elephants in the forest with regard to their number, age, gender and habits.