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Ajnapatra In Hindu Religion

Ajnapatra is a type of royal document by which functions were entrusted to tributary chiefs, officers , governors of districts and so on. According to the Hindu lawmakers, the judicial procedure was required to restore peace and to deal with crimes existent in society. The responsibility and privilege of upholding justice and inflicting punishments was invested in the king who was instituted as the judge lawsuits.

Many Smritis (recollected texts) have dealt with vyavahara (code of conduct) extensively. The classifications of the documents used in the court procedure differ in each Smriti. According to Brihaspati Smriti, the document  written by the king or the royal edict can be divided into three types of dictats – danapatra (royal grant), prasadalekhana (mart of the royal favor) and japapatra (decree).

Vaishthasmriti, as quoted in Apararka, replaces prasadalekhana with ajnapatra or proclamations of command, addressed to feudatories and other court officials. Kautilya’s Arthashastra (2.10) enlists several kinds of royal order. According to him, Ajnapatra is a royal deed which carries the command of the king concerning either punishment or favor especially in the matters of officials who serve him.