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Boundary Dispute In Ancient Hindu Polity – Simavivada

Boundary dispute in ancient Hindu polity is known as Simavivada. Disputes with regard to land – about dikes or embankment, boundaries of fields, ploughed land, and fallow land – is called simavivada or kshetriya vivada (Narad, XIV.1).

Yajnavalkya Smriti deals in detail with simavivada. There are six causes of land disputes –

  1. Claiming more land
  2. Claiming that a person was entitled to less than what he actually possessed
  3. Claiming to an area
  4. Denial of a share
  5. Usurping of land
  6. Encroachment of a boundary

Sima means boundary of an area, village, orchard, forest, or a house garden having distinctive identification marks called dhvajini, matsyini, naidhani, bhayavarjita, rajasasananita.

The boundary decided by trees is dhvajini, by river, tank or stream is matsyini, by mounds of mud, clay or coal is naidhani, by purchase through mutual consent is bhayavarjita; by the king’s order rajasasananita.

The disputes arising out of six causes were to be decided by a village headman, samanta (feudal lord), or elder, who are aware of the geography o the area. Sometimes the help of cattle grazers, who frequently use the area, was also taken if there were no distinctive boundary marks.

Partisan and prejudicial decisions were subject to review by the king. In the case of house garden, house, village, source of water, playground, fields, etc, a similar method was followed to decide the dispute.

Principles of ‘neighborhood’, evidence of cattle grazers, nomadic wanderers, village elders and so on played a key role in arriving at a just decision.

Punishment for infringement and trespassing was quite severe.