(Last Updated on : 16-04-2014)
The concept of Sanketam came up in the seventeenth century. Palm leaf records narrate the varied powers of the sanketam. All important devaswoms in Malabar had their own independent jurisdictions or sanketams. Sanketam were the possessions beyond the control of the sovereign or local chieftains who are protectors of these jurisdictions. These were well-defined. The temple corporations exercised sovereign authority. In order to guard themselves against encroachment, they associated themselves with a secular leader to defend these possessions. However they never gave up their right of ownership. They along with other persons who were attached to the temple were known as Yogam.
These bodies formed the political backbone of the country. Even the sovereigns were liable to be punished for acts of tyranny within the sanketam. If the monarch committed an act of tyranny the sanketam would be dissolved and this would create a constitutional crisis. If the King failed to make changes immediately he would be liable to a further penalty for not restoring the sanketam earlier. The sanketam was an independent institution exercising sovereign authority. It was a self-working and self--contained community that recognised no sovereign except the Yogam. The administrative functions of the committee were complete and an outsider had no chance to interfere. The governing authority possessed the right to punish offences including capital punishment and to collect the various kinds of land equivalent to decline of religious influence. They were the strongholds of the priestly class and managed to curtail the powers of the ruler.
The sanketam was one of the principal institutions through which the Brahmans exerted their influence in mediaeval politics. Sanketam was basically a stipulated territory over which no king had power to exercise temporal authority. The local chieftains also had no control over sanketams. Some temples had vast areas under it as sanketams. Two types of sanketam were prevalent: Grama sanketam and Ksetra sanketam. Grama sanketam was related to thirty two Brahmins and Kshetra sanketam refered to new settlements.
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