(Last Updated on : 18/11/2011)
The village headman headed administered the village. The village government was carried under the supervision of the village headman. He is also known as gramani. In northern India he was called garmika in northern India and mununda in the eastern India, pattakila in Maharashtra
, gavunda in Karnataka
and mahattaka or Karnataka. There was only one headman for each village. His post was hereditary. Government had the right to nominate another scion of the family if the succession of the son was not approved. He usually belonged to a non Brahmin
caste. He was the leader of the village armed force and may have often belonged to the Kshatriya
Headman's order was represented on the council of ratnins in the Vedic period and he appears almost like a village king. Defence of the village was the most important duty of the village headman. Life was more unsettled in ancient times and due to slow communications the help of the Central Government could not be expected at a crucial time. The villagers had to be self-reliant.
Collection of the government revenue was also an important duty of the village headman. He was the custodian of the necessary records. He carried out the work of collection in consultation with the village council. The headman was also the ex-officio president of village council. He was remunerated by rent-free land and also gets a number of petty dues in kind, which the villagers had to pay to the government. He was the most influential person in the village. He was keen to protect the interests of the people.
Village office had to keep records of rights and transfers of the village lands, as well as papers connected with the government dues and their realisation. They had to coordinate with the district authorities and central government and the decisions and resolutions of the village council had to be recorded accordingly. This work was entrusted to village accountant. His post was also hereditary. There is clear evidence to show that they included all the village householders. Village assemblies were held in order to settle important matters.
As per jatakas both village headman and accountant were guided in the administration by the opinion of the village public. As per jatakas villages transacted their business among themselves. They do not prove themselves to any regular council or standing committee.