kinds. But none of these were collected at a specified time and regularly,
nor were they of a precisely defined amount. Further, there were no
specific occupational groups from whom they were collected or no
designated persons who made the collection. All these conditions were
fulfilled for the first time only in the post-Vedic period when taxes were
collected and these terms were used as taxes.
In Vedic texts, the bali is a generalised offering made by the vis and may
better be translated as tribute or a prestation, rather than a tax. It may, in
origin, have been the tribute of a defeated tribe, but it came to be extended
to offerings brought by subordinate groups to those in authority.
Bhaga in the sense of share, relates to the distribution of spoils after a raid
or the division of prestations on ritual occasions. Its origins may be traced
to the offering of the first fruits as a token to the sanctity of the chief, an
idea which is known to other early societies.
The term sulka in the Rig Veda does not mean a tax, but is used in the
sense of a measure of value, and in the Atharva Veda, the context is
generally that of the weak paying a price to the strong.
The words bali, bhaga and sulka do change their meaning from tribute,
distribution and price (in the sense of value) in the Rig Veda, to forms of
taxes and dues in the later dharmasastra literature.
Evolution of Monarchy
Raja in the Rigveda It is very much debatable whether the raja was
elected by the clans or was the choice of a more select group. The Rig Veda,
in one of its hymns, makes it clear that those who chose the raja are distinct
from the vis. The demand of bali would have been weakened if the vis had
the right to elect a raja. Yet, in another hymn of the Rig Veda, there is a
reference to the vis choosing a raja. Possibly, this was the earlier custom
which was later discontinued when the rajanyas became more powerful. The
office of raja in the Vedic sources was primarily that of a leader in battle and
the protector of the settlements. The office was not hereditary to begin with
and the choice and the consecration of the raja would have occurred with
Raja in the Later Vedic Period In the later Vedic period, the consecration