India, along with mandala, vithi, petha, patta, sthali and bhoga which are
found in the inscriptions of the specific regions.
The lowest territorial unit, grama, is mentioned most probably in all the
land charters known from all parts of northern India. Normally grama stood
for village, which was evidently the smallest territorial unit for administrative
In eastern India vithi seems to have been the next larger unit after the
grama. The next larger territorial unit indicated by the inscriptions of eastern
India is visaya.
Bhukti is another term which is referred to in the eastern Indian epigraphs.
Since we do not have reference to any bhukti lying within any other territorial
unit as in the case of visayas. it may be assumed that probably the bhukti was
the largest fiscal unit. The Pundravardhana bhukti, the Vardhamana bhukti,
the Danda bhukti are some of the bhuktis recorded in the charters. The
bhuktis seem to have been important territorial divisions as Danda bhukti is
mentioned as having been governed by a feudatory, Maharaja Somadatta, and
by Mahapratihara Subhakirti, in the two Midnapore copper plate inscriptions
of the time of Sasanka. Bhukti continued to be the largest territorial and
administrative unit during the Pala rule in Bengal.
Mandala is another term, which occurs in the eastern Indian epigraphs.
Some scholars hold the view that visaya and mandala have been used
synonymously in the sense of a district. However, the Paharpur copper plate
inscription and the Gunaighar grant of the Guptas imply that a mandala must
have been a fairly larger territorial unit. It may be reasonably presumed that
mandala was a larger territorial unit including visayas in it.
In the Baghelkhand and Bundelkhand divisions of central India, the
charters belonging to Uccakalpa and Parivarajaka rulers refer to patta or
petha. It may be said that this was probably a subdivision of a visaya, which
consisted of more than one village. Thus, in central India the next larger unit
after village, was patta or petha.
Ahara was another territorial unit, which was in vogue in the southern
central India, in the Vakataka kingdom. But, it may be said that ahara does
not seem to have been a very popular subdivision of a visaya, as out of
twenty-seven charters belonging to AD 400–700 dated in the Kalachuri-Chedi
era, only five refer to this subdivision.