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In many parts of Central Kerala, there were Sankethams. What were they? Explain their structure and activities.

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Sanketham was another center of political power in Kerala. The Sankethams of temples and Brahmins were very famous. They are areas with semi-autonomous rule. In a Sanketham there would be one Brahmin temple and some villages around it. 

There were two types of Sankethams.

(a) Those founded by landowning Brahmins,

(b) Those founded by rulers to show their love and veneration for some deities or Brahmins.

Sankethams had a divine quality about them. Because of that, they were protected from wars and riots. Many Sankethams were administered by a Committee of Brahmins. These Committees were called Yogams.

In the Middle Ages in many parts of Kerala, Sankethams were in existence. K.P. Padmanabha Menon seems them as independent republics free from the control of the king. But the Vancheri Granthavari says that Sanketham was dependent on the nearby chiefs.

For the formation of the Yogam, and for law and order problems they relied on the chiefs. The property of Sanketam was protected by the local army. Such an army was called ‘Changatam’. In return for their services, they were given ‘kavalpanam’ (protection money), usually in the form of a share of the produce.

The spread of Swaroopam and Sanketam led to the growth of different kinds of landowning rights. It also caused the growth of agriculture – both cash crops and food crops. It also brought changes in the agricultural relations in places controlled bylaws relating to Jati Systems.

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