The Mauryan Empire covered most Indian territories and encompassed the western, eastern, northern, and southern parts of the country. The Mauryan Empire has panned India. It means that the establishment of the Mauryan Empire marked the end of small states. Because of the increase in agricultural activities, trade links were established with other countries. After Ashoka renounced wars after the conquest of Kalinga, the Mauryan kings began to pay more attention to the development of the social and economic lives of the people. India became economically prosperous. In this article, we have written a detailed article on the Mauryan administration.
Arthashastra and Indika are two main books that provide us information about the administration during the period of Ashoka. The administration under the Mauryas was divided into two – civil administration and military administration. Civil administration was divided into two main divisions – Central government and Provincial government.
- The Mauryan administration was highly centralized as the king had all the powers and his decisions were considered final. King Ashoka.
- The king was assisted by the council of ministers called mahamantriparishad. Each minister was responsible for his department.
- The council of ministers included the chief pujari or Purohit, the Senapati (commander of the army), the Sannidhata (head treasurer), and the Samaharta (the taxation expert).
- Some other ministers included the Accountant General, Superintendent of Ports, Superintendent of Weights and Measures, and Controller of Commerce.
- Ashoka appointed Mahamantras to look after the welfare of his subjects.
- The provincial administration of Ashoka was divided into five provinces—Patliputra, Ujjain, Taxila, Swarnagari and Tosali.
- Only the princes were made the head of the provinces. They were known as Kumars or Aryaputra.
- The Kumars were assisted by governors called the mahamatras. Pradeshika collected the taxes. The Rajukta performed the modern-day functions of a Tahsildar or revenue officer. The Yukta was a treasurer.
The provinces were divided into various districts called the Janapads. At the district level also the administration was looked after by the Predeshika, Rajukta, and Yukatas.
Administration of Cities
- Important cities of this time were Patliputra, Taxila, Ujjain, Swarnanagri, and Tsali. The head of the city was called Nagardhakshya.
- In Indika, Megasthenes had mentioned that Patliputra, the capital city, was surrounded by a wooden wall that had 64 gates and 570 towers.
- The administration of Patliputra was looked after by a committee of 30 members. They looked into various matters such as trade and commerce, industries, collection of taxes, and the comforts of foreigners.
The Revenue System
- Land revenue was the chief source of income. It was fixed between one-fourth and one-sixth of the product depending on the fertility of the soil. The tax was slightly more for irrigated lands.
- There were two types of taxes—Bali and Bhaga. Bhaga was an agricultural tax, while Bali was a religious tax.
- Revenue from trade was another main source of income. Pataliputra, Ujjain, Taxila, and Broach were some important inland trading centers. Overseas trade was carried on with the Greek kingdoms of Central Asia and the Middle East.
- Toll tax was imposed on articles that were brought for sale. Taxes were also levied on forest produce and minerals.
The Spy System
- The Mauryas had a very efficient spy system. Many women were also appointed as spies and were posted in different regions of the kingdom.
- The spies kept a watch on officers such as the revenue officers and Senapati. Many spies were recruited to keep an eye on other spies.
- The spy system was introduced to keep a watch on the common people, officers, and ministers of the state. The king was also informed of the public opinion on important issues and decisions taken by him.
- The greatest strength of the Mauryan administration was the large and well-equipped army. It consisted of infantry, cavalry, elephants, and chariots.
- According to the Roman writer Pliny, the Mauryas had 600,000 infantry, 30,000 cavalries, and 9,000 war elephants.
- The chief weapons used were bows and arrows, shields, and swords. Senapati was the head of the army. The king was the commander-in-chief of the army and all the important decisions were taken by him. Soldiers were paid in cash.
- The Mauryan emperor had built various forts at strategic locations for maintaining the safety and security of the empire.
Ashoka felt remorse after the Kalinga War. He became a firm follower of Buddhism and declared it as a state religion. He followed the policy of Dhamma. Its main principles were
- To respect elders and to love children
- To follow ahimsa or non-violence
- To do good deeds as this will reap benefits in the next life
- To respect all religions
- Not to perform unnecessary rituals
As a result of Ashoka’s Dhamma, people began to follow a policy of religious tolerance and began to live a moral and ethical life. As wars were no longer fought by the kingdom, many welfare works were undertaken which helped people to live a peaceful life. Ashoka took the following steps to spread Buddhism far and wide. These were
- Many Dhamma Mahamatras were appointed by Ashoka for propagating Buddhism.
- Ashoka patronized Buddhism and sent his son and daughter to preach Buddhism in Ceylon (Sri Lanka).
- He banned the slaughter of animals for the royal kitchen. Fifty-six days in a year were fixed when animals could not be slaughtered throughout his kingdom.
- Ashoka’s orders were inscribed on edicts. These stone edicts spread the message of peace, nonviolence, and universal brotherhood among the people.
- Missionaries were sent to countries such as Nepal, Egypt, Syria, and Myanmar to spread Buddhism.
- Ashoka convened the Third Buddhist Council in his kingdom to resolve differences in Buddhism.
- Ashoka himself followed the policy of religious tolerance. People in his kingdom were not forced to accept Buddhism and were tolerant of other religions.
Also, Read The Mauryan Empire