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Mauryan Administration

Updated: Mar 7, 2021

Central Government

The King

  • There was a strong central government during the Mauryan time.

  • The King was the head of the Central Government.

  • However, the King did not take all decisions by himself.

The Council of Ministers

  • There was a council of ministers called 'Mantriparishad' to assist the king in administrative matters. It consisted of Purohita, Mahamantri, Senapati and Yuvaraja.

The Civil Service

  • The Mauryan state had a well organized civil service also.

  • There were civil servants called 'Amatyas' to look after the day-to-day administration. These officers were similar to the IAS officers of independent India.

  • Asoka appointed 'Dhamma Mahamatras' to supervise the spread of Dhamma (Budhist Philosophy).

The Revenue Collection

  • Samharta, the chief of the Revenue Department, was in charge of the collection of all revenues of the empire.

  • The revenues came from land, irrigation, customs, shop tax, ferry tax, forests, mines and pastures, license fee from craftsmen, and fines collected in the law courts.

The Army

  • The Mauryan army was well organized and it was under the control of Senapati.

  • The salaries of the army were paid in cash.

  • The Mauryan army consisted of six wings; infantry, cavalry, elephants, chariots, navy and the transport and supply wing.

  • Each wing was under the control of Adyakshas or Superintendents.

  • There was a board of five members for each wing to control them.

Judiciary and Police

  • Both Civil and Criminal courts existed.

  • The chief justice of the Supreme Court at the capital was called Dharmathikarin.

  • There were also subordinate courts at the provincial capitals and districts under Amatyas.

  • Different kinds of punishment such as fines, imprisonment, mutilation and death were given to the offenders.

  • Torture was employed to extract truth.

  • Police stations were found in all principal centres.

  • Both Kautilya and Asokan Edicts mention about jails and jail officials.

  • The Dhamma Mahamatras were asked by Asoka to take steps against unjust imprisonment.

  • Remission of sentences is also mentioned in Asoka’s inscriptions.

Census

  • The taking of Census was regular during the Mauryan period.

  • The village officials were to number the people along with other details like their caste and occupation.

  • They were also to count the animals in each house.

  • The census in the towns was taken by municipal officials to track the movement of population both foreign and indigenous.

  • The data collected were cross checked by the spies.

  • The Census appears to be a permanent institution in the Mauryan administration.


Provincial and Local Governments


Provincial Administration

  • The Mauryan Empire was divided into four provinces with their capitals at Taxila, Ujjain, Suvarnagiri and Kalinga.

  • The provincial governors were mostly appointed from the members of royal family.

  • Normally, Yuvarajas were appointed as provincial governors.

  • They were responsible the maintenance of law and order and collection of taxes for the empire.

District Administration

  • The district administration was under the charge of Rajukas, whose position and functions are similar to modern collectors.

  • He was assisted by Yuktas or subordinate officials.

Village and Municipal Administration

  • Village administration was in the hands of Gramani and his official superior was called Gopa who was in charge of ten or fifteen villages.

  • Nagarika or city superintendent was in charge of municipal administration.

  • His chief duty was to maintain law and order.

  • There were six committees of five members each to look after the administration of Pataliputra.

  • These committees looked after: 1. Industries 2. Foreigners 3. Registration of birth and deaths 4. Trade 5. Manufacture and sale of goods 6. Collection of sales tax.

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