Administrative Setup & Social Life in the Age of Buddha (563-483 BC)

Buddhism made a special appeal to the people of the non- Vedic areas where it found a virgin soil for conversion. Buddhism attacked the Varna system so it gets the support of so called lower castes. People were taken into the Buddhist order without any consideration of caste. Women were also admitted to the Sangha and thus brought on par with the men. In comparison, with Brahmanism Buddhism was liberal and democratic.
Created On: Jul 20, 2015 18:29 IST

Administrative Setup

The king enjoyed the highest position and all the officials whether low or high assisted him in his work. The king used to be the warlord whose prime duty was to lead his kingdom from victory to victory.

Higher officials at the centre were known as Mahamatras. They were employed as commander, minister, chief accountant, judge and head of the royal harem.

Higher officials at state level were known as Ayuktas.

The kings mostly belonged to the Kshatriya Varna while ministers were the Brahmanas. The position of king was hereditary.

The villages were administered by their respective headmen. They were known as Gramini, Gramabhojaka or Gramika.

The village headmen functioned as tax collector in addition to maintain the law and order in their villages.

The tolls were collected by officers known as shaulkika or shulkaadhyaksha.

Social Life

The society was divided into four classes-Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras.

The functions of each Varna were clearly laid down by society. The Kshatriyas were asked to fight and defend the country while the Brahmanas functioned as priests, teachers and advisors to the kings. The Vaishayas included traders and peasants while the Shudras included labourers who served all these three classes.

The Shudras were placed at the lowest position in society and had no legal or religious rights. The members of the higher Varnas refused to enter into the matrimonial alliance with the Shudras and even shunned their company. Even the advent of new religions such as Buddhism and Jainism could not change their position in the society.

By the early 12th century A.D. Buddhism became extinct in India. It had continued to exist in a changed form in Bihar and Bengal till the 11th century but after that this religion almost completely vanished from the country.

Jagranjosh

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