Mauryan Empire: Administrative Structure
The Mauryan Empire was divided into four provinces with the imperial capital at Pataliputra. From Ashokan edicts, the name of the four provincial capitals are Tosali (in the east), Ujjain in the west, Suvarnagiri (in the south), and Taxila (in the north). According to Megasthenese, the empire exercised a military of 600,000 infantry, 30,000 cavalry, and 9,000 war elephants. For the purpose of internal and external security, there was a vast espionage system was there to keep a watch on the officials and messangers went to and fro. Kings appointed officials to collect taxes from herders, farmers, traders and craftsmen etc.
There was a vast region between the centres of administration. Rulers kept control on them through roads and rivers. As roads and rivers were vital for transport and communication and resources also which were available through taxes and tribute. Communication along both land and riverine routes was vital for the existence of the empire. According to Kautilya’s Arthashastra north-west was important for blankets, south India for precious stones and Gold.
The king was the centre of administrative superstructure and king used to select ministers and high officials. Administrative structure was as follows:
King assisted by mantriparishad (council of ministers) whose members included mantriparishad adhyaksha and below him was following:
Yuvaraj: The crown prince
Purohita: the chief priest
The senapati: the commander in chief
Amatya: civil servants and few other ministers.
Scholars suggest that Mauryan Empire was further divided into various departments with important officials:
Revenue department:- important officials: Sannidhata: chief treasury, Samaharta: collector general of revenue
Military department: Megasthenese mentions a committee with six subcommittees for coordinating military activity of these, one looked after the navy, the second managed transport and provisions, and the third was responsible for foot-soldiers, the fourth for horses, the fifth for chariots and the sixth for elephants.
Department of Commerce and Industry: important one market superintendents
Espionage Department: mahamatyapasarpa controlled Gudhapurushas (secret agents)
Police department: the jail was known as Bandhangara and it was different from lock-up called Charaka. There were police head quarters in all principal centres.
Provinicial and Local Administration: important officials: Pradeshika: modern district magistrates, Sthanika: tax collecting officer under Pradeshika, Durgapala: governor of fort, Antapala: Governor of frontier, Akshapatala: Accountant general, Lipikaras: Scribes, Gopas: responsible for accountants etc
Municipal Administration: important officials: Nagaraka: incharge of city administration, Sitaadhyaksha: supervisor of agriculture, samasthaadhyaksha: superintendent of market, Navadhyaksha: superintendent of ships, Sulkaadhyaksha: collector of tolls, Lohadhyaksha: superintendent of Iron, Akaradhyaksha: superintendent of mines and Pauthavadhyaksha: superintendent of weight and measures etc.
Megasthenes referred for six committees of which five were to look after Pataliputra’s administration.
Industries, Foreigners, Registration of birth and deaths, Trade, Manufacture and sale of goods and Collection of sales tax were under the control of administration.