The Mauryan Empire: Administration

The Mauryan Empire was divided into four provinces with the imperial capital at Pataliputra. From Ashokan Edicts, the name of the four provincial capitals were Tosali (in the east), Ujjain in the west, Suvarnagiri (in the south), and Taxila (in the north). At the centre of the structure was the king who had the power to enact laws. Kautilya advises the King to promulgate dharma when the social order based on the Varnas and Ashramas (stages in life) perishes.
Created On: Jul 18, 2015 16:30 IST
Modified On: Jul 20, 2015 12:05 IST

The Mauryan Empire was divided into four provinces with the imperial capital at Pataliputra. From Ashokan edicts, the name of the four provincial capitals were 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 messengers went to and fro. Kings appointed officials to collect taxes from herders, farmers, traders and craftsmen etc.

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 as 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.

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, Sita- Adhyaksha: Supervisor of agriculture, samastha-Adhyaksha: 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.

Jagranjosh