Administration Of Ashoka | Indian History | Free PDF Download



• His appointment of Dharma-Mahamatras or the Superintendents of Morals also gave a blow to the supremacy of the Brahmins in religious matters, and affected their hereditary rights. Similarly, Asoka’s principle of equality of all men before law and justice made the Brahmins angry.

• By his Vyavahara-Samata, Asoka wanted to regard all his subjects equal in Law. And, by his Danda-Samata he wanted ‘equality of punishment’ irrespective of caste and creed.

• Since the Brahmins enjoyed certain privileges in earlier times both in law and punishment, Asoka’s new regulations annoyed them greatly.

• But this thesis has been rejected by many historians as historically unsound. Asoka’s regulation against animal sacrifice was in true line of Upanishadic philosophy of the Hindus. Asoka’s respect for the Brahmins as a class was deep-rooted.



• Regarding Asoka’s pacifist policy, it is said, the Maurya army and its generals lost their
martial vigour and their desire for aggression. This weakened the army, and prepared path for the downfall of an extensive empire which chiefly rested on its military power.

• But he never meant to give up might in the larger interest of his people. He
wanted all states to live in peace, instead of fighting wars. But it did not
mean that any state would go down in internal turmoil because





• The establishment of the Mauryan empire in contrast to the earlier smaller kingdoms ushered in a new form of government, that of a centralized empire.

• The council of ministers or mantri-parishad advised the king and at times may have acted as a political check. But the powers of the council were limited owing to the fact that it was the king who appointed the ministers in the first instance. Three qualities of a minister that the Arthasastra stresses are those of birth, integrity and intelligence.

• The Arthasastra lists the Chief Minister or the mahamantri and also distinguishes between the ministers and the assembly of ministers. members included the Purohita, Senapati (Commander-in-chief), the Mahamantri and the Yuvaraja.


• Amatyas were some sort of administrative personnel or civil servants who filled the highest admin-istrative and judicial appointments. Their pay scales, service rules and method of payment were clearly laid down.

• Adhyakshas or Superintendent who looked after various departments. Kautilya in the second book of his Arthasastra, Adhyakshaprachara, gives an account of the working of nearly 27 adhyaksas. Some of the important officials are mentioned below. Military and Espionage Department:

• The army was often led by the king himself. It was only in the days of the last Maurya that we find a Senapati overshadowing the king and transferring the allegiance of the troops to himself. The army of Chandragupta, according to Pliny, included 6, 00,000 foot soldiers, 30,000 cavalry and 9,000 elephants, besides chariots


• It was under the control of the Senapati under whom there were several adhyakshas of different wings and units of the army such as those of infantry (Padadhyaksha), cavalry (asvadhyaksha), war elephants (hastyadhyaksha), navy (navadhyaksha), chariots (rathadhyaksha), and armoury (ayudhagaradhyaksha).

• Kautilya classifies troops into the hereditary ones (Maula), the hired troops (bhritakas), troops supplied by forest tribes (atavivala), and those furnished by the allies (mitravala). The first were of primary importance and constituted the standing army of the king.

• Megasthenes describes the administration of the armed forces as comprising of six committees with five members on each. The first committee was concerned with naval warfare, second equivalent to the modern commissariat supervising the transport of war materials, third supervising the infantry, the fourth supervising cavalry, the fifth was concerned with chariots and the sixth supervised the elephant corps.


• The espionage department was manned by guddhapurushas (secret agents) under the control of mahamatyapasarpa, both stationary (Samsthan) and wandering (Sanchari). Officials formed the personnel of this cadre.

Revenue Department:

• Sannidhata: The treasurer was responsible for the storage of royal treasure, and of the state income both in cash and kind.

• Samaharta: He was in charge of collection of revenue from various parts of the kingdom and looked after the income and expenditure by supervising the works of the akshapataladhyaksha (Accountant General).


• The Accountant-General kept the accounts both of the kingdom and the royal household. He was assisted by a body of clerks (Karmikas).

• The chief source of revenue was the land tax which was one-sixth to one-fourth of the produce and was collected by the revenue officer, agronomoi, who measured the land, levied the tax and collected it.

• The second major source of income was toll- tax which was imposed on all articles (except grain, cattle and a few other items). This tax was approximately 10 percent. Shudras, artisans and others who survived on manual labour had to work free for one day in each month.

• Strabo mentions that craftsmen (except royal craftsmen), herdsmen and husbands men all paid taxes. The king’s own estate or royal lands yielded income called sita. Two kinds of taxes, bali and bhaga, are referred to in the Ashokan edicts.


Judicial and Police departments:

• The King was the head of justice – the fountain head of law and all matters of grave consequences were decided by him. Kautilya refers to the existence of two kinds of courts – dharmasthiyas (dealing with civil matters) and kantakasodhanas (dealing criminal cases).

• There were special courts in the cities and villages presided over by the pradesika, mahamatras and rajukas. Kautilya mentions about the four sources of law.Police headquarters were found in all principal centres. Provincial and Local Administration:

• The empire was divided into four provinces, each under a prince or member
of the royal family (Kumara and Aryaputra).


• The empire was divided into four provinces, each under a prince or member of the royal family (Kumara and Aryaputra).


• Under Asoka, there were four provinces:the Northern Province (Uttarapatha) with the capital at Taxila, western province (Avantiratha) with the headquarters at Ujjain, eastern province (Prachyapatha) with the centre at Tosali and the southern province (Dakshinapatha) with its capital as Suvarnagiri.

• The central province Magadha, with its capital at Pataliputra was also the headquarters of the entire kingdom. The viceroy had the power to appoint some of his officials such as the Mahamattas, who went on tour every five years.

• The three major officials of the provinces were thepradesika, the rajuka and the yukta. The pradesika was in charge of the overall administration of a district – supervising the collection of revenue and of maintaining law and order both in the rural areas and in the towns within his district. The rajuka was responsible for surveying and assessing land.


• There was an intermediate level of administration between the district level and that of the village. The unit here was formed by a group of five or ten villages.

• The gopa worked as an accountant to the unit. His duties included the setting up of village boundaries, keeping a census of the population of each village according to their tax-paying capacity, their professions and their age, noting the live-stock of each village, etc. The tax was collected by the sthanika who worked directly under the Pradesika.

• Village (grama) was the smallest unit of administration and enjoyed autonomy to a great extent. Individual villages must have had their own set of officials who were directly responsible to the gopas.

• The Arthasastra mentions the nagaraka or city superintendent who was responsible for the main-tenance of law and order in the city. He was assisted by two subordinate officials, the gopa and the sthanika.

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