Mauryan Administration - Art, Military, Financial and Espionage System

By Ritesh|Updated : August 5th, 2022

Mauryan Administration was known for its efficiency and organization. Mauryan Empire was the first empire that, with the help of modern administration, was able to conquer most of the northern parts of India. The Mauryan Administration was quite an efficient and organized autocracy with the strongest standing military and army at that time. The administration was equally vast and centralized as the Mauryan Empire was. It had a highly evolved political system as well.

The topic of Mauryan administration is a part of ancient Indian history and holds great significance for UPSC exams. Here we provide you with the best notes on modern administration.

Table of Content

What was the Mauryan Administration?

Most information about the Mauryan Administration can be found in Chanakya's work, Arthashastra. The Mauryan Empire was a big Empire that ruled the subcontinent of India from 325 to 185 BC. But the Mauryas did not only build a vast empire but also integrated this empire with the best-suited administrative system.

Chandragupta Maurya was the founder of the Mauryan dynasty and established his administrative setup, which was continued by his successors without any changes.

Later after the advent of Ashoka, when he tried to liberalize the domain and describe the public duties of state officials, there came slight changes in the Mauryan administration. The basic principles of moral administration did not change until the complete Mauryan Empire was declined and Mauryas lost their hold on the administration.

The three main collection sources of the necessary information about the Mauryan administration are Kautilya's Arthashastra, Megasthenes Indica, and Ashokan Inscriptions.

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Central Government System Under Mauryan Empire

The Mauryan administration was highly centralized. It began with a ruler and further continued to strengthen its roots with all the authorities.

  • The concept of Mantri was also initiated in the Mauryan administration and the Council of Ministers was called Mantri Parishad in the Mauryan Administration.
  • The Council of Ministers, popularly called the Mantri Parishad, was headed by the head of the Council, known as Mantri Parishad Adhyaksh.
  • There were many ranks provided in the Mauryan administration where the highest rank was the Tirthas,' and there was a total of 18 tirthas.
  • The next category was the Adhyaksh'. There were 20 Adhyaksh whose main task of Adhyaksh was to look after and operate the military or army-related issues.
  • Other than that, some other high-rank positions in the Mauryan Administration were known as Mahamattas.
  • Another set of high-ranked personalities was known as the Amatya, whose primary function was to look after the Judiciary and Administrative jobs.
  • There were many departments in the Mauryan Administration, which had a personal Secretariat, called the Adhyaksha.
  • According to the information provided by the Kautilya's Arthashastra, there were many Adhyakshas related to different fields like Commerce, Agriculture, Chariots, Cows, Horses, Infantry, Mint, Gold, and many other such departments.
  • Later came the categories of subordinates that managed the revenue of the Mauryan Empire. They were known as the Yukta.
  • Land administration and management were also a major concern of the Mauryan Administration; hence, a subordinate was appointed for it, called the Rajjukas.
  • Among the ministers of the council, there were-
    • Superintendent of mint known as Sanstha Adhyaksh.
    • Judicial Officers were known as the Vyavaharika Mahamatta.
    • Superintendent of Tolls known as Shulk Adhyaksh.
    • Superintendent of Ships known as Nav Adhyaksh.
    • Public Relations Officers were known as Pulisanj.

Art and Architecture of the Mauryan Administration

The Mauryan dynasty was well known for its remarkable contribution to art and architecture for the legacy of India.

  • The concept of stone masonry was introduced by modern architecture under the modern administration, and that too on a wide scale.
  • The Mauryan Palace, which was situated in Patliputra, was very luxurious and richly loaded with remarkable art and architecture, as given in the documents of Megasthenes.
  • Small pieces of stone pillars have been found at Kumrah, situated on Patna's outskirts, signifying the existence of a great 80 pillared hall.
  • All the remains of the Mauryan Empire and its administrative buildings ascertain that the Mauryan artisans were highly skilled in polishing the stone pillars as each of the pillars was made of buff-colored sandstone.
  • These strong and beautiful carved and polished pillars were shut up in most parts of the country, demonstrating that the transport system flourished in the oral administration.
  • The cities of the Mauryan Administration also had magnificent statues of lions and bulls.
  • The art and architecture of the modern artisans were not limited to just drawing and carving on stones; they also hewed out caves from big rocks for the Sadhus to live in. The best example could be the Barabar caves, which are situated 30 km from Gaya.

Revenue Collection in Mauryan Administration

  • The revenue department chief was Samharta.
  • The treasurer was called the Sannidhata.
  • The sources of revenue collection of the Mauryan Administration were land revenues, irrigations, mining, ferries, shops, pastures, and forests.
  • The license fees were taken from the artisans, who also owed the fines imposed to the court of law.
  • The total land revenue generated was 1/6th of the total produce.

Espionage System in Mauryan Administration

  • The Mauryan administration had a very well-advanced espionage system.
  • The modern Empire had trusted and reliable spies and Agents who worked constantly actively and kept the emperor updated about the risks from the market and Management.
  • In the Mauryan administration, there were two types of spies; the first one Sansthan was the stationary spy, and his task was to stay at a place to keep an eye on the risks. And, another one was the Sanchari, who was the wanderer spy, and his task was to roam around the city, watching the public and finding out the roots of the risks and dangers to the emperor and empire.

Local Administration in Mauryan Administration

  • Villages were the smallest unit of the Mauryan administration.
  • All the villages had a head, better-known as Gramika. He had the freedom to rule the villages.
  • Also, there were districts in the Mauryan administration, and the district magistrates were called the Pradeshika.
  • Under the Pradeshikas, worked the tax collectors, known as the Sthanika.
  • The literates were given a better place in the Mauryan Administration and were given the tasks of documenting the empire. They were known as the Lipikars or the Scribers.
  • There were many other local administrators like Akshayapala, the Accountant General, Antapala, the Governor of Frontiers, and Durgpala, the Governor of Forts.

Police and Military System in Mauryan Administration

  • All the important centers of the Mauryan administration had police headquarters.
  • The Lockup in the Mauryan Administration was known as the Charaka, and the jail was known as the Bandhavgarh.
  • The head of the army was known as the Senapati, and he was appointed by the empire's king.
  • The army formed in the Mauryan administration was classified into 5 parts-
    • Cavalry
    • Chariots
    • Elephant Forces
    • Infantry
    • Navy and transportation

Mauryan Administration UPSC

Mauryan Administration is part of the Ancient History Syllabus of the UPSC Exam. Mauryan Administration is an important portion to learn as 2 to 3 questions can be raised in the IAS Exam from ancient history. You can download the Indian History UPSC books and Indian History Notes for the Prelims paper.

Also, you can get the NCERT books that will help you to understand the topic in detail. You can also download the UPSC Previous Year's Question Papers and UPSC Study Material for solid preparation.

Download Mauryan Administration UPSC Notes PDF

Mauryan Administration UPSC Prelims Sample Question

Question - Choose the correct option from the given below:

The Nagda Empire was followed by which Empire?

  1. Kushana
  2. Sunga
  3. Gupta
  4. Maurya

Answer - D

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FAQs on Mauryan Administration

  • The Mauryan Administration followed the monarchy system of ruling. Mauryan Administration was a highly centralized Administration, where a council of ministers was set up, as the advisory to the king. This council was called Mantriparishad.

  • Two of the main features of the Mauryan Administration were that-

    • The Mauryan administration had the strongest mode of communication through the sea routes. 
    • The Empire was divided into 4 provinces and these four provinces too had subdivisions in the form of units.
  • The main officials of the Mauryan Administration were the purohits, Yuvaraja, Amatya, Senapati, Adhyaksha, and Sannidhatas.

  • Sannidhata was the chief treasury officer in the Mauryan Administration.

  • Many factors contributed to the decline of the Mauryan empire, including a financial crisis following the battle with the Huns and Shungas, animosity for Ashoka among the Brahmanas, oppressive bureaucratic administration, neglect of the Northwest frontier, and others. Pushyamitra Shunga finally brought down the Mauryan empire.

  • The Mauryan empire and administration were divided into four provinces named Patliputra, Ujjain, Swarnagiri, and Kalinga.

  • The major reforms King Ashoka made in the moral administration were included in the judicial system where the king had all the powers of law-making and superseded the equity.

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