After the fall of the Gupta Empire, there prevailed a state of chaos and confusion in India. It was Harshavardhan who removed this state of chaos and confusion, and built up a vast empire, which included almost the entire of northern India. According to Hiuen Tsang people were happy and prosperous during his reign and the administration was quite efficient. Harsha was a popular king. For the welfare of the people he had constructed roads, opened schools and got planted trees on both the sides of the road.
Mahasandhivigradhikrita i.e. minister of war and peace.
Harsha's administration was based on the traditional administrative system. It can be said that his administrative system was like that of the Guptas
King: King occupied the highest position in the administration, king used to adopt the titles of 'Parm-bhattarak', 'Parmeshwara', 'Paramdevata', 'Maharajadhiraja', etc. The king was autocrat and absolutely enjoyed the supreme position in the state. But the kings were always eater to wing popularity and hence never misused their unlimited powers in the field of liberality and charity no king can equal him much less surpass him the king appointed Samartas and other officers, he was the highest judicial authority on the earth and king was considered equal to god. Bana has described Harsha as the incarnation of all the gods. He led the army in the battlefield Harsha made a tour of the whole country for the welfare of the people. Like Ashoka, he was ever prepared to work for the good and welfare of the people.
Officers: There were several ministers to help Harsha in the administration. They were called 'Sachiv' or 'Amatya'. The chief Sachiv of Harsha was Bhandi and Sandhivigrahak was Avami. Sighavad was his Senapti. Skanda Gupta was also one of the ministers who were the Senapati of elephants wing of army. It can be learnt from Madhuban inscription that governor was called 'Rajasthaniya', 'vishayapati' i.e. head of the district, and 'Uparika' i.e. head of the province.
'Kumaramatya' were other officers. There were other officers like:-
Mahabaladhikrita i.e. officer in supreme command in the
Baladhikri i.e. senapati or commander
Brihadavavara i.e. head cavalry officer.
Katuka i.e. commandant of the elephant force.
Pathi i.e. superintendent of soldiers barracks.
Chata-bhata i.e. irregular and regular soldiers.
Yama-cetis i.e. women watchers at night.
Duta i.e. ambassador.
Rajasthaniya i.e. foreign secretary.
Kumaramatya i.e. counsellor of the prince.
Uparika i.e. official title of the governor of province.
Visahyapati i.e. the head of a visya or modern district.
Daussadhanika i.e. suprintendent of villages
Bhogika or Bhogapati i.e. one responsible for the collection of state produce.
Mahapratihara i.e. chief warden, Mimansak i.e. justice, Akshapattalika
and Dutuka i.e. keepers of the records.
These names show that Harsha's administration was more or less on the lines of Gupta administration.
Army: Harsha had built up a vast empire. The safety and security of such an empire needed a big army. It is due to this reason that Harsha had paid his special attention to the maintenance of this huge and strong army. The basis of recruitment in the army was bravery and merit. The profession of a soldier had become hereditary. The son of a soldier also joined the army as a soldier. According to Hiuentsang, Harsha's army consisted of 6,000 elephants and 1,00,000 cavalry. There were also a large number of camels in his army. The Samantas and the friendly kings also provided bands of soldiers. For example Kamrupa king had met Harsha along with 2000 elephants. According to Bana, Harsha received a large number of elephants in gifts from Samanta kings. Horses were purchased from Sindh, Afghanistan and Persia.
Infantry, cavalry and elephants were the three main branches of Harsha's army. The use of chariots was not prevalent. Some of the inscriptions of that time make mention of naval forces also but it is not know much about them. Mahasandhivigrahadhikrita was the chief officer of the military department. He was entitled to make war and also settled peace. Mahabaladhikrita was the officer who organized the army. The officers known as Baladhikrita, Senapati, Patasvapati, Katukapati etc. worked under the subordination of Mahabaladhikrita.
Police department: The police department of Harsha was very efficient. It worked like modern police department. The names of the officers of this department are somewhat similar to the officers of the Gupta period.
Some of the officers of the police department can be mentioned as follows
Intelligence department: There was fine system of spies who turned throughout the state and secretly detected the crimes.
Provincial administration: The Empire of Harsha was divided into several provinces, which were known as 'Bhukti'. These 'Bhuktis' were further divided into visayas i.e. districts and visayas were divided into several 'Pathakas' i.e. tehsils. Village was the smallest unit of administration; the provincial ruler or head of the province was also called something. The 'visaya' was called 'visayapati.' There were Dandika or Jrodvaranika, Dandapasika. etc. to help the rulers of province and district.
Village administration: The head of the village was called 'gramika'. An official called 'Mahattar' was appointed to look after the village. He used to be either some salaried officer or some respectable man. Bana has referred to an officer called 'Agraharika' who probably looked after the lands given in charity. 'Akshapata-lika' was like the modern Patavari. However, 'Gramika' and 'Asthakula adhikari' were the chief officers of the village administration. According to Dr. Basaka 'Asthakuladhikaran' was empowered to inspect as many as eight small departments.
Crime and punishment: Punishment were severe and very strict in Harsha's reign. Like Mauryan period severe punishment were awarded to criminals. As compared to Gupta period there were more cases of crimes. Roads and rivers etc. were not safe to travel. Yuan Chwang himself was robbed twice. Persons who committed crime against the king were sentenced of life imprisonment. According to Hiuen Tsang, "For offences against social morality and disloyal and unofficial conduct, the punishment is to cut off the nose, or an ear or a hand, or a foot or to banish the offender to another country or into the wilderness. Minor offences were dealt with fines. Ordeal by fire, water, weighing were the instruments to determine the innocence or guilt of a person."
Sources of income:
Following were the main sources of income
(1) Udranga i.e. a type of land revenue.
(2) Uparikara i.e. taxes besides the regular fines.
(3) Hirenya i.e. gold, and
Goods of daily requirements were also taxes. Taxes were levied on the sale of the goods. Money was also realized by imposing fines. The ferries and barriers stations were also subject to taxation and fetched a lot of state revenue. The rate of land tax was one-sixth of the total produce. Mines and buried treasures were considered as the property of the king.
Consequently it can be seen that Harsha's reign was significant from the point of view of administration.
(Last Updated on : 08/04/2009)