(Last Updated on : 20/10/2011)
Bureaucracy in Mauryan administration is analogous to a modern administration manual. An all pervading bureaucracy keeping in touch with all phases of economic and social life was witnessed in the Mauryan administration. It commands a collection of accurate and detailed information on human and material resources of the country.
was aided by models set by the empire of the Achaemenid. Mauryan administration was subject to constant change under new situations and problems. King Ashoka
introduced changes into the system. The central machinery of administration envisaged in the Arthashastra
represents the condition towards the close of Chandragupta's reign.
The collector general or Samaharta supervised the business of collecting revenue from the whole kingdom. He had to pay attention to all fortified towns, provinces, mines, gardens, forests, quadrupeds and trade-routes which were the chief sources of income. Tolls, fines, fees for assaying weights and measures, police, currency, pass-ports, liquor, slaughter-houses, the manufacture of yarn, oil, ghee and sugar, goldsmiths, warehouses, prostitutes, gambling, buildings, guilds of carpenters and artisans, temples, and dues collected at the entrance from troupes of performers constituted the chief source of revenue. As far as provinces are concerned the sources of income were land and agriculture, trade, ferries, traffic in rivers and roads, pastures and so on.
The collector controlled the expenditure as well. The chief items of expenditure were religious worship and gifts ; the royal family and the royal kitchen ; embassies, warehouses, armouries, factories and free labour, infantry, cavalry and elephant corps of the army ; cattle-farms and menageries, and storage of fodder and fire-wood.
The duties of Sannidhata included charge of the construction of treasuries and warehouses of suitable strength and proportions wherever they were required. He was the custodian of realised revenue in cash and kind. He cut forged coins and received only good quality articles. He was responsible for the construction of royal trading-houses, armoury, jails, courts of justice and offices of ministers and secretaries. These buildings were to be equipped with wells, privies, bathrooms, fire-fighting appliances and other accessories. The accounts branch of the government had an elaborate organization. The account year ran from July-August. Expenditure was classified into current, recurrent, occasional and so on. There were several prescribed registers calculated to facilitate checking and detailed instructions were laid down for the detection of misappropriation. Evasion of detection by clever officials was regarded as always possible and frequent transfers were done preventing them from eating into the material of the state.
The central accounts office was the general record office or akshapatala. The chapters of the Arthashastra dealt with the duties of superintendents or adhyakshas. These superintendents are analogous to departmental heads of today. They function under the supervision of a minister who had charge of a group of allied departments. Their duties consisted of the exploitation of property as well as the regulation and control of the economic and social life of the community. The departments as mentioned in Arthasastra, are: Treasury, Mines, Metals, Mint, Salt, Gold, Storehouses, Trade, Forest produce, Armoury, Weights and Measures, Measurement of space and time, Tolls, Spinning and weaving, Agriculture, Intoxicating liquor, Slaughter houses, Courtesans, Shipping, Cattle, Horses, Elephants, Chariots, Infantry, Passports, Pastures, Elephant-forests, Spies, Religious Institutions, Gambling, Jails, and Ports.
A government which undertook delicate tasks must have displayed energy in administration that was altogether new in India. Arthashastra systematized and amplified administrative duties which had been accepted in principle by earlier Indian writers.