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Economic Activities


The Mauryan state concerned machinery which governed vast areas directly and to enforce the rules and regulations in respect of agriculture, industry, commerce, animal husbandry etc. The measures taken by the Maurya state for the promotion of the economy gave great impetus to economic development during the period. The vastness of India's agricultural and mineral resources and the extraordinary skill of her craftsmen have been mentioned by Megasthenes and other Greek writers. The large part of the population was agriculturists and lived in villages. New areas were brought under cultivation after cleaning the forest. People were encouraged to settle down in new areas.
chief of the guild was called jesthaka. The guilds settled the disputes of their members. A few guilds issued their own coins.


Among the crops rice of different varieties, coarse grains, sesame, pepper, pulses, wheat, linseed, mustard, vegetable and fruits of various kinds and sugarcane were grown. The state also owned agricultural farms, cattle farms and dairy farms etc. Irrigation was given due importance. Water reservoirs and dams were built and water for irrigation was distributed. The famous inscription of Rudradaman found at Junagarh mention that one of Chandragupta's governors, Pushyagupta was responsible for building a dam on Sudarshana Lake near Girnar in Kathiawad. From an inscription of Skandagupta it has been known that this dam was repaired during his reign almost 800 years after it was built. Industry was organized in various guilds.
The chief industries were textile, mining and metallurgy, ship building, jewellery making, metal working etc. The trade was regulated by the state. India supplied to other states indigo, cotton and silk and medicinal items. Provisions of warehouses, godowns and transport arrangements were also made. Foreign trade was carried on by land as well as by sea. Special arrangements were made for the protection of trade routes. The state controlled and regulated the weights and measures. The artisans and craftsmen were specially protected by the state and offences against them were severely punished. The guilds were powerful institutions. It gave craftsmen great economic, political and judicial powers and protection.


The Sanchi Stupa inscription mentions that one of the carved gateways was donated by the guilds of ivory workers. Similary the Nasik cave inscription mentions that two weaver's guilds gave permanent endowments for the maintenance of a temple. Kautilya says a full treasury is a guarantee of the prosperity of the state and it is the most important duty of the king to keep the treasury full at all the times for all works. During the Mauryan period taxes were levied both in cash and in kind and were collected by local officers. The chief source of revenue was land tax and tax levied on trade etc. The land tax was 1/4th to 1/6th of the produce. Toll tax was levied on all times which were brought for sale in the market. Tax was also levied on the manufactured goods. Those who could not pay the tax in cash or kind were to contribute their dues in the form of labor. Strabo mentions that craftsmen, herdsmen, traders, farmers all paid taxes. The Arthashastra describes revenues at great length. This was further augmented by income from mines, forests, pasture lands, trade and forts etc. Brahmans, children and handicapped people were exempted from paying taxes. Also no tax was levied in areas where new trade routes or new irrigation projects or new agricultural land were being developed. Tax evasion was considered a very serious crime and offenders were severely punished.