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Policy and Administration

The Mauryan Empire was one of the largest in the whole of the ancient world. It ushered in a centralized form of government. From the Arthashastra Ashokan inscription and from the fragments available from Megasthense's account there have a good idea about the various aspects of administration, economy, society and religion of the people. The king was head of the state. He had judicial, legislative and executive powers. The king issued what was known as sasana or ordinances. The edicts of Ashoka are examples of the sansanas. The king was assisted in administration by a council of ministers (mantriparishad). Besides there were some referred as Adhyakshas (superintendents).

Kautilya refers to a large number of superintendents like those of gold, store houses, commerce, agriculture, ships, cows, horses, chariots, infantry, the city etc. In the Maurya administration there was an officer called yukta who was perhaps the subordinate officer in charge of the revenues of the king.
The rajjukas were officers responsible for land measurement and fixing their boundaries. They were also given power to punish the guilty and set free the innocents. Another officer of the Mauryan Administration was pradeshikas. Some scholars think that he was responsible for the collection of revenue while others think that he was the provincial governor. The Mauryan Empire was divided into provinces. During the reigns of Bindusara, Ashoka was posted at Ujjain as Governor of the Avanti region while his Brother Susima was posted at Taxila as the governor of the north-western provinces. Provinces were subdivided into the district each of these was further divided into groups of the villages and the final unit of administration was the village. The important provinces were directly under kumara (princes). According to the Junagarh rock inscription of Rudradaman, Saurashtra was governed by vaisya Pushyagupta at the time of Chandragupta Maurya and by Yavana-raja Tushaspa at the time of Ashoka both provincial governors.
A group of officials worked in each district. The pradeshika was the head of district administration who toured the entire district every five years to inspect the administration of areas five years to impact the administration of areas under his control. The rajjuka was responsible for surveying and assessing the land, fixing its rent and record keeping besides judicial functions. The duties of yukta largely comprised secretarial work collection and accounting of revenue etc. There were intermediate levels of administration between district and that of village. This unit comprised five to ten or more villages. The village was the smallest unit of administration. The head of the village was called gramika who was assisted in village administration by village elders. It is difficult to say whether the gramika was a paid servant or was elected by the village people. The villages enjoyed considerable autonomy. Most of the disputes of the village were settled by gramika with the help of village assembly. The Arthashastra mentions a wide range of scales in salary, the highest being 48000 panas and the lowest 60 panas.