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Mauryan rulers maintained strict vigilance over the administrative machinery

Updated on March 8, 2016



Chanakya was the great adviser and the chief minister of Chandragupta Maurya

In the last quarter of the 4th century BC, the Mauryan dynasty replaced the Nandas. The dynasty was founded by Chandragupta Maurya, a person of humble origin. According to the Buddhist tradition, he belonged to a Kshatriya clan, living in the terai region of the Gorakhpur district. Chandragupta Maurya, thus, did not belong to any famous royal dynasty. Taking advantage of the weakness of the Nandas, he was able to capture the throne of Pataliputra, the capital of the Nandas. He was helped by a Brahmin of Taxila, called Chanakya. Chanakya is also called Kautilya or `the great diplomat'.

Chanakya was the great adviser and the chief minister of Chandragupta Maurya. He was the architect of the Mauryan administration. The Greek writer Justin has referred to the conquest of the whole of North India (expect the North – East) by Chandragupta Maurya.His empire extended upto Saurashtra in the west, beyond the Vindhyas, and included the territory of the modern states of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Karnataka. Towards the close of his regin, there was a great expansion. Chandragupta Maurya defeated Seleucus, the general of Alexander and the master of the regions of Perisa and Afghanistan. Peace was declared and Seleucus ceded the territories west of the Indus, including Balochistan and east Afghanistan. Seleucus also sent his ambassador Megasthenes to the Mauryan court at Pataliputra. Chandragupta Maurya have Seleucus 500 elephants as a mark of friendship.

It is said that Chanakya went to the Nanda court to try his luck, but was insulted the ruler. Thereafter, he took shelter in the Vindhya forests. It is here that the met Chandragupta Maurya. They found a treasure underground and with it, they raised an army to fight the Nandas and were victorious.

It is said that Chandragupta Maurya did not sleep in the same room every day. He had seven bedrooms. At the time of meals, the Emperor would always ask the bearer to taste the different items of the food. It is only after that world he start having his meal.

Ashoka ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from 269to 232BCE.


The Mauryan Empire


The Government of Mauryan Empire


The King was the head of the Judicial administration and his court the final court of appeal

Magadha was directly under the control of the central government. The provincial governors were generally princess of the royal family and were known as Kumaras. Governors who were not princes were known as PrAdeshika - mahamatras.

The princes were further divided into districts and a district consisted of a number of villages. The head of a district was known as Sthanika and the village headman was called gramika.

Chandragupta Maurya maintain a standing army of 6 lakh soldiers. According to Megasthenes, the military administration was entrusted to the war office consisting of 30 members, consisting 6 boards of 5 members each.

The King was the head of the Judicial administration and his court the final court of appeal. An elaborate system of courts functioned under his authority. According to the Arthashastra, justice was administered by two sets of courts known as Dharmasthala and Kantaka Shodhana. The Dharmasthala courts were presided over by Dharmasthala, generally brahmanas learned in law. They decided civil matters like debts, property disputes, etc. The Kantaka Shodhana courts are presided over by royal officials and dealt with criminal offences. At the village level, petty disputes were decided by village elders. Special judges were appointed for the trail foreigners. Severe punishment was given even for minor crimes so as to create fear in the minds of the people. The arthashastra mentioned numerous techniques of inflicting punishment from amputation of limbs to torture and death by various means.

The Mauryan rulers maintained strict vigilance over the administrative machinery. Both Megasthenes and Chanakya mention the existence of an elaborate system of spies. There were two types (detectives) – Stationary spies and wandering spies. The spies kept emperor informed about the activities of the officials from the lowest to the highest level. Corrupt officials were given severe punishment for negligence in the discharge of their duties. Spies also reported on any public dissatisfaction against the policies of the government. Hey were also sent in disguise to neighbouring states. They reported on the weaknesses of the government of those territories and spread dissatisfaction among the subjects of enemy kings.


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    • 10000001 profile image

      madugundu krishna 2 years ago from Yemmiganur

      thanks for reading.

    • RJ Schwartz profile image

      Ralph Schwartz 2 years ago from Idaho Falls, Idaho

      Your hubs contains lots of interesting facts - I think readers would like to see some of those expand upon or explained more.