The Administrative System of Chandragupta Maurya was strong and highly systematic. Luckily enough a clear picture of that administration is derived from two most important sources of history, namely, Kautilya’s Arthasastra and the Indika of Megasthenes which has survived in fragments in shape of extracts in the writings of other classical writers.
The king was the highest authority and was assisted by ministers and other state officers. Pataliputra was the capital of Mauryan Empire during the rule of Chandragupta Maurya.
King Chandragupta Maurya lived in pomp and splendor. He was carried in golden palanquins and used richly decorated elephants while going out on hunting. The Palace of Chandragupta Maurya symbolized the wealth and power of his empire.
The central administration of the Mauryas represented a comprehensive system. Evidences show that Chandragupta ruled with the advice of a Council of Ministers or Mantri Parishad.
The central administration was divided into several departments. Kautilya mentions of a large number of departments which looked after such important subjects. The department of finance was given greater attention.
The Mantri Parishad conducted its business in all seriousness. The king and even the provincial viceroys consulted the ministers in matters of administration.
It was the work of the central government to discharge welfare duties for the benefit of the unemployed, widows, destitute and orphans, and even of musicians and dancers. There were elaborate functions for the department of works and construction all over the empire.
The Maurya Empire possessed a large army. In the days of Chandragupta, it contained 6,00,000 infantry, 30,000 horsemen, 36,000 men for elephants, and 24,000 men for chariots. The total number of the fighting force thus came to 6,90,000, besides many thousands of helpers and attendants. The empire required this big army to maintain internal peace and to face external threats.
The army was divided into six departments each under the control one Board. The six departments were (1) The Infantry, (2) The Cavalry, The war-chariots, (4) The War-Elephants, (5) The War-Transport, (6) The Fleet.
The Judicial Administration
Chandragupta Maurya, as the ruler of a great empire, made the administration of justice thorough. The Law was binding on all and carried the fear of punishment for the breakers of Law.
At the top of the judicial system were the king as the highest court of appeal, and the king’s
There were smaller courts of justice right from the village tribunals at the bottom. The village headman and the village elders usually looked into smaller disputes within their local areas.
The extensive Maurya Empire was divided into some big provinces. The administration of the provinces was placed either in hands of governors or the princes of the royal house acting as viceroys.
The Village Administration
The Indian villages from time immemorial managed their internal affairs in a smooth and orderly manner. At the time of Chandragupta the same traditional village system continued. Every village had a headman. He was assisted by the village elders in looking to the disputes among villagers and keeping peace in the village.
Thus that India under Chandragupta Maurya enjoyed a strong and sound administration based on valid principles, systematic organization and the rule of Law. No doubt the king was the chief executive, the supreme law-maker and the fountain of justice, yet he was only the head of a governmental structure which stood on the foundations of ancient traditions and the needs of the time.