Administration under the Guptas

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Guptas | Administration | Hinduism | Sanskrit | Higher Education | Art & Architecture | Science | Vakatakas

In the Ganges valley, which was under the direct control of the Guptas, the administrative hierarchy was superficially akin to that of the Mauryas. The king was the centre of the administration, helped by the crown prince. The other princes were appointed as viceroys of provinces. Ministers of various kinds and advisers assisted the king.

The province (desha or bhakti) was divided into a number of districts (pradesha or vishaya), each district having its own administrative offices. But local administration was for all practical purposes independent of the centre. Decisions whether of policy or in relation to individual situations were generally taken locally, unless they had a specific bearing on the policy or orders of the central authority. The officers in charge of the districts (ayukta) and a Yet higher provincial official (with the title of kumaramatya) were the link between local administration and the centre. This was the significant difference between the Mauryan administration and that of the Gu,ptas : whereas Ashoka insisted that he must know of the doings of even the smaller officials in the districts, the Guptas were satisfied with leaving it to the kumararnatyas and the ayuktas.

Villages came under the control of rural bodies consisting of the headman and the village elders. The tendency was to introduce administration which was representative of local interests rather than an officially inspired system. Similarly, in urban administration each city had a council which consisted of the President of the City -corporation, the chief representative of the Guild of Merchants, a representative of the artisans, and the chief Scribe. These may have been duplicated in each ward of the city. Again, the difference between the council and the Committee described by Megasthenes and Kautalya is that the Mauryan government appointed the Committees, whereas in the Gupta system the council consisted of local representatives, on which, interestingly enough, commercial interests predominated.

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