2.2.2- Indian Imperial Management

By: Lauren Lucas and Natalie Prisciandaro

The Basic Gist:
The Mauryan and Gupta empires existed from 322 B.C.E. to 185 B.C.E and 320 C.E. to 500 C.E., respectively. These South Asian empires held great influence over surrounding areas, similar to the neighboring Roman Empire, due to their great wealth in a multitude of areas ranging from mathematics and astronomy to religion and philosophy. The Mauryan and Gupta Empires were founded by Chandragupta Maurya and Maharaja Sri-Gupta, respectively.

Gupta Empire; 320 CE - 600 CE
Gupta Empire; 320 CE - 600 CE

Maurya Empire
Maurya Empire

Maurya Empire- 322 B.C.E to 185 B.C.E.
Legal System
  • The Mauryan Empire had an absolute monarchy, which is described in the Arthashastra.
  • Chandragupta Maurya was the founder and first emperor, followed by his son, Bindusara, and followed again by his grandson, Ashoka.
    • 60 years after Ashoka’s death, this great empire began it’s decline
  • The empire was divided into four provinces, with the capital, Pataliputra.
    • Provinces were Tosali in the east, Ujjain in the west, Suvarnagiri in the south, and Taxila in the north.
  • Maurya is described by historians as an extensive bureaucracy with a sophisticated civil service that governed everything from municipal hygiene to international trade.
  • A large standing army allowed for expansion and kept peace within the empire.

Chandragupta Maurya

  • The expansion and defense of Maurya was possible by the largest standing army of its time. According to Megasthenes, a Greek ambassador and historian, the empire wielded a military of 600,000 infantry, 30,000 cavalry, and 9,000 war elephants.
    • A vastspy system collected intelligence for both internal and external security purposes. After renouncing war and expansion, Ashoka nevertheless continued to maintain a large army, to protect the Empire and instill stability and peace across West and South Asia.
  • Emperors Chandragupta and Bindusara expanded empire into central and southern regions of India.
    • Under Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Mauryan Empire, it gained power by taking advantage of the disrupted satraps(provinces) that were abandoned when Alexander the Great’s Greek and Persian armies withdrew.
    • Bindusara, son of Chandragupta is said to have been the one who conquered the whole subcontinent from ocean to ocean, except for the region of Kalinga.
  • By 320 B.C.E. Maurya occupied all of Northwestern India.
  • Maurya reached 5,000,000 sq. km. It was one of the largest empires of its time and largest ever in the Indian subcontinent.
  • Ashoka, grandson of Chandragupta, was a brilliant commander who crushed revolts in Ujjain and Taxila.
    • He then conquered the Kalinga region, but it was a devastating war that negatively affected hundreds of thousands of people.
      • Ashoka felt remorse, and converted to Buddhism, and renounced war and violence from then on.

War Elephants
War Elephants

Imperial Administration
  • The Mauryans also used diplomatic ways to settle territorial problems.
    • In 305 B.C.E., Seleucus I of the Seleucid Empire tried to reconquer northwestern India, but failed. Chandragupta and Seleucus came to a treaty in which the Greeks offered their princess in return for an alliance and help from Maurya.
      • Seleucus received 500 war elephants, which helped him triumph in a battle at Ipsus.
    • Diplomatic relations were established with the other Hellenistic West kingdoms and several Greeks served in the Mauryan Court as ambassadors
  • Mauryans and Greeks also exchanged gifts and presents, like special foods and aphrodisiacs.

Trade and Economic Integration
  • Under Chandragupta and his successors, internal and external trade, agriculture and economic activities, all thrived and expanded across India thanks to the creation of a single and efficient system of finance, administration, and security.
  • The Mauryan Empire was the first civilization in South Asia where political unity allowed for a common economic system and enhanced trade, with increased agricultural productivity.
  • Before this empire, there were hundreds of small kingdoms, and farmers were under tax and crop collections burdens from the regional kings. Farmer were freed of these burdens with a national administered and a strict-but-fair system of taxation.
  • Chandragupta established a single currency, panas, across India, along with regional governors and administrators who kept justice and security for merchants, farmers, and traders.
  • The Mauryan army kept the empire safe by wiping out gangs of bandits, private armies, and private chieftains who tried to get their own power in small areas.
  • Maurya traded with the Greek states in West Asia and into Europe, along through the Malay peninsula into Southeast Asia.
    • Goods exported include silks, textiles, spices, and exotic foods.
  • Trade was further increased by the peace within the empire, roads, waterways, canals, hospitals, rest-houses, and other public works that Ashoka had built.

Gupta Empire- 320 C.E. to 500 C.E:
Legal Systems
  • Hierarchy of administrative divisions from the top down
    Queen Kumaradevi and King Chandragupta depicted on a coin
    Queen Kumaradevi and King Chandragupta depicted on a coin
    • Kings reside over all administration
  • Considered a prosperous period by rulers
  • Mild Penal Code; offenders punished by fines only
  • The empire was divided into several provinces for easier law enforcement and tax assesment
    • Each had viceroys who were appointed from amongst the members of the royal family
    • Sub-divided into a series of district, each with its own administrative centre.
    • Local administration of the district was free to make decisions on governing the area, essentially free from central control, except in matters which may have dealt with central policies.
    • Highest officer in a district was known as the kumaramatya and he was the link between centre and the district.
    • Villages were organized under rural bodies which consisted of the headman and village elders. I
      • The council had several officers like the President of the City corporation, the chief representative of the guild of merchants, a representative of the artisans and the chief scribe.
      • The Gupta system of urban and rural administration was based on encouraging as much local participation
      • The government gained land revenue from from a variety of sources; direct tax on the land and tax on the land’s produce
  • Developed judicial system.
    • Various councils which were authorized to resolve disputes that arose; the village assembly or the trade guild.
    • King presided over the highest court of appeal and he was assisted by various judges, ministers and priests, etc...
    • Judgments were usually made based on legal texts, social customs or specific edicts from the king.

Military Power
  • Well organized and disciplined - commanders like Samudragupta and Chandragupta II combined armed tactics and proper logistical organization in order to be successful as an army
  • The Guptas relied heavily on infantry archers
    Depiction of a Guptan archer
    Depiction of a Guptan archer
    • The bow was one of the dominant weapons of their army
  • Utilized war elephants that provided armour and an element of suprise for the unsuspecting enemy
  • India historically has had a prominent reputation for its steel weapons
    • The steel bow; capable of long range and penetration of exceptionally thick armor. .
  • The Guptas also maintained a navy, allowing them to control nearby bodies of water

Hypothosized depiction of a Gupta dynasty horsemen
Hypothosized depiction of a Gupta dynasty horsemen

  • Strong trade ties allowed their culture to influence other nearby civilizations
    • Spread many intellectual, religious and culutural ideas
      • Mathmatics; the concept of the number zero, the number PI (3.14), and the decimal system
      • Literature; Kalidasa, reguarded as one of the greatest poets and dramatists
      • Medicine; printed many medical guides revealing the use of over 500 plants used for healing and the classifaction of nearly 1000 diseases, also provided evidence of plastic surgery and c-sections being performed by surgeons
      • Astronomoy; solar calendar, belief that the world is round
    • Citizens were free to trade and aspire for greater wealth and business opportunities, unlike many classical civilizations
  • Earned great wealth through trade with the Roman Empire
  • Trade routes and means of transportaion allowed goods to be easily transported throughout the country
    • Used pack animals to travel by road and sailed the Arabian sea, China seas, and the Indian Ocean to trade overseas

International trade routes during the Gupta Empire
International trade routes during the Gupta Empire

Economic Integration
  • Agriculture maintained it’s importance in the economy of the Guptas but progress in industry and trade allowed less dependence on farming
  • Operated without major interference from government and offered money t reasonable rates that helped industry growth
  • Made up of guilds who organized the labor
    • Created set of laws for all guilds to follow, including the government
    • Formed smaller corporation to control individual markets
      • One of the most important industries in the Gupta period was the textile industry; significant domestically and globally
      • Other important industries of the period were ivory work, stone cutting and carving, metal work especially in metals like gold, silver, copper, iron, lead and bronze, the selling of pearls and other precious stones, and different styles of pottery
        Copper sculpture
        Copper sculpture
      • Buddhist Church had a large amount of capital that enabled them to lend money, while gaining interest, and also renting land
  • Used gold as currency

Final Summary
  • In the art of the Gupta and Mauryans, the detailed sculptures and carvings in ivory, stone, and metal greatly influenced South Asia's art and architecture. As for geography, when Alexander the Great's forces pulled out of the Indian area, Maurya took over the land. Also, about 500 years after the Mauryan empire fell, the Guptan Empire gained power in the same area as the Mauryans- the Indian sub-continent. The militaries of both the Gupta and Maurya were strong. The Mauryans army was more harsh and larger, while the Gupta had a navy that could control the waters. The Maurya did not have a navy. Both of these empires had a caste system, but this system did not spread to surrrounding areas. The two empires were both absolute monarchies, with successions of kings who were both just and strict. The religions of both these empires were Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. Buddhism spread throughout India after Ashoka embraced it. Guptas had many innovative inventions and discoveries in science, technology, engineering, art, language, literature, logic, mathematics, astronomy, religion and philosophy. Many of these innovations we still use today. Finally, the economies of these two empires were rich, due to trading with both Europe and all of Asia. The Gupta traded with the Romans, while the Mauryans traded with the Greeks.


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Images and Video:
  1. http://www.google.com/imgres?um=1&hl=en&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-SearchBox&rlz=1I7SKPT_en&tbm=isch&tbnid=D4i-_rG-h6WGbM:&imgrefurl=http://www.craftsinindia.com/arts-and-crafts/copper-sculpture.html&docid=KzCM45Er1UTivM&imgurl=http://www.craftsinindia.com/newcraftsimages/HCW0039BUDHA.jpg&w=300&h=300&ei=QsO9Ts6QO6nq0gHZ4djWBA&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=593&vpy=108&dur=468&hovh=225&hovw=225&tx=124&ty=113&sig=113199638229167678656&page=1&tbnh=126&tbnw=126&start=0&ndsp=16&ved=1t:429,r:3,s:0&biw=1311&bih=497
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  8. http://greatnessaward.wikispaces.com/file/view/Chdnra.jpg