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Administration during the Gupta Empire and Vakatakas

Filed under: History Ancient History Gupta Empire on 2021-07-25 12:42:08
According to inscriptions, the Gupta kings assumed titles like Paramabhattaraka, Maharajadhiraja, Parameshwara, Parama-daivata (the foremost worshipper of gods) and Paramabhagavata (foremost worshipper of Vasudeva Krishna).

# The Gupta Empire was decentralised in nature and contained many feudatories like local kings and smaller chiefs, who ruled over large parts of the empire, as opposed to the Mauryan era where the political authority was vested in the hands of the king.
            -These lesser kings adopted titles like Raja and Maharaja.
            -The kinship was hereditary, but there was no practice of primogeniture i.e, only the eldest son occupying the throne.
            -There was the practice of granting gifts to the Brahmanas who in return expressed gratitude by comparing the king to different gods like Vishnu, Indra and Dhanada.

 # The king maintained a standing army, however, the numerical strength of the Gupta army is not known.
            -The standing army was supplemented by the feudatories’ forces in times of need.
            -The commander-in-chief of the army was known as Mahabaladhikrita.
            -Horse chariots receded into the background and cavalry came to the forefront in this period. The commander of infantry and cavalry was called Bhatashvapati.
# In the case of  Vakatakas, Chhatras referred to irregular troops and Batas denoted regular troops who were responsible for maintaining law and order and also collected revenue.

# Bureaucracy under the Guptas was not as elaborate as that of the Mauryan administration.

# The Kumaramatyas were the most important officers in the Gupta empire. The king appointed them and they were probably paid in cash. All the important functionaries like the mantri and senapati were recruited from this cadre.

# Administrative posts were hereditary and also the same person often held multiple offices. The hereditary nature of the posts led to a weakening of the royal control of the administration.

# During the Gupta period, the empire was divided into provinces called Bhuktis whose heads were called Uparikas.
# Sometimes, crown princes were also made the viceroys of the provinces.
# The provinces were divided into districts called Vishayas, which were placed under the control of Vishyapati.
# In eastern India, the Vishayas were divided into Vithis, which were further divided into villages.
# The village headman (Gramadhyaksha/Gramika) managed the village affairs with the assistance of village elders. The village headman became more important in Gupta times as no transaction could be affected without his consent.

# In the case of  Vakatakas, less information is available regarding their administrative structure. However, it was very similar to the Guptas – the empire was divided into Rashtras or Rajyas which were administered by governors called Rajyadhikritas. The provinces were divided into vishayas which were further divided into aharas and bhogas/bhuktis. The higher official called Sarvadhyaksha presumably appointed subordinate officers known as Kulaputras.

# The judicial system was well developed under the Gupta kings when compared to earlier times. The law books were compiled in this period and it was for the first time that criminal and civil laws were clearly defined and delineated. Theft and adultery came under criminal law and disputes regarding property issues were under civil law. There were also elaborate laws about inheritance. However, like the previous periods, many laws continued to be based on differences in varnas. The highest judicial power was with the king who tried cases with the Brahmana priests’ aid. Mahanadanyala acted as chief justice, Uparikas and Vishyapatis in their respective territorial jurisdiction dispensed the judicial functions. The guilds of artisans and merchants were governed by their own laws.
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