Gupta Empire Administration and Administrative System
The administrative system during the Gupta dynasty reign was similar to that of the Mauryan Empire. The King was that highest authority and possessed wide powers to enable the smooth functioning of the empire. At the time of the Gupta rule, there was political harmony in ancient India.
During the Gupta period, the empire was classified into separate administrative divisions like Rajya, Rashtra, Desha, Mandala, etc. Thus importance was given to decentralization of power. The administrative division helped the rulers to systematically control their territories.
The provinces were divided into numerous districts or Vishayas and a Vishayapati was appointed to control it. The Vishayapatis were generally the members of the royal family. They were assisted in this work by his council of representatives.
During the Gupta dynasty period, the charge of managing the welfare of the villages was upon the rural bodies. These rural bodies comprised of the headman of the village and the elders. The trading cities during this period were organized by the guild merchants. There was thus local participation at all levels of the administration.
Salaries in the Gupta period were paid in form of land grants in lieu of cash. By virtue of such land grants it gave the beneficiary hereditary rights over the land. However, the King had the power to take away the land. The government levied land taxes and excise duties were collected from the subjects. The lands given to the Brahmins had no chargeable tax on them.
The Gupta Empire had a separate judicial system. At the lowest level of the judicial system was the village assembly or trade guild. These were the councils appointed to settle the disputes between the parties that appear before them.
There were separate councils appointed to decide various matters that came before them. Thus, if people could not reach to any amicable settlement, it was resolved by the councils. The King presided over the highest court of appeal. In discharging his duty, the King was assisted by judges, ministers, priests, etc.
The decision or the judgment of the court was based on the legal texts, the social customs prevailing during those times, or upon the decision of the King. It is believed that the punishments awarded to the guilty persons were mild.
The Gupta rulers maintained a standing army and the use of cavalry and horse archery was given importance. During the Gupta period, the territories on the border of the empire were kept under watchful eyes.
Fa- hein was a Chinese traveler who had visited and stayed at the court of the Chandragupta II. During his stay he observed that the kings were tolerant and that under the Gupta’s the empire was flourishing. The Empire carried out trade activities with countries like China, Ceylon, several European countries and the East Indian islands.
The trade and commerce during the Gupta dynasty rule helped the empire become economically strong. This meant that the empire had resources in plenty to invade new areas and expand the territorial boundaries of the empire.