History Optional Paper-2 Solution – 2012: Q.4 (a)

History Optional Paper-2 Solution – 2012: Q.4 (a)

Q.4 (a) Examine the role of adhyaksha in the Mauryan administration.


The second book of  Arthashastra i.e. Adyakshaprachara contemplates a ubiquitous bureaucracy which keeps in touch with all sections of the society. These superintendents were called Adhyakshas. 
Adhyakshas composed a highly skilled secretariat, divided into several departments. Some of the Adhyakshas mentioned in the Arthashastra  are:-

(1) Sitadhyaksha – In-charge of agriculture in state-owned lands;

(2) Panyadhyaksha – In-charge of trade, including the price fixation and sale of goods produced by state-run manufacturing units;

(3) Sansthadhyaksha – Superintendent of markets;

(4) Pautavadhyaksha – In-charge of ensuring the use of standardized weights and measures;

(5) Sutradhyaksha – In-charge of state run textile workshops;

(6) Four divisions of army, each under a superintendent:

(a) Infantry under Patyadhyaksha;                                    
(b) Cavalry under Ashvadhyaksha;
(c) Chariots under Rathadhyaksha;
(d)Elephants under Hastyadhyaksha;

(7) Akaradhyaksha- In-charge of mines;

(8) Suvarnaadhyaksha- Gold superintendent;

(9) Akahalapadhyaksha- Accountant general;

(10) Kupyadhyaksha – In-charge of forests;

(11) Lavanadhyaksha – In-charge of salt department;

(12) Suradhyaksha – In-charge of excise collections;

(13) Navadhyaksha  – In-charge of shipping and maritime;

(14) Pattanadhyaksha – In-charge of ports;

(15) Lakshanaadhyaksha – In-charge of mints.

One of the remarkable aspects of the Arthashastra  is its ability to visualize extensive state participation, regulation, and control over every walk of life but it is impossible to think of an ancient state exercising such overarching and complete control over the economy and society.
Though some of the adhyakshas like Sitadhyaksha, Patyadhyaksha, Ashvadhyaksha, Rathadhyaksha, Hastyadhyaksha, Akaradhyaksha etc  may have played important roles in the functioning of the Mauryan administration but the adhyaksha  like Sutradhyaksha  who is In-charge of state run textile workshops where the state is an entrepreneur  may represent a feature of a would be  state imagined by the Arthashatra.

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