It is no new news to people familiar with Indian History that the Mauryan timeline was one of the most advanced and sophisticated in the Before Christ Era. The Mauryan timeline only stretches for a little less than 150 years (322 BCE -185 BCE), but it can be said that it was the most advanced 150 years or so seen in Indian History.
The Mauryan Dynasty was ruled by three notable Kings. Chandragupta Maurya, his son Bindusara and Â grandson Ashoka can be considered the three noteworthy kings of the Mauryan Dynasty. It was Chandragupta that overthrew the Nanda Dynasty and established the Mauryan Empire, and it was after Ashokaâ€™s end that the Mauryan dynasty slowly crumbled. But during the time of these kings there were some lifestyle and tradition schemes followed, which have a striking resemblance to India in the 21st century.
The royal family followed the Arthasashtra strictly. It was a book which written by the famous Acharya Chanakya, which contained all the requisite rules, regulations regarding how the empire should be governed. It can be considered as the first book on Economy and Political Science. Everything that happened in the Mauryan Empire was recorded by the Greek ambassador Megasthenes which gives a solid testimony to these facts.
When we think of a kingdom with a king and a few ministers in a time from 300 BCE, we stereotype them with a lot of limitations. We tend to think that they might be somewhat backward in matters of the state because communication and administration can be huge concerns in a cities that stretched up to 18 square miles.
But the truth is that the Mauryan dynasty was quiet well organized. It was divided into five provinces and each province was further divided into districts and villages. While each province was monitored by a royal heir, his subordinates were leaders from the district appointed by the king. AdministrationÂ and justice were swift matters and the lack of telephones was not even felt due to clear cut planning.
Tax and Census
Even back in BCE people had to pay taxes. But not the cut throat taxes we pay these days. A â€˜Nagarikaâ€™ was appointed by the administration who kept track of everything. The population, number of family members, occupation, trading activities and almost everything was kept track of, and tax was levied in a just way according to the data collected.
The best part of the Mauryan taxes was that it was not levied to make the poor poorer or the rich richer. It was only done to promote trade. Taxes were levied from shopkeepers to build amenities and even roads. Import and export taxes were kept to bare minimums to ensure that trade flourished.
Crimes and Judiciary
Much like the present day, the Mauryan dynasty also had two classes of courts. The civil court was called Dharmastheya and the criminal court was called Kantakashodhana. The King was however the supreme judge and his words were regarded final. King Asokaâ€™s reign was noted for giving out the highest number of death sentences. But Asoka however gave criminals time to repent by giving convicts to work in interests of the capital.
The Mauryan dynasty did have a set of well defined driving rules. Though they were not equipped with super cars or bikes, they still did everything they could to ensure road safety. Bullock carts were the dominant mode of transport at that time and there were rules for driving such as:
- Reckless driving was a punishable offence.
- Bullock carts wasn’t to be moved without the presence of the driver
- Accidents were looked upon seriously. If the reason was something out of the hands of the driver such as the nose string breaking or the bull going wild, he was excused. Otherwise the driver was punished!
The Mauryan Empire did have a caste system but it was not the conventional caste system we are used to. People were divided into different classes based on their profession rather than their birth. The Mauryan dynasty had seven classes in total.
- Philosophers (Brahmins)
Superior status for women
Though polygamy was something practiced by the royals at that time, women were very much respected. Crimes against women were a serious offence and the offender was punished immediately. Women were given equal status on par with men men. The King had Women Â Cooks instead of men as the Royal family was a little paranoid of conspiracies! It was after all by a conspiracy that Chandragupta Maurya overthrew the Nandas to establish the Mauryan Empire. Of course, the Nanda Dynasty was cruel and corrupt and Chandragupta Maurya established an empire which was just, liberal and noble.
Though the Mauryan Dynasty was from the BCE times when slavery was a common practice, it was not practiced in the Empire. People were given the freedom to choose service and were called Dasas. Dasas had the freedom to leave service and were never looked down upon in the community.