Short notes on Land System and Revenue of Mauryan Economy

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There was no single type of land ownership. In some parts of the empire, the gana sangha system with communal ownership of land continued. State-owned lands were called sita lands.

There were also private owners of land who were required to pay taxes to the king. A section of the Arthashastra refers to the sale of land. This category of land was auctioned. Village pastures were apparently held by the entire community.

The officer responsible for the assessment of land revenue was the samaharta, while the sannidhata was the chief custodian of the state treasury. As part of the revenue collected was in kind, the sannidhata was also responsible far providing storage facilities.

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Bhaga or land tax was the main item of revenue and one-fourth to one-sixth of the produce was paid as tax by the peasants. Share-cropping was another way by which the state collected agricultural tax.

The share-croppers were provided with seeds, oxen etc. and arable land for cultivation and probably gave half the produce to the state.

There were also a large number of customary dues to be paid. Husbandsmen paid a tax called pindakara. There was another tax called Hiranya probably paid in cash because Hiranya literally means gold.

Bali, the traditional levy from Vedic times, continued under the Mauryas. Kautilya mentions another tax called pranaya, literally meaning gift of affection.

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This was supposed to be levied in times of emergency and amounted to one-third or one- fourth of the produce according to the nature of the soil. Further, in times of emergency, cultivators could be forced to raise two crops.

Land revenue was of two kinds, rent for the use of land and assessment on the produce. The assessĀ­ment varied from region to region and, according to the fertility of the land, ranged from one-sixth to a quarter of the produce.

Assessment was on the basis of individual pieces of land and not for the village as a whole. The shepherds and livestock breeders were taxed according to the number of the animals and their produce of milk, etc.

Kautilya classifies some villages as revenue-free as they paid revenue in the form of military service, grain, cattle, forest produce, or labour.

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