Changes in Administrative Strategy and Set-up under Asoka


The earlier pattern of centralised monarchy was retained but Asoka, it is noted by scholars, was an absolute monarch.

The role and importance of the council of ministers or mantriparishad was reduced (probably regarded only as an advisory body under Asoka).

Officers of different nomenclatures were appointed like the various grades of mahamattas, there being Dhamma mahamattas, anta mahamattas, ithijhaka mahamattas, etc.


The mahamattas, yuktas and rajukas were to tour their administrative areas to see if the subordinate officials were discharging their duties properly. They informed the king about the condition of the people. The rajukas were given judicial powers.

The execution of death penalty was to be after three days of the judgement. The prisoners were granted amnesty on some fixed days.

The general duties of the king towards his subjects with respect to moral and material progress were ex­tended. For instance, the king took a greater and more direct interest in public welfare works.

The rajukas and pradesikas to register decisions taken. All these officials, intended for public relations work, were also required to prevent arbitrary punishme and miscarriage of justice, initiate public works and propagate Dhamma.


The villages, said to be semi-autonomous, were supervised by the gramani, an official of the central administration.

The gopa, in charge of five to ten villages, had functions such as maintaining land records and village boundaries, registration of gifts, sales and mortgages, recording income and expen­diture of the people, and registering births and deaths.

The sthanikas, charged with similar duties including collection of taxes, were responsible to the samaharta who commanded the services for local administration.

The grama vriddhas (village elders) assisted central officials in solving village disputes and guiding the people.


The military, the revenue administration, the dispensation of justice and punishment, the espio­nage network and the public works were under the central administration.

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