Both Chandragupta and Asoka evinced keen interest in public works. For instance, there were medicine men of various types like ordinary physicians (chikitsakah), midwives (garbhavyadhi), etc.

The in­scriptions of Asoka state that medicines and medical help were provided to men and animals. Help was provided to people in times of floods, famines and other natural disasters.

The king, in Arthashastra, was expected to look after orphans. The Asokan edicts state that the king ordered the planting of trees to provide shade, digging of wells to quench thirst, building of rest houses to offer shelter, and such other welfare activities to help his subjects.

Irrigation measures undertaken by the Mauryans included digging of canals and ponds, and construc­tion of dams. The people were encouraged to repair dams on their own though with remissions in land revenue as incentives.


A reservoir (tadaga) was probably built during Chandragupta’s time as indi­cated by an inscription by Rudradaman (mid-second century ad).

The efficiency of the Mauryan administration had much to do with the espionage system it established.

The Arthashastra refers to a well-knit network of spies. Spies were kept by the king as well as his important officials.

The main tasks of the spies, who probably kept a watch on chief officials as well as the people at large, included reporting on officials, getting secret information on foreign rulers (they were deputed to foreign parts also) and gauging the responses and feelings of citizens towards the king­dom.


There were overseers or inspectors charged with the task of gathering intelligence for the king.

The spies, it appears, adopted disguises as students, etc., to get information and often sought the help of the common people. They reported directly to the king at times.

The espionage department worked under Makamatyapasurpa. There were two types of spies: sanstha and sanchara. Spies belonging to the sanstha category worked in a fixed area.

These spies were known as grihapatika, vaidehika, tapasha, udasthUi and karyatika. The sanchara spies worked in disguise. Male spies were known as santi, tishna and sarad, while female spies were called vrtshali, bhikshuki and parivarjaki.


According to both Megasthenes and Kautilya, next to the army the spies were the chief support of the king.