Short notes on Revenue Administration of Mauryan Period


The administration of revenue involved collection of taxes from various sources-mines, forests (vana) plantations (setu), pastures (vraja), etc. The cities, according to the Arthashastra, collected 21 kinds of taxes.

Tolls, lines, fees, assaying department for measures and weights, police, passports, currency, manufacturers of yarn, oil, ghee and sugar, slaughter­houses, liquor-vends, goldsmiths, warehouses, gam­bling dens, buildings, prostitutes, guilds of carpenters and artisans, and temples were the main sources of revenue in towns.

The chief sources of revenue in provinces were land and agriculture, pastures, traffic in roads and rivers, trade, etc.


The revenue from rural areas came as income from crown lands (sita), land revenue from cultiva­tors, ferry charges, taxes on orchards, etc. Two major sources of revenue from villages were bhaga, the king’s share of the produce of the soil and bali, an additional cess.

The king probably had the right of granting remission of land revenue, for Asoka had reduced the bhaga of Lumbini village to one-eighth. Share-croppers who received state help probably gave half of their produce to the state.

The state also made direct collections-from the gamblers (five per cent of their winnings) and from the merchants when they got their weights assayed. There were many departments to manage the state revenues and regulate them.

The revenue deposited in the king­dom’s treasury was mostly spent on the maintenance of the army, wars, public works, construction, reli­gious donations and gifts, paying officials’ salary, and for the king’s expenses. The samaharta supervised revenue collection from the entire kingdom.


Land revenue provided the essential and major resources for the kingdom.

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