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Friday, May 18, 2012


 

North Indian Inscriptions


 

THE GUPTA SYSTEM OF ADMINISTRATION

THE Mauryan hierarchy of officials, if the Arthaśāstra Kauṭalya is to be our guide on this point, had been almost completely changed and replaced by a new type of bureaucracy in the Gupta period with a correspondingly new set of official terms and designations. Some glimpses into an Adhyaksha-prachāra of this age afforded by the seals picked up during the excavations at Basāḍh, the ancient Vaiśālī. The most important of the offices, official designations, etc., mentioned in the legends of these seals may be brought to a focus here. Of these, we may consider the following first:

        (1) Śrī-Paramabhaṭṭārakapādīya-Kumārāmāty-ādhikaraṇa1
        (2) Śrī-Yuvarājabhaṭṭārakapādīya-Kumārāmāty-ādhikaraṇa2
        (3) Yuvarājapādīya-Kumārāmāty-ādhikaraṇa3
        (4) Tira-Kumārāmāty-ādhikaraṇa4
        (5) Vaiśālī-vāma-kuṇḍē Kumārāmāty-ādhikaraṇa5
        (6) Kumārāmāty-ādhikaraṇa6

        It will be seen that these six seal legends are connected with the officer designated Kumārāmātya, who, it seems, may be attached to the king, crown-prince or Revenue Division or any region. Kumārāmātya thus seems to have been a big officer,–an inference confirmed by the fact that he had an adhikaraṇa or office of his own, wheresoever he was posted. But what is meant by Kumārāmātya ? The late K.P. Jayaswal7 has, in this connection, drawn our attention to a passage occurring in Act II of Bhāsa’s Pratijñā-Yaugandharāyaṇa. When Śālaṅkāyana, minister to king Pradyōta Mahāsēna, having captured Udayana, ruler of Kauśāmbī, brings him to the gate of Ujjayinī and the news is announced to Mahāsēna, the latter instructs the Kāñchukīya or Chamberlain: Gachchha, Bharatarōhakaṁ brūhi: “Kumāra-vidhi-viśishṭēna satkārēṇa Vatsarājam=agrataḥ kṛitvā pravēśyatām=amātya iti”8, “Go and tell Bharatarōhaka to receive the minister (amātya) with the honours due to a prince and bring him in with the Vatsa king.”9 It is thus quite clear from the above passage that Kumārāmātya is not an ordinary amātya but an amātya who is entitled in court etiquette to the honour and dignity of Kumāra or prince of the royal blood. This designation distinguishes him from an ordinary amātya or minister on the one hand and from a Kumāra or Prince on the other. That there were officers called simply Amātya is known from many seals found at Bhīṭā.10 But Kumārāmātya was an amātya par excellence and could therefore be attached to the king or the crown-prince and consequently designated as Paramabhaṭṭārakapādīya-Kumārāmātya and Yuvarājapādīya-Kumārāmātya or Yuvarāja-bhaṭṭārakapādīya-Kumārāmātya. Or he may be attached to some nondescript but important office designated e.g., as Vaiśālī-vāma-kuṇḍē Kumārāmāty-ādhikaraṇa on a seal picked up by the late D. B. Spooner during his excavations at Basāḍh in 1913-14. Spooner reads Vēśālī-nāma- kuṇḍē, but the reading is clearly Vaiśālī-vāma-kuṇḍē. The legend has therefore to be translated as “the Office of Kumārāmātya at the beautiful water spring of Vaiśālī.” What could this water spring be ? Vaiśālī, we know, was the capital of the Lichchhavi Gaṇa or tribal oligarchy, every member of which was called a king. “As kings they were entitled to coronation. We
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1 A.R. ASI., 1903-04, p. 108, No. 8.
2 Ibid., Nos. 6 and 11.
3 Ibid., No. 4.
4 Ibid., p. 109, No. 22.
5 Ibid., 1913-14, p. 134, No. 200.
6 Ibid., 1903-04, p. 107, No. 3.
7 JBORS., Vol. XVII, p. 399.
8 Trivandrum Sanskrit Series, No. 16, p. 33.
9 Punjab Univ. Ori. Pub., No. 13, p. 20.
10 A. R. ASI., 1911-12, pp. 53-54.


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