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:
(5) Vaiśālī-vāma-kuṇḍē Kumārāmāty-ādhikaraṇa5
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
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.