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Gupta Period – Administrative System

The King

  • During the Gupta age, political hierarchies can be identified by the titles adopted.
  • Kings assumed titles such as maharajadhirajaparama-bhattaraka and parameshvara. They were also connected with gods through epithets such as parama-daivata (the foremost worshipper of the gods) and parama- bhagavata (the foremost worshipper of Vasudeva Krishna).
  • Some historians have suggested that the Gupta Kings claimed divine status. For example, Samudragupta is compared to Purusha (Supreme Being) in the Allahabad inscription. These assertions can be seen as reflections of an attempt to claim divine status by the king.

Ministers and other Officials

  • Seals and inscriptions make a mention of official ranks and designations, whose precise meaning is often uncertain.
  • The term “kumaramatya” occurs in six Vaishali seals, which suggests that this title represented a high-ranking officer associated with an office (adikarana) of his own.
  • The designation “amatya” occurs on several Bita seals, and the “kumaramatya” seems to have been pre-eminent among amatyas and equivalent in status to princes of royal blood. Kumaramatyas were attached to the king, crown prince, revenue department or a province. One of the Vaishali seals refers to a kumaramatya who seems to have been in charge of the maintenance of the sacred coronation tank of the Lichchavis.
  • Individuals holding the ranks of kumaramatya sometimes had additional designations as well, and such ranks were hereditary. For example, Harisena, composer of the Allahabad prashasti (inscriptions of praise), was a Kumaramatya, Sandhivigrahika and Mahadandanayaka, and was the son of Dhruvabhuti, a mahadandanayaka.

Council of Ministers

  • The Gupta king was assisted by a council of mantrins (ministers).
  • The  Allahabad prashasti refers to an assembly or council, presumably of ministers, which was known as the Sabha.
  • The various high-ranking functionaries included the sandhivigrahika or mahasandhivigrahika (minister for peace and war), who seems to have been a high-ranking officer in charge of contact and correspondence with other states, including initiating wars and concluding alliances and treaties.
  • High-ranking officials were called dandanayakas, and mahadandanayakas were high-ranking judicial or military officers.
  • One of the seals mentions a mahadandanayaka named Agnigupta. The Allahabad prashasti refers to three mahadandanayakas. All these suggest that these posts were hereditary by nature.
  • Another person had a designation mahashvapati (commander of the cavalry), indicating military functions.

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