Indian History
General Knowledge

Society & Economy of Mauryan

Society & Economy of Mauryan


» The state controlled almost all economic activities.
» Tax collected from peasants varied from 1 /4 to 1/6 of the produce.
» The state also provided irrigation facilities (Setubandha) and charged water- tax.
» Tolls were also levied on commodities brought to town for sale and they were collected at gate.
» The state enjoyed monopoly in mining, forest, salt, sale of liquor, manufacture of arms etc.
» Sohgaura (Gorakhpur district, U.P.) copper plate inscription and Mahasthana (Bogara district, Bangladesh) inscription deal with the relief measures to be adopted during a famine.
» Important ports: Bharukachch / Bharoch and Supara (Western coast), Tamralipti in Bengal (Eastern coast).
» During Mauryan period, the punch-marked coins (mostly of silver) were the common units of transactions.


» Kautilya/Chanakya/Vishnugupta is not as rigid on the Varna system as the earlier Smriti writers.
» Kautilya's 'Arthashastra' looked upon the Shudras as an Aryan community which is distinguished from Malechha or non-Aryan community.
» Reduction of gap between the Vaishyas (most of whom were now concentrating on trade though others continued cultivation) and the Shudras (quite a few of whom were now agriculturists and others being artisans).
» Magasthenese states that Indian society was divided into 7 classes :
1. Philosophers
2. Farmers
3. Soldiers
4. Herdsmen
5. Artisans
6. Magistrates
7. Councilors
The 'classes' mentioned above appear to have been economic than social.

» Though Megasthenese stated that there were no slavery in India; yet, according to Indian sources, slavery was a recognised institution during Mauryan reign. It appears that Megasthenese was thinking of slavery in full legal sense as it existed in the West.
» Women occupied a high position and freedom in the Mauryan society. According to Kautilya, women were permitted to have a divorce or remarry. Women were employed as personal body-guards of the king, spies and in other diverse jobs.