There have been many emperors in the
history of India but few that ruled over such a vast empire as Ashoka's. His empire
extended over a large part of India and Afghanistan and Beluchistan beyond the Northwest
province and Nepal in the North, as well as the Bengal, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and a large
part of Karnataka of today. The inscriptions discovered in these parts prove this.
Though Pataliputra was the capital of the vast empire, for the proper administration of
his empire, Ashoka divided his empire into four provinces. Malava, Punjab, Dakshinapatha
and Kalinga. Ujjain was the capital of Punjab, Taxila of Malava, Suvarnagiri of
Dakshinapatha and Kosala of Kalinga. He appointed a representative in each province. The
representatives were chosen for their ability and not on the basis of birth or high
connections. They enjoyed considerable freedom in the administration of their provinces.
To assist the emperor there was a council of Minsters in the capital. If the emperor
wanted to make changes, he used to consult the Minsters. After the council examined the
pros and cons of a proposal it was implemented. Usually the emperor accepted the decision
of the council of ministers.
Chanakya (kautilya), the Chief Minister of Chandragupta Maurya, has described the daily
life of the kings of that age as follows:
'The king gets up at 3 a.m. And till half past four examines various matters relating
to the empire and takes decisions. He then receives the blessings of teachers and priests.
Then he meets his doctors and the officials of the kitchen. He then goes to the court hall
and considers from 6 a.m. to 7 Am. the revenue and the expenditure of the previous day.
From 7.30 he grants interviews to persons who have come to meet the emperor on urgent
matters, and examines their submissions. He retires to bathe at 9. After bath, prayer
andbreakfast, the emperor meets officers of the empire at 10.30 a.m. and issues
instructions on many matters. All noon he meets the council of ministers and discusses
matters of state. After rest between 1.30 and 3 p.m. he inspects the various divisions of
the army. After this he receives reports from messengers and spies who have come from
different parts of his empire and from other kingdom.'
Ashoka, who continued the ideal and the tradition of his grandfather Chandragupta,
practiced in letter and spirit, the routine set down by Chanakya. Besides, Ashoka believed
that the prosperity of his subjects was his prosperity; so he had appointed officers to
report to him on the welfare and sufferings of the people. They were to report to him no
matter what the hour was. His own order best shows his concern for the people:
"Whether I am dining or in my private apartments, asleep or engaged in some work,
setting out on a journey or resting; wherever I may be and whatever the time of the day or
night the officers must come and report to me about the people and their affairs. Wherever
I may be I shall think about the welfare of the people and work for them." These
words are enough to show Ashoka's devotion to the welfare of his people.