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Day 17 – Q 4.What do ancient texts and scriptures have to tell about administration? Do you find the reference to morality in these texts? Comment.

4. What do ancient texts and scriptures have to tell about administration? Do you find the reference to morality in these texts? Comment. 

प्राचीन ग्रंथों और शास्त्रों में प्रशासन के बारे में क्या बताया गया है? क्या आप इन ग्रंथों में नैतिकता का संदर्भ पाते हैं? टिप्पणी करें।


Morality refers to the system of values and principles of conduct that help a person differentiate between right and wrong. India has a rich tradition of literature that deals with a wide range of subjects from administration, religion to daily activities.


References for administration can be found in Atharva Veda, epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana, Silapaddikaran, Arthashastra and Manusmriti. The most details account, however, is from Arthashastra.

These texts tell the following about administration:

  • Emphasis on duties- Text like Mahabharata lists duties of king, ministers and people.
  • System of administration- Even though a monarchy, a well-defined administrative structure with delineation of duties for priests, treasurers, spies, etc. was maintained.
  • Decentralisation- Village sabhas and samitis were the base of administration.
  • Function of state- Primary function of state was to maintain law and order, punishing wrongdoers and protecting subjects.
  • Criminal justice system- Corruption, theft or other criminal acts were severely punished.

References to morality

  • Justice- King is called the fountain of justice, who ensures justice to everyone owing to his wisdom. Good governance was conceptualized as ‘Ram Rajya’.
  • Integrity- Arthashastra talks about how carefully every officer was selected so as to ensure there is no corruption.
  • Freedom- Decentralisation, role of state as a protector of subjects hints about the freedom people used to enjoy.
  • Compassion- Kautilya in Arthashastra urged the rulers to remain compassionate to their subjects.
  • Objectivity- All major decisions like public appointments, awarding contracts etc. were taken based on merit.
  • Accountability- The owners of public office were held accountable fro their actions, though being a monarchy the system was different than what we see today.


Ancient treatises based administration on morality. Every action was judged through the prism of good or bad, thus ensuring good governance and welfare of the public.

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