The two hundred years of Gupta rule may be said to mark the climax of Hindu imperial tradition. From the point of view of literature, religion, art, architecture, commerce and colonial development, this period is undoubtedly the most important in Indian history. The Guptas inherited the administrative system of the earlier empires. The Mauryan bureaucracy, already converted into a caste, had functioned with impartial loyalty under succeeding empires. Under the Guptas we have direct allusions to viceroys, governors, administrators of provinces, and of course to ministers of the imperial government. The Mahamatras or provincial viceroys go back to the Mauryan period and continue, in fact, up to the twelfth century as the highest ranks in official bureaucracy. The position of Kumaramatyas, of whom many are mentioned, is not clear as we know of them in posts of varying importance. The gramikas or the village headmen formed the lowest rung in the ladder. Uparikas or governors were also appointed to provinces. In the Damodarpur plates we have mention of an uparika named Arata Datta who was governing like police chiefs, controller of military stores, chief justice (Mahadanda Nayak) leave no doubt about the existence of an organized hierarchy of officials exercising imperial authority in different parts of the country.
1. Monarchs took high sounding titles - Supreme Lord and Great King of Kings - the empire had a philosophy called imperialism but unfortunately it only touched the social and cultural fields it had no political objectives.
2. King was at the apex - princes often Viceroys. Queens were learned. Kumaradevi of Chandragupta I and Dhruvadevi of Chandragupta II appear o the coins.
3. Council of Ministers were often hereditary - Harisena and saba of Chandragupta II were military generals. Very often, ministers combined many offices - some ministers accompanied the king to the battles. Chief Ministers headed the Ministry.
4. Central Government - each department had its own seal - number of Mahasenapatis to watch over feudatories - foreign ministers like Sandhi proably supervised the foreign policy towards the feudastory states.
The whole organization was bureaucratic as in the case of Mauryas. To some extent, the adminstration mellowed with the Guptas - Police regulations were less severe - capital punishments rare. Glowing tributes were paid to the Gupta administration by Fahien. There was no needless intereference of the government in the lives of people. It was temperate in the repression of crime and tolerant in matters of religion. Fahien could claim that he pursued his studies in peace wherever he chose to reside.
Provincial administration - known as Bhuktis or Deshes. Officers very often of royal blood - maintained law and order and protected people against external aggression - also looked after public utility services.
Bhuktis were divided into groups of districts called Pradeshes. Pradeshas were divided into Vishyas or districts. The head of the districts was Vishayapati. Probably the provincial head was assisted by various officials.
Damdoar plate inscription mentions number of functionaries - chief banker, Chief Merchants, Chief Artisan, Chief of the writer class etc. Whether they formed part of the non-official council of the districts or were elected is not known.
Districts divided into number of villages - villages being the last unit. Villages looked after houses, streets, tmples banks etc. - each village had its own weavers, black-smits and gold-smiths, carpentaers etc.
Village headmen known as gramike was assisted by a council called Panchamandali. Each village had its own seal.
Towns looked after by Purapalas - town councils.
A very revealing feature of the administration was the payment of grants in land instead of salaries. Only personnel of the military service were paid cash salaries. The grants in land were of two kinds. The agrahara grant was only to brahmins and it was tax-free. The second variety of land grant was given to secular officials either as salary or as reward for services. Both these practices were widely used as the time passed by. These grants definitely weakened the authority of the king. Although technically the king could cancel the grants, he could not do so as the time passed by.
11. Not enough evidence on taxation. Officials on tour were provided free rice, curd, milk, flowers, transport, etc. Perhaps they were like modern day officials at the districts level, Local people paid the expenses for apprehending criminals. 12. Three varieties of land - waste land belonging to State which was donated very often. The crown land war rarely donated. The third was the private land. Land revenue and various taxes from the land and from various categories of produce at various stages of production. 13. Administration was highly decentralized - police, control of military stores, chief justice, etc. Probably, recruitment ceased to be based on merit. 14. Parallelism of power - highest concentration and extensive decentralization. Such an administration required a good standing army and complicated system of checks and counter-checks.