Emperor Samudragupta was a brave warrior, a master strategist, as well as a superior and adept ruler as well. He returned all kingdoms under the regions he conquered to their respective vassal kings with honour, albeit on one condition that they accept his sovereignty. Samudragupta had deputed an envoy each to the courts of every vassal king. Similarly, Samudragupta’s court also had a representative from each vassal king. Samudragupta’s officials would levy an annual tax depending upon the condition of each vassal state. Thus, even if the tax collection was lower due to drought, heavy rains, or other crises, the vassal states and their kings never had to endure any undue burden. Moreover, Samudragupta would generously extend a helping hand to these states in their difficult times. For this reason, the vast empire of Samudragupta could last for a long time.
Samudragupta had set up a separate mechanism for the exploration of metals and mineral reserves in his empire and for the development of mines. This enabled the discovery of hitherto unknown underground resources.
Another commendable endeavour of Samudragupta was to confer official government recognition to trade. Entries of all the traders and their entourage travelling through various regions or by sea were officially registered at the royal court. The regime was responsible for safeguarding such registered traders. In accordance with the rules laid down by Samudragupta, if any of the traders were looted in a particular region, they had to be compensated by the vassal kings of that region. It kept the vassal kings and their officials constantly vigilant and the traders relaxed. This arrangement promoted growth in trade and always kept Samudragupta’s coffers filled.
In order to manage the extensive empire and the massive national and international trade, Samudragupta recognized the need for a powerful and effective intelligence network. Accordingly, he established a very comprehensive intelligence system.
Samudragupta’s chief queen Dattadevi herself headed this intelligence set up. Dattadevi was considered an expert at Kautilya’s doctrine. Dattadevi had built her network all over Bhārat, in the vassal states outside Bhārat and all the countries outside the empire where the traders travelled. She had divided the empire into six provinces. 1) From Madhya Pradesh to the Himalayas was called the Uttarakhand. 2) Gujarat and Rajasthan having Saka-Kshatrapa states formed the Paschimkhand. 3) All the eastern republics made the Purvakhand. 4) The Kingdom of Kushans comprised the Kushankhand. 5) A total of 12 states in the south formed the Dakshinkhand and 6) All the states beyond the Himalayas formed the Sindhukhand. She had deployed three officials to each of these provinces and only they were allowed to meet her. However, these three officials did not know each other, so it naturally became easier to validate the credibility of the information. Under the supervision of Bhadrakumari, who was Dattadevi’s chief maid and secretary, a network of courtesans (artistes) was formed. The courtesans were imparted excellent training in their respective skills (singing, playing instruments, dancing, cosmetics). Also, they were groomed politically. Dattadevi herself selected a few eminent and talented women from amongst these trainees and, by using them, executed major happenings in other states. Legend has it that in the capital and all the places Samudragupta visited, Dattadevi had placed Samudragupta’s body doubles, i.e., men who looked and conducted precisely like him, as a result of which all attempts to assassinate Samudragupta were in vain. Dattadevi had once made her own mannequin, which looked so real that even Samudragupta himself had no exact idea until he touched it. Such mannequins must have been used to conceal the whereabouts of the royals.
Another trait of Dattadevi was that she was a very skilled gemologist and an expert in Ayurveda. It is believed that Samudragupta’s treasury was stored in a total of nine places, of which only two places were used for day-to-day affairs. These two treasuries contained gold and silver coins and gold bars, while the other seven contained stockpiles of diamonds and gems. As per the order, the other seven treasuries were used only in case the first two were depleted. Each section was as huge as twenty-five thousand square feet and if measured by today’s scale, one can figure out how abundantly wealthy Bhārat was. Evaluation and gradation of all these diamonds and gems in the treasury were carried out under the supervision and control of Dattadevi.
Where then did all these riches vanish?
(To be continued….)
Courtesy : Dainik Pratyaksha
This editorial was originally published in Marathi and has now been translated and republished in English.
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