In Ancient India, the knowledge was divided into four heads for study, namely, Philosophy, the Vedas, Economics, and Politics.
Sources to Understand the Public Administration System of Ancient India
The sources of information regarding the systems of administration which prevailed in India in the
ancient times and the political ideas and ideals which moulded and shaped those systems, are: the Vedas, the Epics, the Smritis, the Puranas, the religious books of the Buddhists and the Jainas, dramatic literature, accounts of foreign travellers, epigraphic records, and lastly, a few treatises which deal specially with Politics. Arthashastra by Kautilya is an important treatise dealing with politics and economics of state/kingdom.
The Rajatarangini of Kalhana, about the Kings of Kashmir, is conforms more history. Much light is
also thrown on the political condition of India by the writings of poets like Bhasa and Kalidasa. The Mudra-Rakshasa of Visakhadatta, Mrichchakatika of Sudraka, the Harshacharita of Bana and the Dasakumara-charita of Dandin are also useful to learn about the government affairs of the day.
The story books, such as the Panchatantra, the Brihat-Katha, and the Katha-sarit-sagara provide information on the political ideas of the Hindus of that time. In Tamil literature the most well-known
works on the subject are the Mani-Mekalai and the Kural.
The Greek traveller, Megasthenes, who was attached for several years as Ambassador to the
Court of Chandragupta Maurya, was a very careful observer of facts and events which came under his direct notice. His writings arer one of the most important sources of information regarding the condition of the country in the fourth century before Christ. Many Chinese pilgrims visited India during the period between the fourth and eighth centuries A.D., and the accounts left by them, especially those left by Fa Hian, Hiuen Tsiang, and I-Tsing, are of very great use to people interested in the affairs of ancient India.
The epigraphic records are invaluable for the elucidation of the facts of the history of India. Be-
sides, they give us many useful hints about the political affairs of the periods to which they relate.
Asoka's inscriptions and the inscriptions of the Guptas are the most important. Some of the Ceylon inscriptions are of special interest in this regard. Useful information is available in many of the copperplate records of grants made by kings and others.