• The sixth Board collected the tithe on the prices of goods sold and
evasion of this tax was punishable with death.
The district administration, according to Megasthenes, was under the
supervision of officials called the agronomoi. They supervised irrigation,
measured the land, enforced the forest laws and looked after agriculture,
mining, carpentry and metal industries. They also collected taxes, maintained
the roads and set up mile-stones to indicate distances.
Society and People
Megasthenes described the castes of Indian society according to their
professions often mingling caste with occupation. According to him there
were seven classes in India.
• The philosophers comprising brahmanas and ascetics comprised the
first class and they were the highest in rank, though numerically the
• The agriculturists or cultivators who formed the majority of the Indian
people were considered as the second class. They paid a quarter of
their produce as rent to the landlord.
• The third class, shepherds and hunters, lived a nomadic life in forests.
They made the land habitable after exterminating the wild beasts,
received an allowance of corn from the king for the service and paid
him tribute in cattle.
• The fourth class, artisans were not only exempted from paying taxes,
but even received maintenance grant from the royal exchequer.
• The fifth class, warriors, less numerous only than the cultivators, were
maintained at the expense of the State.
• The sixth and seventh classes included both the officials
(superintendents or overseers and councillors and assessors)
employed for the supervision of the work of different departments and
the numerous spies who were engaged in transmitting secret
information to the king.
The general honesty of the people was well attested by the fact that theft
was a rare occurrence. The code of punishment was severe-mutilation for
giving false evidence and death for injuring the royal artisan. In other cases