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Ayamukha – Term For Source Of Income In Ancient India

Ayamukha, as defined by Kautilya in the Arthashastra (circa 300 BCE), is a term that pertains to the various sources of income for the State in ancient India. In the classification provided by Kautilya, the State's revenue is categorized into two main groups: ayasharira and ayamukha.

Ayasharira (Body of Income): This category refers to the centers of collection and includes the following elements:

  • Durga (Fortified Cities): Urban centers that served as hubs for economic and administrative activities.
  • Rashtra (Rural Areas): Agricultural and rural regions contributing to the State's income.
  • Khani (Mines): Extraction of valuable minerals and resources from the earth.
  • Setu (Irrigation Works): Infrastructure related to water management and irrigation.
  • Vana (Forests): Forested areas, potentially a source of timber, wildlife, and other natural resources.
  • Vraja (Herds): Livestock and herds, representing an agricultural and economic asset.
  • Varipatha (River-Borne Trade Routes): Waterways and trade routes connected to rivers for transportation and commerce.

Ayamukha (Sources of Income): Ayamukha is further subdivided into various sources, each contributing to the State's revenue. These subdivisions are:

  • Bhaga (Royal Share): The portion of income reserved for the ruler or the state.
  • Vyaji (Compensation): Payments made to the state as compensation for certain privileges or services.
  • Parigha (Gate Duty): Taxes or duties collected at entry points or gates.
  • Kripta (Fixed Tax): Imposed taxes with a predetermined or fixed amount.
  • Roopika (Premia on Coins): Additional charges or premiums associated with the minting and usage of coins.
  • Atyaya (Money-Fine): Fines or penalties in the form of monetary payments.

This classification system provided by Kautilya reflects the diverse avenues through which the ancient Indian State generated income, encompassing both urban and rural sectors, natural resources, and various forms of taxation and compensation. The Arthashastra, attributed to Chanakya (Kautilya), stands as an ancient treatise on statecraft, economics, and political philosophy, offering insights into governance and administration in ancient India.