Mughal Administration

Masab and Jagir Systems

Mansab System

  1. Meaning
    • Mansab (or rank) under the Mughals indicated the position of its holder (mansabdar) in the official hierarchy.  
    • Under the system, ‘mansabs’ (ranks) in terms of numbers were assigned to nobles and commanders, who were also placed in important administrative positions.  
    • Thus, the Mughal `mansab’ system included all public services (such as military, civil and financial),
  1. Main Features under Akbar
    • Daugh (branding of horses) and ‘chahra’ (descriptive roll of horses) which were meant to decrease the possibility of fraud, to fix rank according to the size of the contingent maintained, and to check evasion of military obligation. 
    • The ‘mansab’ system under Akbar was represented by the dual rank of ‘zat’ and ‘sawar’.
    • The former determined the personal pay and status in the official hierarchy. 
    • The latter determined the number of horsemen to be maintained and the salary for the maintenance of those horsemen.
    • Direct subordination of ‘mansabdars’ to the emperor. Hence contingents of big ‘mansabdars’ were not formed by adding those of the smaller ones.
    • ‘Mansab’ was not hereditary, but based on merit.
    • Possibility of the existence of a ‘zat’ rank without a ‘sawar’ rank, but never a ‘sawar’ rank without a ‘zat’ rank.
  1. Main addition by Jahangir
    • Introduction of the duaspa-sihaspa’ rank literally meaning troopers having two or three horses, and hence related to the ‘sawar’ rank. 
    • This rank doubled the ordinary ‘sawar’ rank, and hence doubled the obligations and the privileges that went with it.
  1. Further Changes by Shah Jahan
  •   Rule of 1/3rd, 1/4th:  

It scaled down the obligations of the ‘mansabdars’. If a ‘mansabdar’ was serving in a province where his ‘jagir’ was, then his contingent should be equal to 1/3rd of his ‘sawar’ rank; if elsewhere then only 1/4th.

  • Month Scales:  

A ‘mansabdar’ often found that the ‘hasil’ (actual revenue collected from a ‘jagir’) was less than the ‘jama’ (stipulated or assessed revenue from a ‘jagir’), on which his salary was actually fixed. 

Thus the month scale was a devise to express the ratio between the’jama’ and the ‘hasil’, and hence gave some relief in service obligations to ‘mansabdars’.

Jagir System

    • ‘Jagir’ was a unit of land, whose revenues were assigned to a ‘mansabdar’ in lieu of his salary.  
    • Under the Mughals, apart from the ‘jagir’ lands, whose revenues went to pay the salaries of the ‘mansabdars’ for their services to the state, there were also the ‘khalisa’ lands, whose revenues were earmarked for the maintenance of the imperial court and the personal expenditure of the emperor.  
    • Hence, the ‘jagir’ of the Mughal times was similar to the ‘iqta’ of the Delhi Sultanate.
    • Like the ‘iqta’, the assignment of a ‘jagir’ to a ‘mansabdar’ did not confer any hereditary rights to that ‘jagir’ on the ‘mansabdar’.  
    • He could enjoy the revenues of the ‘jagr’ only as long as he held the ‘mansab’ or official rank and rendered services to the state.  
    • ‘Jagir’ system was closely related to the ‘mansab’ system. In fact, it was a subsidiary system of the all-in-one ‘mansab’ system.  
    • Some ‘mansabdars’ were paid in cash and not through the assignment of ‘jagirs’.


    1. Central Administration


      • Vakil or Regent: Representative of the king and hence exercised all powers on behalf of and in the name of the king.
      • Wazir or Diwan: In his capacity as ‘diwan’, he was the head of the revenue department; when there was no ‘vakil’, he acted as the P.M. also and hence called the ‘wazir’.
      • Mir Bakshi: Head of the military department, and became the paymaster general after the introduction of the ‘mansab’ system.
      • Sadr-us-Sudur: Head of the ecclesiastical department hence regulated the religious policy of the state; was also in charge of public charities and endowments.
      • Khan-i-Saman: Head of the royal household and the royal ‘karkhanas’ (workshops).
      • Other officials: 
      1. ‘Muhtasibs’ (censor of morals), 
      2. ‘Waqia navis’ (news eports), 
      3. ‘Khufia navis’ (secret letter writers), 
      4. ‘Harkarahs’ (spies and special couriers), etc.
  1. Provincial Administration
    • Subahs: Division and systematic organization of the empire into different provinces or ‘subahs’ by Akbar; establishment of a uniform pattern of administration in all the provinces.
    • Important Officials:

Governor, known as ‘sipah-salar’, and some times as ‘nayim’.

Provincial ‘diwan’, in charge of evenue administration of the province.

Provincial ‘bakshi’, directly responsible to the ‘mir bakshi’.

Other provincial officials were ‘qazi’, ‘sadr’, ‘muhtasib’. Etc.

  1. Local Administration
    • Division of a province into ‘sarkars’ or districts.
    • Division of a ‘sarkar’ into ‘paraganas’ or taluqs, which consisted of a group of villages.


  1. Main Agrarian Classes Peasants
    • Khudkashta: Those peasants living in their own villages, owning their own lands and implements.
    • Pahis: Those who were outsiders but cultivated the rented lands in a village either while staying in the neighbouring village or by staying in the same village.
    • Muzariyams: Those who belonged to the same village, but who did not have either lands or implements and hence were heavily dependent on the ‘khudkashta’ for their supply.



    • Autonomous Zamindars or Chieftains:  

They were the hereditary rulers of their respective territories.  

Economically and militarily, they formed a formidable class.  

    • Intermediary Zamindars: Those who had ownership rights over his personal lands but had only ‘zamindari’ rights, i.e. hereditary right to collect revenue from the peasants for the state, over a wider area.
    • Primary Zamindars: Those who had ownership rights over his personal lands and ‘zamindari’ rights over his ‘zamindari’, but did not perform the hereditary function of collecting revenue for the state.
  1. Towns and Commerce
  1. Main Urban Classes Traders  and Merchants

Wholesale traders, retail traders, ‘banjaras’ or those specialized in the caravan or carrying trade, ‘shoroffs’ (sarrafs) or those specialized in banking, etc. The ‘shroffs’ developed the institution of ‘hundis’ or bills of exchange.

    • Others:  

Officials, ranging from big ‘mansabdars’ to ordinary soldiers and clerks; artisans and handicraftmen; and other professional classes like teachers, doctors, etc.

  1. Items of Trade and Commerce
  • Exports:  

Textiles especially various kinds of cotton fabrics, indigo,  raw silk, sugar, salt petre, pepper, opium and various kinds of drugs and miscellaneous goods.

  • Imports:  

Bullion horses, metals, China goods especially porcelain, China silk, African slaves and European wines.

    1. Coins of Surs and Mughals             
      • Sur Coinage: 

The reform of the coinage, thought completed by Akbar, was in a great measure due to Sher Shah’s genius. His innovations lay chiefly in two directions:

      1. The introduction of a new standard of 178 grains for silver, and one of about 330 grains for copper, with its half, quarter, eighth and sixteenth parts. These two new coins were subsequently known as the ‘rupee’ and the ‘dam’.
      2. A large increase in the number of the mints. At least twently three mint names appear on the Sur coins.
      • Mughal Coinage:
      1. The standard gold coin of the Mughals was the ‘muhar’, the equivalent of nine ‘rupees’.
      2. The ‘rupee’, adopted from Sher Shah’s currency, is the most famous of all Mughal coins. Halves, quarters, eighths and sixteenths were also struck.
      3. The Mughal copper coinage is based on Sher Shah’s ‘dam’ with its half, quarter and eighth.


Mughal Culture

A. Architecture

  1. Chief Characteristics
    • Combination of the Persian elements of grandeur and originality with the grace and decoration of Indian architecture.
    • Uniformity in the architectural character and structural principles all over the empire.
    • Construction of tombs in the cente of large park like enclosures.
    • Construction of a double dome.
    • Other features like the cupolas at the corners standing on slender pillars, magnificent palace halls and lofty vaulted gateway.
    1. Development Fort building:


        • Construction of a series of forts, the most important being the Agra fort; other forts at Lahore and Allahabad.


Shah Jahan:  

        • Climax of fort building seen in the Red Fort at Delhi.


Palace building:  

      • Akbar’s palace-cum-fort at Fatehpur Sikri; most magnificent building in it is the mosque (Jami-Masjid) and its gateway (Buland Darwaza).        Other important buildings at Fatehpur Sikri are:
      1. Jodha Bai’s Palace (influence of Hindu style),
      2. Palaces of Mariyam and Sultana,  
      3. Birbal’s House,  
      4. Diwan-i-Am and Diwan-i-Khas, and  
      5. Panch Mahal (a pyramidical structure in five storeys – influence of Buddhist Vihara).


Building of Tombs:


    • Humayun’s tomb at Delhi was the first Mughal tomb placed in the centre of a large parklike enclosure and it marked the beginning of the use of white marble by the Mughals. 
    • Tomb of Salim Chisti at Fatehpur Sikri is another important one.



    • Akbar’s tomb at Sikandra near Agra was started by Akbar himself, but was completed by his son. 
    • Tomb of Itimad-ud-daula at Agra, built by NurJahan for her father, was constructed wholly in white marble with ‘pietra-dura’ (decoration of walls with floral designs made of semi-precious stones).
    • It is regarded as a precursor or forerunner to the Taj Mahal.


Shah Jahan: 

    • Large-scale use of ‘pietra-dura’ in his buildings, especially Taj Mahal, which was supposedly, planned by Ustad Isa and cost Rs. 50 lakhs at that time.



    • The tomb of his wife Dilras Banu Begum at Aurangabad is considered as a replica of the Taj Mahal.


Building of Mosques or masjids:


    • Four mosques, one each at Sambhal, Panipat (in Kabul Bagh), Agra (old fort) and Ayodhya.



    • Jami-Masjid at Fatehpur Sikri is one of the most magnificent buildings.


Shah Jahan: 

    • Climax seen in the Moti Masjid at Agra (built entirely in white marble) and Jama Masjid at Delhi (built in red sand stone).


B. Painting  Development  Akbar:

  • Revival of the old Indian tradition of painting and the introduction of new themes, new colours, and new forms.
  • Organisation of painting in the imperial ‘karkhana’ under the leadership of two Persian master-painters.
  • Participation of both Hindus and Muslims in the work.
  • Illustration of the Akbar Namah, Mahabharata and other Indian themes.
  • Use of Indian colours and the replacement of the flat effect of Persian style by the roundedness of Indian style.
  • Introduction of European painting by the Portuguese priests.



  • Apex of painting due to his keen interest.
  • Practice of painting different parts of the body by different persons.            Special progress in portrait painting and painting of animals.
  1. Salient Features of Mughal School
    • The Mughal pictures were small, and hence are known as ‘miniature paintings’.
    • Mughals art neither represented the Indian emotions, nor are the scenes from the daily life of the Indians. It was mostly courtly and aristocratic.
    • A keen appreciation of nature as seen in landscape paintings.
    • Remarkable excellence achieved in portrait painting.
    •   Excellence in colour composition.
  1. Differences between Mughal and Rajput Schools
    • The Mughal School was aristocratic and realistic, while the Rajput school was democratic and chiefly mystic.
    • The former dealt with the materialistic aspect of the animal life, while the latter dignified these creatures by giving them external forms of Hindu deities.
    • If the former was more realistic, the latter was spiritual. One aimed at the entertainment, the other at reflecting the serenity of Indian life.

C.  Literature


  • Historical works: Ain-i-Akbari and Akbar Namah by Abul Fazl.
  • Translations: 

Translation of different sections of the Mahabharata into Persian by many scholars under the title of Razm Namah.


Poetry: Faizi, Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan, etc. were the famous poets.


  • Wrote his autobiography, Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri, famous for its style, frankness and sincerity of views.
  • Patronised many scholars and learned men.

Shah Jahan

  • Patronised many writers and historians like Abdul Hamid Lahori (Padshah Namah).
  • His son, Dara Shikoh, besides writing a treatise on the technical terms of Hindu pantheon, wrote a biography of the Muslim saints and got the Hindu scriptures translated into Persian.


  • He was a great scholar of Islamic theology and jurisprudence.
  • Many important historical works were also written – Muntakhab-ul-Lubab by Khafi Khan, Futuhat-i-Alamgiri by Iswar Das, etc.

In Fact, Persian language and literature was so developed and widespread that Akbar dispensed with the practice of keeping revenue records in the local languages in addition to Persian.





Gulbadan Begum    

Humayun Namah


Abul Fazl                    



Abul Fazl                    

Akbar Namah








Abdul Hamid Lahori  

Padshah Namah


Dara Shikoh              

Safinat-ul-Auliya (Biographies of Sufis)



Raqqat-i-Alamgiri (Collection of letters)


Khafi Khan                 






Translated into Persian by Abdur Rahim Khan Khana.



Translated into Persian by Abdul Qadir Badayuni Naquib Khan and Shaikh Sultan. It is known as Razm Nama in this from.



Translated into Persian by Abdul Qadir Badayuni, Naquib Khan and Shaikh Sultan.



Translated into Persian by Haji Ibrahim Sarhindi.


Pancha Tantra

Translated into Persian by Abul-Fazl. This book is known as Anwarl-Shuhaili in Persian form.



Translated into Persian by Mulla Shah Muhammad.



Translated into Persian by Faizi.



Nal Damayanti

Translated into Persian by Faizi.


        Hasht Bahist

lay out by Babar at Agra, now known as Ram Bagh.

        Shalimar Bagh

lay out by Jehangir at Srinagar.

        Nisat Bagh 

lay out by Asaf Khan at Srinagar.

      Shalimar Garden

lay out by Shahjehan near Lahore.

Hayat Bakhsh

lay out by Shahjehan inside the Red Fort.

Shalimar Bagh

lay out by Shahjehan in Delhi.

       Wazir Bagh 

lay out by Dara in Kashmir.

     Chahar Burji Bagh  



lay out by Zeb-un-nisa near Lahore.


Cotton, silk, wooden article, ivory, Bangles, Saltpetre, Mattresses.


Silk-weaving, velvet, Needlework, Embroidery, Jewellery, Furniture, Weapons, Gold & silver embroidery.


Paper, Glasseare, Copper & Brass rtensils.




Glass Vessels, Wooden articles


Muslin, Cotton, Silk, Embroidered quilts.


Bayana indigo (Costlier)




Sarkhej indigo


A coarser kind of cotton cloth used by the poor.

        Kirpas (Calico)

A superior variety of cotton cloth than Pat.


A variety of muslin.


A variety of muslin obtained from Sylhet.


A fine & expensive variety of muslin obtained from Devagiri.


A kind of silk.


Painted or printed cloth.


Silk embroidered with gold.


Matting cloth for wrapping merchandise.




Jute cloth.


Chief copper coin of 323.5 grains (21 Grams) (40 DAM = 1 Rupee)


Lowest copper coin (25 JItal = 1 DAM)


Rounded silver coin of 172 grains


actual collection from land


Wooden scoop, used for lifting water from wells into field channels


Method for lifting water from wells in a leather bucket and drawn over by yoke of oxen


Sophisticated device for lifting water by Persian wheel


Peasants who cultivated land in villages other than their own


Cash revenue rates

  • Jama Dami 
  • Khud–Kashta/

Assessed revenue in terms of dam


Owners of land in the official documents or resident cultivators 

  • Taqavi             
  • Madad-l-Maash/

Advance loans to peasants


     Sayurghal                   Grant of land to men of learning for their subsistence for life time

  • Karkhanas    Workshops for the production of luxury goods




The land where revenue was reserved for the sultan’s treasury



New yard for land measurement, consisting of 41 dighits (approx

33 inches), introduced by Akbar






Corp sharing



Estimated revenue of Jagir which was equal to the pay given to the






Term used for jagirs



Grants for religious and educational institutions



An administrative division (District) during Delhi Sultanate



1/20 part of bigha



A sermon, recited in mosques on Fridays wherein the name of the ruler was included






The muslim brotherhood (Entire Muslim Population)



Religiions decree issued by Akbar



Head of the patwaris who as the field officer constituted the land



revenue establishment at pargana level


Ain – i – Dahsala

A system where the average produce of different cropes as well as the average prices prevailing over the last ten years were calculated (introduced by Akbar)



Revenue assignees



Paper to be signed by peasants.  A mark of acceptance of state’s 



demand of land revenue



Area where there was objection



Branding of horse



Muster roll


Watan Jagirs

Jagirs which were assigned to zamindars in their homelands


Al- tamgha  

Jagirs given to Muslim nobles (Introduced by Jehangir)



The new years day of the zoroastrian calendar introduced by




Bill of exchange



A Mughal rank that determine the number of cavalry-men



A Mughat rank that determined the position of a Mughal mansabdar in the hierarchy as well as his personal pay 



News writer



Commander of ten thousand horsemen or more 



Commander of thousand horsemen



Commander of hundred


Sipah Salar  

Commander of less than one hundred



Efficient troops which were not placed under the control of emperor



Later on in the Mughal decline of the the 18th century it came to mean Idler



Public censors



Police chief

  Amalguzar                          Head of the revenue establishment at local level 

  Karoris                                   Senior revenue collectors who collected crores of rupees from                                                   the people of the crown lands

       Qanungo                               Head of the patwaris who as the field officer constituted the                                                             land revenue establishment.