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Mughal Administration




Indian Educational Service, Bihar.




S. C. Sarkar of M C. SARKAR & SONS


1. History of Aurangzib, 4 vols. ... Rs. 3-8 each.

Vol. I. Reign of Shah Jahan.

II. War of Succession, 1657 — 58.
„ III. Northern India, 1658—1681.
„ IV. Southern India, 1644—1689.

2. Shivaji and His Times, 2nd ed. ... Rs. 4.

(Based on original Persian and Marathi
sources and English and Dutch Factory

3. Studies in Mughal India ... Rs. 2.

(Twenty-two historical essays.)

4. Anecdotes of Aurangzib, (Ahkarn-

i-Alamgiri) Persian text, English

trans, and notes ... ... Re. 1-8

5. Chaitanya's life and teachings,

2nd ed., greatly enlarged ... Rs. 3.

(From his original Bengali biography.)

6. Economics of British India,

4ch ed., i-evise<], enlarged and
brought up to date ... ... Rs. 3.

90/2, Harrison Road, Calcutta.

Printer : S. C. MaJUMDAR,

7///, Mirzapur Street, Calcutta.


Chapter I . — The Government : its character

and Aims ... ... ... I — 25

Previous studies of Mughal administration, 2 — subjects of
these six lectures, 3 — Mughal administrative system influenced
Hindu and British governments, 4 — aims of Mughal State, 6 —
foreign elements in Mughal administration, 8 — military nature
of the government, 10 — State factories, 13 — excess of records,
15 — law and justice, 16 — Muslim law in India, 20 — no socialistic
activity, 23 — people left alone, 24.

Chapter II. — The Sovereign and the

Departmental Heads. Sources ... 26 — 50

Muslim sovereign's powers, 26 — no ministerial control, 28
— chief departments, 30 — wazir, 31 — bakhshi, 33 — steward, 35 —
judiciary, 35 — censor of morals, 39 — SOURCES : Ain-i-Akbari,
41 — Dastur-ul-aml , 43 — its contents, 45 — Mirat-i-Ahmadi, 47 —
Manual of Officers' Duties, 48.

Chapter III. — The Treasury and Household

Departments ... ... 51 — 77

Diwan, 51 — his position and powers, 52 — records that must
reach him, 53 — some famous diwans* office procedure, 57 —
Diwan of Khalsa's duties, 61 — duties of Diwan of Tankha, 66 —
Khan-i-saman's duties, 69 — Bayutat's duties, 74.

Chapter IV. — Provincial Administration ... 78 — 101

Mughal officials dislike and neglect villages, 78 — how Govern-
ment kept touch with villages, 79 — subahdar and his duties.
80 — his plan of action, 83 — provincial diwan's duties, 86 — fauj-
dar's functions, 89 — kotwal's duties, 93 — news- reporters, 97.


Chapter '..-—Taxation of Land ... 102 — 128

Indian peasants reluctant to pay revenue, 102 — reasons, 102
— the rypJt how treated, 105 — abwabs or exactions condemned
by Emperors, 107 — but levied by lower officials, 108 — anecdote
of Shah Jahan, 108 — doings of an extortionate diwan, 110 —
Sadullah's censure of revenue collectors, 112 — why revenue
officials levied perquisites, 112 — krori's duties, 114 — amin, 116 —
qanungo, 118 — abwabs classified, 1 20— described in detail, 121.

Chapter VI. — Mughal Rule : Its achieve-
ments and failure ... ... 129 — 152

Mughal rule gave India administrative union and homo-
geneity, 129 — but no nationality, 130 — Muslim gifts : history,
131 — contact with the outer world. 132 — monotheistic Hindu
sects, 134 — Sufi brotherhood, 135 — social manners of N. India
Islamised, 136 — architecture and art, 137 — strength of the Muslim
position in India, 139 — Muhammadan settlers Indiamsed, 140 —
disruptive forces in State, 142 — decline of the aristocracy, 144 —
people make no progress, 145 — causes of deterioration of Indian
Muhammadans. 146 — weakness of oriental monarchies, 148
— the lessons of Indian history, 151.

Z. means British Museum Persian MS. Or. 1641 ;

D. means India Office Library Pers. 370;

Mirat means Mirat-i-Ahmadi, Bombay litho. ed.


The Government : Its Character & Aims,

§1. The aspects of Mughal administration
studied in this book*
We are all familiar with the history of the
Mughal empire in India, — the long story of the
successive Emperors, their wars for the throne of
Delhi, their campaigns against their rebellious
vassals and independent neighbours, and their
expeditions beyond the natural frontiers of India.
We know much about the private lives of the
Emperors, the ceremony and splendour of their
Courts, and the condition of the roads, from the
writings of the many European visitors to our
land. But their administrative system has not
yet been subjected to a detailed study on the
basis of the original Persian records.

This is a task of admitted difficulty, partly

because so many of the records have perished

in the course of time, but mainly because it is

| only men experienced in the actual conduct of

modern Indian administration who can go to


the very heart of the Mughal system and make
the dead past live again before our eyes. The
great historian of the Decline and Fall of the
Roman Empire has confessed that his experience
as a captain in the English militia* and as a
member of the British Parliament enabled him
to understand aright the campaigns of the
Roman generals and the debates of the ancient
Roman Senate. We who are closet students
of Indian history can deal only with old paper,
with MS. records of the past ; we can touch only
the exterior of the Mughal system. But the
real working of that system, its inner springs
and practical effect can be best understood only
by men who combine a knowledge of , Persian
historical manuscripts with experience in the
administration of the people of the provinces
once subject to Mughal rule, — i.e., by scholarly
members of the Indian Civil Service in Upper
India. Among them have been Mr. Edward
Thomas, the distinguished father of an equally
distinguished son, Mr. H. Beveridge, who was
once Judge in this very town (Patna), Mr.

* "The discipline and evolution of a modern battalion gave
.me a clearer notion of the phalanx and the legion, and the
captain of the Hampshire grenadiers has not been useless to
-die historian of the Roman Empire." (Gibbon's Memoirs.)


William Irvine, who was long magistrate of
Ghazipur and Saharanpur, Mr. John Beames
and some other civil officers, whose studies in
certain aspects of the Mughal administration, —
especially the revenue system, — are extremely
fruitful and corrective of the errors of popular

Now, modern European writers have
studied only two departments of the Mughal
administration in detail, namely the land
revenue and the army. Practically full in-
formation on these two subjects is available in
English. I shall, therefore, leave them out of
my course of lectures except in respect of some
minor points where I can supply additional
information from manuscripts unknown t© my

The first of the following lectures will deal
with the principles and distinctive charac-
teristics of the Mughal government ; the second
with the Emperor's power, the position of his
ministers, the departments of the State, the
functions of the chief officers, and our sources
of information; the third will make a minute
study of the diwan and the procedure of his
office, and the work of the Lord High Steward
and his assistant; the fourth will discuss the


provincial administration ; the fifth will concern
itself with the State in relation to the ryot; and
the concluding lecture will attempt a philoso-
phical survey of the influence of Mughal rule on
the country, and the causes of the decline of the
Mughal Empire.

§2. Traces of Mughal rule in our living present.
The administrative system of the Mughal
empire has more than an academic interest for
us. This type of administration, with its
arrangements procedure machinery and even
titles, was borrowed by the Hindu States outside
the territory directly subject to Muslim rule. It
would not be a surprise to see the Mughal system
copied by the vassal Rajahs of Jaipur or Bundel-
khand, just as in our own day the British system
is faithfully copied by the darbars of Baroda and
Gwalior, Indore and Alwar. But the Mughal
system was also the model followed by some in-
dependent Hindu States of the time. Even a
staunch champion of Hindu orthodoxy like
Shivaji at first copied it in Maharashtra, and it
was only later in life that he made a deliberate
attempt to give a Hindu colour to his adminis-
trative machinery by substituting Sanskrit titles
for Persian ones at his Court; but most of the
names of departments, records and subordinate


officials in his kingdom remained Islamic, where
they were not indigenous Marathi.

Thus, the Mughal system at one time spread
over practically all the civilised and organised
parts of India.

Nor is it altogether dead in our own times.
Traces of it still survive, and an observant
student of history can detect the Mughal sub-
structure under the modern British Indian ad-
ministrative edifice. When in the late 1 8th
century a band of English merchants and clerks
were unexpectedly called upon to govern a
strange land and an alien race, they very
naturally took over the Mughal system then pre-
vailing among the people, made in it only the
most necessary changes, and while retaining its
old frame- work, they very reluctantly and slowly
added such new elements as the safety and pros-
perity of the country demanded from time to
time. This was the true character of the Anglo-
Indian administration of Bengal and Bihar under
Warren Hastings. Under his successors, after
many intervals of repose, the administration has
again and again departed from its Mughal
original. But the new has been built upon the
old ; our present has its roots in our past.


§3 . The aims of the Mughal State.

Before we can understand the Mughal
administrative system correctly, it is necessary
for us to realise its nature and aims.

By its nature it was a military rule and
therefore necessarily a centralised despotism.
To the Muslim portion of the population the
sovereign was the head of both Church and State,
and therefore for them he undertook socialistic
functions. But towards his non-Muslim subjects
he followed the policy of the individualistic
minimum of interference, i.e., he was content
with discharging only the police duties and the
collection of revenue. The support of public
education was not a duty of the State, — indeed,
it was recognised as a national duty even in
England as late as 1870. According to Hindu
and Muhammadan political thought alike,
education was the handmaid of religion. If the
king spent anything on education, it was not an
act of State, but a private religious benefaction
for acquiring personal merit in the next world.
Some schools were subsidised by the Padishahs,
but it was only because they were attached to
mosques or taught by families of holy men
already in receipt of imperial bounty, or, in other
words, because they served as seminaries for


training ulema (theologians) for the service of the
State Church.

Similarly, the encouragement of art and
literature was a purely personal matter with the
king ; its aim was to procure him personal re-
creation or glorification, and not to promote
national culture. Here the head of the State was
exactly on the same footing as a rich private
citizen and he recognised no higher obligation to
his people.

In short, under Mughal rule the socialistic
activities — I use the word in its broadest sense,
— of a modern State were left to the community,
to society or the caste brotherhood, and the
student of Indian administration has to pass over
them in silence.

The aim of the government was thus
extremely limited, materialistic, almost sordid.

A minute study of the history of the
Mughal empire in India on the basis of State
papers and other original sources, impresses us
with certain facts as broadly characteristic of the

§4. The imported foreign elements in the
Mughal administrative system.
First, the Mughal governmental system took


its colour from the race and creed of its
sovereigns. They were a foreign Muhammadan
dynasty who settled in India eight centuries after
Islam had been adopted in certain countries out-
side India and a new administrative type had
been developed in those countries.

Our Turkish conquerors brought with
themselves to their new home the type of ad-
ministration which had long been known to
extra-Indian Muslim countries as the model, and
which had been proved by the experience of
centuries as the most successful, viz., the
administrative system of the Abbasid Khalifs of
Iraq and the Fatimid Khalifs of Egypt. The
Mughal administration presented a combination
of Indian and extra-Indian elements; or, more
correctly, it was the Perso- Arabic system in
Indian setting.

The principles of their government, their
church policy, their rules of taxation, their
departmental arrangements, and the very titles
of their officials, were imported ready-made from
outside India. But a compromise was effected
with the older native system already in posses-
sion of the field and familiar to the people
governed. The details of the imported system
were modified to suit local needs. The existing


Indian practice and the vast mass of Indian
customary law were respected so far as they did
not run counter to the root principles of all
Islamic governments ; and in all non-essential
matters, in the spectacular side of politics,* and,
generally speaking, in village administration and
the lower rungs of the official ladder, the Indian
usage was allowed to prevail, while the foreign
model swayed almost exclusively the Court
(which was a personal matter for the sovereign)
and the higher official circles, (who drew their
inspiration from Persia and Egypt.)

This foreign element in the Mughal
administration can be easily illustrated from the
provincial administration. As Professor C. H.
Becker of Hamburg writes in the Encyclopedia
of Islam : "In the early centuries of Arab rule
two political functions were sharply distinguish-
ed [in Egypt, viz.,] the governorship and the
treasury. The governor, [called] amir, had
control over the military and police only...
Alongside of him was the head of the treasury,
[called] the amil... These two officers had to

* Lord Clive performed the punyah ceremony at Murshida-
bad ! Here we have a Hindu revenue usage coming down
from very ancient times through the Muhammadan age to the
*arly British period.


keep a strict watch on one another. As head
of the military and executive, the amir was the
first [in authority] , but they were equal in rank
and the administrator of the treasury even had
the greater influence [over the sovereign.]'
(Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. II. P. 13.)

Now, this was exactly the relation between
the subahdar or provincial governor and the
diwan or revenue chief of the province. A
concrete illustration of the official antagonism
between the two and their mutual recriminations
to their master — for, it was the duty of each, in
the words of Prof. Becker, "to keep a strict
watch over the other," — can be found in my
account of the history of Orissa in the 17th
century, based on contemporary official papers,
published in the Journal of the Bihar and Orissa
Research Society in June and Sept., 1916 and
reprinted in my Studies in Mughal India, pp.

So, too, in the division of the administration
into departments the model of Islamic lands
outside India was followed.

The second characteristic is that the
Government was military in its origin, and
though in time it became rooted to the soil it
retained its military character to the last. Every


official of the Mughal Government had to be
enrolled in the army list ; he was given a mansab
as the nominal commander of so many horse-
men, which determined his pay and status.
Civil servants, judges of Canon Law, superin-
tendents of post excise or customs, and even
clerks and accountants of the higher grades, were
alL ranked as mansabdars, i.e., members of the
army. Their names were arranged in the
gradation-list of the army, they were paid by
the Bafyhshis or military paymasters and their
promotion took the form of an increase in their
nominal command. From this it followed that
the Treasury or spending department of the
Government was only one for the civil and
military services alike, or in strict theory there
was no civil Treasury at all. We should, how-
ever, remember that though the salary-bills were
passed by the Bakhshis or military paymasters,
the actual payment (except to the field army dur-
ing a campaign) was made by the Diwan, who
was reckoned as a civil officer.

Thirdly, the main point to be .noted about
the land revenue system of Mughal India is its
long and close adherence to the old practice,
procedure and even tradition of the country.
Indeed, the early Muhammadan conquerors


very wisely retained the old Hindu revenue
system intact, employed the old Hindu revenue
officials, and seldom interfered with the working
of this department so long as the land-tax was
regularly collected and there was no striking
default or peculation.

This remark is true of the land revenue
alone, which has always been the most tradi-
tional and conservative branch of Government
activity in India. But in the case of the other
sources of State income, the Quranic law and
the practice of older Islamic States outside India
exercised their full influence, and we find in
Indo-Muhammadan history repeated attempts to
adjust the actual practice of the Government in
the revenue department to the theory of the
Canon Law of Islam in this matter.* Thus, the
entire revenue system of the Mughal empire as
it was developed in the 1 7th century was a
resultant of two forces, — the time-honoured
Hindu practice and the abstract Arabian theory.

Between these two discordant elements the
compromise was not always happy or successful,
and the dead weight of Indian usage in the end
proved too heavy for the orthodox zeal of

* E.g., Firuz Shah Tughlaq (in Elliot, iii. 377.)


Quranic pursuits like Firuz Shah Tughlaq or
Aurangzib. When they closed their eyes, or
even in their lifetime, after a brief span of strict
adherence to the Quranic precept and abolition
of * innovations" (bida't), things fell back into
their old traditional grooves. The subject will
be more fully discussed in a subsequent lecture.

§5. The State as a manufacturer.

Fourthly, in Mughal India the State was the
largest manufacturer, or rather the only manu-
facturer on a large scale in respect of several
commodities. The modern practice of Govern-
ment buying ready-made goods in the open
market, or giving orders for large quantities to
contractors, would not have answered in those
days of cottage industries, when production on a
large scale with a view to sale by private capi-
talists was unknown. The State was, therefore,
forced to manufacture the commodities it needed.

And its need was very large. Twice every
year, — in the rainy season and the winter, — a
robe (fchelat) suitable for the season was pre-
sented by the Emperor to every mansabdar, and
the number of mansabdars in 1690 is given as
nearly 7,500 who were paid in cash and 4,000
who held jagirs. (Z. 15 a.) For the higher


nobles, one suit of the robe of honour consisted
of several articles of apparel. In addition to
these two seasonal gifts, the princes of the blood,
the vassal Rajahs and many of the mansabdars
and Court officials received robes of honour at
the two birthdays of the Emperor (viz. accord-
ing to the lunar and the solar calculations), the
lunar anniversary of his coronation, the two I'ds,
and down to Aurangzib's reign on the old
Persian New Year's Day, when the Sun enters
the Aries (nau-roz). As a matter of rule \helats
were also bestowed on most persons when they
were presented at Court or took leave, or were
appointed to posts, and, for some time in
Aurangzib's reign, on converts to Islam.

It will thus be seen that the Imperial Gov-
ernment had to keep a vast stock of cloth and
ready-made robes for its need during the year.
The supply was assured by the State maintain-
ing many factories (\ar\hanahs) of its own in
the principal cities of the empire, where skilled
workmen were brought together (sometimes
from distant provinces), placed under a Govern-
ment superintendent (darogha), paid daily
wages, and made to produce their handicrafts
which were duly stocked in the stores.

The same thing was done with regard to


various articles of consumption and luxury re-
quired by the Emperor's household. It was
the business of the Khan~i-saman or Lord High
Steward to buy such goods as were available in
the market and manufacture the others well in
advance of the time when they would be re-
quired. A detailed study of the ^ar^hanahs
will give us an idea of the immense field of State
activity in the industrial sphere.

Fifthly, the Mughal Government was a
highly centralised autocracy. The Crown was
the motive power of the entire administrative
machinery. Where the Government is absolute,
the supreme authority concentrated in one man's
hand, the territory large, the means of com-
munication between the districts slow and diffi-
cult, the transfer of local officers frequent, and
no political life or local initiative left to the
people, — there the natural consequence is the
multiplication of official correspondence and the
growth of a vast mass of written records. The
Mughal Government, except in the actual con-
ducting of campaigns, was a \aghazi raj, i.e.,
paper Government. Its officers had to maintain
many books, such as copies of correspondence,
nominal rolls, descriptive rolls, history of the
services of officers, newsletters and despatches


received, as well as accounts in duplicate or
triplicate, summary or full, — besides keeping an
army of spies and couriers for the information of
the central Government.

§6. Law and justice.
Sixthly, its attitude towards law and justice
was opposed to our conceptions. One of the
most essential functions of a modern State is the
administration of justice and the maintenance
of order. Herein the Mughal Government was
weakest and least capable of improvement and
expansion with time. It, no doubt, undertook
to defend the country from foreign invasion and
internal revolt, and to protect life and property
in the cities by its own agents. But the policing
of the vast rural areas was left to the locality ; it
was done by the local chau\idars who were ser-
vants of the village community and maintained
by the villagers themselves out of the village-
land, and who were not considered as officers
paid and supervised by the State. Instead of
the Mughal Government undertaking respon-
sibility for rural peace and security, it
made the villagers responsible for the safety
of their own property and that of travellers
in the neighbouring roads. There was, no


doubt, a Government agent there, viz., the
faujdar; but his jurisdiction was • too large
to allow him to attempt the supervision
of the police of all the villages in that
region. His recognised duty was to pre-
vent or punish wide-spread or notorious acts of
violence, such as rebellion by local zamindars,
organised raids by large gangs of robbers, or
the withholding of land revenue on a large scale.
As regards justice, the Mughal Emperor
loved to pose as the fountain of justice and
followed the immemorial Eastern tradition that
the king should try cases himself in open court.
Both Shah Jahan and Aurangzib held no public
darbar on Wednesday, but reserved that day for
holding a court of law. "The Emperor came
direct from the darshan window to the diu)an-i~

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