Write a Note on Mughal Mansabdari System
Mansabdar – Ranking/Hierarchy of Administrative Officers
Mansabdars – Salary (Cash & Land)
Who Introduced Mansabdari in India?
The Mansabdar appears to be a Central Asian institution. There is a view that this institution came to India with Babur. However, during Babur’s time, instead of the term of Mansabdar, the term Wajahdar was used.
It was under the regime of Akbar when Mansabdari system became the basis of military and civil administration.
Did Mansabdars reside in their Jagirs (land allotted to them)?
All mansabdars did not reside in their own jagirs but used servants to collect revenues there while they themselves served in another part of the empire.
Note: The Delhi Sultanate (The Khalji and the Tughlaq monarchs) too appointed military commanders as governers of territories. These land were called the Iqta and the landholders were called Iqtadars or the muqti. Most of the Muqti stayed in their Iqta unlike Jagirdars.
Iqtadari vs Mansabdari (Jagirdari)
- The Iqtadari system was used by the Delhi Sultans, while Mansabdari was used by Mughal rulers.
- While Iqtedari system was in force, the whole land of the Empire was divided into two parts – one which belonged to Iqtedars and the other which belonged to the emperor. But in Jagirdari, the whole land belonged to the Emperor.
- Itqadar was the officer in charge of the revenue collection and distribution. Jagirdar had law and order responsibility in addition to the revenue collection.
- Most of the Muqti stayed in their Iqta, unlike Jagirdars.
- Initially, ‘Iqta’ was a revenue-yielding piece of land which was assigned in lieu of salary – just like ‘Jagir’. However, Iqtadari system became hereditary in its later days whereas the Mansabdari system was never hereditary.
- Mansabdar was a royal officer in charge of revenue collection and law and order duties – who was paid salary either as cash or as land. He used to deduct his own cut before sending the remaining share to the emperor.
The number of Mansabdars during Mugal Rule
Akbar maintained 1,803 Mansabdars, by the end of the reign of Aurangzeb, their number rose to 14,499.
In Akbar’s reign, there were 29 mansabdars with a rank of 5,000 zat; by Aurangzeb’s reign the number of mansabdars with a zat of 5000 had increased to 79.
The increase of the number of Mansabdars during the reign of Aurangzeb led to the Jagirdari and agrarian crisis which led to the collapse of the Mansabdari system.
The fall of Manasabdari System
In Akbar’s reign, the system worked near perfect. The revenue collected by the Mansabdar from his jagirs (and transferred to the Emperor) was enough to pay his assigned salary as well.
These jagirs, in the initial days, were carefully assessed so that their revenues were roughly equal to the salary of the mansabdar.
However, in the later stage, there was a shortage of jagirs. Also the size of the jagirs started to shrink.
In the Aurengazeb era, the revenue collected by Mansabdars for the government was not enough to pay the salary assigned to them.
Mansabdari System: Terms which you should understand
- Mashrut = conditional rank = which means an increase of sawar rank for a short period.
- Tajwiz: Tajwiz was a petition presented by a nobleman to the emperor, recommending that an applicant be recruited as mansabdar.
- Du-aspah and Sih-aspah: These were features added later to the Mansabdari system by Jahangir. This is a system whereby the selected nobles could be allowed to maintain a larger quota of troopers, without raising their Zat rank. The system was popular as ‘du-aspah’ (a trooper with two horses) or ‘sih-aspah’ (a trooper with three horses) system. As you can understand, this was related to the sawar rank.
Mansabdari System: Summary
Mansab system was a grading system used by the Mughal rulers to fix the rank and salary of a Mansabdar, who were basically royal officers.
The mansabdari were nobles who acted as military commanders, high civil and military officers, and provincial governors.
There was no distinction between the civil and military departments. Both civil and military officers held man stabs and were liable to be transferred from one branch of the administration to another.
The rank of a Mansabdar was determined by the number of horses and cavalrymen he maintained.