Mughal Empire, Administration and Mughal Art & Culture

Mughal (Babur & Humayun) and Sur Dynasty Mughal Dynasty (Akbar Onwards) Mughal Administration, Society and Culture


• Babur (Zahiruddin Muhammad) was the founder of the Mughal Empire in India.
• Babur was related to Timur from his father’s side and to Chengiz Khan through his mother.
• Babur succeeded his father Umar Shaikh Mirza as the ruler of Farghana, but was soon defeated by his distant relative and as a result lost his kingdom.
• He became a wanderer for sometime till he captured Kabul from one of his uncles.
• Then, Babur took interest in conquering India and launched three expeditions between 1519 and 1523.
• The opportunity to fullfil his ambition came to Babur when he was invited to India by discontented party, Daulat Khan Lodhi the most powerful noble of the Punjab and Alam Khan an uncle of Ibrahim Khan Lodhi sought Babur to help to fight against Ibrahim Lodhi.
• India was then distracted by ambitions, rivalries and disaffection of nobles and the Delhi sultanate existed only in name.
• Babur, a man of adventurous spirit at once responded to the call which presented him an excellent opportunity for giving effect to his long cherished ambition.
• This was his fourth expedition in which he occupied Lahore in 1524 and such occupation was not what Daulat Khan desired.
• He had hoped that Babur would retire after a raid leaving the field clear for him and so he turned against him and Alam Khan also joined hands with him.

• Babur had to retire to Kabul to collect re-enforcements.
• Babur soon re-occupied the Punjab in 1525 and Daulat Khan Lodhi submitted to Babur.
• On the eve of Babur’s invasion of India, there were five prominent Muslim rulers – the Sultans of Delhi, Gujarat, Malwa, Bengal and the Deccan – and two prominent Hindu rulers – Rana Sangha of Mewar and the Vijayanagar Empire.
• Most of the soldiers and officers of Daulat Khan Lodhi joined the ranks of Babur.
• Babur got rid of all the self seeking Afghan nobles of the Punjab.
• He received messages of support from disaffected and opportunists nobles of Ibrahim’s court and Rana Sangha of Mewar is also said to have sent him an invitation for a joint invasion of Delhi.

Military Conquests

• On 21st April 1526 the first Battle of Panipat took place between Babur and Ibrahim Lodi, who was killed in the battle.
• One of the causes of Babur’s success in the battle was that Babur was seasoned General whereas Ibrahim was a head strong, inexperienced youth. As Babur remarks he was ‘an inexperienced man, careless in his movements, who marched without order, halted or retired without method and engaged without foresight.’
• Babur was the master of a highly evolved system of warfare which was the result of a scientific synthesis of the tactics of the several Central Asian people. While Ibrahim fought according to the old system then in existence in the country.
• Babur had a park of artillery consisting of big guns and small muskets while Ibrahim’s soldiers were absolutely ignorant of its use.
• Also, Ibrahim did not get the backing of his people which weakened his power.
• Moreover his army was organised on clannish basis.
• The troops lacked the qualities of trained and skilful soldiers.
• Babur was right when he recorded in his diary that the Indian soldiers knew how to die and not how to fight.
• On the other hand Babur’s army was well trained and disciplined and shared the ambition of conquering rich Hindustan.
• Babur occupied Delhi and sent his son Humayun to seize Agra.
• Babur proclaimed himself as “Emperor of Hindustan”.
• His subsequent victories over Rana Sangha of Mewar and the Afghans secured his position as the ruler of India. He marched against Babur and in the Battle of Khanua (near Agra) held in 1527 Babur won a decisive victory over him. Babur assumed the title Ghazi.
• This battle supplemented Babur’s work at Panipat and it was certainly more decisive in its results.
• The defeat of the Rajputs deprived them of the opportunity to regain political ascendancy in the country for ever and facilitated Babur’s task in India and made possible the foundation of a new foreign rule.
• In 1528, Babur captured Chanderi from another Rajput ruler Medini Rai.
• In 1529, Babur defeated the Afghans in the Battle of Gogra in Bihar.
• By these victories, Babur consolidated his power in India.
• Babur died at Agra in 1530 at the age of forty seven.

Estimate of Babur

• Babur was a great statesman and a man of solid achievements.
• He was also a great scholar in Arabic and Persian languages.
• Turki was his mother tongue and he wrote his memoirs, Tuzuk-i-Baburi in Turki language. It provides a vivid account of India.
• He frankly confesses his own failures without suppressing any facts.
• He was also a naturalist and described the flora and fauna of India.


• Humayun succeeded Babar in December 1530 at the young age of 23 and the newly conquered territories and administration was not yet consolidated.
• Unlike Babur, Humayun did not command the respect and esteem of Mughal nobility.
• The Chaghatai nobles were not favourably inclined towards him and the Indian nobles, who had joined Babur’s service, deserted the Mughals at Humayun’s accession.
• He also confronted the hostility of the Afghans mainly Sher Khan in Bihar on the one hand and Bahadurshah, the ruler of Gujarat, on the other.
• As per the Timurid tradition Humayun had to share power with his brothers.
• The newly established Mughal empire had two centres of power; Humayun was in control of Delhi, Agra and Central India, while his brother Kamran had Kabul and Qandhar and by subsequently annexing the Punjab, had deprived him of the main recruiting ground of his army.
• However, the granting of the Punjab and Multan had the advantage that Humayun was free to devote his attention to the eastern part without having to bother about his western frontier.
• In A.D. 1532, Humayun first turned his arms against the Afghans, who under Sultan Mahmud Lodi threatened his position in the east and defeated the Afghan forces which had conquered Bihar and overrun Jaunpur in eastern Uttar Pradesh at a place called Daurah near Lucknow.
• After this success Humayun besieged Chunar then held by the able Afghan chief named Sher Khan.
• Sher Khan showed a submission and Humayun made a fatal mistake in allowing Sher Khan to retain possession of Chunar.
• Humayun was anxious to return to Agra as he had to face the growing power of Bahadur Shah of Gujarat.
• The attitude of Bahadur Shah of Gujarat was hostile to Humayun from the very beginning. Humayun defeated Bahadur Shah but could not retain his conquest as he was soon recalled to the east to meet the revolt of Sher Khan.
• Humayun marched into Bengal but Sher Khan did nothing to oppose him as his object was to lure Humayun into the interior and then to cut off his communication.
• In the Battle of Chausa (A.D. 1539) Humayun was completely defeated by Sher Khan.
• In 1540 Humayun had one more encounter with Sher Shah at Bilgram near Kannauj but again met with a crushing defeat and was compelled to leave Hindustan.
• The battle of Kannauj (A.D. 1540) was bitterly contested and it decided the issue between Sher Khan and the Mughals.
• Humayun now became a prince without a kingdom; Kabul and Qandhar remaining under Kamran.
• Wandering Humayun found temporary refuge at Amarkot from where he made his way to Persia.
• The Persian king Shah Tahmasp, agreed to help him on condition that Humayun should conform to the Shia creed.
• Humayun yielded to the necessity and conquered Kabul and Qandhar from his brother Kamran, with the help of Persian troops.
• Freed from his brother’s opposition Humayun was now in a position to attempt the reconquest of India.
• He had secured the services of an able officer named Bairam Khan and the time was also favourable to him.
• Humayun defeated the Afghan forces of Sikandar Sur and occupied Agra and Delhi (A.D. 1555).
• It is clear that the major causes of Humayun’s failure against Sher Khan was his inability to understand the nature of the Afghan power.
• Due to existence of large numbers of Afghan tribes scattered over north India, the Afghans could always unite under a capable leader and pose a challenge.
• In 1556, Humayun died after tumbling down from the staires of his library.
• His peaceful personality, patience and non-provocative methods of speech earned him the title of Insan-i-Kamil (Perfect Man), among the Mughals.

Sher Shah (The Second Afghan Empire)

• The first Afghan kingdom under the Lodis was replaced by the Mughals under Babur in 1526.
• After a gap of 14 years Sher Shah succeeded in establishing the Afghan rule again in India in 1540.
• Sher Shah and his successors ruled for 15 years and this period is known as the period of second Afghan Empire.
• The founder of the Sur dynasty was Sher Shah, whose original name was Farid.
• He was the son of Hasan Khan, a jagirdar of Sasaram in Bihar.
• Later, Farid served under the Afghan ruler of Bihar, who gave him the title Sher Khan for his bravery.
• He defeated Humayun at the Battle of Chausa and became the ruler of Delhi in 1540.
• Sher Khan was a great tactician and able military commander.
• Sher Shah waged extensive wars with the Rajputs and expanded his empire.
• His conquests include Punjab, Malwa, Sind, Multan and Bundelkhand.
• His empire consisted of the whole of North India except Assam, Nepal, Kashmir and Gujarat.
• Sher Shah after his death in 1553 was succeeded by his son Islam Shah.
• Islam Shah had to face a number of conflicts with his brother Adil Khan and many Afghan nobles.
• The Afghan empire was substantially weakened. Humayun saw an opportunity and moved towards India who again captured his lost kingdom by 1555 and ended the second Afghan Empire.

Sher Shah’s Administration

• Although Sher Shah’s rule lasted for five years, he organized a brilliant administrative system.
• The central government consisted of several departments. The king was assisted by four important ministers:

1. Diwan –i- Wizarat – also called as Wazir – in charge of Revenue and Finance.
2. Diwan-i-Ariz – in charge of Army.
3. Diwan-i-Rasalat – Foreign Minister.
4. Diwan-i-Insha – Minister for Communications.

• Sher Shah’s empire was divided into forty seven sarkars.
• Chief Shiqdar (law and order) and Chief Munsif (judge) were the two officers in charge of the administration in each sarkar.
• Each sarkar was divided into several parganas. Shiqdar (military officer), Amin (land revenue), Fotedar (treasurer) Karkuns (accountants) were in charge of the administration of each pargana.
• There were also many administrative units called iqtas.

Land Revenue System

• Sher Shah’s most striking contribution was made in the field of revenue.
• Sher Shah, however, as the only sovereign who is known to have gained a practical experience in managing a small body of peasants before rising to the throne came with his scheme of revenue settlement readymade and successfully tested by experiment. It was but an extension of the system introductioned by him at Sasaram.
• As a monarch, he unilatereally decided that the best system of assessment must be based on actual measurement. According, the empire was surveyed.
• In order to ensure the accuracy of measurement and honestry of collection he fixed the wages of the measurers and the collectors.
• The uniform system of measurement in spite of strong opposition from some quarters, was enforced all over the empire, with the exception of Multan where political turmoil could endanger the security of the State.
• But in Multan too, a record was kept of the settlement made between the government and the cultivator, and the latter was given a title deed (Patta) in which conditions of the settlement were specifically stated.
• According to the schedule of Sher Shah’s assessment rates the revenue on perishable articles was fixed in cash rates, but for all the principal staple crops, the land was classified into three classes-good, middling and bad.
• After the average produce of the three was added, one-third of the total was taken as the average produce of each bigha for revenue purposes.
• Of this, one-third was demanded as the share of the government. It could be paid in cash or in kind though the former mode was preferred. In case of cash payments, the state demand was fixed according to the prices prevalent in the near markets and a schedule of crop of crop rates was preserved indicating the method and the rates of assessment.
• The state gave a patta to each cultivator, which specified the state demand. The cultivator was also obliged to sign a qabuliat (deed of agreement) promising to honour the revenue due from him. Both the documents contained information on the size of the plot.
• Sher Shah’s revenue settlement has been unanimously acclaimed. And it has been contended hat it provided the basis for Todar Mal’s bandobust in Akbar’s reign, as also for the Ryotwari system in British India.
• Notwithstanding its obvious strengths it would be unrealistic to describe his revenue settlement as a master-piece; for the system was not without defects.
• Sher Shah was the first ruler who considered the welfare of the people as essential for the interests of the state.
• He was benign in times of drought and famine. The state, under such circumstances, would lend money and material to the cultivators.
• He instructed the army not to damage any crops and in any damage, to adquately compensate.

Other Reforms

• He removed the currency which had debased under the later Turko-Afghan regimes and instead issued well executed coins of gold, Silver and Copper of a uniform standard.
• His silver rupee which weighed 180 grams and contained 175 grains of silver was retained throughout the Mughal period as also by the British East India Company, till 1885.
• Besides the coins of smaller fractions of a rupee, the copper coins too had fractions of half quarter, eighth and sixteenth.
• Sher Shah gave every possible encouragement to the trade and commerce and took a number of measures for this purpose.
• He did away with all the internal custom duties with the exception of the two. These two duties were charged at the time of entry of the goods in the kingdom and at the time of the actual sale.
• Foreign goods were permitted to enter Bengal duty free.
• Sher Shah paid special attention to the safety and convenience of the merchants and had issued specific instructions to his officers in this regards.
• Sher Shah not only took necessary measures to ameliorate the condition of the people but also paid attention to the promotion of education. He gave liberal grants to both the Hindu and Muslim educational institutions.
• The Hindus were free to regulate their educational institutions and Sher Shah did not interfere in their working.
• Similarly, the Muslim educational institution were mainly attached with mosques and imparted elementary education to the children.
• To help the poor and brilliant students he awarded liberal scholarships.
• Sher Shah also made liberal provisions for the support of blind, the old, the weak, widows etc.
• Sher Shah had also improved the communications by laying four important highways. They were:

1. Sonargaon to Sind
2. Agra to Burhampur
3. Jodhpur to Chittor
4. Lahore to Multan.

• Primarily planned for military purposes, these highways proved equally effective for the growth of trade ans commerce.
• Along both sides of these roads, Sher Shah ordered the planting of fruit trees and the sinking of fresh wells.

• Another important feature of the public works comprised the building of the Serais (Rest-houses).
• The Serais were fully furnished, with well equipped kitchens and cooks for both the Hindus and the Muslims.
• Sher Shah also repaired about 1,700 Caravan Serais for the efficiency of the royal posts.
• Soon, the Serais functioned as post offices and marketing centres and Sher Shah posted news-readers in the various Serais to keep abreast of the local gossip.

• Rest-houses were built on the highways for the convenience of the travelers.
• Police was efficiently reorganized and crime was less during his regime.
• The Shiqdars and the Shiqdar-i-Shiqdaran were responsible for the maintenance of law and order in Parganas and Sarkars.
• The village headmen were obliged to look after their areas.
• The largest responsibility rested with the Muqaddams and Chowdharies, who were severely punished, in case they failed to detect the crimes.
• The military administration was also efficiently reorganized and Sher Shah borrowed many ideas like the branding of horses from Alauddin Khalji.
Estimate of Sher Shah
• Sher Shah remained a pious Muslim and generally tolerant towards other religions. He employed Hindus in important offices.
• He was also a patron of art and architecture. He built a new city on the banks of the river Yamuna near Delhi. Now the old fort called Purana Qila and its mosque is alone surviving.
• He also built a Mausoleum at Sasaram, which is considered as one of the master pieces of Indian architecture.
• Sher Shah also patronized the learned men.
• Malik Muhammad Jayasi wrote the famous Hindi work Padmavat during his reign.
• After Sher Shah’s death in 1545 his successors ruled till 1555 when Humayun reconquered India.

Fall of the Sur Dynasty

• After the death of Sher Shah his son Islam Shah came to the throne in I545. Though he did not inherit the Qualities of his father yet he kept his heritage intact for 8 years. After his death, in October 1553 the Sur dynasty began to disintegrate.
• The Afghan empire was partitioned and was ruled by three independent Nobles namely Ibrahim Khan Sur in Delhi and Agra, Muhammad adil Shah In the East and the Punjab under Sikander Shah.
• The various provinces of Malwa, Rajputana, Bengal and Bundelkhand proclaimed independence.
• The ongoing political chaos provided Humayun with the needful opportunity to stage a come back in India.
• He defeated Sikander Sur in a battle near Sirhind in 1555 and occupied Delhi and Agra.
• The Second Afghan Empire like the first one once again fell to the tribal concepts and political intrigues of the Afghan nobility.
• The field was left to the Mughals and Akbar used every opportunity to retrieve the Mughal prestige and power.

Akbar (1556-1605)

• Akbar was at Kalanaur in Punjab at the death of Humayun’s death and therefore his coronation took place in Kalanaur itself in 1556.
• Humayun’s favourite and confidant Bairam Khan, who served as the regent and tutor of the Mughal emperor from 1556 to 1560. He became the wakil of the kingdom with the title of Khan-i-Khanan.
• One of the major achievements of Bairam Khan’s regency period was the defeat of Hemu and the Afghan forces who were posing a serious threat to the Mughal Empire. In the second Battle of Panipat in 1556, Hemu was almost on the point of victory. But an arrow pierced his eye and he became unconscious. The Mughal victory was decisive.
• Bairam Khan consolidated the Mughal empire. After five years he was removed by Akbar due to court intrigues and sent to Mecca. But on his way Bairam was killed by an Afghan.
• Akbar started a policy of expansion after overcoming initial problems and consolidating his hold on the throne. The major political powers spread in different parts of the country were:

i) The Rajputs who were spread throughout the country as independent chiefs and kings, and were concentrated mainly in Rajasthan.
ii) The Afghans held political control mainly in Gujarat, Bihar and Bengal.
iii) Khandesh, Ahmednagar, Bijapur, Golkonda and few other kingdoms in South India and Deccan were quite powerful.
iv) Kabul and Qandhar, though ruled by Mughal Akbar Military policy factions, were hostile towards Akbar.

• Akbar’s conquered northern India from Agra to Gujarat and then from Agra to Bengal.
• He strengthened the northwest frontier and later on he went to the Deccan.
• Akbar through a systematic policy started the task of expanding his Empire.
• The first step that Akbar took after the dismissal of Bairam Khan was to put an end to the conflict within the nobility. He demonstrated great diplomatic skills and organizational capabilities in handling it.
• Akbar started his policy of expansion with central India. In 1559–60 the first expedition was sent to capture Gwalior before moving towards Malwa. Akbar deputed Adham Khan to lead the expedition against Malwa in central India which was ruled by Baz Bahadur. Baz Bahadur was defeated and fled towards Burhanpur.
• Gondwana, an independent state in Central India ruled by Rani Durgawati, widow of Dalpat Shah, was also conquered and annexed to the Mughal empire in 1564.


• The Rajput policy of Akbar was notable. Akbar was fully aware of the importance of Rajput kingdoms and wanted them as allies in his ambition of establishing a large empire.
• He tried to win over the Rajputs wherever possible and inducted them into Mughal service.
• He also entered into matrimonial alliances with the Rajput rulers. He married the Rajput princess, the daughter of Raja Bharamal.
• Rajputs served the Mughals for four generations and many of them rose to the positions of military generals.
• Raja Bhagawan Das and Raja Man Singh were given senior positions in the administration by Akbar.
• The Rajput kingdoms like Merta and Jodhpur were also occupied without much resistance.
• However, Maharana Pratap, the ruler of Mewar posed most serious challenge to the Mughal emperor and did not submit before Akbar.
• After a prolonged struggle and siege of the fort of Chittor, Akbar succeeded in defeating the Mewar forces. However, it could not be fully subdued and some resistance from Mewar side continued for a long time.
• After the fall of Chittor Ranthambhor and Kalinjar were captured. Marwar, Bikaner and Jaisalmer also submitted to Akbar.
• By 1570 Akbar had captured almost the whole of Rajasthan.
• The most important achievement of Akbar was that in spite of the subjugation of the whole of Rajasthan there was no hostility between the Rajputs and the Mughals.

Afghans (Gujarat, Bihar and Bengal)

• Akbar’s compaign against Afghans started with Gujarat in 1572.
• One of the princes, Itimad Khan, invited Akbar to come and conquer it.
• Akbar himself marched to Ahmedabad. In a short time most of the principalities of Gujarat were brought under his control.
• Akbar organized Gujarat into a province and placed it under Mirza Aziz Koka and returned to capital.
• Within six months various rebellious groups came together and revolted against the Mughal rule and the Mughal governor had to cede a number of territories.
• The leaders of rebellion were Ikhitiyar ul Mulk and Mohammad Hussain Mirza. From Agra, Akbar marched at a rapid pace and managed to reach Ahmedabad in ten days and quickly suppressed the rebellion.
• Bengal and Bihar which were under the control of the Afghans, were paid attention after the Gujarat expedition. In 1574, Akbar along with Munim Khan Khan-i-Khanan marched towards Bihar. In a short time, Hajipur and Patna were captured and Gaur (Bengal) was also taken away. With this the independent rule of Bengal was ended in 1576.
• By 1592, the Mughal mansabdar Raja Man Singh also brought the whole of Orissa under the Mughal rule.
• A series of conflicts arose in some regions of the Mughal empire in 1581. Bengal, Bihar, Gujarat and the north-west were main centres of unrest.
• The Afghans were at the root of these problems since they were overthrown everywhere by the Mughals.
• Apart from this, Akbar’s policy of strict administration of jagirs was also responsible for this.
• A new policy was adopted, according to which the jagirdars were asked to submit the accounts of the jagirs. This created dissatisfaction and jagirdars rose in revolt.
• Akbar immediately sent a large force under Raja Todar Mal and Shaikh Farid Bakshi and a little later, Aziz Koka and Shahbaz Khan to help Todar Mal.
• The rebels declared Akbar’s brother Hakim Mirza, who was in Kabul, as their king.
• But soon the Mughal forces were able to successfully crush the rebellion in Bihar, Bengal and adjoining regions.

Punjab and North West

• In the Punjab, Mirza Hakim attacked Lahore. Akbar decided to march towards Lahore himself. Hakim Mirza immediately retreated and Akbar controlled the whole region. He gave first priority to organize the protection of North-West frontiers. After this he marched towards Kabul and conquered the territory. Akbar gave the charge of Kabul to his sister Bakhtunnisa Begum.
• Later on Raja Man Singh was appointed governor of Kabul and it was given to him in jagir.
• Another important development in the North-West region was the rebellion of Roshanai who captured the road between Kabul and Hindustan.
• Roshanai was a sect established by a soldier who was called Pir Roshanai in the region. His son Jalala was heading the sect who had large following.
• Akbar appointed Zain Khan as commander of a strong force to suppress the Roshanais and establish Mughal control in the region. Sayid Khan Gakhar and Raja Birbal were also sent with separate forces to help Zain Khan. In one of the operations Birbal was killed with most of his forces.
• He deputed Raja Todar Mal and Raja Man Singh to suppress the rebellion and they were successful in defeating the Roshanais.
• Akbar annexed Kashmir to the Mughal Empire in 1586.
• Finally, by the year 1595, the complete supremacy of Mughals over North-West region was established.


• After 1590, Akbar gave shape to a Deccan policy to bring these states under Mughal control.
• During this period the Deccan states were facing internal tensions and regular conflicts.
• In 1591, Akbar sent offers to the Deccan states asking them to accept Mughal sovereignty, but there was not much success.
• In 1595, the Mughal forces invaded Ahmednagar. Its ruler Chand Bibi decided to face the Mughals. She approached Ibrahim Adil Shah of Bijapur and Qutub Shah of Golkonda for help but with no success. After heavy losses on both sides, a treaty was worked out and Chand Bibi ceded Berar to Mughals.
• After some time Chand Bibi attacked Berar to take it back. At this point Nizamshahi, Qutabshahi and Adilshahi troops decided to present a joint front. The Mughals suffered heavy losses but could retain their position. Meanwhile, Adil Shah of Bijapur also expressed allegiance and offered his daughter in marriage to Prince Daniyal and Chand Bibi also died. Now Mughal territories in Deccan included Asirgarh, Burhanpur, Ahmedanagar and Berar.
• Along with the expansion of territory Akbar initiated the policy of absorbing the chieftains into Mughal nobility which paid rich dividends to the empire. The Mughal emperor succeeded in getting the support of chieftains and their armies for new conquests.
• The chieftains also benefited from this policy and they could retain their territories and administer them as they wished. In addition, they received jagir and mansab. Often they got territories in jagir bigger than their kingdoms. It also provided them security from enemies and rebellions.
• Many Rajput mansabdars were assigned their own territories as Watan Jagir, which was hereditary and non-transferable. The territorial expansion under Akbar gave a definite shape to the Mughal Empire.
• In terms of territorial expansion very little was added to the empire after Akbar. Some territories were added during the regions of Shahjahan and Aurangzeb in the Deccan and North East of India.
• Akbar’s last days were rendered unhappy. His beloved friend and poet Faizi passed away in A.D. 1595.
• Two of his sons, Murad and Danyal, died of over drinking.
• In an eagerness to seize the throne Salim set himself up as an independent king at Allahabad.
• In A.D. 1602, he further wounded his father’s feelings by causing Abul Fazl to be put to death.
• A reconciliation was brought out between the father and the son. Soon after, Akbar fell ill and died on October 1605 A.D.
• Akbar patronized men of letters. Todarmal, Abul Fazl,. Faizi, Birbal, Tansen, Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan, Man Singh etc. were gems of his court.

Religious Policy

• Various factors were responsible for the religious policy of Akbar.
• The most important among them were his early contacts with the sufi saints, the teachings of his tutor Abdul Latif, his marriage with Rajput women, his association with intellectual giants like Shaikh Mubarak and his two illustrious sons – Abul Faizi and Abul Fazl – and his ambition to establish an empire in Hindustan.
• In the beginning of his life, Akbar was a pious Muslim.
• He abolished the pilgrim tax and in 1562, he abolished jiziya.
• He allowed his Hindu wives to worship their own gods.
• Later, he became a skeptical Muslim.
• In 1575, he ordered for the construction of Ibadat Khana (House of worship) at his new capital Fatepur Sikri.
• Akbar invited learned scholars from all religions like Hinduism, Jainism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism.
• He disliked the interference of the Muslim Ulemas in political matters.
• In 1579, he issued the “Infallibility Decree” by which he asserted his religious powers.
• In 1582, he promulgated a new religion called Din Ilahi or Divine Faith. It believes in one God. It contained good points of all religions. Its basis was rational. It upholds no dogma. It was aimed at bridging the gulf that separated different religions.
• However, his new faith proved to be a failure. It fizzled out after his death. Even during his life time, it had only fifteen followers including Birbal. Akbar did not compel anyone to his new faith.

Land Revenue Administration

• Akbar made some experiments in the land revenue administration with the help of Raja Todar Mal.
• The land revenue system of Akbar was called Zabti or Bandobast system.
• It was further improved by Raja Todar Mal. It was known as Dahsala System which was completed in 1580.
• By this system, Todar Mal introduced a uniform system of land measurement.
• The revenue was fixed on the average yield of land assessed on the basis of past ten years.
• The land was also divided into four categories – Polaj (cultivated every year), Parauti (once in two years), Chachar (once in three or four years) and Banjar (once in five or more years).
• Payment of revenue was made generally in cash.

Mansabdari System

• Akbar introduced the Mansabdari system in his administration.
• Under this system every officer was assigned a rank (mansab).
• The lowest rank was 10 and the highest was 5000 for the nobles.
• Princes of royal blood received even higher ranks.
• The ranks were divided into two – zat and sawar.
• Zat means personal and it fixed the personal status of a person.
• Sawar rank indicated the number of cavalrymen of a person who was required to maintain.
• Every sawar had to maintain at least two horses.
• The mansab rank was not hereditary.
• All appointments and promotions as well as dismissals were directly made by the emperor.

Jahangir (1605-1627)

• After the death of Akbar, Prince Salim succeeded with the title Jahangir (Conqueror of World) in 1605.
• Soon after accession to the throne, Jahangir tried to win the hearts of all the people by various measures.
• He released prisoners and struck coins in his name.
• He issued I2 ordinances to be uniformly implemented all over his empire :-

i) Prohibition of cesses.
ii) Regulations about highway robbery and theft
iii) Free inheritance of property of deceased person
iv) Prohibition of sale of wine and of all kinds of intoxicating liquor
v) Abolition of inhuman corporal punishments
vi) Prohibition of forcible seizure of property
vii) Building of hospitals and appointment of physicians to attend the sick
viii) Prohibition of slaughter of animals on certain days
ix) Respect pay to Sunday
x) General confirmation of mansabs and jagirs
xi) Confirmation of aima lands i.e. lands devoted to the purposes of prayer and praise (of God)
xii) Amnesty to all prisoners in forts and prisons of all kinds.

• Jahangir also set up a famous chain of justice between the Shah Burj in the fort of Agra and a stone pillar fixed on the banks of Yamuna to enable the people to approach him without any servant.
• Jahangir was a lover of art, literature and particularly painting.

• John Hawkins resided at Agra for two years and the emperor called him Inglish Khan. Sir Thomas Roe arrived in India in September A.D. 1615 and was granted audience at Ajmer. He was granted a Farman by prince Khurram, which gave the English reasonable facilities for trade.
• Jahangir’s rule witnessed a spate of rebellions. He suppressed the rebellion of his son Khusrau and the prince was imprisoned. The fifth Sikh Guru Arjun was sentenced to death for his blessings to the rebel prince.
• He also pardoned his political opponents and accorded generous treatment to them. The few changes that Jahangir effected in the office’s of the state were intended to secure him a band of supporters.
• He rewarded Bir Singh Bundela the murderer of Abul Fazal with the dignity of Commander of three thousand horses while Abdur Rahman was assigned the mansab of 2000.
• Mirza Ghiyas Beg a Persian immigrant father of Noor Jahan received the office of the imperial Dewan with the title of Itimad-Ud-Dula.
• Jahangir married Nur Jahan, originally known as Mihr-ul-Nisa, in A.D. 1611.
• Taking advantage of the internal disorder in the empire in 1621 owing to the political estrangement between Noor Jahan and Shah Jahan the Persians besieged Kandhar in 1621 and finally took it in 1622.
• Jahangir thought of elaborate preparations of war which he hoped to carry right to the Persian capital but his plans were frustrated by Shah Jahan who refused to lead the expendition as he knew that during his absence from the capital Nur Jahan would do her best to ensure his exclusion from the throne and push the claims of Shahryar her son-in-law.
• Thus, Kandhar was lost to the Mugals. Jahangir ordered prince Parvez to recover the fortress but this could not be done owing to Shah Jahan’s rebellions.
• Jahangir decided to follow Akbar’s expansionist policy in the Deccan. But Jahangir could achieve little success in it due to certain problems. He could not devote much attention in the crucial phase due to Khurram’s revolt.
• The Mughal nobles were also involved in a number of intrigues and conflicts to gain some advantages from Deccan.
• During the first three years, the Deccan regained half of Balaghat and many districts of Ahmednagar.
• Malik Ambar was the main ruler who managed to defeat Mughal forces and captured Berar, Balaghat and parts of Ahmednagar. The Mughals could not regain control of the lost territories.
• Meanwhile Shah Jahan revolted against his father and became friends with Malik Ambar.
• Malik Ambar made an attempt to capture Ahmednagar; but failing there, he took away Sholapur from Adil Shah and in alliance with Shah Jahan tried to capture Burhanpur but failed.
• Once peace was established between Jahangir and Shah Jahan. Malik Ambar was also pacified. Malik Ambar died in 1627 and was succeeded by his son Fath Khan as Wakil and Peshwa of the kingdom.
• Fath Khan was arrogant and during his time the conflict between the Dakhnis and other nobles grew.
• During the reign of Jahangir there was no addition to the Mughal territory in Deccan. In fact the Deccani rulers weakened the Mughal authority in their states. Over ambition of Malik Ambar was an obstacle in the way of a joint front of the Deccan states.
• During the period between the death of Jahangir and the accession of Shah Jahan, the Mughal governor of the Deccan, Khan Jahan Lodi, with the intention of securing help in times of necessity, gave away Balaghat to the Nizam Shah.

Religious Policy of Jahangir

• Jahangir was born of a Rajput mother and had grown in the atmosphere of ‘Idabat khana’ debates. The result was that Jahangir imbibed these liberal tendencies and his religious views became enlightened and liberal.
• Jahangir had respect for the teachings of Islam and retained this attitude till the end of his life, but he can by no means be described staunch or even an orthodox follower of the principles of his faith.
• He was friendly to the Christians.
• He held religious discourses with a Hindu saint named Yadurup and participated in the celebration of Hindu festivals.
• He did not seek to revive the Jizya or the Pilgrim Tax and the Hindus still occupied high office and enjoyed the freedom to erect new temples.
• But some of his acts reflects of his harshness and discrimination. After the conquest of Kangra, he destroyed the local Jwalamukhi temple.
• Similarly, he ordered destruction of the Varah temple at Pushkar near Ajmer because he was convinced that God could never have incarnated himself in that form. But even though his action might be rationally sound, he committed the grave error of disregarding the freedom of conscience of others in upholding his own religious predilections.
• He suspected the Jains of having sided with Khusrau and on that ground banished them from empire.
• On the same charge, he imposed a fine of two lakhs of rupees on Guru Arjun and when he refused to pay the fine he put him to death on charge of treason.
• When offended by the conduct of Christians, he had their church closed down.
• But the only conclusion that can be drawn from these various stray incidents is that Jahangir was not always careful to avoid wounding religious susceptibilities of others. But it cannot be maintained that he persecuted the Hindus, the Jains, the Christians or the Sikhs as a community. His action affected only an individual or a particular locality and each instance of alleged religious persecution had some non-religious motive at its base.

Nur Jahan

• In 1611, Jahangir married Mehrunnisa who was known as Nur Jahan (Light of World).
• Her father Itimaduddauala was given the post of chief diwan.
• Other members of her family also benefited from this alliance. Nur Jahan’s elder brother Asaf Khan was appointed as Khan-i-Saman, a post reserved for the nobles.
• In 1612, Asaf Khan’s daughter, Arjumand Banu Begum (later known as Mumtaj), married Jahangir’s third son, prince Khurram (later Shah Jahan).
• It was believed by some historians that Nur Jahan formed a group of “junta” and this led to two factions in the Mughal court.
• This drove Shah Jahan into rebellion against his father in 1622, since he felt that Jahangir was completely under Nur Jahan’s influence.
• However, this view is not accepted by some other historians. Till Jahangir became weak due to ill health, he only took important political decisions. It is revealed from his autobiography.
• However, it is clear that Nur Jahan dominated the royal household and set new fashions based on Persian traditions.
• She encouraged Persian art and culture in the court.
• She was a constant companion of Jahangir and even joined him in his hunting.

Shah Jahan (1627-1658)

• Shah Jahan rose in revolt against his father who ordered him to go to Kandahar. This rebellion distracted the activities of the empire for four years.
• After Jahangir’s death in 1627, Shah Jahan reached Agra with the support of the nobles and the army and was proclaimed emperor.
• Nur Jahan was given a pension and lived a retired life till her death eighteen years later.
• The Portugese settlement at Hoogly was destroyed by him in A.D. 1632.
• The fort of Daulatabad was occupied occupied by Mahabat Khan in June 1633.
• After ascending the throne, Shah Jahan ordered Khan Jahan Lodi to recover Balaghat from Nizam Shah but as the latter failed, Shah Jahan recalled him to court.
• Khan Jahan turned hostile and rebelled. He took shelter with Nizam Shah. This infuriated Shah Jahan and he decided to follow aggressive policy towards the Deccan states. Shah Jahan’s main concern was to recover the lost territories of the Deccan.
• He believed that independence of Ahmednagar was in the way of Mughal control in the Deccan. He decided to isolate Ahmednagar and win over Bijapur and Marathas. He was successful. Fath Khan son of Malik Ambar also made peace with Mughals.
• Now Mahabat Khan was appointed governor of Deccan, but the conflict with Deccan states continued.
• Finally in 1636 treaties were signed with Bijapur and Golconda which ended the conflicts in the Deccan.
• A distinct change in Mughal policy came towards 1656–57 when the treaties were ignored. Shah Jahan asked Aurangzeb to conquer and annex the territories of Deccan kingdoms. It is argued by some historians that this change of policy was to exploit resources of the Deccan states for Mughals. However, this change did not benefit the Mughal empire in any substantial way and created more problems for future.
• Shah Jahan launched a prolonged campaign in the northwest frontier to recover Kandahar and other ancestral lands. The Mughal army lost more than five thousand lives during the successive invasions between 1639 and 1647. Then Shah Jahan realized the futility of his ambition and stopped fighting.

War of Succession

• The last years of Shah Jahan’s reign were clouded by a bitter war of succession among his four sons – Dara Shikoh (crown prince), Shuja (governor of Bengal), Aurangazeb (governor of Deccan) and Murad Baksh (governor of Malwa and Gujarat).
• Towards the end of 1657, Shah Jahan fell ill at Delhi for some time but later recovered. But the princes started fighting for the Mughal throne.
• Aurangazeb emerged victorious in this struggle. He entered the Agra fort after defeating Dara. He forced Shah Jahan to surrender. Shah Jahan was confined to the female apartments in the Agra fort and strictly put under vigil. But he was not ill-treated.
• Shah Jahan lived for eight long years lovingly nursed by his daughter Jahanara. He died in 1666 and buried beside his wife’s grave in the Taj Mahal.
• Foreign travelers like Bernier, Travernier and Manucci have left accounts about his reign. Moti Masjid (Agra), Red Fort (Delhi), Jama Masjid (Delhi) and above all the Taj Mahal – the mausoleum of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal are his famous buildings.

Religious Policy of Shah Jahan

• Orthodox Muslims did not like the views of Akbar and Jahangir and there was some resentment among them.
• In his early years, a policy of religious persecution and religious discrimination in favour of Islam is clearly noticeable.
• He stopped sijda, forbade the use of the royal portrait as an adornment to the cap or the turban and restored the use of the Hijri era in place of the Ilahi era.
• In 1633 he ordered wholesale demolition of all newly built temples and in Benaras alone 72 temples were destroyed. Similarly, destruction took place in Allahabad, Gujarat and Kashmir.
• He established a separate department for securing conversions to Islam. These incidents show that Akbar’s policy of religious liberty and equality was gradually being forsaken and religious discrimination, began under Jahangir, was gaining in virulence and scope.
• But even under Shahjahan, there was no permanent adoption of religious persecution as an integral element of state policy. He too did not revive the Jizya.
• During the later part of his reign there is no reference to temple destruction or any other form of religious persecution.
• He continued Jharokha darshan, tula dan and tilak.
• Nor did he deprive the Hindus of high office. 20% to 25% of the higher mansabs were still given to the Hindus. Nor did he deprive the Hindu poets, artists and scholars of state patronage.
• It thus appears that in his early years he issued certain orders and did certain acts on grounds of political expediency which proved harmful to certain individuals and localities. But he never adopted a general policy of discrimination, persecution and hatred and retained the affections of his Hindu subjects till the end of his reign.
• But this twin-headed policy of Shahjahan led to emergence of two rival groups in the state as the supporters of these two policies, which proved very harmful to the state and facilitated Aurangzeb’s accession to the throne. If he had adopted a liberal policy from the very outset, there might have been no dissensions at court.

Aurangazeb (1658-1707)

• Aurangazeb was crowned emperor at Delhi in A.D. 1658, but it was only after the final defeat of Dara Shikoh at Deorai that he celebrated his coronation in A.D. 1659.
• He assumed the title Alamgir (World Conqueror).
• He faced serious difficulties in the latter part of his reign. The Jats and Satnamis and also the Sikhs revolted against him. These revolts were induced by his harsh religious policy.
• Guru Teg Bahadur, the ninth Guru of Sikhs, was besieged and taken to Delhi where he was beheaded.
• In A.D. 1679, over the question of succession in Marwar, Aurangzeb interfered and defeated the Rathors near Pushkar and their dominion was occupied.

• Later Udaipur was also occupied, and the Rana of Mewar made peace with Mughals.

Deccan Policy

• The Deccan policy of the Mughals started from the reign of Akbar, who conquered Khandesh and Berar.
• Jahangir fought against Malik Amber of Ahmadnagar.
• During the Shah Jahan’s reign, Aurangazeb, as governor of Deccan, followed an aggressive Deccan policy.
• When he became the Mughal emperor, for the first twenty five years, he concentrated on the northwest frontier.
• At that time, the Maratha ruler, Sivaji carved out an independent Maratha kingdom in the territories of north and south Konkan.
• To contain the spread of the Marathas, Aurangazeb decided to invade Bijapur and Golkonda.
• He defeated Sikandar Shah of Bijapur and annexed his kingdom.
• Then, he proceeded against Golkonda and eliminated the Kutb Shahi dynasty and annexed it.
• In fact, the destruction of the Deccan kingdoms was a political blunder on the part of Aurangazeb. The barrier between the Mughals and the Marathas was removed and there ensued a direct confrontation between them.
• Also, his Deccan campaigns exhausted the Mughal treasury. According to J.N. Sarkar, the Deccan ulcer ruined Aurangazeb.

Religious Policy

• Aurangazeb was a staunch and orthodox Muslim in his personal life.
• His ideal was to transform India into an Islamic state.
• He created a separate department to enforce moral codes under a high-powered officer called Muhtasib.
• Drinking was prohibited.
• Cultivation and use of bhang and other drugs were banned.
• Aurangazeb forbade music in the Mughal court.
• He discontinued the practice of Jarokha-darshan.
• He also discontinued the celebration of Dasarah and royal astronomers and astrologers were also dismissed from service.
• Initially Aurangazeb banned the construction of new Hindu temples and repair of old temples. Then he began a policy of destroying Hindu temples. The celebrated temples at Mathura and Benares were reduced to ruins.
• In 1679, he reimposed jiziya and pilgrim tax.
• He was also not tolerant of other Muslim sects. The celebration of Muharram was stopped.
• He was also against the Sikhs and he executed the ninth Sikh Guru Tej Bahadur. This had resulted in the transformation of Sikhs into a warring community.
• His religious policy was responsible for turning the Rajputs, the Marathas and Sikhs into the enemies of Mughal empire.
• It had also resulted in the rebellions of the Jats of Mathura and the Satnamis of Mewar. Therefore, Aurangazeb was held responsible for the decline of the Mughal empire.

The Revolts Against Aurangzeb

Revolt of the Jats

• Bold, brave and ferocious with a deep sense of loyalty towards their tribal organisation, the Jat peasantry was more akin to any martial community.
• They were notorious for cattle-lifting who frequently, raided the traders between Agra and Delhi.
• Confined to the not so fertile regions of west of Agra, they constituted the marginal sections of peasantry.
• In 1669 A.D. the Jats under their leader Gokul, revolted. They killed the Faujdar and plundered the Pargana of Sadabad. The rebellion soon spread to other districts.
• Aurangzeb ruthlessly suppress the rebellion. Gokul and his limbs were publicly displayed. The Jats, however, remained defiant and in 1686 A.D. once again rose in revolt, under Rajaram. He too, was slain but his nephew, Churaman, continued the Jat resistance till Aurangzeb’s death.

Revolt of the Satnamis

• They were a peasant religious brotherbood who resided in Narnol.
• Its other memebrs belonged to the low professions.
• Firmly united and militant, they never hesitated to use arms to aid the harassed members.
• Thus when a Satnami cultivator was killed by a Muslim soldier, the whole tribe arose to seek to seek revenge and broke into rebellion.
• When, of the Mughal efforts, they could not be quelled, the Mughals resorted to ruthless warfare.
• Over a thousand Satnamis were slain before peace was secured in the region.
• The Jats and the Satnamis revolts only convinced Aurangzeb of the disloyalty of the Hindus to the Mughals state who therefore needed to be ruthlessly suppressed.
• Moreover, it also convinced him that only the emergence of an Islamic state would reduce the Hindus to their proper place in State.

The Revolt of the Sikhs

• The Sikh organisation was founded by Guru Nanak, a devout social reformer, as a peaceful universal brotherhood which was free from the shackles of caste and community.
• Under the next three Gurus too, the community remained peaceful and enjoyed amicable relation with Akbar who granted Guru Ram Das a piece of land which became renowned as Amritsar.
• The fifth Guru, Arjan Singh, proved a more dynamic and zealous organiser. He wielded the community into one compact whole. He also was the first Guru who actively participated in politics.
• Consequently, the Mughal-Sikh conflict can be traced to Jahangir’s reign. He ordered Arjan Singh’s execution. This was done on purely grounds for sheltering the fugitive Khusrav and in no way was it accompanied by the religious persecution of the Sikhs. Nevertheless, the act deeply embittered the Sikhs against the Mughals.
• Under the leader, Har Gobind, the character of the Sikh movement, for the first time, became more militant, while its democratic social set up attracted the Jat peasantry in large numbers.
• Henceforth, any harshness towards the peasantry was regarded as an oppression by the Mughal state towards the Sikhs.
• The military character was further developed under Guru Teg Bahadur who in order to strengthen the Sikh interests encouraged the creation of a state within the state.
• In the earlier years of Aurangzeb’s reign, there was no conflict between Teg Bahadur and Aurangzeb. However once the Guru publicly condemned Aurangzeb’s anti-Hindu measures as is clearly evident from the support that he rendered to the Hindu population of Kashmir, Aurangzeb became suspicious of the Guru’s motives.
• Their relation rapidly deteriorated and ultimately resulted in the gruesome murder of Teg Bahadur in 1675 A.D.
• While Guru Teg behadur’s persecution was not accompanied by the annihilation of the sons; (Ram Rai continued to live at the Mughal court and his sons were granted mansabs).
• The last Guru, Gobind Singh, was determined to militarily strengthen his community. To unite them, he formed the brotherhood of Khalsa which free of caste and creed, advocated equality of mankind.
• To this end, he initiated the practice of drinking water, conservated by a sword or dagger (Amrit chakna). To distinguish the member from other communities, they were asked to wear five things—Kanghi (comb), Kachha (underwear), Kara (iron bangle), Kesh and Kirpan (sword).
• Henceforth, the Guru lived like a regal monarch, holding court, building forts with the help of his followers who were as zealously dedicated to the cause of Skihism as the soldiers of Islam.
• Their expansionist activities inevitably led ta a clash of arms with the Mughals. The Sikhs were defeated, his two sons were executed while the Guru ultimately escaped and settled at Anandpur.
• Guru Govind Singh was murdered by an Afghan in 1708 A.D.
• Guru Gobind’s aspirations of founding a Sikh state were completed by Banda, who the Guru had nominated as his military successor.

The Marathas

• The Marathas emerged in the Deccan as a vital force under Shivaji in the middle of the 17th century and began to challenge the Mughal authority.
• Shiviji started his offensive operations in 1656 and captured the principality of Javli.
• Shivaji raided the Bijapur territory, and, in 1659, the Sultan of Bijapur sent his general, Afzal Khan, to capture Shivaji, but Shivaji killed him.
• In 1662, the Sultan of Bijapur entered into a peace settlement with Shivaji and acknowledged him as an independent ruler of his conquered territories.
• Aurangzeb sent Shaista Khan, the viceroy of the Deccan, with a big army against Shivaji and the Treaty of Purandhar (1665) was signed between the two.
• Out of the 35 forts held by Shivaji, he agreed to surrender 23 forts to the Mughals. The remaining 12 forts (with annual income of one lakh of huns) were to be left with Shivaji.
• Shivaji was asked to pay a visit to the Mughal court at Agra. But, when Shivaji went there, he was ill-treated and was taken a prisoner. He managed to escape, reaching Raigarh in 1666.
• Soon he conquered all the forts which he had surrendered to the Mughals.
• In 1670, he plundered Surat for the second time.
• In 1674, Shivaji made Raigarh his Capital and celebrated his coronation, and assumed the title of Chatrapati.
• Shortly, after this, he made a great expedition into southern India and conquered Jinji Vellore and many forts in Karnataka.
• He died at Raigarh in 1680 after ruling for only six years. In this short time he founded the Maratha kingdom, which dominated western India for a century and a half.
• Shivaji’s successor was his son Sambhaji.
• Many Maratha chiefs did not support Sambhaji and extended help to Rajaram the other son of Shivaji.
• The internal conflict weakened Maratha power. Finally Sambhaji was captured and put to death in 1689 by Aurangzeb.
• Sambhaji was succeeded by Rajaram as his son Sahu was still young.
• Rajaram died in 1700 and was succeeded by his minor son Shivaji III under the regency of Tara Bai, his mother.
• The failure of Aurangzeb against the Marathas was largely due to Tara Bai’s energy and administrative genius.
• The Mughals, however, succeeded in dividing the Marathas into two rival camps – one under Tara Bai and the other under Sambhaji’s son, Sahu.
• Sahu, who for long was in the Mughal court, was released. He succeeded in deposing Tara Bai with the help of a Chitpavan Brahman named Balaji Vishwanath.

Personality and Character of Aurangazeb

• In his private life, Aurangazeb was industrious and disciplined. He was very simple in food and dress. He did not consume wine.
• He earned money for his personal expenses by copying Quran and selling those copies.
• He was learned and proficient in Arabic and Persian languages. He was a lover of books.
• He was devoted to his religion and conducted prayers five times a day. He strictly observed the Ramzan fasting.
• In the political field, Aurangazeb committed serious mistakes. He misunderstood the true nature of the Maratha movement and antagonized them. Also, he failed to solve the Maratha problem and left an open sore. His policy towards Shia Deccan Sultanates also proved to be a wrong policy.
• His religious policy was also not successful. Aurangazeb was an orthodox Sunni Muslim. But his move to apply his religious thought rigidly in a non-Muslim society was a failure. His antagonistic policies towards non-Muslims did not help him to rally the Muslims to his side. On the other hand it had strengthened political enemies of the Mughal Empire.

Decline of the Mughal Empire

• The unity and stability of the Mughal Empire was shaken during the long and strong reign of Emperor Aurangzeb.
• However, in spite of setbacks and adverse circumstances the Mughal administration was still quite efficient and the Mughal army strong at the time of his death in 1707.
• This year is generally considered to separate the era of the great Mughals from that of the lesser Mughals.
• After the death of Aurangzeb the Mughal authority weakened, it was not in a position to militarily enforce its regulations in all parts of the empire.
• As a result many provincial governors started to assert their authority. In due course of time they gained independent status. At the same time many kingdoms which were subjugated by the Mughals also claimed their independence.
• Some new regional groups also consolidated and emerged as political power with all these developments, the period between 1707 and 1761 (third battle of Panipat, where Ahmed Shah Abdali defeated the Maratha chiefs) witnessed resurgence of regional identity that buttressed both political and economic decentralization.
• At the same time, intra-regional as well as inter-regional trade in local raw materials, artifacts, and grains created strong ties of economic interdependence, irrespective of political and military relations.
• The new emperor, Bahadur Shah I (or Shah Alam; ruled 1707-12), followed a policy of compromise, pardoning all nobles who had supported his rivals. He granted them appropriate territories and postings.
• He never abolished jizya, but the effort to collect the tax was not effective.
• In the beginning Shah Alam tried to gain greater control over the Rajput states of the rajas of Amber (later Jaipur) and Jodhpur. When his attempt met with firm resistance he realized the necessity of a settlement with them. However, the settlement did not restore them to fully committed warriors for the Mughal cause.
• The emperor’s policy toward the Marathas was also that of half-hearted conciliation. They continued to fight among themselves as well as against the Mughals in the Deccan.
• Bahadur Shah was, however, successful in conciliating Chatrasal, the Bundela chief, and Churaman, the Jat chief; the latter also joined him in the campaign against the Sikhs.
• Jahandar Shah (ruled 1712-13) was a weak and ineffective ruler. His wazir Zulfiqar Khan assumed the executive direction of the empire with unprecedented powers.
• Zulfiqar believed that it was necessary to establish friendly relations with the Rajputs and the Marathas and to conciliate the Hindu chieftains in general in order to save the empire.
• Zulfiqar reversed the policies of Aurangzeb and abolished jizya.
• He continued the old policy of suppression against the Sikhs. His goal was to reconcile all those who were willing to share power within the Mughal institutional framework.
• Zulfiqar Khan made several attempts at reforming the economic system but failed in his efforts to enhance the revenue collection of the state.
• When Farrukh Siyar, son of the slain prince Azimush-Shan, challenged Jahandar Shah and Zulfiqar Khan with a large army and funds from Bihar and Bengal, the rulers found their coffers depleted. In desperation, they looted their own palaces, even ripping gold and silver from the walls and ceilings, in order to finance an adequate army.
• Farrukh Siyar (ruled 1713-19) owed his victory and accession to the Sayyid brothers, Abdullah Khan and Husain Ali Khan Baraha.
• The Sayyids thus earned the offices of wazir and chief bakhshi and acquired control over the affairs of state.
• They promoted the policies initiated earlier by Zulfiqar Khan. Jizya and other similar taxes were immediately abolished.
• The Sayyid brothers finally suppressed the Sikh revolt and tried to conciliate the Rajputs, the Marathas, and the Jats. However, this policy was hampered by divisiveness between the wazir and the emperor, as the groups tended to ally themselves with one or the other.
• The Jats once again started plundering the royal highway between Agra and Delhi. Farrukh Siyar deputed Raja Jai Singh to lead a punitive campaign against them but wazir negotiated a settlement over the raja’s head.
• As a result, throughout northern India zamindars either revolted violently or simply refused to pay assessed revenues. On the other hand, Farrukh Siyar compounded difficulties in the Deccan by sending letters to some Maratha chiefs urging them to oppose the forces of the Deccan governor, who happened to be the deputy and an associate of Sayyid Husain Ali Khan.
• Finally, in 1719, the Sayyid brothers brought Ajit Singh of Jodhpur and a Maratha force to Delhi to depose the emperor.
• The murder of Farrukh Siyar created a wave of revulsion against the Sayyids among the various factions of nobility, who were also jealous of their growing power.
• Many of these, in particular the old nobles of Aurangzeb’s time, resented the wazir’s encouragement of revenue farming, which in their view was mere shop keeping and violated the age- old Mughal notion of statecraft.
• In Farrukh Siyar’s place the brothers raised to the throne three young princes in quick succession within eight months in 1719.
• Two of these, Rafi-ud-Darajat and Rafi-ud-Dawlah (Shah Jahan II), died of consumption.
• The third, who assumed the title of Muhammad Shah, exhibited sufficient vigour to set about freeing himself from the brothers’ control.
• A powerful group under the leadership of the Nizam-ul-Mulk, Chin Qilich Khan, and his father’s cousin Muhammad Amin Khan, the two eminent nobles emerged finally to dislodge the Sayyid brothers (1720).
• By the time Muhammad Shah (ruled 1719-48) came to power, the nature of the relationship between the emperor and the nobility had almost completely changed.
• Individual interests of the nobles had come to guide the course of politics and state activities.
• In 1720 Muhammad Amin Khan replaced Sayyid Abdullah Khan as wazir; after Amin Khan’s death (January 1720), the office was occupied by the Nizam-ul-Mulk for a brief period until Amin Khan’s son Qamar-ud-Din Khan assumed the title in July 1724 by a claim of hereditary right.
• The nobles themselves virtually dictated these appointments. By this time the nobles had assumed lot of powers. They used to get farmans issued in the name of emperor in their favours.
• The position of emperor was preserved as a symbol only without real powers. The real powers seated with important groups of nobles.
• The nobles in control of the central offices maintained an all-empire outlook, even if they were more concerned with the stability of the regions where they had their jagirs.
• Farmans (mandates granting certain rights or special privileges) to governors, faujdar, and other local officials were sent, in conformity with tradition, in the name of the emperor.
• Individual failings of Aurangzeb’s successors also contributed to the decline of royal authority.
• Jahandar Shah lacked dignity and decency; Farrukh Siyar was fickle-minded.
• Muhammad Shah was frivulous and fond of ease and luxury. He was a pleasure loving king and was nick named Rangeela.
• During the reign of Muhammad Shah, Nadir Shah raided India and took away the peacock throne and the Kohinoor diamond.
• Nizam ul mulk was appointed Wazir in 1722 but he relinquished the post and marched to the Deccan to found the state of Hyderabad.
• Bengal acquired virtual independence during the governorship of Murshid Quli Khan.
• Saddat Khan Burhan-ul-Mulk who was appointed governor of Awadh by him laid down the foundation of the autonomous state.
• During Ahmed Shah’s reign, Ahmed Shah Abdali (one of the ablest generals of Nadir Shah) marched towards Delhi and the Mughals ceded Punjab and Multan.
• Later on during Alamgir reign Ahmed Shah Abdali occupied Delhi. Later, Delhi was also plundered by the Marathas.
• During Shah Alam II reign Najib Khan Rohilla became very powerful in Delhi so much so that Shah Alam II could not enter Delhi. The Battle of Buxar (1764) was fought during his reign.
• During Akbar Shah II reign Lord Hastings ceased to accept the sovereignty of Mughals and claimed an equal status.
• Bahadur Shah II was the last Mughal king , who was confined by the British to the Red Fort.
• During the revolt of 1857 he was proclaimed the Emperor by the rebellions. He was deported to Rangoon following the 1857 rebellion.

Causes for the Downfall of the Mughals

• The Mughal Empire declined rapidly after the death of Aurangazeb and the causes for the downfall of the Mughal Empire were varied.
• The vastness of the empire became unwieldy. It is quite evident that the territorial expansion of Mughal empire achieved under Akbar continued to be the core of the empire. Its further expansion during Aurangzeb’s reign was in Deccan and in small measure in North-East region. During Aurangzeb’s period the Mughal empire had the largest area.
• However, the beginning of the decline of the Mughal empire also could be traced to the rule of Aurangzeb.
• To some extent, the religious and Deccan policies of Aurangazeb contributed to its decline.
• The breaking up of the association with the potent regional forces like the Rajputs and failing relationships with the Deccani states and Marathas shook the unity and stability of the Mughal empire.
• Under his weak successors the empire kept disintegrating and demoralization of the Mughal army also paved the way for it.
• The Mughal court became the scene of factions among the nobles.
• The financial difficulties due to continuous wars led to the decline.
• The neglect of the sea power by the Mughals was felt when the Europeans began to settle in India.
• Further, the invasions of Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Abdali weakened the Mughal state.
• The weakness of the empire was exposed when Nadir Shah imprisoned the Mughal Emperor and looted Delhi in 1739.
• Thus the decline and downfall of the Mughal Empire was due to the combination of political, social and economic factors.

Mughal Art & Culture

• The Mughals retained many features of the administrative system of the Sultanate and Shershah and hardly any changes were made by Akbar in the organization of local government.
• Under Shershah the administrative units of Pargana (a group of villages), sarkar (a group of parganas) and groups of sarkars (somewhat like subas or province) were placed under specific offices.
• The Pargana and the sarkar continued as before. The chief officers of the Sarkar were the ‘faujdar’ being in charge of law and order.
• The Mughals formalized a new territorial unit called suba.
• Institutions of Jagir and Mansab system were also introduced by the Mughals. Thus change and continuity both marked the Mughal administrative structure which brought about a high degree of centralisation in the system.

Mughal Administration

• Akbar’s system of central government was based on the structure of the government which had evolved under the Delhi Sultanate, but the functions of the various departments were carefully organized, and meticulous rules and regulations were laid down for the conduct of affairs.
• The central Asian and Timurid tradition was of having an all powerful ‘wazir’ under whom various heads of departments functioned. He was the principal link between the ruler and the administration.
• Akbar reorganized the central machinery of administration on the basis of the division of power between various departments, and checks and balances.

The Emperor

• The Emperor was the supreme head of the administration and controlled all military and judicial powers.
• All officers in Mughal administration owed their power and position to the Emperor.
• The Emperor had authority to appoint, promote, and remove officials at his pleasure.
• There was no pressure institutional or otherwise on the Emperor.

Wakil and Wazir

• The institution of Wizarat (or Wikalat since both were used interchangeably) was present in some form during the Delhi Sultanate also.
• The position of Wazir had lost its prominent position during the period of Afghan rulers in the Delhi Sultanate.
• The position of the wazir was revived under the Mughals.
• Babur’s and Humayun’s wazir enjoyed great powers.
• The period during which Bairam Khan (1556–60) was regent of Akbar, saw the rise of wakil-wazir with unlimited powers.
• Akbar in his determination to curb the powers of wazir later on took away the financial powers from him which was a big jolt to wazir’s power.


• Diwan-i Kul was the chief diwan and was responsible for revenue and finances.
• Akbar strengthened the office of diwan by entrusting the revenue powers to the diwan.
• The diwan used to inspect all transaction and payments in all departments and supervised the provincial diwans.
• The entire revenue collection and expenditure of the empire was under his charge.
• The diwans were to report about state finance to the Emperor on daily basis.

Mir Bakshi

• Mir Bakshi looked after all matters pertaining to the military administration.
• Recommendations for appointment to mansabs, their salary papers or for promotions, etc. were made to the emperor through him.
• He kept a strict watch over proper maintenance of the sanctioned size of armed contingents and war equipage by the mansabdars.
• The new entrants seeking service were presented to the Emperor by the Mir Bakshi.
• The Mir Bakshi was also the head of the intelligence and information agencies of the empire.
• Intelligence officers (basids) and news reports (wakia navis) were posted to all parts of the empire. Their reports were presented to the emperor at the court through the Mir Bakhshi.

Sadr-us Sudur

• The Sadr-us Sudur was the head of the ecclesiastical department and his chief duty was to protect the laws of the Shariat.
• The office of the Sadr used to distribute allowances and stipends to the eligible persons and religious institutions.
• It made this office very lucrative during the first twenty-five years of Akbar’s reign.
• The promulgation of Mahzar in 1580 restricted his authority.
• According to Mahzar Akbar’s view was to prevail in case of conflicting views among religious scholars.
• This officer also regulated the matters of revenue free grants given for religious and charitable purposes.
• Later several restrictions were placed on the authority of the Sadr for award of revenue free grants also.
• Muhtasibs (censors of public morals) were appointed to ensure the general observance of the rules of morality.
• He also used to examine weights and measures and enforce fair prices etc.

Chief Qazi

• Though the emperor was the highest judge in the empire, he was assisted by the chief qazi at the capital.
• The qazi tried all cases in matters of religious disputes according to the Islamic law.
• On his recommendations, the emperor appointed qazis at the provincial and district level.
• Similarly large towns and cities had their own qazis.
• The Mufti was an authority on the Quranic law and advised and assisted the Qazi.

Mir Saman

• The Mir Saman was the officer in-charge of the royal Karkhanas.
• He was responsible for all kinds of purchases and their storage for the royal household.
• He was also to supervise the manufacturing of different articles for the use of royal household.

Provincial Administration

• Akbar divided the empire into twelve subas. These were Bengal, Bihar, Allahabad, Avadh, Agra, Delhi, Lahore, Multan, Kabul, Ajmer, Malwa and Gujarat.
• Later on Ahmednagar, Bearar and Khandesh were added.
• With the expansion of Mughal empire the number of provinces increased to twenty.
• A governor (subedar), a diwan a bakshshi, a sadr, a qazi and a waqia novis were appointed to each of the provinces. Thus, orderly government based on the principle of checks and balances was extended to the provinces.
• The Subedar or provincial governor was directly appointed by the Emperor. The subedar was head of the province and responsible for maintenance of general law and order. He was to encourage agriculture, trade and commerce and take steps to enhance the revenue of the state. He was also to suppress rebellions and provide army for expeditions.
• The head of the revenue department in the suba was the Diwan. He was appointed by the Emperor and was an independent officer. He was to supervise the revenue collection in the suba and maintain an account of all expenditures. He was also expected to increase the area under cultivation. In many cases advance loans (taqavi) were given to peasants through his office.
• The Bakshi in the province performed the same functions as were performed by Mir Bakshi at the centre. He was appointed by the imperial court at the recommendations of the Mir Bakshi. He was responsible for checking and inspecting the horses and soldiers maintained by the mansabdars in the suba.

Local Administration

• The provinces or subas were divided into Sarkars.
• The Sarkars were divided into Parganas.
• The village was the smallest unit of administration.
• At the level of Sarkar, there were two important functionaries, the faujdar and the Amalguzar.
• The Faujdar was appointed by the imperial order. Sometimes within a Sarkar a number of Faujdars existed. At times, their jurisdiction spread over two Sarkars even if these belonged to two different subas.
• Faujdari was an administrative division whereas Sarkar was a territorial and revenue division. The primary duty of the faujdar was to safeguard the life and property of the residents of the areas under his jurisdiction. He was to take care of law and order problem in his areas and assist in the timely collection of revenue whenever force was required.
• The Amalguzar or Amil was the revenue collector. His duty was to assess and supervise the revenue collection. He was expected to increase the land under cultivation and induce the peasants to pay revenue willingly. He used to maintain all accounts and send the daily receipt and expenditure report to the provincial Diwan.
• At the level of Pragana, the Shiqdar was the executive officer. He assisted the amils in the task of revenue collection.
• The amils looked after the revenue collection at the Pargana level.
• The Quanungo kept all the records of land in the pargana.
• The Kotwals were appointed mainly in towns by the imperial government and were incharge of law and order. He was to maintain a register for keeping records of people coming and going out of the towns.
• The Muqaddam was the village head man and the Patwari looked after the village revenue records.
• The services of the Zamindars were utilized for the maintenance of law and order in their areas as well as in the collection of revenue.
• The forts were placed under an officer called Qiladar. He was incharge of the general administration of the fort and the areas assigned in Jagir to him.
• The port administration was independent of the provincial authority. The governor of the port was called Mutasaddi who was directly appointed by the Emperor.
• The Mutasaddi collected taxes on merchandise and maintained a custom house. He also supervised the mint house at the port.

Military Organization

• The military was the most important department of the state as the Mughal state was a military state.
• The Mughal Emperor was the supreme commander of the armed forces.
• The military department of the empire was under the charge of the officer known as the mir bakshi.
• The different branches of the Mughal army were the infantry, cavalry, artillery, elephants and war-boats.
• The infantry was not a well-organized force though its numerical strength was large.
• The cavalry formed an important branch of the army. It consisted of two classes- the bargir who were paid and equipped by the state and the silahdars, the troopers who brought their own horses and equipments. Their salary of silahdars was much higher than that of the bargirs as they had to look after the horses and that they would have to replace horses more often.
• The artillery was under the charge of daroga-i-topkhana or the mir atish.
• The Mughals tried to enlist the services of Europeans who had superior skills in handling artillery.
• An officer called the hazari commanded a unit of artillery of thousand men.
• The artillery was divided into two wings – heavy and light pieces. Heavy guns were used to defend or assault a fort. Light guns were mobile and moved with the emperor.
• Artillery or swivel guns were mounted on elephants and camels.
• Babur began the use of artillery on a large scale in India and his successors continued the practice with success.
• Elephants were widely used by the Mughals. These were useful in breaking the enemies’ military formations. They were used to opening gates of palaces or forts and for transporting goods.
• As artillery was more commonly used, there was greater possibility of elephants running amuck and injuring their own side. The elephants were used more as beasts of burden.
• The navy of the Mughals was more useful for river warfare. In lower Bengal there was a flotilla of war boats carrying artillery up and down the river.
• On the western coast naval defense was in the hands of the Abyssinian immigrants, the Siddis of Janjira. Foreigners were employed in the Mughal navy.
• Agra and Allahabad were important river ports.
• There was an officer called the mir bahr at important river ports. He had to supply the emperor with boats or make a bridge across the river for the army to cross over.

Land Revenue System developed during the period of Akbar

• The system of administration elaborated by Sher Shah had fallen into confusion after the death of Islam Shah. Akbar, therefore, had to start afresh.
• In the beginning Akbar adopted Sher Shah’s system. But was soon found that the fixing of a central (ray) schedule of prices annually often led to considerable delays, and resulted in great hardships to the peasantry.
• Apart from this the prices fixed were generally those prevailing at the Imperial Court, and thus were higher than in the country-side, the peasants had to part with a larger share of their produce.
• Akbar, therefore, reverted to a system of annual assessment. Officials called ‘Karoris’ were appointed all over north India. They were responsible for the collection of a crore of dams (Rs. 250,000) and also checked the facts and figures supplied to the ‘quanungos’.
• On the basis of information provided regarding the actual produce, local prices, productivity etc. in 1580, Akbar instituted a new system called the ‘dahsla’.
• Under Dahsla system, the average produce of different crops as well as average prices prevailing over the different crops as well as average prices prevailing over the last ten (dah) years were calculated. One third of the average produce was the state share. The state demand was, however, stated in cash. This was done by converting the state share into money on the basis of a schedule of average prices over the past ten years.
• A further improvement was made in form of zabti system. Under this system Parganas having same type of productivity and similar prices were grouped into separate assessment circles. Thus, the peasant was required to pay on the basis of local produce as well as local prices.
• There was a number of advantages of zabti system. As soon as the area sown by the peasant had been measured by means of the bamboos linked with iron rings, the peasant as well as the state knew what the dues were. The peasant was given remission in the land revenue, if crops failed on account of drought, floods etc. Akbar introduced this system in the area from Lahore to Allahabad, and in Malwa and Gujarat.
• A number of other systems of assessment were also followed under Akbar. The most common and, perhaps, the oldest was called ‘batai’ or ghalla bakhshi. In this system, the produce was divided between the peasants and the state in fixed proportion. The crop was divided after it had been thrashed, or when it had been cut and tied in stacks, or while it was standing in the field. This system was considered a very fair one, but it needed an army of honest officials to be present at the time of the ripening or the reaping of the crops.
• A third system which was widely used in Akbar’s time was ‘nasaq’. Some modern historians think that it was merely a system of computing the peasant’s dues, not a different system of assessment. Others think that it meant rough appraisement both on the basis of the inspection of the crops and past experience, and thereby fixing the amount to be paid by the village as a whole. It is called ‘kankut’.
• Other local methods of assessment also continued in some areas.
• In fixing the land revenue, continuity of cultivation was taken into account.

(i) Land, which remained under cultivation almost every year, was called ‘Pohaj’. Thus it was cultivated annually.
(ii) Parati (fallow) or land occasionally left fallow to recuperate its productive strength.
(iii) Chachar or land left fakllow for three or four years.
(iv) Banjar or land remaining uncultivated for five years and more. Law was classified further into good, middling and bad. One-third of the average produce was the state demand, but it varied according to the productivity of the land, the method of assessment etc.

• Akbar was deeply interested in the improvement and extension of cultivation. He asked the amil to act like a father to the peasants. He advanced taccavi loans to the peasants for seed, implements, animals etc.
• Akbar used to try and indue the peasants to plough as much land as possible and to sow superior quality crops.
• The zamindars of the area were also enjoined to co-operate in the task. The zamindars had a hereditary right to take a share of the produce. The peasant, too, had a hereditary right to cultivate their land and could not be ejected as long as they paid the land revenue.
• With some changes, Akbar’s settlement remained the basis of the land revenue system of the Mughal Empire till the end of the seventeenth century.
• The ‘zapti’ system is associated with Raja Todar Mal, and is sometimes called Todar Mal’s bandobast.
• Akbar could not have been able to expand his empire and maintain his hold over it without a strong army. For this purpose, it was necessary for him to organize the nobility as well his army. Akbar realized both these objectives by means the mansabdri system.

Mansab & Jagir System

• Mansab is an Arabic word meaning ‘office’, ‘rank’, or ‘dignity’. Mansab was the measure of status of a Mughal official which determined rank, salary and office. By all account it was instituted by Akbar in 1577 A.D.
• The system was the steel frame of Mughal administration in which the nobility, bureaucracy and the army were all rolled into one. It was based on the Mongols system of decimal organization of army.
• Under Mansab system, every officer was assigned a rank (Mansab); the lowest being 10 and the highest being 10,000. The ranks were divided into two – Zat and Sawar.
• Zat was the personal rank and fixed the person’s status, and also the salary due to him. Sawar indicated the number of cavalrymen (Sawars) a person was required to maintain.
• At Akbar’s time no one could have a higher quota of Sawars than his Zat rank.
• But Jahangir introduced a system whereby a Mansabdar holding this rank had to maintain, and was paid for, double the quota of troops indicated by his Sawar rank. This was called the “Du-aspa Sihaspa System”.
• In the time of Shah Jahan an opposite modification aimed at reducing the number of Sawars – a Mansabdar was required to maintain. A Mansabdar was expected to maintain a quota of 1/3rd, 1/4th or even 1/5th of this Sawar rank according to the location of his Jagir and place of his service.
• Another experiment which is called ‘Month Scale’ was introduced by Shah Jahan. The salaries of Mansabdars were put on month-scale – 10 months, 8 months and 6 months or even less, and their obligations of maintenance of Sawars were brought down accordingly.
• Above mentioned measures were apparently aimed at cutting down the state’s expenditure.
• The Mansabdars could not be paid cash salaries out of the central treasury.
• Each Mansabdar was assigned an area that was officially estimated to yield revenue equivalent to his salary. The land so assigned was ‘Jagir’.
• For purpose of assignment estimates (Jamadani) were preponed for administrative divisions down to the village. The estimates were called ‘Jamadani’ as they were worked out in dues and not rupees.
• A Jagirdar had no permanent rights in the assignment. He merely had the right to collect land revenue on behalf of the state. Moreover, he was liable to transfers. It was also imperative was Mansabs were revised from time to time calling for change in Jagirs.

Economic and Social Life

• During this period, many European travelers and traders came to India and their accounts contain a mine of information about the socio-economic conditions of India.
• A striking feature of the economic and social situations during the time was the glaring disparity between the highly osetentious life style of the ruling classes, on the one hand, and acute poverty and want of the people – the peasants, the artisans and the labourers on the other.
• Babur was struck by the scanty clothes worn by the common people. He observed that “peasants and people of low standing go about naked”. Similar remarks have been made by other foreign travelers.
• The nobility, along with the landed gentry, the zamindars, formed what may be called the ruling class in medieval India.
• Socially and economically, the Mughal nobility formed a privileged class. Most of them were foreigners such as Turks and Afghans. But there was tussle between them throughout this period. However, many of them settled down in India and made it their permanent home. They readily assimilated themselves into the Indian society and culture. At the same time they retained some of their personal traits.
• Theoretically, the doors of the Mughal nobility were open to everyone. In practice, persons belonging to aristocratic families, whatever they were, Indians or foreigners, had a decided advantage.
• From the time of Akbar, the Hindus, particularly the Rajputs were included in the nobility. For example, mention may be made about Raja Man Singh, Raja Birbal and Raja Todar Mal. Later, the Marathas also joined the Mughal service and rose to the position of nobles.
• The Mughal nobles were paid high salaries but their expenses were also very high.
• Each noble maintained a large number of servants, horses, elephants, etc. The nobles tried follow the luxurious life style of the Mughal emperors. They wore fine clothes and ate imported fruits. Costly jewels were worn by men and women. They also made costly presents to the emperors.
• While the wealthy people wore silk and cotton clothes, the poor people wore the minimum cloths. They suffer from insufficient clothing even during the winter.
• Nikitin observed that the people of Deccan were bare-footed. It might be due to high cost of leather. Rice, millets and pulses were the staple food of the common people. Fish was popular on the coastal region. While ghee and oil were cheaper, salt and sugar were more expensive. As plenty of cattle were kept by the rural people, milk and milk products were available in plenty.

Muslim Society

• As a result of continuous immigration from the Muslim countries of central and West Asia the Muslim population retained the mixed character which it had acquired during the previous centuries.
• In the north-western region the central Asians and Persians, who entered India during the reigns of Babur and his successors, lived side by side with the Muslim immigrants of the pre-Mughal period.
• In coastal regions the immigrants were primarily traders, hailing originally form Arabia and the Persian Gulf. As a result of their regular or irregular unions with the local Hindus or converts a number of Muslim communities of mixed origin had come into existence, e.g., the Navayats of western India, the Mappillas or Moplabar, and the Labbais of the Coromandel cost.
• There were also a considerable number of Muslims of Abyssinian origin, most of whose ancestors were originally imported as slaves.
• As large parts of Afghanistan formed an integral part of the Mughal Empire, Afghans living in India could hardly be placed in the category of immigrants.
• Muslims of foreign origin, formally united by Islam, had racial and religious differences which influenced politics and society.
• The Turanis (Central Asians) and the Afghans were Sunnis; the Persians (Iranians) were Shias. There was much rivalry for political prominence and social promotion among these Muslims of diverse origins.
• However, Muslims of foreign origin considered as a distinct group, constituted the principal element in the ruling class of the Mughal period. They claimed superiority to the Hindustani Muslims, i.e., Hindu converts and their descendants on the basis of birth, race and culture.
• The overwhelming majority of the Muslims were descendants of Hindu converts; but there was a tendency on their part to claim foreign descent with a view to securing political and social advantages. They were generally looked down upon by bona fide Turanians and Iranians; but they were received on equal terms in mosques during the Friday prayers and also on occasions of principal religious festivals.
• There was no bar to inter-marriage on racial on racial grounds. A Muslim of low birth could rise to a high rank in the nobility by dint of ability of through the favour of fortune. The Muslim society had far greater internal mobility than the Hindu society.

Hindu Society

• Hindu society in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was characterised by conflicting trends of liberalism and catholicity on the one hand and exclusiveness and conservatism on the other.
• Some of the Vaishnava and Tantric teachers recognized, to some extent, the religious and social rights of women as also of the Sudras.
• Some non-Brahmin followers of Chaitanya become spiritual perceptors (gurus) not only of the three lower castes but also of Brahmins.
• In Maharashtra Tukaram, a Sudra, and Madhavdev, who was Kayastha, had Brahmin disciples.
• But the Brahmin authors of the nibandhas tried to maintain the integrity of the ancient socio- religious system (Varnasrama dharma) by regulating the life and conduct of all classes of Hindus in the minutest details in conformity with traditional caste rules.
• Some writers of the Smriti nibandhas had royal patrons and their injunction carried political sanction. One of them, Keshava Pandit, was judge under the Maratha King Sambhaji.
• But there were eminent authors like Raghunandan and Ramnath of Bengal.
• Pitambar of Kmarup and Kamalakar Bhatta of Maharashtra whose authority was accepted by the Hindu society even though it was not backed by royal patronage. Their influence effectively counteracted the liberal trends. They raised their voice against the usurping of the privileges of the Brahmins by the lower castes.

Position of Women

• Strict veiling of women was the common practice among the Muslim in their native land. Naturally in a foreign country like India, greater stress was laid upon it.
• The Hindus adopted purdah as a protective measure. The tendency to imitate the ruling class was another factor which operated in favour of introducing purdah among the Hindu families.
• Seclusion thus became a sign of respect and was strictly observed among the high-class families of both communities.
• In the Vijayanagar Empire, purdah was confined only to the members of the royal household. No such coercive purdah system was observed among the Hindu middle class and certainly not among the Hindu masses.
• The custom, in those days, did not allow girls to remain in their parents’ home for more than six to eight years after birth. The rigidity of the custom together with the celebration of the marriage at a very early age left no room whatsoever for either the bride or bridegroom to have time to think of a partner of their own choice.
• Dowry was demanded while in some castes and localities the bride-price was also known to be prevalent.
• Monogamy seems to have been the rule among the lower strata of society in both communities during the medieval period.
• In spite of the decision of ulema in the Ibadat Khana in Adbar’s times, that a man might marry any number of wives by mutah but only four by nikah. Akbar had issued definite orders that a man of ordinary means should not possess more than one wife unless the first proved to be barren.
• Polygamy was the privilege of the rich.
• Divorce and remarriage, common among Muslims, were prohibited for Hindu women.
• Widow-remarriage, except amongst the lower caste people, had completely disappeared in Hindu society during the medieval age.
• The custom of sati was prevalent. Even betrothed girl had to commit sati on the funeral pyres of their would-be-husbands. Those widows who would not burn themselves with their husbands were treated harshly by society.
• Some of the Delhi Sultans did try to discourage the custom of sati which prevailed among a large section of the Hindu population, particularly the upper classes and the Rajputs.
• Though sati was only voluntary in the south and not enjoined upon widows, it is difficult to account for its wide popularity in the Viajayanagar Empire, whose rules do not seem to have put up any restriction on its observance.
• Muhammad Tughluq was, in all probability, the first medieval ruler who place restrictions on sati.
• Though Akbar did not forbid the sati altogether, he had issued definite orders to the kotwals that they should not allow a woman to be burnt against her inclination.
• Aurangzeb was the only Mughal who issued definite orders (1664) forbidding sati in his realm altogether.
• Economically, a Muslim woman was entitled to a share in the inheritance with absolute right to dispose it off. Unlike her Hindu sister, she retained the right even after marriage.
• Mehr, or entente nuptial settlement, was another safeguard for Muslim women whereas a Hindu woman had no right to the property of her husband’s parents.
• A Hindu woman was only entitled to maintenance and residence expenses besides movable property like ornaments, jewellery, etc. Thus, from the legal point of view, women were reduced to a position of dependency in every sphere of life.
• The women in the south under the Cholas (8th to 13th century), however, had the right to inherit property.

Growth of Trade

• The Indian trading classes were large in numbers and spread throughout the country. They were well organized and highly professional.
• Seth, bohra traders specialized in long distance trade while local traders were called banik.
• Another class of traders was known as banjaras, who specialized in carrying bulk goods. The banjaras used to move to long distances with their goods on the back of oxen.
• Bulk goods were also taken through rivers on boats.
• The trading community did not belong to one caste or religion. The Gujarathi merchants included the Hindus, Jains and Muslims. Multanis, Khatris and Afghanis conducted trade with central Asia.
• In south India, the Chettis on the Coramandal coast and the Muslim merchants of Malabar were the most important trading communities.
• Bengal exported sugar, rice as well as delicate muslin and silk.
• The Coramandal coast became a centre of textile production.
• Gujarat was an entry point of foreign goods. From there, fine textiles and silk were taken to north India.
• Indigo and food grains were exported from north India through Gujarat. It was also the distribution centre for the luxury products of Kashmir such as shawls and carpets.
• The major imports into India were certain metals such as tin and copper, war horses and luxury items such as ivory.
• The balance of trade was maintained by the import of gold and silver.
• The growth of foreign trade resulted in the increased import of gold and silver in the seventeenth century.
• The Dutch and English traders who came to Gujarat during the seventeenth century, found that Indian traders were alert and brisk.

Items of Trade and Commerce

• Exports : Textiles, especially various kinds of cotton fabrics, indigo, raw silk, salt petre, pepper, opium and various kinds of drugs and miscellaneous goods.
• Imports : Bullion, horses, metals, perfumes, drugs, China goods especially porcelain and silk, African slaves and European wines.

Mughal Coinage

• The standard gold coin of the Mughals was the muhar, of about 170 to 175 grains, the equivalent of nine rupees in Abul Fazl’s time.
• Half and quarter muhars are known to have been issued by several emperors, and a very few smaller pieces, also.
• The rupee, adopted from Sher Shah’s currency, is the most famous of all Mughal coins.
• In addition to the regular gold and silver currency, special small pieces were occasionally struck for largess; the commonest of these is the nisar, struck in silver by Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb.
• Jahangir also issued similar pieces, which he called nur afshan and khair qabul.
• The Mughal copper coinage is based on Sher Shah’s dam which with its half, quarter and eighth, continued to be struck until the fifth year of Aurangzeb.
• The most distinctive feature of the Mughal coinage is the diversity of mints. There were seventy six mints in operation during Akbar’s reign. Copper was struck in fifty nine of these, the largest number recorded for any emperor, while silver is known from thirty nine.
• Aurangzeb’s conquests in the Deccan raised the silver mints to seventy, whereas copper mints sank to twenty four.
• Mughals maintained the high standard and purity of its gold and silver for three hundred years. Considering its variety, the number of its mints, the artistic merit of some of its series, the influence it exerted on contemporary and subsequent coinages, and the importance of its standard coin-the rupee- in the commerce of today, the Mughal currency surely deserves to rank as one of the great coinages of the world.

Language and Literature

• Persian language became widespread in the Mughal Empire by the time of Akbar’s reign.
• Abul Fazl was a great scholar and historian of his period. He set a style of prose writing and it was followed by many generations.
• Many historical works were written during this period. They include Ain-i-Akbari and Akabar Nama authored by Abul Fazl.
• The leading poet of this period was Abul Faizi. The translation of Mahabharata into the Persian language was done under his supervision.
• Utbi and Naziri were the two other leading Persian poets.
• Jahangir’s autobiography, Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri was famous for its style.
• Jahangir patronized many scholars like Ghiyas Beg, Naqib Khan and Niamatullah.
• Shah Jahan also patronized many writers and historians like Abdul Hamid Lahori, author of Padshah Nama and Inayat Khan who wrote Shah Jahan Nama.
• Shah Jahan’s son Dara Shikoh translated the Bhagavat Gita and Upanishads into the Persian language.
• Many historical works were written during the reign of Aurangazeb.
• Regional languages such as Bengali, Oriya, Rajasthani and Gujarathi had also developed during this period.
• Many devotional works including the Ramayana and Mahabharata were translated into regional languages.
• From the time of Akbar, Hindi poets were attached to the Mughal court. The most influential Hindi poet was Tulsidas, who wrote the Hindi version of the Ramayana, the Ramcharitmanas.

Art and Architecture under the Mughals

• The Mughal period witnessed large scale architectural activities that represented the peak of Islamic art in India.
• It was also a period where there was a great exchange of ideas and styles that led to the creation of a style that was very different from the Sultanate period and that had many features of local or regional styles.
• The architecture of the Mughals includes the magnificent forts, palaces, public buildings, mosques and mausoleums.
• The Mughals were fond of laying gardens with running water.
• Some of the Mughal gardens such as the Nishat Bagh in Kashmir, the Shalimar Bagh at Lahore and the Pinjore garden in the Punjab have survived even today.
• Among the early structures of this period are the two mosques built by Babur at Sambhal and Panipat in 1526.
• Babur is also credited with the laying out of gardens at Dholpur and at Ram Bagh and Zahra Bagh at Agra.
• Two mosques one at Agra and the other at Hissar belong to the reign of the second Mughal emperor Humayun.
• During the reign of Sher Shah, the mausoleum at Sasaram in Bihar and the Purana Qila near Delhi were built. These two monuments are considered as the architectural marvels of medieval India.

• Large scale construction of buildings started with the advent of Akbar. He built many forts and the most famous one was the Agra Fort. It was built in red sandstone. His other forts are at Lahore and Allahabad.
• The climax of fort-building reached its climax during the reign of Shah Jahan. The famous Red Fort at Delhi with its Rang Mahal, Diwan-i-Am and Diwan-i-Khas was his creation.
• Akbar also built a palace cum- fort complex at Fatepur Sikri (City of Victory). Many buildings in Gujarathi and Bengali styles are found in this complex. Gujarathi style buildings were probably built for his Rajput wives. The most magnificent building in it is the Jama Masjid and the gateway to it called Buland Darwaza or the Lofty Gate. The height of the gateway is 176 feet. It was built to commemorate Akbar’s victory over Gujarat. Other important buildings at Fatepur Sikri are Jodh Bai’s palace and Panch Mahal with five storeys.
• During Akbar’s reign, the Humayun’s tomb was built at Delhi. The grandness of Mughal architecture began with the construction of Humayun’s tomb and its design by Mirak Mirza Ghiyas from Persia. This tomb is the earliest specimen of a garden enclosure and is raised on an arcaded sandstone platform. The tomb is octagonal and crowned by a high dome. The dome is a double dome, which is built in two layers one which provides the ceiling to the interior of the building and the other, which provides the outer layer that crowns, the building. It may be considered the precursor of the Taj Mahal.

• Akbar’s tomb at Sikandara near Agra was completed by Jahangir.
• Nur Jahan built the tomb of Itimaddaulah at Agra. It was constructed wholly of white marble with floral designs made of semi-precious stones on the walls. This type of decoration was called pietra dura.
• Pietra dura became more popular during the reign of Shah Jahan. The pietra dura method was used on a large scale in the Taj Mahal by Shah Jahan. Taj Mahal is considered a jewel of the builder’s art. It contains all the architectural forms developed by the Mughals. The chief glory of the Taj is the massive dome and the four slender minarets. The decorations are kept to the minimum.
• Mosque building had reached its peak during Shah Jahan’s reign. The Moti Masjid at Agra was built entirely in white marble. The Jama Masjid at Delhi was built in red stone.
• The Mughal architectural traditions continued in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Their influence in the provincial kingdoms is clearly visible. Many features of Mughal tradition can be seen in the Golden Temple at Amritsar.

Paintings and Music

• The contribution of Mughals to the art of painting was remarkable.
• They introduced new themes depicting the court, battle scenes and the chase and added new colours and new forms.
• They created a living tradition of painting which continued to work in different parts of the country long after the glory of the Mughals had disappeared.
• The foundation for the Mughal painting was laid by Humayun when he was staying in Persia.
• He brought with him two painters – Mir Sayyid Ali and Abdal Samad to India. These two painters became famous during Akbar’s reign.
• Under the leadership of Mir Sayyid Ali and Abdal Samad, during the reign of Akbar, painting was organized in one of the imperial establishments (karkhanas).

• A large number of painters from different parts of the country were invited, many of them from lower castes. From the beginning, both Hindus and Muslims joined in the works.
• Akbar commissioned the illustrations of several literary and religious texts.
• Baswan, Miskina and Daswant attained great positions as Akabar’s court artists.
• Illustrations of Persian versions of Mahabharata and Ramayana were produced in miniature form.
• Many other Indian fables became the miniature paintings in the Art Studio established by Akbar.
• Historical works such as Akbar Nama also remained the main themes of Mughal paintings.
• The most important work is Hamznama, which consisted 1200 paintings.
• Indian colours such as peacock blue, Indian red began to be used.
• Under Akbar, European painting was introduced at the court. Under its influence, the principles of foreshortening, whereby near and distant people and things could be placed in perspective was quietly adopted.
• Mughal paintings reached its climax during the reign of Jahangir. He employed a number of painters like Abul Hasan, Bishan Das, Madhu, Anant, Manohar, Govardhan and Ustad Mansur. A
• part from painting the scenes of hunting, battles and royal courts, progress was made in portrait painting and paintings of animals.
• Many albums containing paintings and calligraphy were produced during the Mughal period. Later, the influence of European painting could be seen.


• Music also developed under the Mughals. Akbar patronized Tansen of Gwalior.
• Tansen composed many ragas. Jahangir and Shah Jahan were also fond of music.
• Raja Mansingh is said to have played an important role in the perfection of the Dhrupad style of North Indian Music.
• In the south a system of ragas known as the Janaka and Janya ragas existed during this period.
• The Swaramela Kalanidhi by Ramamatya of Kondavidu written in 1550 describes 20 Janan and 64 Janya ragas.
• By the 18th century several new forms of music like Tarana, Dadra and Ghazal had come into existence



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