Read this article to learn about the administration system in different periods:

Administration under the Sultanate:

The machinery of administration as it evolved under the Delhi sultanate was derived from the Abbasid and following it, the Ghaznavid and the Seljukid systems of administration.

It was also influenced by the Iranian system of administration and the situation in India and Indian traditions.


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The Turks were also able to evolve a number of new institutions and concepts which provided a basis for centralization of power and authority of a type which had not existed in India earlier. In theory, the Muslim state was a theocracy, i.e. the head of state was also the religious head and derived his position and authority from God. Thus, the Caliph was the Supreme head of the whole Muslim world.

With the exception of Alauddin Khilji and Mubarak Khilji, all other sultans styled themselves as deputies of the Caliph with title such as Nasir-i-Amir-ul-Mommin or Yamin-ul-Khalifa. Although the Sultans of Delhi professed formal allegiance to the Caliphate, the Sultanate was always an independent state for all practical purposes.

Central Government:

The Sultan:


He dominated the central government. He was the legal head of the state and acted as the chief executive and the highest court of appeal. The Sultan generally discussed all important matters of state in a council, Majlis-i-Khalwat or Majlis-i-Am in which the most trusted and the highest officers were allowed to sit.

He was the chief of the armed forces and made appointments to all the higher civil and military posts. The Sultan administered all the departments and every branch of state. Malik Naib-or deputy sultan was appointed only when a ruler was weak or minor.

The sultan ruled through ministers and a group of officials. The main pillars of the Central Government were the ministers or the imperial diwans. The four pillars of the state were Diwani-i-Wizarat, Diwan- i-Arz, Diwan-i-lnsha and Diwan-i-Risalat.

(a) Diwan-i-Wizarat:


It was the finance department headed by the wazir (Prime-minister). Naib wazir acted as deputy to wazir. The wazir was assisted by the mushrif-i-mamalik, (accountant) who maintained a record of the accounts and the mustauf-i-mamalik (auditor) who audited this account. Under Firuz Tughluq, wazirs became hereditary.

(b) Diwan-i-Arz:

Headed by the Ariz-i-mamalik, it was the ministry of defence. He was responsible for organization and maintenance of the royal army. The review of the army and branding of the horses was done by Ariz-i-mamalik.

(c) Diwan-i-lnsha:

The department of correspondence and records of the royal court was held under the charge of a central minister known as dabir-i-mamalik, dabir-i-khas or amir- munshi. The dabir-i-mamalik acted as private secretary of the Sultan and drafted firmans. He was assisted by dabirs (clerks).

(d) Diwan-i-Risalat:

Under the period of the slave dynasty, the head of the public charities and ecclesiastical department was the sadr-us-sudur. In his capacity as rasul of the Sultan, he received appeals and complaints from public and redressed their grievances.

During the reign of Alauddin Khilji, this department was renamed or replaced by the department called Diwan-i-riyasat whose primary function was to implement the economic regulations issued by the Sultan and control the markets and prices. After Alauddin’s death this department lost its importance and the office of Sadr-us-sudur assumed a premier role.

Diwan-i-qaza the judicial department was headed by Qazi-ul-quzat and usually the posts of the chief sadr and the chief qazi were combined in a single person. Qazis were appointed in various parts of the empire who dispensed civil laws based on Muslim personal law (sharia).

An officer known as the amir-i-dad presided over the secular court (Mazalim) in the Sultan’s absence He was also responsible for implementing the qazi’s decision. Muhammad bin Tughluq founded the Diwan-i-Siyasatto estalish his system of justice on a broader basis. Apart from the above central ministers, Imperial officers were appointed by the Sultan. Following are some of them:

Barid-i-mamalik was the head of the information and intelligence department, Vakil-i-dar was incharge of royal household, Amir-i-barbak was the superintendent of the royal court, Amir-i-hajib kept an eye on all visitors to the court and presented them before the sovereign according to court etiquette, Amir-i-majlis organised the meetings of royal assembly and special celebrations, sar-i-jandar was the officer of personal body-gaurds (jandars) to the Sultan. The naqib-ul-nuqaba was the chief usher and his assistants, naqibs, announced the Sultan’s orders to the soldiers and also proclaimed the Sultan’s presence in the royal cavalcade.

Diwan-i-bandagan (department of slaves) and Diwan-i-Khairat (charity department) was created by Firuz shah Tughluq. Diwan-i-mustakharaj (to realise arrears) was created by Alauddin Khiiji. Diwan- i-kohi (department of agriculture) was created by Muhammad bin Tughluq.

Provincial Government:

Provincial government of the Sultanate was not so well developed. The territories of the Sultanate were divided into two parts. 1. Khalisa or the direct administered land and 2. Jagirs which were the land under autonomous control of tributaries.

Iqtas were rent free land held by the nobilities in lieu of service. In the provinces, known as Wilayat or iqlim, the provincial governors were called walis or muqtis (in the North-west region) and were under firm control of the imperial government. The governors of Deccan and Gujarat enjoyed sufficient autonomy.

In some provinces, Sahib-i-diwan were appointed to control provincial revenues and exercised a sort of check on the governor. Below the provincial governor there was a provincial wazir, a provincial ariz and a provincial qazi.

Local Government:

The provinces were divided into shiqs or district under a shiqdar. Each shiq comprised of a few parganas or kasba. Government officials of a pargana, after shiqdar were amil, who collected revenues. The mushrif kept accounts at the pargana level and the khazandar was incharge of the treasury.

The village remained the basic unit of administration and continued to enjoy a large measure of self- government. The most important official in the village was the headman known as muqaddam or Chaudhari.

Organs of the Government:


Department of revenue and finance headed by the Wazir


Department of Military headed by Ariz-i-Mamalik

Diwan-i- Insha:

Department of royal correspondence headed by Dabir-i-lnsha


Department of religious affairs headed by the chief Qazi


Department of justice headed by qazi-ul-quzzat or chief Qazi


Department of slaves started by Firuz Tughlaq

Diwan-i-Amir Kohi:

Department of agriculture started by Muhammed Tughlaq


Department to look after and realize land revenue. Alauddin Khilji created

it was to realize arrears from collectors.


Department of charity started by Firuz Shah Tughlaq


Sultan received all his courtiers such as Khans and Maliks


The Sultan tried cases and received complaints from the people

Administrative officers of the Sultanate period:


The prime minister heading the Diwan-i- Wizarat


He was the auditor general responsible for state expenditure

Mushrif-i- Mamalik:

He was the incharge of accounts and receipts


Preserved the record of loans advanced by the government


Controller of boats


An officer of municipal police

Bakshi -i-Fauj:

Paymaster of forces


Deputy wazir


Lord Chief Justice



Waqia Navis:

News reporters


Incharge of district administration

Sher Shah’s Administrative Reforms

Imperial Government:

Sher Shah Suri established a highly centralised machinery. His administrative works were roughly divided into various departments called Diwans, each headed by a separate minister. The important departments were:

1. Diwan-i-wizarat was headed by a wazir who looked after finance and revenue.

2. Diwan-i-Ariz—headed by Ariz-i-Mammalik (military department)

3. Diwan-i-Rasalat—whose officer-in-charge dealt with foreign affairs and diplomatic correspondence.

4. Diwan-i-lnsha—The officer drafted royal proclamation and maintained government records. Apart from these, the Diwan-i-quaza (justice) headed by chief Qazi, Diwan-i-Barid (intelligence) were the other departments.


Provincial and Local Administration:

Empire was divided into provinces known as Iqtas headed by Hakim/faujdar/Momin, which were divided into Sarkars (districts) manned by 2 officials, Shiqdar-i-Shiqdaran (for law and order) and Munsif-i-Munsifan (for revenue collection).

Sarkars were divided into 2 or 3 Parganas, each having a munsif or amin for measurement of land and collection of land revenue, one Shiqdar (military officer), one fotdar (treasurer) and 2 Karkuns (one Hindi & one Persian writer).

Villages were governed by their own panchayats. Patwari (record keeper), Chaukidar, Muqqadams (headmen) and Qanungo were the village officials.


Civil cases of Pargana were tried by amin and criminal cases by a Qazi or Mir-i-Adil, in Sarkar the Munsif-i-Munsifan tried the civil cases. The chief Qazi or the Imperial Sadr was the chief judicial officer of the capital. Sher Shah introduced the principle of local responsibility for local crimes.

Land revenue system:

Land was measured using the Sikandari gaz, and a jarib of rope was the standard unit of measurement. One-third of the average produce per bigha of land was the state revenue (average of good, bad, and middling lands produce).

The peasants was given a patta (title deed) and a qabuliyat(deed of agreement) which fixed the peasant rights and taxes. Jaribana (surveyor’s fee) 2.5% of the land revenue and Muhasilana (Tax collector’s fee) at the rate of 5% of the land revenue were paid by the peasants. This land revenue system is called the Ryotwari system as he eliminated the intermediaries and the taxes were directly collected.


Sher Shah abolished many internal customs and duties. During his reign only 2 duties were levied on the goods: (a) custom duty—2.5% of the goods price at the entry point, Sikrigali in Bengal and at the Indus on the frontiers, (b) Sales tax—at their first sale in the market.

Public works:

Sher Shah built a new city near Delhi of which the sole survivor is the old Fort (Purana Qila). He built 4 roads (1) Grand Trunk from Sonargaon (Bengal) to Attock (2) Agra to Mandu (3) Agra to Jodhpur and Chittor. (4) Lahore to Multan. Sarais (rest houses) were built on these roads at a distance of every 2 kos which also served the purpose of dak chaukis.


He introduced a radical reform in the currency system. He introduced a new copper dam, silver rupiya (equal to 64 copper dam) and gold coin-ashrafi.

Mughal Administration:

Administrative Measures:

Babur brought with him the Timurid traditions that the ruler had the divine right to rule, which was also followed by Humayun. Akbar’s concept of suzerainty have been put forward by his biographer, Abul Fazl. According to him “Royalty is a light emanating from god, and a ray from the sun called Farr-i-izidi (the divine light).

Thus, royalty was a divine gift, and the ruler endowed with Farr-i-izidi had a paternal love towards the subject. After Akbar had taken the reins of government in his own hand, he took a number of liberal measures. In 1562, he passed a decree that the Hindu prisoners of wars were not to be made slaves or converted to Islam. In 1563, the pilgrim tax was abolished. In 1564, he abolished jizyah which the non-Muslims were required to pay in a Muslim state.

Akbar, next turned his attention to the task of reorganisation of government. He reorganised the central machinery of administration on the basis of the division of power between various departments, and of checks and balances.

His important contribution was the development of a provincial administration patterned on the central system of government. Dastur-ul-Amals or Rule books containing detailed rules and regulations for controlling both the provincial and district administration were devised.

Central Administration:

The form of Mughal government was despotic monarchy. The king was the head of the state and its chief executive. He was the supreme commander of the imperial forces and the fountain head of justice. Each minister was individually answerable to the monarch.


Bairam Khan was the Vakil of Akbar. As a Vakil, he controlled both revenue and military affairs. After Bairam Khan’s fall the Vakil was stripped of all powers and became largely decorative. The imperial Diwan rose to prominence under Jahangir and in Shahjahan’s reign the Vakil’s office was abolished.

Diwan or Wazir:

The all-important department of revenue taken away from the Vakil was placed in the charge of Diwan. Akbar generally used the title of Diwan or Diwan-i-Ala in preference to Wazir.


He was the head of the military and intelligence department. He was not the Commander-in-Chief but was the paymaster-general. All intelligence officers {bands) and news-reporters (Waqia-navis) reported to him.


He was in charge of the imperial household including the supply of all the provisions and articles for the use of the inmates of the harem.

Sadr or Sadr-us-Sadur was the head of the ulama and was considered to be the chief advisor of the king regarding religious matters. He awarded subsistence allowances (maddad-i-maash) to de­serving scholars, divines and weaker sections. He was also the Qazi-ul-Quzzat, or head of the judi­ciary. However, the king himself was the final court of appeal.

Besides the above mentioned ministers who constituted the main pillars of the Imperial govern­ment, a number of other high officials were appointed at the Centre.

i. Muhtasib-Censor of public morals. Under Akbar, his function was secularised.

ii. Mir-i-Atish—Head of ordinance department.

iii. Mir-i-Barr—Imperial officer in charge of forests.

iv. Mir-i-Bahr—Supervised state boats and fleets.

v. Daroga-i-Dak Chauki— Incharge of information and intelligence department (worked independ­ently)

vi. Mir-i-mal—Officer in charge of Privy Purse

vii. Mir-i-munshi— Incharge of imperial correspondence.

vii. Mir-i-tuzuk—Master of ceremonies.

Provincial and Local Administration:

In 1580, the Mughal Empire was divided into 12 Subah or provinces. Later, after the expansion of the empire into the Deccan, three more Subahs—Khandesh, Berar and Ahmadnagar were formed. During Jahangir’s reigh, the number of Subahs rose to 17, under Shahjahan it rose to 22 and under Aurangzeb to 21.

The head of the administration in the Subah was called Sipahsalar, Subahdar or Nazim who was directly appointed by the Emperor. He was responsible for the general law and order problem in the Subah. He was the commander of the provincial army and assisted the Diwan in collecting the land revenue and extending cultivation. He was assisted by a diwan, a bakshi, a sadr-cum-qazi, a mir-adl for justice, a kotwal, a mir-bahr and a waqia-navis.

These officers were subordinate to the Governor, appointed directly by the Emperor and were answerable to him and to the head of their ministry at the centre. Thus, the principle of checks and balances were carried to the provincial government.

The provincial diwan was an independent officer who was the head of the revenue department in the Suba. He supervised the revenue collection in the Suba and maintained accounts of all expenditure incurred in the form of salaries of the officials and subordinates in the suba.

The diwan was also to take steps to increase the area under cultivation. In many cases advance loans (taqavi) were given to the peasants through his office. The Bakshi performed exactly the same military functions as were performed by his counterpart at the centre.

Often his office was combined with waqianjgar. In this capacity his duty was to inform the centre the happenings in his province. At every Suba headquarters, daroga-i-dak was appointed. His duty was to pass on letters through the postal runners (mewras) to the court.

At the provincial level, waqia-navis and waqia nigars were appointed to supply the reports directly to the emperor. Besides, there were also sawanih nigar to provide confidential reports to the emperor. Akbar introduced the office of the provincial Sadr, particularly with the object of weakening the authority and influence of the imperial Sadr. The three Deccan provinces were held by a Viceroy. Prince Daniyal was the first Mughal Viceroy of the Deccan. Thus the provincial administration of the Mughals was an exact miniature of the imperial

District and Local Government:

Akbar inherited an excellent system of local administration from Sher Shah. For purpose of ad­ministration, the Provinces were divided into Sarkars which were divided into Parganas (tehsil). During Shah Jahan’s reign, another administrative unit Chakla came into existence. It was a cluster of a number of Parganas.

Each Sarkar was headed by a Fauzdar or Shiqdar-i-Shiqadaran responsible for law and order. Amalguzar was responsible for the assessment and collection of land revenue. The Bitikchi or writer was the record keeper of the land revenue establishment and worked under the supervision of Amalguzar. The Khazandar was the treasury officer of the district under the Amalguzar.

Each Pargana had a Shiqdar for general administration, an Amil for assessment and collection of land revenue, a Qanungo who kept local revenue records and clerks or Karkuns. The Fotedar was officer in charge of the tehsil treasury.

The Tehsil constituted within its jurisdiction a number of villages. The village was the lowest administrative unit. Each village had panchayats of elders headed by Lambardar. Patwari and Chaukidars were two semi-official members of village administration. The patwari took care of the village revenue records.

Town, Fort and Port Administration:

To administer the cities and ports the Mughals maintained separate administrative machinery.


The Kotwal was primarily a police chief who combined in his office the functions of a municipal commissioner. Posted in provincial capitals and some other big towns his primary duty was to safeguard the life and property of townsmen. The kotwal was also to maintain a register for keeping records of people coming and going out of the town. He also regulated the market and acted as superintendent of weights and measures.


The Mughal Empire had a large number of qilas (Forts) situated in various parts of the country. Each fort was placed under an officer called qiladar who was incharge of the general administration of the fort and the areas assigned in jagir to the qiladar.

Port administration:

It was independent of the provincial authority. The governor of the ports was called mutasaddi who was directly appointed by the emperor. The mutasaddi collected taxes on merchandise and maintained a custom – house. The Shahbandarvjas his subordinate who was mainly concerned with the custom house.

Land Revenue Administration:

Till the 10th year of Akbar’s reign (1566), no change was made in Sher Shah’s crop rate (ray) which was converted into a cash rate, called dastur-ul-amal or dastur, by using a single price-list. Akbar reverted afterward to a system of annual assessment.

In the nineteenth year (1574) officials called amil, but popularly known as karoris were placed in charge of lands which could yield a crore of tankas.

The karori assisted by a treasurer, a surveyor and others was to measure the land of a village and to assess the area under cultivation. In the same year, a new jarib or measuring rod consisting of bamboos joined by iron rings was introduced for the measurement of land. This karori experiment was introduced in the settled provinces, from Lahore to Allahabad.

In 1580, Akbar instituted a new system called the Dahsala or the Bandobast Arazi or the Zabti system. Under this, the average produce of different crops as well as the average prices prevailing over the last ten years were calculated. One-third of the average produce was the state share, which was however stated in cash.

The credit for developing this system, i.e. Ain-i-Dahsala, goes to Raja Todarmal. This system did not mean a ten-year settlement but was based on average of the produce and prices during the last ten years. For the measurement of land, bigha was adopted as standard unit of area which was 60 X 60 yards. A new gaz or yard, gaz-i-llahi was introduced 41 digits (anguls) or 33 inches in length (Sher Shah’s I gaz 32 digit was discarded).

For purpose of fixing the land revenue, both continuity and productivity of cultivation were taken into account. Land which were continually under cultivation were called polaj. Lands which were fallow (parauti) for a year, paid full (polaj) rates when they were brought under cultivation.

Chachar was land which had been fallow for 3-4 years. It paid a progressive rate, the full-rate being charged in the third year. Banjar was cultivable waste land. To encourage its cultivation, it paid full rates only in the 5th year.

The lands were further divided into good, bad and middling. One third of the average produce was the state share. After the assessment of land revenue in kind, it was converted into cash with the help of price schedules (dastw-ul-amal) prepared at regional level or dastur level in respect of various food crops. For this purpose, the empire was divided into a large number of regions called dastur at pargana level having the same type of productivity.

The government supplied dastur-ul-amal at tehsil level which explainer the mode of land revenue payment. Each cultivator received a patta or title deed (land holding deed) and qubuliyat (deed of aggreement according to which he had to pay state demand).

A number of other systems of assessment were also followed under Akbar. The most common was called batai or ghallabakshi (crop-sharing). This, again, was of three types: First was bhaoli where the crops were reaped and stacked, and divided in the presence of the parties. Second type was khet batai where the fields were divided after sowing.

Third type was lang batai where the grain heaps were divided. In Kashmir, the produce was computed on the basis of ass loads (Kharwar), and then divided. Under batai, the peasants were given the choice of paying in cash or kind, but in the case of cash crops the state demand was invariably in cash.

Kankut—In Kankut or appraisement, the whole land was measured, either by using the jarib or pacing it, and the standing crops estimated by inspection.

Nasaq—This system of assessment was widely used in Akbar’s time. It meant a rough calcu­lation of the amount payable by the peasant on the basis of past experience.

The peasant was given remission in the land revenue if crops failed on account of drought, floods, etc. The amil was to advance money by way of loans (taccavi) to the peasants for seeds, implements, animals, etc. in times of need.

Law and justice:

Judiciary was the weakest part of the Mughal administration. Akbar had struck down the Islamic theory of state in its application to the Mughal empire. Below the Imperial court (Emperor) there was the court of the qazi-ul-quzat or the chief justice of the empire appointed by the Emperor, who in turn appointed the provincial qazis.

Local courts of justice was manned by three types of judicial officers. Qazi cross-examined the parties, Mufti interpreted the law and Mir-i-adl delivered the judgement. Amils and other officials decided the revenue disputes. Village panchayats enjoyed the sanction of the state to administer justice according to the local tradition, customs and personal law of the populace.

The Army:

The Mughal army consisted of cavalry, infantry, artillery, elephants and camels. There was no navy in the modern sense except small fleets of boats along the sea-coast or on the river banks which was under an amir-ul-bahr.

The organisation of the best cavalry force in Asia was greatest achievement of Akbar and it was the backbone of the Mughal Empire. The cavalry was considered the “Flower of the army”. (Horsemen mounted and equipped by the state were called Bargirs).

The emperor was the head of the army and its commander-in-chief. Akbar revived the practice of chehra (descriptive image of each soldier maintained) and dagh (branding of horses).

The troops were divided into different categories:

(a) forces supplied by the vassal chieftains,

(b) The mansabdari contingent

(c) dakhilis—state directly employed these soldiers and paid from the imperial treasury

(d) ahadi or gentlemen-troopers—these were individuals who brought their own horses and weapons of war and owed allegiance to the emperor.

They had a separate paymaster and were placed under the command of an amir. The ahadis thus formed a special class of prospective mansabdars. The matchlock-men called banduqchis, ahsams (first rate warriors), Shehbandis—a sort of militia who maintained law and order and apprehended dacoits, Baraq-Andaz— skilled musketeers, etc., formed the army. Akbar was specially interested in guns. He devised detachable guns which could be carried on an elephant or a camel.

Mansab system:

To organise the nobility as well as his army Akbar introduced the Mansabdari system in 1577. Prior to Akbar’s reign, this was in use in Central Asia implying rank. During Babur’s time, the term mansabdar was not used; instead, another term Wajhdarwas employed.

The latter differed in some ways from the Mansab system that evolved under the Mughals after Babur. In its broadest aspect, the mansab or rank awarded to an individual fixed both his status in the official hierarchy as well as his salary. The lowest rank was 10 and the highest was 5,000 for the nobles. Mansab above 5,000 was reserved for princes of royal blood.

The holder could be given any administrative or military appointment or kept in attendance at the court. Thus mansabdari was a single service combining both civil and military responsibilities. Mirza Aziz Koka and Raja Man Singh, were honoured with the rank of 7,000 each. Highest rank of 10,000 was given exclusively to Salim by Akbar, later it was raised to 12,000. However, during the period the ranks granted to the princes rose to 40,000 zat.

The Mansabdars were classified into 66 grades from the mansab of 10 to 10,000, although in practice only 33 grades were constituted. Those holding ranks upto 500 were called mansabdars, those from 500- 2,500 were called amirs and those from 2500 and above amir-i-umda, or amir-i-azam. Later, all those holding ranks below 1,000 began to be called Mansabdars. The Mansabdars who received pay in cash were known as naqdi and those paid through assignment of jagirs were called jagirdars.

The mansabdari system had made military service as the basic consideration for the classification of all the imperial service. Accordingly from the beginning, mansabdars of each category were sub­divided further into three grades on the basis of the actual number of soldiers commanded by them. An officer whose contingents were equal to their mansab number was placed in the first category.

The second category comprised those who maintained half or more than that and the third those whose sawars were less than half of their mansab. It was found impossible for the central government to ascertain at any time, the exact number of soldiers controlled by all imperial mansabdars.

This difficulty was solved by Akbar when he introduced the dual rank, the Zat and the Sawar in the 40th regnal year (1595-96). In the dual Zat and Sawar system, Zat indicated the personal pay and status of a noble, and the Sawar ranK the actual number of horseman he was expected to entertain (The mansab was not hereditary but based on merit).

There was a possibility of the existence of a Zat rank without a Sawar rank, but never a Sawar rank without a Zat rank. The use of conditional rank (mashrut) meant an increase of Sawar rank without altering the Zat rank. For a temporary period. This was an emergency measure adopted in the time of crisis, that is, the permission to recruit more horsemen at the expense of the state.

Another feature of this system was the law of escheat (Zabti) according to which after the death of a mansabdar all his property was confiscated. This measure was to curb the exploitation of the people by the mansabdars. The important defects of this system was that it did not give birth to a national army due to non-regimentation of the army.

The reign of Jahangir saw an important addition to the mansabdari system. He introduced the du- aspah-sihaspa (2-3 horses) rank, literally meaning troopers having 2 or 3 horses, and hence related to the sawar rank. Given to selected nobles, it doubled the ordinary sawar rank and hence doubled the obligation and privileges that went with it to the mansabdars. Mahabat Khan was the first to get it in the 10th year of Jahangir’s reign.

Shah Jahan introduced the rule of one-third, one-fourth which scaled down the obligations of the mansabdars. A mansabdar serving in a province where his jagir was, should have contingent equal to at least 1/3rd of his sawar rank, if elsewhere then only 1/4th. He also introduced the monthly scale.

By 1595, the number of mansabdars during the reign of Akbar was 180, but towards the close of Aurangzeb’s reign their number rose to 14,449, leading to the complaints that no jagirs were left for being granted to them. This led to jagirdari and agrarian crisis which in turn, brought about the collapse of the mansabdari system after Aurangzeb.

Jagir System:

Jagir or tuyul were land revenue assignment to a mansabdar in lieu of his salary. The assignees were known as Jagirdars. The jagirs assigned in lieu of salary were known as tankhah jagirs.

Besides, there were the Watan jagirs (hereditary possessions) of the autonomous chiefs, who were also granted the former type of jagirs if in Mughal service. Under Jahangir some Muslim nobles were given jagirs resembling to Watan jagir called al-tamgha.

The mashrut jagirs were given to a person on certain conditions. Jagirs which involved no obligation of service and were independent of rank were called inam jagirs. The jagir lands were different from the Khalisa land, the revenues from the Khalisa lands were earmarked for the maintenance of the imperial court and the personal expenditure of the army. The jagir of the Mughal period was similar to the iqta of the Delhi Sultanate.

The assignment of a jagir to a mansabdar did not confer any hereditary rights to the jagir. He could enjoy the revenues of the jagir only as long as he held the mansab (rank) and rendered services to the state. For the purpose of assigning jagirs the revenue department had to maintain a register indicating the assessed income (Jama) in dams, calculated at the rate of 40 dams to a rupee. This register was called jama-dami of an area. The jama included land revenue, inland transit duties, port customs and other taxes which were known as Sair Jihat.

The term hasil meant the amount of revenue actually collected. The term paibaqi was applied to those areas whose revenue were yet to be assigned to mansabdars. The Mughal emperor followed the policy of frequent transfer of jagirs of the jagirdars so as to negate any development of territorial loyalty that would undermine the empire by strengthening the jagirdar.

Thus, the jagir system was closely related to the mansab system. All jagirdars were mansabdars, but not all masabdars were jagirdars, because some were paid in cash.

Administrative System in the Deccan:


Central Administration:

There was a council of ministers, headed by a Prime-minister to assist and advise the king in administration. The council met in a hall called Venkat Vilas Mantapa. The Pradhani, the fore-runner of Maratha peshwa was the Prime-minister. The rayasam recorded oral orders of the king. The karanikam was the accountant.

Provincial and Local Administration:

The kingdom was divided into rajyas or mandalam (provinces) under a governor described as Mandalesvara or Nayaka, nadus (districts), sthalas (sub-districts) and finally into gramas (villages). Village self-government were considerably weakened under Vijayanagar ruler. Gauda, village head­man, looked after the village administration.

The Ayagar system was an important feature of the village organisation. Every village affair was conducted by a body of 12 functionaries known as ayagars who were granted tax free lands (manyams).

Military administration:

The top grades in the army were the nayakas or palegars who were granted territory (amaram) with a fixed revenue in lieu of their salaries. Ordinary soldiers were usually paid in cash. The military department was called kandachara.

Revenue administration:

Land tax was the most important source of revenue, which after assessment was 1/6th. The Nadalavukul, the Rajavthadankal, the Gandarayagandakol were the names of the measuring rods. The police tax was known as arasu svatantram. The revenue department was known as asthavana and was headed by a revenue minister.

Social conditions:

Allasani Peddana in his Manucharitam mentions the four castes that existed in the Vijayanagar society.

1. Viprulu or Brahmins

2. Rajjulu or rachavaru were generally the ruling class. Kshatriya varna seems to be absent.

3. Matikaratalu were the merchants.

4. Nalavajativaru or Sudras were mainly agriculturists.

Vipravinodins were the artisans, Kaikkolas were the weavers who formed a prominent community. The Tottiyans were the shepherds.

Position of women:

Gangadevi, wife of Kampana, wrote Maduravijayam. Hamamma and Tirumalamma were prominent scholars in the reign of Prauda deva and Achyuta Raya, respectively.

i. From the account of Paes, there was prevalence of Devadasi.

ii. Religion: Early rulers were followers of Saivism. Virupaksha was their family god. Later, they came under the influence of Vaishnavism, but Siva continued to be worshipped.

iii. The Vijayanagara rulers produced a new style called Dravida style in the field of archit­ecture.

Maratha Administration:

Shivaji’s system of administration was largely borrowed from the administrative practices of the Deccan states. The Council of Ministers (Ashtapradhan) had eight ministers, each minister being directly responsible to the ruler. They were:

i. Peshwa — he was the chief minister and looked after general administration.

ii. Amatya or Mazumdar — Minister for finance and revenue.

iii. Waqia Navis — was responsible for intelligence, posts and household affairs.

iv. Surunavis or Chitnis — helped the king with his correspondence.

v. Dabir or Sumanta — master of ceremonies and also dealt with foreign affairs.

vi. Nyayadish — in charge of justice.

vii. Panditrao — head priest and in charge of charitable grants.

All ministers except Panditrao and the Nyayadish had to perform military duties when necessary. In his departmental duties each minister was aided by eight staff clerks, Diwan (secretary), Majumdar (auditor/accountant) Fadnis (deputy auditor), Sabnis (office in charge), Chitnis (correspondence clerk), Jamadar (treasurer), Potnis (Cash) and Karkhanis (commissary).

Maratha Army:

Cavalry was the most important of the Maratha army which was composed of Bargirs (regular state cavalry) and Siladars (brought their own horses and equipments). In the infantry, the smallest unit was of soldiers headed by a Naik.

The highest infantry commander was Seven-Hazari. The Commander-in-chief of the army was the Sar-i-Naubat. Shivaji’s naval u.iit was iocated at Kolaba. Shivaji preferred to give cash salaries to the soldiers, though sometimes the chiefs received revenue grants (saranjam).

The revenue system was patterned on the system of Malik Ambar. The Swarajya was divided into Mahals (province), Prants (Groups of district), Tarafs (district) and Manzas (groups of villages). The prant was headed by subahdar who was in chage of revenue collection.

Land was measured using the Kathi. The state demand was 40% of the produce in cash or kind. Chauth (1 /4th of land revenue) was collected from the reighbouring Mughal territories and Sardeshmukhi was an additional levy of 10%, which Shivaji demanded on the basis of his being the (chief headman) hereditary Sardeshmukh of Maharashtra.

After Shivaji’s death Sambhaji (1680-89), Rajaram (1689-1700) and Tarabai (1700-1708) wife of Rajaram carried on the Maratha struggle against the Mughals.