Main Elements and Structure of the Mughal Administration:

1. Emperor as the representative of God:

Mughal emperors considered themselves as God’s representatives on earth. They claimed to be the “Shadow of God”, or “Visible God.” or “Waqil to God” or “Khatifa of her country.”

Abul Fazl, the well-known historian and scholar of Akbar’s age in his preface to the Ain-i-Akbari’ has said,

“No dignity is higher in the eyes of God than royalty, and those who are wise, drink from its auspicious fountain.”


He further held, “Royalty is a light emanating from God as ray from the sun.”

The Lives of the Mughal Emperors, Reeve

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Earlier Humayun had also thought himself to be the God’s representative on earth. When Askari Mirza rebelled against Humayun, he said to have exclaimed. “Am I not a king, God’s representative on earth.” Babur had assumed the title of ‘Padshah’ (Emperor) to denote the royal dignity. He tells in his Memories, “up to that date people had styled Taimur Beg’s descendants as ‘Mirza’, even when they were ruling, now 1 ordered that people should style me ‘Padshah’.”

2. Centralized power:


The emperor was the head of administration and the state. He was the law-maker as well as dispenser of justice, the commander-in-chief and the fountain-head of all honours. He was the source of all authority.

3. Benevolent despot:

The Mughal emperor accepted two primary duties for themselves—’Jahan Bani’ protection of the state, and ‘Jahangiri’ (extension of the empire). They attempted to create those conditions which were conducive to economic and cultural progress of their subjects. They devoted lot of time to look after the affairs of the state.

Akbar used to say, “Tyranny is unlawful in everyone, especially in a sovereign who is guardian of the public.” He also observed, “Divine worship in monarchs consists in their justice and good administration.” According to Dr. R.P. Khosla, “The Mughal monarchy whatever its defects-and no despotism can be unalloyed blessing-was on the whole grandly conceived and well executed.”


4. Rule of Aristocracy:

Dr. Tara Chand describes the rule of the Mughal emperors as ‘the rule of aristocracy’. This implies that the nobles exercised enormous influence on the administration of the state.

5. Foreign-cum Indian system of administration:

Dr. J.N. Sarkar has observed, “The Mughal administration presented a combination of Indian and extra-Indian elements, or more correctly, it was the Perso-Arabic system in Indian setting.” A compromise was affected with the older native system already in vogue and familiar to the people governed. The Mughals carried out certain modifications in it in the light of foreign experiences.

6. Secular versus theocratic state:

The Mughal administration was not entirely based on Islamic tenets. At least important emperors like Akbar did not work under the influence of the ‘Ulemas’. Even Aurangzeb, though a fanatic Sunni never allowed the Ulemas to dictate him in administrative matters.

7. Administration-military in origin:

The Mughal administration was a military based government from beginning to the last.

8. Revenue administration:

Several Mughal rulers imposed taxes in accordance with Islamic laws.

9. The administration as manufacturer:

The administration/State used to maintain several ‘Karkhanas’ or factories of its own.

10. Council of Ministers:

It was not necessary for the Mughal emperor to consult his ministers on all occasions. According to J.N. Sarkar, “The Mughal emperor had no regular Council of Ministers. The ‘Wazir’ (Prime Minister) and the Diwan (Finance Minister) were the highest persons below the emperor, but the other officers were in no sense, his colleagues. They were admittedly inferior to him and deserved rather to be called secretaries than ministers. Nearly all their work was liable to revision by the ‘Wazir’ and Royal orders were often transmitted to them through him.”

Control of departments:

Apart from the Prime Minister and the Diwan, there were several other ministers or incharges of various departments.

Among the important ones were the following:

1. The Imperial Household Department under ‘Khan-Saman’ or High Steward.

2. The Military Pay and Accounts Department under the Imperial Bakshi.

3. The Canon Law, both Civil and Military under the Chief ‘Qazi’.

4. Religious Endowments and Charity under the Chief ‘Sardar’.

5. Censorship of Public Morals under the ‘Mahtasib’.

6. The Justice Department under. ‘Qazi-ul-Quzat’.

7. The Artillery Department under ‘Mir Atish’ or ‘Darogha-i-Topkhana’

8. Intelligence and Postal Department under the ‘Darogha-i-Dak Chauki’

The entire structure of the administrative system of the Mughals may be stated in the words of S.R. Sharma. “Though the Mughals came to India as conquerors and foreigners, they set up traditions and conventions which were calculated to endear them to their Indian subjects.

The Emperor’s appearance at the ‘Jharokha’ for popular ‘Darshan’ daily, the opportunities they offered to the people to approach them with their petitions, their personal attention to minute details of administration, and their regular inspection tours and pageants throughout the Empire, even apart from their generally enlightened and benevolent policy in all matters, served to impart to their autocratic rule the appearance of government by consent.

This character was largely the creation of Akbar’s statesmanship. It was sustained during the next two reigns of Jahangir and Shah Jahan, but was progressively undermined by the reactionary policy of Aurangzeb. Nevertheless, the main framework of the administrative organisation, though in a considerably attenuated form, endured till the English East India Company stepped into the shoes of the Mughal Emperors.”