Mughal officialdom and its members

ByZoya Ansari

Designation: She has a good deal of teaching experience and possesses a keen historical sense


February 26, 2023

Mughal officialdom and its members

Zoya Ansari talks about the ruling Mughal hierarchy 

Mughal officialdom and its members comprised of vast areas and required hands-on approach to run it. The Mughal emperor was an all–controlling chief executive and was assisted in his administrative tasks by a huge officialdom that was brought into an organised hierarchical shape by Emperor Akbar through his far-reaching mansabdari system that is widely acknowledged as a precursor to modern form of bureaucracy.

The administrative acumen of the first six emperors was exemplary that held this gigantic structure in harness and made it to perform feats that appear exceptional to the modern perception. Mughal officialdom and its members was managed through a clear chain of command and contained a designated hierarchical ladder that was finally answerable to the sovereign. It was therefore imperative that the sovereign contained a keen sense of adjudging the capability of his officials and place them accordingly.

Mughal was an empire in which governing agency rested almost solely with the emperor while the rest of the kingdom was known to be following his orders. Yet looking more closely it emerges that the Mughal state was a two-way traffic in which the matters of the state continually moved from up to down and then up again till the emperor finally agreed with the advice tendered and confirmed it into a policy.

The emperor was made to listen to different points of view and he tended to act after soliciting their advice. The result was that the emperor was as overworked as his officials and they moved in unison despite being stationed in far corners of the empire. The nobles participated in military campaigns with their armies and also served as officers of the empire in the provinces. Each military commander recruited, equipped and trained the main striking arm of the Mughal army, the cavalry.

Mughal Officialdom And Its Members Repitation

On the functional side the troopers maintained superior horses branded on the flank by the imperial mark known as dagh, a practice initiated by one of the premier sultans of Delhi Sultanate, Alauddin Khilji. The emperor personally reviewed changes in rank, titles and official postings for all except the lowest-ranked officers.

For members of the nobility, imperial service was a way of acquiring power, wealth and the highest possible reputation. However, in such a closed-end system the initial point and mode of entry assumed a cardinal role. The emperor was the final deciding authority but he worked in collaboration with his staff in selecting and employing members of his hierarchy.

In this respect a heavy responsibility was placed on the nobility that dictated that a candidate wishing to join the service petitioned through a noble, who presented a proposal known as tajwiz to the emperor. The nobles were required to satisfy themselves about the credentials of the application before approaching the emperor. The system placed heavy reliance on the credibility of the nobility as it was the mainstay of the administrative structure.

The tajwiz was examined by the emperor and his immediate secretariat prepared a summary for the approval of the emperor. More often the emperor interviewed the candidate and judged his suitability. He always retained the right to reject the tajwiz presented and the matter was then dropped but most nobles tried to gain the employment of their candidate through consistent efforts.

The persisting noble always had sound reasons for persisting with his tajwiz as there was always a dearth of capable individuals and the competition to enter the imperial service was intense. The nobility preferred getting appointments of their candidates for increasing their influence in the hierarchy.

Mughal Officialdom And Its Members Confirmations

Once the emperor granted the tajwiz then the appointee had to undergo the ritualistic process of becoming part of the imperialist hierarchy. The emperor would rarely comment upon the performance of new entrants and once his presence was acknowledged then he was assured that he will keep on working and eventually progress in imperial service. After consulting his secretariat the emperor granted the successful candidate a Mansab.

Appointment to all mansabs was the exclusive preserve of the emperor whose approval was mandatory. Usually a new entrant began from the lowest rung of the hierarchy and had to serve quite a long time to rise in service. The only chance for accelerated promotion was bravery shown in a battlefield that was mostly noted by the emperor.

The emperor also valued the assessment of his field generals and accepted their recommendation for promotion. The Mughal administrative system was quite rigid and many serving officers took a long time to climb the ladder and it was not unusual to gain promotion even after decades in the ranks.

After the confirmation of the appointment, the successful new entrant had to go through a lengthy rigmarole of official procedures to obtain his appointment orders. And After obtaining the orders he had to be registered with the office of the paymaster general known as Mir Bakshi for the fixation and release of his official emoluments.

After completion of these formalities, the mir bakhshi stood in open court and presented all candidates for appointment or promotion while his office prepared orders bearing his seal and signature as well as those of the emperor. There bureaucratic hierarchy consisted of two other important ministers known as diwan-i ala responsible for imperial grants and sadr-us sudur incharge of appointing local judges or qazis.

Administrative Of Mughal Empire

Emperor Akbar with these and other advisers shaped the administrative, fiscal and monetary institutions of the empire. Nobles stationed at the court were a reserve force to be deputed to a province or military campaign. One important pillar of the Mughal state was its corps of officers known in general parlance as the nobility.

The Mughal Empire heavily relied on personnel migrating from adjoining countries to serve it and its ranks comprised diverse ethnic and religious groups. The emperors ensured that no faction was large enough to challenge the authority of the state.

Consequently, the Mughal nobility comprised of people from many races such as Arabs, Iranians, Turks, Tajiks, Kurds, Tatars, Russians, Abyssinians and from many countries including Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Arabia, Iran, and Khurasan. The Iranians gained high offices under Jahangir, whose politically influential queen, Nur Jahan was an Iranian and whose father and brother remained the top-most officers of the realm.

Moreover, different groups from India, men with knowledge and skills as well as warriors, comprised of various groups gained prominence and were known as Bukharis and Bhakkaris, Saiyyads of genuine lineage, Shaikhzadas with noble ancestry, Afghan tribes such as the Lodis, Rohillas, Yusufzai and castes of Rajputs, who were to be addressed as rana, raja, rao and rayan with surnames known as Rathore, Sisodia, Kachhwaha, Chauhan, Solanki, Bundela, Shekhawat, and all the other Indian tribes, such as Ghakkar, Khokar, Baluchi and others who wielded the sword and held mansabs from 100 to 7,000.

Likewise landowners from the steppes and mountains, from the regions of Karnataka, Bengal, Assam, Udaipur, Srinagar, Kumaon, Tibet and Kishtwar along with their entire tribes came to the Mughal court to find employment. The Weekender


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