The Mansabdari system was the administrative system introduced by Akbar in Mughal Empire during 1571. The word ‘Mansab’ is of Arabic origin meaning rank or position. Hence, Mansabdari was a system of ranking the government officials and determined their civil & military duties, along with their renumerations.
Genesis of Mansabdari System
Akbar introduced Mansabdari system of administration in 1571 with the help of Shahbaz Khan. However, the origin of Mansabdari system can be traced back to Mongols (Changez Khan). In India, it was initially implemented by Babur & Humayun but it was Akbar who reformed and institutionalised the Mansabdari system as the basis of civil & military administration.
The mansabdars formed the ruling elite in the Mughal Empire. Consequently, the whole nobility, the bureaucracy as well as the military hierarchy, held mansabs. The recruitment and promotion of the mansabdar’s was in the hands of the emperor who could also dismiss them at will. Mostly the recruitment of the mansabdars was made on the recommendation of the ‘mirbakshi’.
Under the mansabdari system, different number’s which could be divided by ten were used for ranking officers. They were also meant for fixing the salaries and allowances of the officers. During Akbar’s regime initially, the lowest rank was that of number 10 and highest that of 10,000. Mansab above 5000 and later on that of 7000 were given only to princess. The highest rank of 10,000 was given exclusively to Salim, the crown prince. At a later stage, however, Akbar raised the highest rank to 12,000. During Jahangir and Shahjahan’s reign, mansabs only 8000 were given to officers which princes were given mansabs upto 40,000 the later Mughals gave mansabs upto the number of 50,000.
Classification of Mansabdari system:
Broadly, there were three main classification of Mansabdars:
- All officer’s below the rank of the mansab of 500 were called mansabdars,
- The officers with the mansab from 500 to 2500 were called Amirs
- The officers than ranked over 2500 were called Amir-I-azam.
The officer called Khan-I-jahan was still higher in rank while the highest rank in the army was that of Khan-i-khana.
Structure of Mansabdari system:
The Mansab was designated by dual representation – Zat: a personal rank and Sawar: a cavalry rank. The Sowar ranking indicated the number of armed cavalrymen, or sowars, which each had to maintain for service in the imperial army. Now based on their Zat & Sawar, Mansabdars were further graded:
- First Class Mansabdar = > No. of Sawar = No. of Zat
- Second Class Mansabdar => No. of Sawar = 1/2 the No. of Zat
- Third Class Mansabdar= No. of Sawar < 1/2 the No. of Zat
This means that if a mansabdar enjoyed the rank of 5000 Zat and 5000 sawar then he was of the first category among the mansabdars of 5000.
On the basis of sawar ranks, the approximate strength of the imperial army under the effective control of the mansabdars could be readily calculated. Beside soldiers, the military generals maintained horses, camels, bullock carts and beasts of burden as specified by their sawar as a part of their establishment.
Salary & Payment System
Based upon the details given in the Ain-i-Akbari, the mansabdars were paid either in cash (naqd) or in the form of assignments of areas of land (jagir) out of which they had the entitlement to collect the land revenue and all other taxes through an authority appointed by the emperor.
The revenue that was generated through their jagir was handed over to them and the same was deducted from their salary. The mansabdar paid the salary of cavalrymen that he maintained out of his salary. Those who received pay in cash were known as naqdi and those paid through assignments of jagirs were called jagirdars. Thus the mansabdari system became an integral part of the agrarian and the jagirdari system of Mughal administration under Akbar. The jagirs were by nature transferable and no mansabdar was allowed to retain the same jagir for a long period.
The mansab was not hereditary and it automatically lapsed after the death or dismissal of the mansabdar. The son of a mansabdar, if he was granted a mansab, had to begin afresh.
Mansabdari System & Rajputs:
After the dismissal of Bairam Khan when Akbar took the reins of government in his hands he decided to admit Rajputs and Shaikhzadas (Indian Muslims) in his ruling class. The Emperor also entered into matrimonial relations with both the Rajputs and Indian Muslims. The Kachhwahas of Ambers were the first to join Mughal service but thereafter almost all other prominent Rajput chiefs with the exception of Sisodias of Mewar also joined imperial service.
Kachwaha of Amber
- Mansingh was the first Mansabdar of 7000 zats and Bhagwan Das with 5000 zats enjoyed the privileged position in the Mansabdari system of Akbar.
The Rathors of Marwar
- Udai Singh (Mota Raja) was first to accept Munsub in Imperial service.
- Soor Singh, son of Udai Singh, also served in imperial forces and even during his father life was conferred title of Sawai Raja.
The Rathors of Bikaner
- Rae Singh was given title of Raja and government of Hisar by Akbar. When Maldeo was dispossessed of Jodhpur, the rich district of Nagaur was given to Rae Singh.
- Kurrun, son of Rae Singh, held munsub of 2000 & government of Daulatabad during his father lifetime.
- Anoop Singh who succeeded in 1674 was given munsub of 5000 and government of Beejipoor & Aurangabad.
The Hadas of Bundi
- Rao Surjan Singh was first to accept suzerainty of Akbar.
The Sisodias of Mewar
The Sisodia’s of Mewar were the only exception to serve under Mughal imperial service during reign of Akbar. Jahangir was able to establish friendly relations with the Sisodias of Mewar.
- Rana. Amar Singh was exempted from personal presence and his eldest son Kunwar Karan was given the rank of 5000/5000.
- Rana Karan Singh supported Shah Jehan, and after accession of Shah Jehan to throne, Karan Singh’s son Jagat Singh was recognised as the ruler of Mewar and was promoted to the rank of 5000/5000 and along with him five more Sisodias were also assigned ranks.