Mansabdari System: Mughal History, Merits and Demerits

Mansabdari System: Mughal History, Merits and Demerits

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Last updated on June 2nd, 2023 at 08:06 pm

The Mansabdari system started by the Mughal Emperor Akbar was the pivot of the civil and military system of the Mughal Empire. Akbar had adopted this practice from Persia. It differed in principle from European feudalism. Just as European feudalism was related to agriculture and land, Mughal feudalism i.e.

‘Mansabdari system’ had no relation with agricultural land nor was it hereditary. Today in this blog we will know in detail about the Mughal period Mansabdari system. We will also examine the meaning of the Mansabdari system, its importance, and the merits and demerits of this practice. 

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Mughal Mansabdari System: Mughal History

Mansabdari system

The Mansabdari system was a unique military and administrative system introduced by Emperor Akbar during the Mughal era in India. This system was a hierarchical organization of the Mughal army and civil administration based on the ranking system.

Read This Article In Hindiमनसबदारी व्यवस्था क्या थी? मनसबदारी व्यवस्था कब और किसने शुरू की। गुण और दोष

Under this system, every officer was assigned a rank or ‘Mansab’ (meaning position or status in Persian), which was determined by the number of soldiers he commanded. The ranking system was divided into 33 grades, ranging from 10 to 10,000 soldiers.

The Mansabdars were not given a salary, but instead, they were granted an assignment of land called jagir, which was the revenue from the land they were entitled to. They were required to maintain and supply troops for the Mughal army according to their ranking.

The Mansabdari system helped the Mughal Empire to maintain a large and efficient army and enabled the Emperor to control his officers’ loyalty and prevent any rebellion. It also helped to ensure that the expenses of maintaining the army were met through revenue generated from the jagirs given to the Mansabdars.

Mansabdari System Started

The Mansabdari system was started during the time of Akbar. Because at that time the cavalry was the most important part of the Mughal army. Therefore, in 1575 AD, Akbar thought it appropriate to pay attention to the officers who were responsible for maintaining a certain number of cavalry.

In order to raise the level of cavalry, a slave system was practiced because this part of the army was formed on the basis of the Mansabdari system in place of the Jagirdari system.

During the reign of Babur and Humayun, jagirs were given to the rich. He used to deduct his army and his expenses from those jagirs and deposited the rest of the money in the treasury. But in this, the emperor did not give a cash salary to the Jagirdar. And the formation of the army could not be done systematically.

Hence Akbar started the Mansabdari system in 1575 AD. It was such a practice of organizing the army in which each Mansabdar kept a cavalry soldier according to his rank and rank and the Mansab used to determine the superiority and influence of his post in the court.

Meaning of Mansabdar

The literal meaning of Mansab or Mansib is Rank, glory, or prestige. According to Irwin, the purpose of the Mansabdari system was to establish a hierarchy in the posts. Mansabdars were appointed in both military and civilian departments.

In fact, during the Mughal period, there was no difference between these two departments. Officers from the civil department were thus interchanged with each other. The word “Mansabdar” was used only for high officials and the lower rank government servants were given the title of “Rozandar”.

Categories of Mansabdars

Generally, there were many categories of Mansabdars but mainly they were divided into two major categories.

  • First Class – “Umrah”
    Class II – “Mansabdar

  • Mansabdars of the title Hazari or two Hazaris or up to twelve Hazaris were called “Umrahs”.
  • Those people whose rank was not less than one thousand but below twenty were called Mansabdars.
  • This is the reason why Bernier has used the word ‘Umrah’ of the lower ranks for the Mansabdars.

 Difference between ‘Umrah’ and ‘Mansabdars’

Historians are not unanimous about the distinction between ‘Umrahs’ and ‘Mansabdars’ – According to Bernier – there was a distinction between Umrahas and Mansabdars that no Umrah was performed by a ‘Hazari’.

According to Sir Thomas Roe, there was no difference between them.

According to Manukki – Manukki, while making a distinction between these two, has told that when the mansabdars of up to 900 small horsemen have been mentioned, he has used words like “do bisti, sibisti, chahar bisti”. But when he has mentioned a thousand or higher mansabdars, he has also used the word “umrah” with them.

In this way he has addressed the one who keeps 1000 horses by the name of “Yak Hazari Umrah”. According to Manukki, up to 900 mansabdari was easily given but it was difficult to get 1000 mansabdari. The emperor used to give this position only to those people who had worked hard for it. Those who attained the mansabdari of 1000 were given the title of “Umrah”.

According to Hawkins, the rank of captain ranged from 12000 to 20000 horses. The rank of 12,000 was given to Raja, Rajmata, Yuvraj, and other royal family members. Other Mansabdars were like “dukes, Marves, earls, viscounts, knights, barons, esquires, gentlemen, and Yumen.

Tavernier is of the opinion that there were 2,000 horsemen in the authority of a small Umrah. But it is worth noting that Travernier’s article is much later, so there may be an error in his opinion.

The number was more than the Umrahs. Although they had a leadership function, they belonged to the category of Umrahas and performed functions like Umrahas. Mansabdars were not only in the court but they were also in the army and in the provinces.

  • Vernier believes that the number of Mansabdars was not fixed. On the Contrary, Hawkins says that-
    The number of the Mansabdars from 2,000 to 20,000 horses was 2,950.
  • At the time of the creation of Ain-Akbari, there were 148 Umrahs above 500 horsemen.
  • Their number increased to 438 during Jahangir’s time; In 1637 – 405, in 1640 – 446.
  • The total number of Mansabdars was -1658 in 1590, 2,069 in Jahangir’s period, 8,000 in 1630, and 11,456 in 1690.

 Zaat and Sawar

There was a distinction between the caste and rider categories of the Mansabdars. There is no consensus on this matter.

According to Blockman, the Zaat range meant the number of soldiers that the Mansabdars were supposed to keep and Sawar meant the number of soldiers they actually kept with them. During the Deccan War in 1603-4, Akbar established the post of Sawar.

We cannot accept this view. It is noteworthy that Zaat was the personal title of Mansabdar. Along with this title, the rank of Sawar was also added and for this, a higher allowance was given to the Mansabdar. The rider status of the Mansabdars who were favored by the emperor was considered very important. It was a royal honor and grace.

Salary of Mansabdars

The Mughal Mansabdars used to get very good salaries. They were often paid salaries in cash. But sometimes the revenue of the jagir was also given in place of salary. He had to run the expenses of his own horsemen and horses from his personal income and salary.

Despite this, the Mansabdars lived a very happy and luxurious life during Akbar’s time because at that time they did not have to pay income tax and the purchasing power of the rupee was very high as compared to the present time.

The first class Panchhajari Mansabdar was paid Rs 30,000 per month, the second class Panchajari Rs 29,000 per month, and the third class Panchajari Rs 28,000 per month. Apart from this, the Mansabdar also got an additional salary at the rate of two rupees per month for each rider.

 Separate funds were provided for the arrangement of these soldiers. For example, if a Mansabdar had got 5000/5000 “Jaat” and “Savar” posts and the rate of salary was fixed at 8000 prices, then in such a situation the Mansabdar would get paid according to 5000 x 8000 price. But in the case of Duaspa being “Singh-Aspa” in the word “Sawar”, the order of payment was as follows – 2000×8000+3000×16000. The number of horsemen under the said Mansabdar was actually 8000.

Properties of Mansabdari System

The Mansabdari system eliminated the defects of the Jagirdari system. The Mansabdars remained loyal to the emperor and there was little chance of rebellion.

Akbar’s army became very strong by keeping many types of soldiers, cavalry, and infantry. After the implementation of the Mansabdari system, the king had the right over all the land, so the treasury increased. His position and Mansab were increased for doing good work. His post could be reduced for poor performance.

So all the Mansabdars used to work properly. But later in this, the Mansabdari system started working on the ancestral structure, and the sons of the Mansabdars were made new Mansabdars.

Defects of the Mansabdari System

to encourage extravagance-Some thinkers believe that extravagance was increased due to the Mansabdari system.

Promote Luxury

On the death of any Mansabdar, all his property was confiscated. Due to this rule, all the Mansabdars lived a life of luxury and spent a lot of money during their lifetime. His moral decline was happening. This was also a defect in the Mansabdari system.
promote corruption.

Many Mansabdars used to show the soldiers and horsemen of other Mansabdars at the time of inspection. In fact, they did not have that many soldiers and cavalry. In this way, they kept on collecting government money by dishonesty. All these proceedings were limited on paper. This was giving rise to corruption.
promotion of the caste system

During the time of the Mansabdari system, caste discrimination was done.

Loss of Loyalty to the Emperor

Both Sawar and jat sepoys were more loyal to their Mansabdars as they received money directly from the chieftains. He was not so loyal to the emperor.

Appointment of Mansabdars

The Mansabdars were appointed by Emperor Akbar himself. Emperor Akbar had made a Mansabdar of 7 thousand only to some important people who were his confidants like Raja Mansingh, Mirza Aziz Koka, and Mirza Shahrukh Akbar. The princes were given Mansab up to 12 thousand.

The main function of the Mansabdars was to provide military support and cavalry during the war. Horsemen were sent to military campaigns. Mansabdars had to do things like fighting the enemy army, fighting to win new territories, and helping in times of rebellion. Along with this, they also had to do non-military and administrative work.

Rules for Mansabdar

Akbar had made many rules to stop the arbitrariness of the workers. Mansabdars were allowed to keep only skilled and qualified riders. Every rider had to keep his own culvert (account). The horse also had to be stained so that it could be identified. The emperor himself supervised the soldiers and horsemen of all the Mansabdars.

Mansabdars were required to keep two horses of Iraqi or Arabian breed for each horseman. The Mansabdars had to come to the emperor to collect their salaries. On death, all the property of the Mansabdar was confiscated. Due to these rules, the Mughal army became very powerful.

Mixed Rider

Emperor Akbar had made this arrangement that among the castes and riders of all the Mansabdars there should be people of all caste religions. Must be riders from all castes like Mughal, Pathan, and Rajput. All this was probably due to Akbar’s secular mindset. There will be no religious bias among the riders. This will strengthen the army.

The following types of soldiers were recruited in military recruitment

Emperor Akbar recruited many types of soldiers for his army such as archers, gunsmiths, diggers, etc. All of them were kept at different salaries. Iranian and Turkish riders were paid higher wages. The rest of the riders were paid Rs 20 per month. The pay of the infantry was low. They were given 3 months.


Thus the Mansabdars played a major role in the expansion of the Mughal Empire. He did an important job of establishing peace and order in the vast areas of the empire. But it is also true that due to them there was a huge waste of revenue.

Thus the Mansabdars played a major role in maintaining peace and unity in the vast Mughal Empire, which led to an increase in trade, agriculture, and commerce. On the contrary, due to the expenditure on the subsistence of the Mansabdars, the surplus of agricultural production was recovered more and more. In fact, there was no scope for the cultivators to upgrade or expand agriculture.

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