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Mughal Administrative System

Mughal Administrative System

Political Ideals:

  • The Mughal theory of kingship was given a new dimension by Abul Fazl. According to him, the institution of kingship, rather than the individual who held the office, was endowed with farr-i-izadi (divine effulgence).
  • His Padshah or Shahanshah (king of kings) was a unique personality and was the vice-regent of God on earth.
  • Another important scholar on this subject was Shaikh Abdul Haqq Dahlawi who wrote the Nurriya-i-Sultaniyya, a treatise covering all aspects of this subject; during Jehangir’s reign.
  • There was complete independence or sovereignty of the king, both internally and externally.
  • Internally, every institution and person was subordinate to the king. Externally, the Mughal sovereign did not recognize any superior authority like the Caliph, which was done by the Delhi Sultans.
  • The Mughals desired to bring under their imperial rule not only the whole of India but also territories outside India such as Afghanistan, Central Asia etc.
  • The Mughal administration was reared on dynastic loyalties. Though in theory administrative posts were open to all, in practice mostly those persons having royal origins were taken into the administration.
  • And the government servants owed loyalty to the dynasties rather than to the institutions.

Central Administration:

  • The form of Mughal government was despotic monarchy. The king was the head of the executive, legislature, judiciary and the army.              Mughal Administrative System
  • His main duty was benevolence towards the subjects. The royal Uzuk (small signet ring) was affixed to farmers granting senior appointments, titles, jagirs etc.
  • The only limits on the autocracy of the king were the nobility and the ulema. Though in theory the nobles owed their position to the king, in practice the king could not easily ignore the strength of the nobility.


  • He was the representative of the king and hence exercised all powers on behalf and in the name of the king.
  • There was a gradual decline of the powers of this office after Bairam Khan, and continuation of this power was mainly as a decorative one.

Wazir (Diwan):

  • In his capacity as diwan-i-kul (principal diwan), he was the head of the revenue department.
  • When there was no vakil, he acted as the prime minister as well, hence was called wazir.

Mir Bakshi:

  • He was the head of the military department, and also became the paymaster general after the introduction of the Mansab system.            Mughal Administrative System


  • He was the head of the ecclesiastical department, hence regulated the religious policy of the state.
  • He was also in charge of public charities and endowments, combination of the office of the Chief Sadr and the Chief Qazi, and hence became the head of the department of justice also.
  • There were also the muhtasibs and muftis, who continued as subordinate officers of the Qazis.


  • Head of the royal household and the royal karkhanas. His was a case of gradual ascendancy into prominence at the centre.
  • Initially looked after only the royal household while diwan-i-bayutat looked after the workshops, but later he was made senior to the latter, thus bringing the latter’s charge also under his supervision.


  • Apart from the above, there were many other ministers and officers at the centre, though not as important as the above.                      Mughal Administrative System
  • They were diwan-i-khalisa (in charge of crown lands), diwan-i-tan (incharge of Jagirs), mushrif-i-mumalik (accountant — general), mustauf-i-mumalik (auditor general), daroga-i-dat chauki (post-master general), mir-i-arz (in-charge of petitions), mir-i-mal (in-charge of privy purse), mir-i-tozak (in-charge of ceremonies), mir babri (incharge of ships and boats), mir manzil (in-charge of quarters) mir atish or daroga-i-topkhana (head of artillery).
  • Besides, certain other officials worked in various parts of the empire under the supervision of their respective heads at the centre.
  • They were mustashib (enforced public morok), waqia navis (news reporters), khufia navis (secret letter writers), harkaras (spies and special couriers) etc. some elite or crack troops, called ahadis were maintained directly by the emperors without placing them under the Mansabdars.
  • Their equipment was of high standard and each had to muster five horses. They were placed under a separate diwan and bakshi.

Provincial Administration:

  • Akbar was instrumental in the division and systematic organisation of the empire into different provinces or subas. Their number was 15 at the time of the death of Akbar, rose to 19 under Shah Jahan, and 21 under Aurangzeb.    Mughal Administrative System
  • Akbar established a uniform pattern of administration in all the provinces. The governor was known as subedar or sipah-salar, and also some times as nayim.
  • His functions included maintenance of law and order, enforcement of imperial decrees, administration of criminal justice etc. The provincial diwan was in-charge of revenue administration of the province.
  • His responsibilities were similar to those of the central diwan (diwn-i-kul). He acted as a check on the subedar and was directly responsible to the central diwan.
  • The bakshi was directly responsible to the mir bakshi, and discharged duties similar to those of the latter. Other provincial officials were qazi, sadr, muhtasib etc.

Local Administration:

  • There was a division of province into Sarkars. The sarkar was further divided into parganas, which consisted of a group of villages. The administration of the sarkars and parganas was more or less on the lines laid down by Sher Shah.
  • Only a few changes were made by the Mughals in this respect. Groups of villages were combined for fiscal purposes only and were known as mahals.
  • Further, the provinces were also subdivided into smaller units, known as faujdaris for the sake o’ administrative convenience.  Mughal Administrative System
  • A faujdar was responsible for a number of parganas but not usually an entire Sarkar. The faujdaris were composed of smaller units known as thanas or military outposts, controlled by thanedars.
  • The faujdars performed military, police and judicial functions and also helped in revenue administration. They were required to deal with any rebellions by the Jagirdars, zamindars and amils.

Medieval History

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