Mughal Era - Indian History

By pjain      Published Aug. 2, 2020, 12:42 a.m. in blog Humanities-History-Blog   

Islamic Era Policies and Key Factors

Non-Muslim Tolerance

Taxation and Discrimination

Akbar banned Jizya tax on non-muslims as a tool of oppression and forcing conversion. Akbar's Jizya tax on non-muslims ban was followed by his son Jahangir and grandson Shah Jahan but later reinstated again by Aurangzeb.

Akbar implemented Dashala system of land revenue which was formulated by Raja Todar Mal and this system was better than the earlier ones(eg. Tuglaq collected even 1/2 of the produce) and far better than British system of permanent settlement where peasants were paid only wage and 10/11 was drained to british and rest 1/11 to zamindars.

Integration of Hindu Rajas, Army and Ministers

Akbar married Hindu princess eg the daughter of Raja Bihari Mal to mark his secularism.

Akbar was more secular and respected non-muslims on par with Muslims and occupied high positions. 3 out of 9 jewels of his court were Hindus viz. Raja Man Singh, raja todar Mal and birbal.

Hindus occupied high positions in mansabdari system and there were many Hindus acted as subhedars.

Tolerance of Indian Customs like Sati

Though sati was banned during Humayun period , it was made strictly optional custom only post his accession

Respect of Other Indian Religions, Cow Ban

Akbar abolished cow slaughter to certain extent and followed through his father as Humayun stopped eating beef post some clash due to cow slaughter.

Akbar even allowed reconversion to Hinduism of forcibly converted Hindus without facing the death penalty.

Akbar visited 3rd Sikh guru Amardas and gave land grants to his daughter Bibbibani.(unlike cruel Aurangazeb who executed Guru Teg Bahadur and making enemies of the Sikh nation)

Akbar was highly influenced by Harivijaya, Jain monk of Swetambara sect which led him towards vegetarianism.

At Fetehpur Sikri built by Akbar he hosted ibadat Khana of many religions

Akbar found a new religion or belief called Din-i-ilahi. The Dīn-i Ilāhī was essentially an ethical system, prohibiting such sins as lust, sensuality, slander, and pride and enjoining the virtues of piety,prudence, abstinence, and kindness. Animal slaughter was forbidden.


Babur , Humayun and Akbar were kind souls and the real heroes of Mughal dynasty whereas second evil trio, Jahangir , Shahjahan and Aurangazeb were the cruel souls.

Evolution of Empire

Heavy Sibling rivalries and Court Conspiracies Haunted the Mughals

Akbar's own Regent Balram Khan whom he respected as a guru from 13-18 years, revolted and was ordered to do a Hajj trip where he died under attack from Afghani Pathans in a revenge killing.

Akbar’s foster brother Adham Khan murdered his loyal minister Atgah Khan and so, Akbar ordered his execution by throwing him off the roof in a fit of rage. This incident disturbed Akbar, who broke this news to his foster mother Maham Anga, who told Akbar that he did well, although deeply saddened.

Akbar's grandchildren like Shah Jahan murdered his half brother Khusrou to grab the throne and lusted after Noor Jahan having her husband killed.

Political Control - Semi-Centralized System

The Mughal empire was part way between a feudal system and a centralized system.

By being more centralized than prior Hindu kingdoms they could keep tighter control of finances and hierarchies of military resources.

Mughals had quite a bit of control over the happenings in the Indo -Gangetic plain due to the proximity of these areas from their capital.

But in vassal areas such as Rajastan and much of Central india despite nominally being under Mughal control were to a greater extent free to run their own kingdoms.

Most rajput dynasties that remained under the mughals were the same that had been under the Delhi Sultanates. In fact the political situation in Rajastan changed minimally in the 800 years between the Islamic conquest of north India and the British till 1850. After that far more direct control was imposed by the British and Rajas were pushed aside from power and made heads in picture only with small palace guard forces.

In central India the Empire was decidedly feudal . Not just were the greatly autonomous the also kept their own dynasties ,their own religions and even their own armies.

However, they split the political and tax systems.

Military System - Heavy Cavalry/Artillery controlled by Mughals - Forts "licensed"

Also the Mughal military system and forces were again separate from the political administration.

But a number of these were run by Mughal chieftains or Hindu rajas all based on their ability to keep 5000, 10000 or more effective armed forces and ready to go.

Police Control

It is unclear what the police function was. To quite a large extent the Army did NOT get involved in local law and order. It was upto merchants and landowners/farmers to protect their own properties.

To the extent in the Doab - Yamuna/Ganges plain to the Bengal where a LOT of the best farmland was taken over by the Mughals, the tithing system was probably dominant. Here a jagir or landlord was established that collected a share of all profits/output from farmers. The system was likely feudal where the takings went uphill to the Mughal emperor.

However, tax collection and law and order was probably administered by armed guards under the Jagirdar.

District Tax Administrators Jagirs and Mansabdars

The main instrument of Mughal administration were the Mansabdars . These Mansabdars were nobility and they were frequently granted Jagirs which were often parcels of land though they could also be tax collecting rights. However at the death of a Mansabdar the heirs of that person would only inherit a part of their predecessors Jagir depending on the amount of debt owed by the Mansab .

However these Mansabdars only worked in the areas directly under the central control.

Akbar initiated having Hindus in high positions in mansabdari system and there were many Hindus who even acted as subhedars.

Political Administrators - Subedars

Mughal provinces were controlled by the subedars , these subedars had far more autonomy and many at times were dynastic .

Akbar initiated having Hindus in high positions in mansabdari system and there were many Hindus who even acted as subhedars.




Rough youth in Exile

Full named as Abul Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar, his childhood was spent in exile since his father Humayun was overthrown by Sher Shah Suri.

His own uncle Kamran held him hostage while he was a child and subjected him to mistreatment as Kamran was jealous of his brother Humayun and vented his frustrations on Akbar.

Bairam Khan helped him get hold of the Mughal empire by winning the Second Battle of Panipat against Hemu. The captured and unconscious Hemu was beheaded by Bairam Khan so that he could earn the title of Ghazi. Minarets of severed heads of the fallen enemies were built in order to terrorize the enemies of the empire.

1556 Accession and Consolidation

In the early phase, he was no less barbaric than his ancestors after kbar was crowned emperor in 1556 when he was only thirteen years old under the regent Bairam Khan.

Akbar was brought up as a ruthless young king, and like other emperors the expansion of the empire was a major goal whether by diplomacy or merciless invasion.

Bairam Khan controlled the governance to a great extent and had grown ambitious. Akbar sensed his intentions and curbed the revolt. He then ordered Bairam to head towards Mecca without executing him, considering his role in the empire. Later on Bairam Khan was assassinated on his way to Haj trip by Hazi Khan who was general under Hemu. (It was a revenge murder). Akbar was 18 years old during the period.

1567 Barbaric Conquests of Rajputana's Chittorgarh

While Udai Singh II, the Rana of Mewar was open to accepting Mughal suzerainty and paying a tribute, he was not prepared to lower his head in obedience to Akbar as, according to "none of his ancestors had bowed down and kissed the ground". The Rana had also vexed Akbar when he first granted asylum to Baz Bahadur of Malwa and later, to the Mirzas of Sambhal.

Chittorgarh fort is the capital of the Maharaja of Rajasthan. It stands atop a 152m hill and covers an area of 700 acres (2.8 km2). It has a number of gateways and ponds including the Gaumukha kund and Hathi Kund, which is supplied by perennial underground source of water. Heavily fortified, Chittorgarh was believed to be insurmountable.

In 1567, Akbar laid siege on Chittorgarh to finish his enemies fiercely anti-Mughal Rajputs who had gathered in the fort. Rana Uday Singh left his capital, the great fort of Chitod to be defended by 8,000 Rajputs under an excellent commander, Jaimal Rathore.

Over four months many of his soldiers were killed eg in underground trenches mine explosion which while successfully breaching the walls had also claimed the lives of 200 Mughal soldiers. Akbar's anger was so severe, that he rejected offers by Sanda Silahdar and Sahib Khan had offered to pay a yearly tribute to Akbar and also to enroll in his royal court if Akbar withdrew his forces.

Akbar demanded the Maharaja Rana Uday Singh to surrender.

But Uday Singh II took himself and his family to the safety of the hills. His son Pratap Singh won the battle of haldigahti but continued losing the entire Mewar until 1582. However he switched tactics to a hit-and-run guerilla warfare and gradually managed to recover western Mewar fighting until his death. But in 1615 Amar Singh I, his son accepted Mughal suzerainty and allowed reentry to Chittor on the term that it not be repaired or used as a defensive fort.

After his army breached the walls and entered the fort, Akbar, with great accuracy, shot down Jaimal Rathore, the fort’s commander. Thousands of Rajput women committed Jauhar (meaning Hail Shiva but in reality is self-immolation) to avoid being raped and looted as war booty.

This was the third such mass self-immolation in the history of Chittor. Another time was the brutal Ala-ud-din Khilji who had captured the fort in 1303 CE. It was sacked again a couple of centuries later by Bahadur Shah of the Gujarat Sultanate.

Even in his victory, in his anger Akbar mercilessly ordered a massacre even of the peasants within the fort so over 40,000 inhabitants and farmers were butchered by the Mughal troops.

Fifty years later, found Chitod fort deserted as it remained a firm tenet of Mughal policy throughout the next century that fortifications of Chitod, which till then was the capital of the then strongest Hindu Rana, should remain unrepaired, perhaps as a lesson to Hindus who dared to take on the Mughals

1568 Ranthambore battle

Ranthambore had a very steep and supposedly impregnable for that lies within the Ranthambore National Park. While it did not really have the population or the agriculture around Jaipur, it and the surrounding forest was hard to conquer.

The fort was held by the Chahamanas (Chauhans) until the 13th century, when the Delhi Sultanate captured it for the first time.

During Rana Udai Singh I's reign (1468–1473) the fortress passed to the Hada Rajputs of Bundi. Sultan Bahadur Shah of Gujarat captured the fortress from 1532 to 1535.

Akbar's clever seige tactics using huge cannons to successfully blow off the fort bastions. Rao Surjan Hada finally surrendered to Akbar and invited him to enter the fort.

The Jaipur Rajas were politically astute and allied with first the Mughals and later the British for the longest running dynasties in otherwise turbulent and volatile feuding rajas of Rajasthan. Sometimes their politics included stabbing other Hindu Rajas eg the Marathas in the back. But Ranthambore lay near the city of Sawai Madhopur, the park being the former hunting grounds of the Maharajahs of Jaipur until the time of India's Independence.

Invasion of Gujarat

The Rajput dominions also hindered access to both Gujarat and its prosperous seaports as well as Malwa. The logistics of supplying armies through Rajasthan deserts and hills was simply too hard.

To control either of these regions or even have sustained taxed trade, the Mughal emperor also needed to have treaties with the Rajputs.

Marriage and Tolerant Aging

In the second phase, he was a tolerant and wise emperor, unarguably the best among all the Mughals.

Marriage was a state policy, and Akbar had a large Harem which contained all the princesses from the kingdom that lost against him perhaps as hostages or to cement treaties. He married the Rajput princess of Amber( Harkha Bai, who is wrongly called Jodha Bai) as a political alliance. She bore Akbara a son, the future emperor Jahangir.

Akbar later married several Rajput princesses for political gains and allowed them to practice Hinduism without converting to Islam. He promoted the male relatives of his Hindu wives to high ranks in his court. Three of his navaratnas(nine gems) were Hindus—Raja Man Singh, Raja Birbal, and Raja Todar Mal.

Akbar was recognized as the most tolerant ruler in Mughals towards other religions. He abolished the system of selling wives of prisoners in open market

Although he never received a formal education, he was an avid learner, having a huge library. He had the Ramayana and the Mahabharata translated in Persian.

Descendants of Akbar had half Hindu origin from maternal side.

Economic Prosperity amid Peace and Enlightment of Arts and Science

Akbar's economic system introduced by Akbar made the empire flourish. Although it is very likely that these measures were implemented solely for the benefit of the empire, these indeed allowed his subjects to reside peacefully.

Akbar was a good patron of art and architecture and it was under him that the Indo-Islamic architecture was formed and evolved tremendously.


Jahangir was born to Hindu princess Hira Bai Kunwari(also called Jodha bai).

Akbar's policies of tolerance were criticized by the orthodox Ulemas and backlash from the Mullahs and Armed forces.

Akbar's Jizya tax on non-muslims ban was followed by his son Jahangir and grandson Shah Jahan but later reinstated again by Aurangzeb.

Shah Jahan

Shah Jahan's mother was an Hindu princess Jagat Gosai, daughter of Raja Uday Singh.

Akbar's grandchildren like Shah Jahan murdered his half brother Khusrou to grab the throne and lusted after Noor Jahan having her husband killed.

Akbar's Jizya tax on non-muslims ban was followed by his son Jahangir and grandson Shah Jahan but later reinstated again by Aurangzeb.


Aurangazeb was one of the "most evil ever born on Earth".

Akbar's Jizya tax on non-muslims ban was followed by his son Jahangir and grandson Shah Jahan but later reinstated again by Aurangzeb.


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