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Mansabdari System

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  • Last Updated : 02 Jul, 2022
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The credit for laying a sound foundation for the Mughal Administration goes to Emperor Akbar. Most of Sher Shah’s initiatives were followed and expanded upon by him. The Mughal administration was mostly based on both the Indian and Persian systems. The two main pillars of the Mughal administration were the absolute authority of the emperor and the strength of the army. The administration was assisted by several officials directly appointed by the emperor. During his reign, he introduced a new system called Mansabdari System, which supported many people socially and economically. 

The Mansabdari System

The military administration was organized through the Mansabdari system. Mansab means ‘rank’ in Arabic, and officers with ranks were called mansabdars. There were thirty-three categories of Mansab in the Mughal period ranging from 10 to 10,000. Mansabs over 5,000 were reserved for princes and members of the royal family. This post was not hereditary, and the Mansabdars were paid in cash or given large tracts of land called jagirs. They could be promoted, demoted, or transferred. Each Mansabdar was required to maintain discipline and provide training for his soldiers. They had to keep their households, pay the soldiers and hold the animals from the revenue acquired from the jagirs. Mansabs in the Mughal period must maintain a certain number of horses depending on their rank. They also had to carry a fixed number of elephants, camels, mules, and carts. The system of taking rolls of soldiers and branding horses was also followed.

Merits of Mansabdari System:

The new Mansabdari System introduced by Akbar proved to be a great success for his subject, as it employed many needy people. Here are some of the advantages of the Mansabdari system:

  • The Mansabdari system was a sustainable system that Akbar used to reorganize the army.
  • Only one Indian ruler had ever considered or planned along the lines that Akbar did.
  • Through Mansabdari, he attempted to establish a relationship between chieftainship and feudalism.
  • Some Mansabs in the Mughal period were permitted to recruit soldiers from their tribe and religion, but they were required to owe unquestioning allegiance to the central government.
  • By abolishing the Jagirdari system, the Mansabdari system freed the emperor from the shackles of feudal lords.
  • The position of Mansab in the Mughal period was not hereditary, each new Mansabdar earned Mansabdari from the ruler.
  • His endorsement and forced resignation depended on the emperor’s mercy, so he had to be faithful and dedicated to the emperor, performing poorly. He was stripped of all privileges.
  • It reduced the likelihood of an empire-wide revolt.
  • Akbar also enlisted the help of his genetically determined martial aspects and brave community members to join the royal army, contributing to the country’s political unification.

Demerits of the Mansabdari System:

As everything has its pros and cons as well, in some ways the Mansabdari system proved to be fatal for the empire. Such as:

  • Besides the above benefits, the Mansabdari system had some drawbacks.
  • Most of the Mansabs in the Mughal period were immigrants who had little affection for the Indian empire, Akbar was unable to organize a national army with their assistance.
  • Furthermore, because the combatants were selected by the Mansabdars and received their pay and promotions, they remained faithful to their masters rather than the Mughal emperors.
  • During the repel, they performed poorly in synchronizing with the royal army.
  • The central government provided no systematic training to soldiers before starting wars, their fitness was always in doubt, and their armaments and standards were opposed.
  • The failure of the Kalinjar expedition demonstrated the Mughals’ military weakness. 
  • The Mansab in the Mughal period performed poorly to improve the artillery and keep a strong navy.
  • Whatever steps were taken to strengthen the armed force, they were taken during Akbar’s reign.
    No ruler before or after him made any significant effort to develop and organize the army.


Apart from the Mansabdars, Akbar also had a group of special soldiers and artillery called shades. The entire army was divided into the cavalry, infantry, elephants, artillery, and a navy. The ruler of the emperor was the supreme commander of the military. The Mansabdari system introduced certain irregularities into the army structure.

Mansab in the Mughal period did not keep the requisite number of men and horses and therefore amassed a large sum. Military high-rank commanders, such as Amir-ul-Umra and Khan-i-Jahan, drunkenly stumbled on money and lived a pleasant and lavish existence. Their demoralization harmed army discipline and accelerated the deterioration and demise of the Mughal Empire.


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