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Mansabdari System in Mughal Empire

Last Updated : 03 May, 2023
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The Mansabdari system refers to the grading system which is used by the Mughal rulers for fixing the rank and salary of a mansabdar. The mansabs refer to the nobles who occupied various positions of importance in the administration of the Mughal Empire. Their appointments and dismissals were at the hands of the mughal emperor.

Mansabdari System

Mansabdari System

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 ranks. Mansabdar 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. Mansabdars Mughal in the 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. The Mansabdars were appointed using a decimal system, and Akbar attempted to unite the three main administrative branches- the aristocracy, the military, and the bureaucracy, under this system.

Who was Mansabdars?

  1. Mansabdars refer to the officers present in the administration of the Mughals.
  2. The nobles who joined the service of the Mughals were enrolled as the mansabdars.
  3. Mansabdar refers to the individual who holds a rank or mansab. Mansabdars came to be appointed in the posts of both civil as well as military positions.
  4. Mansabdars were often more liable for transfer from one branch of administration to the other.

Origins of the Mansabdari System

  1. The origins of the mansabdari system are in Central Asia and there is a view that the system came to India with Babur, and the term Wajahdar has been used instead of mansabdar.
  2. Mughal emperor Akbar 1571 implemented the mansabdari system in the administrative system and came to both institutionalized as well as reform it on the basis of military as well as civil forms of administration.
  3. The officers under this system came to be known as mansabdars. The mansabdars were transferred from one place to another, like from civil to military and so forth.

Number of Mansabdars- Mughal Rule

  1. In Akbar’s period, the number of mansabdars was 1,800 approximately.
  2. During the Aurangzeb, there were around 14,500 mansabdars.

Recruitment of Mansabdars

Both recruiting and promoting mansabdars were in the hands of the Mughal Emperor. Mirbakshi mostly gave suggestions for the recruitment of mansabdars:

  1. All races and religions were allowed to apply for government jobs.
  2. Anyone willing to join the royal service had to petition through a noble, who presented Tajwiz to the emperor.

Mansabdar’s Ranking/ Hierarchy of Administrative Officers

“Mansab” is a word that originates from the Arabic language and the meaning of which is position or rank. Certain hierarchy is followed by mansabdars, as mentioned below:

  1. Amir of Amirs- The title of “Amir-al-Umara” was given to them and their rank was above 5000.
  2. Amir-al- Kabir ( Great Amir)- The mansabdar’s ranks above 1000 were known as Amir-al-Kabir.
  3. Amir- These refer to that administrative official whose rank was 1000 or below.

The table below gives information about Highest and Lowsr ranked mansabs during Akbar’s rule:

Highest Ranked Mansab 10,000
Lowest Ranked Mansab 10

Structure of Mansabdari System

Dual representations of mansab are as follows:

  1. Zat- The zat indicated the rank in administration as well as the salary of the mansabdar.
  2. Sawar- Sawar represented the rank of cavalry and also the number of horses and cavalrymen which is maintained by Sawar.

The position which is held by the mansabdar is dependent on the zat and on the basis of both zat and sawar, the mansabdars are classified as follows:

  1. First Class Mansabdars- First Class mansabdars are those who have an equal number of Sawar and Zat.
  2. Second Class Mansabdars- Second Class mansabdars are those whose number of sawar is equal to half the number of zat.
  3. Third Class Mansabdars- Third class mansabdars are those whose number of sawar is less than the number of zat.

Mansabdars Salary in Cash and Land

  1. The salary of mansabdars would be commensurate with their ranks.
  2. Mansabdars who received payment by land are known as jagirdars and jagirdars had the right to collect revenue from a piece of land.
  3. Mansabdars receiving payment by cash was known as Naqdi.
  4. The mansabdari position was not hereditary.

Military Responsibilities of Mansabdars

  1. The cavalrymen were to be reviewed and registered by the mansabdars.
  2. Mansabdars were also responsible for the maintenance of a specified number of both horses and cavalrymen.

Advantages 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.
  • 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.

Disadvantages 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:

  • 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.
  • The Mansabdari system introduced certain irregularities into the army structure.

Fall of Mansabdari System

In the Mughal Empire, the Mansabdari system was used to rank civil and military officials. The Mansabdari system, which was created under the leadership of Akbar, strengthened its foundation throughout Akbar’s brief rule. Akbar kept 1,803 Mansabdars; at the conclusion of Aurangzeb’s rule, that number had risen to 14,4991. The fall of the mansabdari system was the culmination of the following:

  1. The increase in the number of mansabdars during Aurangzeb time, led to both agrarian and jagirdari crises; leading to the collapse of the mansabdari system.
  2. During the reign of Akbar, revenue collected by mansabdars from his jagirs would be to pay his assigned salary as well. These jagirs were assessed thoroughly as well so that this jagir would be equal to the salary of mansabdaris.
  3. In later days, there was a shortage of jagirs and the size of jagirs also came to shrink.
  4. In the Aurangzeb period, revenue which was collected by mansabdars was not enough to pay for the salary assigned to them and over time led to the erosion of the system altogether.


The mansabdari system essentially functioned as a grading system to rate the officers according to their pay and rank. It included all facets of empire-wide administration, including civil, military, and financial affairs. There were official suggestions to enlist the mansabdars. Both the civil and military departments were equally important.

FAQs on Mansabdari System

Q 1. What is mansabdari system?


The Mansabdari System was an administrative system of the Mughal empire instituted by Akbar in 1571 to determine the rank and income of the Mansabdars (nobles) serving the Mughals.

Q 2. Who introduced mansabdari system?


Mughal Emperor Akbar publicly instituted the Mansabdari system in 1571 AD12. Though it was Akbar who properly established the mansabdari system, the framework dates back to the Mongol Changez Khan in Central Asia. It was also used by Babur and Humayun throughout their reigns.

Q 3. Why did the Mansabdari system fail?


During Akbar’s reign, the mansabdari system worked successfully. However, various issues occurred in the later phases under the kings following Akbar, such as diminishing and scarcity of the jagirs. By the time of Aurangzeb, the wages provided to the mansabdars were insufficient since the allotted jagirs were unable to produce enough cash to keep the state running normally. The rise in Mansabdars under Aurangzeb’s rule caused the Jagirdari and agricultural crises, which ultimately caused the Mansabdari system to collapse.

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