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What was the role of Jagirdars in Mughal India?

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The jagirdari system during the Mughal period is considered an institution which mainly used to preserve the surplus from the class of peasants. The Jagirdari system was a form of land tenancy in which the collection of revenues from an estate and the power of governing it was bestowed on an official of the state.

It is derived from two Persian words: jagir, which means “holding land” and dar, which means “official”. The system was an adaptation of an existing agrarian system by the Delhi sultanate.



Origin and Connotation of Jagirdar System

A jagir is a type of feudatory territory that the ruler grants to an army chieftain in recognition of his military service and the system was started in the 13th century. The power to collect tax from a particular estate was accorded to an appointee of the state and the grant of land to an individual for purpose of collection of revenue against cash salary is practiced in India for a long.

During the period of the Delhi Sultanate, the land grants came to be known as the iqtas and the holders as iqtadars. This system was passed on to the Mughals and during their rule, the land grants came to be known as jagirs and holders as jagirdars. It was not the assignment of the land but the right to collect revenue from the piece of land.

Two forms of Jagirs existed mostly; the Conditional jagir and the unconditional jagir. Conditional jagir is where the governing family to whom the land is granted had provided services to the state when required. So, the family had to maintain troops. The land was usually for life and the rule was jagir would be reverted to the stated on the occasion of the death of its holder.

History of the Jagirdari System

The Jagir system came to be adopted from the Delhi Sultanate, which was an already existing agricultural system. It was a feudalistic system and had tendencies to weaken the already existing governing body of the state. The system was slowed down by Sultan Ghiyas al-Din and was abolished completely under Alauddin Khilji. However, was revived again under the age of Sultan Firuz Shah Tughlaq.

During the reign of Akbar, the territories were divided into Khalisa and Jagir. Akbar used the jagirdari system to consolidate and expand his empire. This system embraces both the civil and military aspects of the administration.

Features of Jagir System

Under the jagirdari system, the jagirdars used to collect taxes at the same time he paid their salary, and the rest of the revenue was deposited in the Mughal treasury. The assignment of the task of revenue collection is dependent mostly on the rank of the jagirdar.

There were various types of jagirs which included Jagir Tankha ( jagirs in lieu of pay), Mashrut Jagir (conditional jagir), Inam Jagir (no obligations of services and independent of rank), and Watan Jagirs ( jagirs granted in their own homelands). With time, jagirs became hereditary and were transferred to the male heir of the jagirdars. Jagirdars did not working isolation but with the patwari, tehsildar, mail, fotedar, and diwan to name a few positions. There would be smooth functioning of the imperial bureaucracy for keeping a strict track of the jagirdars and to avoid corruption. They would be penalized if any situations of harassment of peasants or excess payments came up. During the reign of Akbar, “Ami” was appointed in the Suba for seeing whether jagirdars implemented the royal orders.

Three main features of the Jagir system are as follows:

  1. The jagirs were bestowed on an unconditional or conditional basis.
  2. The salary of the jagir was paid from the taxes collected by him while the rest amount went to the imperial treasury during the Mughal times.
  3. The Jagir functioned as a “feudal life estate” as upon his death it reverted to the state back.

Role of  Jagirdars in Mughal India

The obligation of a Jagirdar was to gather charges which paid his compensation and the remainder of the sum went to the Mughal depository. The arrangement of Jagirdar proceeded even after the breakdown of the Mughal domain. In Akbar’s rule, jagirs were painstakingly evaluated so their incomes were generally equivalent to the compensation of the mansabdar.

  • Of these groupings, Tankha Jagirs were versatile every three or four years. Watan Jagirs were hered­itary Jagirs and non-versatile. Be that as it may, this enormous number of kinds of Jagirs were answerable for change. Appropriately, the Jagirdars were allowed to assemble only the predefined aggregate fixed by the ruler.
  • The Jagirdar accumulated the pay through his own specialists like Karkun, Amir, and Fotedar. The incomparable association administered the Jagirdars. The Diwan of the Suba ensured that the Jagirdars never hassled the laborers for excess portions. From the 20th year of the standard of Akbar, an Amir was introduced in the Suba to see that the Jagirdars thoroughly did the majestic orders.
  • Amidst inconvenience, the Jagirdar took the help of faujdar for the combination of pay. During the later season of Aurangzeb’s standard, there arose a crisis in the Jagirdari structure and this consequently provoked a crisis in the Mughal Empire.
  • We also go over the term Zamindars other than Mansabdars and Jagirdars in the power Mughal records. In the Mughal time period, the term was used in an uncommonly wide sense. It suggested the unimportant landholders in the towns anodized family members of old choice families and the Rajputs and other auton­omous supervisors who rehearsed administrative masters in their areas. They moreover stayed aware of the military and posts depending upon their status.
  • The Zamindars were the local supreme or common honorability who rehearsed masters in their areas. The Mansabdari and the Jagirdari were the two essential associations made by Akbar to consolidate and broaden his space which embraced both normal and military areas of adminis­tration. As such the Mansabdars, Jagirdars and Zamindars were a piece of the Mughal fairness which went probably a prop of the Mughal administrative plan made by Akbar and upheld by his substitutions.
  • It is of remarkable interest to note as seen by J.F. Richards, “the plan made by Akbar and his adminis­tration made do with incredibly little change until the early significant stretches of the eighteenth hundred years. Constrained and maintained by the stunning Mughal power, this plan included under the outrageous gatekeeper of natural life and reshaped the economy, culture, and society of Mughal India”.

Jagir System under the Mughal Rulers

The revenue which was earned from jagir was assigned to the Jagirdars as per the ranks in place of their salary in cash or Naqad. Some were given both jagir and cash. During the reign of Shah Jahan, the actual basil of Mughal Deccan was very but the situations were better in the case of northern India. There were regional variations when we look at the jagir system during the Mughal period.

One important feature was the changing of the jagir holders from one to the next, for administrative purposes. The Jagir system in the late Mughal period began to be tightened up, with the jagirdars suffering and there was a deduction of the pay scale. Akbar was considerably more considerate in the case of the jagir system as compared to the later Mughals.

There existed fines or “Jurmana” for the jagirdari system during the Mughal empire, which were imposed because of deficiencies in the contingents required from the nobles.

Decline of Jagir System

The feudalistic nature of the jagir system started to weaken the Mughal state with the slow process of decentralization. After the decline of the Mughal system, the jagir system was retained by the Rajputs, Sikhs jat kingdoms, and later also by the British East India Company. However, with time the system came to hamper the British state’s functioning. With Independence, the jagirdari system was abolished by the Indian Government in 1951.

Jagirdari Crisis

The Jagirdari crisis refers to the financial scene in which there was a scarcity of lands or jagirs. This reduced the expense of the administration, and the imperial authority was not able to maintain funds for wars or maintain the quality of life of the nobles. Mughal rulers as a result were forced to give up their own territories in order to pay their officials. This reduced the ruler’s territory and hence his authority.

Real revenue collection was very less than was expected, lowering the income of the jagirdars. The Deccan war also necessitated a larger number of mansabdars, and this resulted in political turbulence which made income collection even more difficult. The Jagirdari crisis resulted in rivalry for fertile jagirs among the jagirdars. The crisis also worsened the agricultural revenue also fell and the number of contestants who were seeking the piece of surplus also increased.


The jagirdari system and the jagirdars formed a very important part of the Mughal administration and they helped to shape the Mughal empire as it was. However, with time the system of jagirdari system deteriorated and the aspect of corruption sipped in. This led to the jagirdari crisis and also led to the increasing process of decentralization process in the Mughal empire.

FAQs on Jagirdars in Mughal India

Question 1:  Who established the Jagirdari system?


Jagirdari system was introduced by the Delhi Sultanate and was later continued by the Mughals.

Question 2: What do you understand by the Jagirdari crisis?


Jagirdari crisis refers to economic situation in which there is shortage of lands or jagirs. This has led to defray of cost of administration and of the imperial throne; who are not able to pay for wars or maintain lifestyle.

Question 3: Who were the jagirdars in the Mughal Empire?


Jagirdars refer to feudal class which collects taxes as form of revenue and after his death, land is seized by the Mughals..

Question 4: What is the distinction between Jagirdars and Zamindars in Mughal India?


Jagirdars are the landholders in lieu of the assigned duties gto the empire like police, judiciary etc. while the zamindars are holders of revenue rights and also render military duties and provide soliders for imperial army.

Question 5: What were the obligations of Jagirdars?


To collect taxes they paid his salary and the rest went to the Mughal treasury.

Last Updated : 24 Feb, 2023
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