Categories Medieval India



  • Influence: The machinery of administration as it evolved under the Delhi sultanat was derived from the Abbasid and following it, the Ghaznavid and the Seljukid systems of administration. It was also influenced by the Iranian system of administration, and the situation in India and Indian traditions. Both West Asia, including Iran, and India had a long tradition of rule by a monarch assisted by a council of ministers. Hence, we find that some of the departments of government, or even officers, were old institutions under a new name.
  • However, the Turks were also able to evolve a number of new institutions and concepts which provided a basis for centralization of power and authority of a type which had not existed in India earlier.

(1) The Sultan:

  • The institution of monarchy was not an Islamic institution, but one which emerged gradually due to circumstances. The original Islamic concept of government in Islam was that of the Imam who was chosen by the faithful, lived a life of simplicity, and combined in his person  both political and spiritual authority. The collapse of the Abbasid Caliphate led to the rise of sultans.(
  • In course of time, the post of the sultan began to be elevated. He was not only the pivot of administration, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and the ultimate court of appeal in all judicial cases. He was the centre of society and politics, and held a magnificent court. He had great prestige and was the source of honour and patronage so that a large number of persons, including scholars, musicians, poets, religious divines etc. flocked to his court. This aura of power and prestige made many thinkers to ascribe divine attributes to the king.
  • According to Hindu ideas, the ruler was ‘a God in human shape.’ Iranian ideas, which deeply influenced Islamic thinking on the subject, also made the office of the king divine. According to Barani, the heart of a monarch was a mirror of God, that is, it reflected the wishes of God so that the actions of a king could not be questioned.
  • It was in order to emphasize these aspects that Balban assumed the title of Zill-Allah (shadow of God), and introduced the ceremonies of sijda and pabos (prostration on the ground, bending down to touch one’s feet), ceremonies which, according to the shara, were meant only for Allah.
  • Two questions arise: was the medieval sultan an autocrat without any limitations on his powers; second, what was the institutional basis of the centralization achieved by the Turkish rulers in India? (
  • Unrestricted individual despotism is a myth in the sense that in a civil society every individual, howsoever powerful, had to take into account the opinions, aspirations and ambitions of the group around him without whose support he could not function. He had also to ensure at least the passive support of the population. But the point at issue is whether there were any institutional limitations on an individual ruler. According to both Hindu and Muslim thinking, religion was the major institutional check on misuse of power by a monarch. The ruler was required to subserve the broad purposes prescribed by religion, and to function within the ethical and moral norms prescribed by it. According to some thinkers, a ruler who violated these norms could be removed from power by the people, supported and backed by the religious leaders. But there was no complete agreement in the matter, some thinkers leaving the matter in the hands of God. In practice, while the ruler paid obeisance to the Dharamashastras, or shara in the case of a Muslim ruler, he was given a wide latitude with regard to his political functions. On balance, while a number of unrestrained tyrants did arise from time to time, the moral influence exercised by religion on political authority should not be underestimated.
  • In the western world, apart from the Church, the major institutional check on royal absolutism was a hereditary nobility. Such a hereditary nobility did not exist in the case of the Turks. The ruler was free to appoint anyone as an amir, and vest him with vast military and administrative powers. The basis of this was the iqtadari system. This system which can be traced back to the Seljukids, seems to have subsequently become universal in all the Islamic states which arose. The grantee considerable administrative and military power, but he did not acquire any hereditary rights in land, and could be transferred by the sultan almost at will. A change of dynasties always meant a large scale removal of the former iqtadars. Thus, when Jalaluddin Khalji, after his accession to the throne, enquired about the old nobles, it was found that many prominent nobles of Balban’s time were living in poverty and want, following their removal from offices and the loss of their iqtas.
  • Another institution which, for some time, augmented the power and authority of the sultans was the institution of slavery. This gave even greater opportunity to the sultans to advance those individuals whom they liked and who were completely dependent on them. But the conflict between the Chahalgani Turkish slave-officers and the others after the death of Iltutmish eroded it as a political system, and it gradually fell into disuse. It was revived by Firuz Tughlaq, but on balance, its role was more negative than positive. Personal slavery continued, but it had little political role. Hence, the political importance of slavery during the Delhi sultanat should not be over emphasized, except in the early phase.
  • The unprecedented personal power which many sultans, such as Balban and Alauddin Khalji were able to gain, was limited by two factors.
  1. There was no universally accepted basis of succession among rulers in Islam. The principle of election had been whittled down to justify nomination by a successful ruler. However, this depended upon the nobility, and the military capacity of the person nominated. Since there was no established system of primogeniture (the eldest son succeeding), even nomination left the field open for rival claimants. In a number of cases, all such claimants were brushed aside, and one of the nobles, seen to be energetic and efficient, elevated himself to the throne, and was accepted by the other nobles. This system did, to some extent, weaken the prestige and authority of monarchy since any competent military officer could hope to acquire it in favourable circumstances. But, on balance, the  problem of succession did not weaken the Turkish system of government, except for short periods, since a weak successor was always replaced by an efficient and energetic one.
  2. Struggle for power with the nobility was a second limiting factor. But this issue had been largely resolved by the time Balban rose to supreme power. The rebellions of the nobles under Muhammad bin Tughlaq were due to specific factors as discussed earlier. Thus, despite all its problems, the monarchy remained the pivot of power and governance during the sultanat period.

(2) The Ministries:

  • In his task of governance, the sultan was assisted by a number of ministers. The number of such ministers or the departments of government they headed was not fixed.
  • In a passage, Barani, speaking in the name of Balban’s son, Bughra Khan, advises his own son who was ruling at Delhi not to depend on any one advisor, though the wazir was principal among them. He speaks of four prominent advisors, mentioning four departments. However, the number four was only indicative. The number of departments could and did vary, and in practice the monarch could seek advice from anyone in whom he had confidence. Thus, Fakhruddin who was merely the kotwal of Delhi, had the confidence of Balban and then of Alauddin Khalji.(
  • The ministers did not form a council, there being no concept of joint responsibility. Each minister was chosen by the ruler, and held office during his pleasure. While the wazir was considered the principal advisor of the ruler and he did often exercise a broad supervision over the entire machinery of government, he was specially charged with the management of finances.

(a) The Wazir:

  • According to Nizamul Mulk Tusi, who was wazir under the Seljukids, and whose book, Siyasat Nama, exercised enormous influence on Muslim political thinking, the wazir had to be an ahl-i-qalam. i.e. a man of learning rather than a warrior. He had also to be a man of wide experience, wisdom and sagacity because his views could be sought by the ruler on any subject. Also, he had to be a man of tact because he had to control the nobility without alienating it.
  • Powerful wazirs not only supervised the entire administration, but also led military campaigns. But under a powerful ruler, the wazir exercised such power as the ruler allowed.
  • Generally there was two types of wazirs, the wazir-i-tafiviz who had unlimited powers except to appoint his successor, and the wazir-i-tanfiz who merely carried out the wishes of the ruler. But the ruler wanted a wazir who was influential enough to relieve him from the day to day burdens of government, but not powerful enough to eclipse or displace him. To resolve this problem, a number of experiments were made. Sometimes no wazir was appointed, or his duties were bifurcated, or offices were created to rival him, or even to put him into shade.These experiments covered the thirteenth and the first quarter of the 14th century, the wazirs emerging to power and influence with the rise of the Tughlaqs.
  • llturmish’s wazir was Fakhruddin Isami, an old man who had served in high offices at Baghdad for thirty years. He was soon succeeded by Muhammad Junaidi, who had the title of Nizam-ul-Mulk. Muhammad Junaidi was a powerful person. However, his opposition to Razia cost him his office and his life. After the death of Razia, Muhazzab Ghanavi emerged for some time as a king maker. But he suffered an eclipse with the rise of Balban to power. As the most powerful noble, Balban claimed, and was granted the post of naib-us-sultanat, or deputy to the sultan. As such, Balban exercised all the power, the wazir remaining under his shadow.
  • When Balban became the ruler after displacing Nasiruddin Mahmud, he abolished the post of naib-ns-sultanat. Balban was too dominating a person to allow any powerful wazir to emerge. Though Balban did appoint a wazir, Khawaja Hasan, he seems to have remained a titular wazir. The power of the wazir were further cut down by Balban appointing Ahmad Ayaz, his favourite, as the Muster-Master (Ariz-i-Mamalik) who was responsible for the payment, and maintenance of the efficiency of the army. Balban also appointed a deputy wazir.
  • The office of the wazir remained under eclipse till the end of Alauddin Khalji’s reign. Khwaja Khatir who had been a deputy wazir during the region of Balban and was a revenue expert, was re-inducted as wazir by Jalaluddin Khalji. Under Alauddin Khalji. But he was soon replaced by Nusrat Khan, the sultan’s brother, who was a noted warrior of his age. When Nusrat Khan died, the post of wazir was given to Malik Kafur, a favourite of the king and a leading general. He combined the post of wazir with the post of naib-us-sultanat. After the death of Alauddin, as naib Malik Kafur tried to act as king maker, but was replaced by Khusrau Malik who also took the post of naib, and then ascended the throne.(
  • Thus, the post of naib had come into bad odour and the Tughlaqs discontinued it on coming to power. Later, it was revived in the 15th century by the Saiyid rulers under the title Wakil-us-sultanat— a post which continued with some ups and downs till the time of the Mughals.
  • Tughlaq rule is the period of the high water mark of the institution of wizarat in India. After some experimentation by Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq, Muhammed bin Tughlaq appointed Ahmed Ayaz with the title of Khan-i-Jahan as wazir. Khan-i-Jahan was an elderly person, and had worked as deputy in the department of public works during the reign of Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq. He was considered to be a rigid but competent officer. The Sultan had so much confidence in him that he was left in charge of the administration at Delhi when the sultan was out campaigning, or pursuing rebels. He remained wazir  throughout the long reign of twenty-eight years of Muhammad bin Tughlaq. He did not try to, or was not allowed to build a group of his supporters so that he failed miserably when, on Muhammad bin Tughlaq’s death, he tried to prop up his own nominee on the throne at Delhi.
  • Firuz Tughlaq appointed as wazir Khan-i-Jahan Maqbul, a converted Tailang brahman who had been deputy to the previous wazir. That an orthodox ruler like Firuz could appoint a converted Hindu to such a high post shows how far the Delhi sultanat had travelled from the time of Balban. The wazir was competent, and Firuz could depend on him to deal with all the affairs of state when he was out campaigning, as for example in Bengal, or Orissa. But it would be wrong to think that Firuz himself took no interest in administration. When there was a sharp conflict between the wazir and his auditor-general, Ain-i-Mahru, and the wazir tried to transfer the auditor-general, Firuz intervened, and an amicable arrangement was arrived at. When Khan-i-Jahan Maqbul died in 1368-69 after serving as wazir for eighteen years, he was, according to agreement, succeeded by his son, Jauna Khan, who was also given the title of Khan-i-Jahan. Khan-i-Jahan II was equally competent than his father. But he was no military leader, and failed in the conflict for succession which began even during the life time of Firuz. He was captured, and executed.

Development of departments

  • Under the Tughlaqs, the wazirs not only had great prestige, they received very high salaries.
  • The diwan-i-wizarat or the internal structure of the wazir’s department gradually developed. Even during Abbasid times, there used to be a mushrif who supervised expenditure, and a mustaufi who was incharge of income. There also used to be a treasurer. These posts were continued in India under Iltutmish who also appointed a deputy (naib) to the wazir to provide relief to him in his heavy duties.
  • With the appointment of an Ariz-i-Mamalik under Balban for looking after the army, the civilian character of the wazir’s department was further emphasised. However, the wazir did not emerge as the head of civil administration till the rise of the Tughlaqs. Even then, in a military age, any noble, including the wazir was expected to be able to lead a military campaign if asked to do so. Thus, there was no clear distinction between civil and military duties, except in the case of religious and judicial officers.
  • With the bringing of the doab under direct administration (khalisa) by Alauddin Khalji, the revenue department expanded rapidly, and hundreds of collectors (amils, mutsarrif etc.) were appointed. To control them, a new department, diwan-i-mustakharaj, was created. This department fell into bad odour because of the harshness it often exercised in taking accounts, and collecting arrears from the collectors. It seems to have been abolished after Alauddin’s death. But the collectors remained, and in Muhammad bin Tughlaq’s time, an attempt was made to give them a new shape. They were now to be more or equally concerned with agrarian development. Hence a new department, diwan-i-kohi, under a separate amir was set up. This also ended in failure.
  • The structure of the revenue department developed fully under Firuz. The duties of the mushrif and the mustaufi were clearly defined, the former being primarily in charge of income, the latter of expenditure. The chief mushrif and the chief mustaufi were high officials directly appointed by the sultan, though they were subordinate to the wazir. This system of checks and balance was not to the liking of the wazir, and the Sultan had sometimes to intervene and mediate.
  • Firuz also set up a department of slaves under a separate officer, and a separate department of imlak for the direct income of the sultan.

(b) Diwan-i-Arz:

  • The special responsibility of the Ariz-i-Mamalik was to recruit, equip and pay the army. The Ariz was not the commander-in-chief of the army, the sultan himself being the commander-in-chief. But the Ariz was invariably a leading noble, and a warrior in his own right.(
  • The Ariz is asked to be the friend and well wisher of the soldier, and to look after him like his own son. The office of the Ariz existed under the Abbasids, and is mentioned in the Siyasat Nama.
  • It probably existed under lltutmish because we are told by Barani that Ahmad Ayaz Rawat-i-Arz who was appointed Ariz-i-Mamalik by Balban, had held this post for thirty years under the Shamsi rulers. Balban gave more importance to this post than that of the wazir.
  • However, it was under Alauddin Khalji that the functioning of this office was properly organized, with the introduction of the branding system (dagh) for horses so that horses of inferior quality were not presented, an efficient cavalry force being the main element on which the Turkish rulers depended. Alauddin used the control of the market to ensure that good quality mounts were made available to the state at fixed and reasonable prices. He also introduced the system of descriptive roll (chehra) of the soldiers so that servants and other untrained and unreliable persons were not put up in the muster to draw fictitious salaries. This system continued till the time of Firuz, though it could not be a guarantee against all fraud. This was recognised by Firuz when he gave a gold coin to a soldier so that he could bribe a clerk to pass his inferior quality mount.
  • The Mir-Hajib or superintendent of the royal stables, a post held by Malik Yaqut during the reign of Razia, and the Darogha-i-Pil or Keeper of the royal elephant stables, were considered important officers till the office of the Ariz had been organized.
  • Recruitment and Training of Army: According to Ibn Battutah, who came to India during the reign of Muhammad bin Tughlaq, when anyone wanted to be enrolled in the army of the governor of Multan as an archer, his strength was tested by giving him bows of different stiffness. If he wanted to be enrolled as a trooper, a target was set up which he had to hit with his lance, and to lift a ring from the ground with his lance while the horse was on the gallop. A mounted archer had to hit a ball on the ground while galloping his horse. This must have been part of a general system. The training mentioned above must have continued after recruitment. It seems that there was a central force of which the royal bodyguard was a part.(
  • Muhammad bin Tughlaq’s army was larger. Not all this force could have been stationed at Delhi. The bigger iqtadars who administered large areas apparently recruited their own forces. The chiefs had their own forces. Both of these could be brought under the royal standards in case of need. Thus, when Balban led the campaign to Bengal, the Hindu chiefs of the eastern parts were asked to join with their forces, while Balban recruited an additional force of 200,000 men from the region. Being largely cut off from West Asia after the rise of the Mongols, the Turkish rulers had to rely increasingly on Indian Muslims and Afghans for their armies. Thus, the army of the Turkish rulers was a mixed up, consisting of descendants of the original Turkish soldiers, Afghans and Hindustanis (Indian Muslims), supplemented by Hindu contingents of the chiefs.
  • It was an onerous burden to pay such a large army. Apart from extraction of land -revenue from the cultivators, plundering the neighbouring countries was a time-tested system which the Turks also followed, but giving it the title of “jihad”, or holy war. From the time of Alauddin Khalji, the soldiers were paid in cash.
  • The Ariz was thus a very important officer who put limits on the powers of the wazir. In consequence, none of the succeeding wazirs could become powerful military leaders who could put their own nominee on the throne, or succeed the ruler on the throne. This situation arose only when the system of administration broke down due to internecine warfare, as after the death of Firuz, and the  invasion of Timur.(

(c) Diwan-i-Insha:

  • The Diwan-i-Insha was not the foreign office. In those days, relations between states were not so continuous as to need a separate office, or minister of foreign affairs. The wazir was expected, however, to keep track of developments in neighbouring countries, and to keep the ruler informed. Formal epistles or letters were sometimes despatched to neighbouring rulers and towns to register a new succession to the throne or announce a major event, such as a victory. These letters which were sometimes written in a grand manner with a great literary flourish, were drafted, copied and despatched by the Diwan-i-Insha which was headed by a dabir, or dabir-i-khas.(
  • The Dabir was also responsible for drafting orders and communications to the important iqtadars, and neighbouring rajas.
  • The post was an important and responsible one, ensuring close proximity to the ruler. As one who enjoyed the sultan’s confidence, the dabir could be a rival or a check to the wazir. The post of dabir-i-khas was sometimes a stepping stone to the post of wazir.

(c) Diwan-i-Risalat:

  • The Diwan-i-Risalat is one of the four major ministries mentioned by Barani. But the functions of this office were not mentioned by him. Some call it a ministry of foreign affairs, others as a department for control of prices and public morals, and still others a department of hearing public grievances. From its title—the word risalat being derived from rasul or a prophet, it apparently had a holy character.
  • One of the functions of medieval states was to grant stipends of rent-free lands (inilak) to Muslim scholars and divines, the learned, and the recluse etc. The chief person incharge of this ecclesiastical department was either Sadr-i-Jahan or Wakil-i-Dar who was also called Rasul-i-Dar.
  • Apart from the post of Sadr-i-Jahan, another important post was that of the Chief Qazi or Qazi -ul-Qazzat who was the head of the judicial department. Sometimes, the posts of Sadr-i-Jahan and Chief Qazi were combined.
  • Apart from granting stipends and revenue-free lands, the Sadr’s department was also responsible for the appointment of muhtasibs, or censor of public morals. These officials were meant to check gambling, prostitution and other vices, as also to ensure that Muslims did not publicly violate what was prohibited in the sham, such as wine-drinking, or not observing what were considered obligatory duties, such as namaz (public prayers), roza (fasting during the month of Ramzan). They were also to check weights and measures, and to keep a broad check on prices.
  • All this fell within the ambit of the diwan-i-risalat. The duties of the diwan-i-risalat could be added to or separate offices created.(
  • When Alauddin was concerned with the control of the market, he appointed shuhnas to control the different markets, and a prominent noble was deputed to supervise their work. This was called the diwan-i-risalat. After the death of Alauddin, and the disappearance of the market controls, we do not hear of this department.
  • Firuz Tughlaq who augmented the stipend and imlak (revenue free lands) of the scholars, theologians and the students, was also concerned with abolishing the injunctions prescribed by shara for disfiguring people by cutting off hands, ears, nose etc. in punishment. He also wanted to have the reputation of being a humane ruler. He separated the office of sadr and chief qazi. He also set up a separate department of public grievances, which he called diwan-i-risalat. This was headed by a prominent noble, apparently the wakil-i-dar. Even the wazir and princes could apply to this department for redressal of grievances.
  • Thus, the diwan-i-risalat had different forms under different rulers, but its basic function of giving stipends and revenue-free lands to the deserving and the needy seems to have continued all the time.

(3) Court and the Royal Household:

  • In a situation where the sultan was the centre of power, the organisation of the court and of the royal household became matters of prime importance. However, unlike the Mughals, there was no single officer in charge of the court and the royal household during the Sultanat.
  • The most important officer concerned with the royal household was the wakil-i-dar. He controlled the entire royal household and supervised the payment of allowances and salaries to the sovereign’s personal staff which included the royal kitchen, the wine department and the royal stables. He was even responsible for the education of the princes. The courtiers, the princes, the sultan’s private servants, even the queens had to approach him for various favours. As such, the post was of great importance and sensitivity, and was bestowed only to a noble of high rank and prestige.
  • Another officer of high importance connected with the court and the royal household was the Amir Hajib. He was also called barbek. He was master of ceremonies at the court. He marshalled the nobles in accordance with their ranks and precedence. All petitions to the Sultan were presented through him, or his subordinates, called hajibs. The post was so sensitive that sometimes princes of blood were appointed to it.(
  • Another important officer connected with the royal household was the barid-i-khas, or the head of the intelligence department. Spies or barids were appointed to different parts of the empire. It was their business to keep the sultan informed of all the developments. This was the main weapon used by Balban and Alauddin Khalji to control and demoralise the nobles.
  • There were many minor officials such as the head of the hunt, the officer in charge of royal parties (majlis) etc. Two departments which may be noted is the Karkhana or royal stores and the Public Works department.
  • The Karkhanas were responsible for the storing and manufacture of all the articles required by the Sultan and the royal household. This included food and fodder, lamps and oil, clothes, furniture, tents etc. Firuz Tughlaq gave great importance to the karkhanas, and many slaves were trained to become good artisans in these departments. Robes of silk and wool which were distributed to the nobles twice a year by Muhammad bin Tughlaq were manufactured in the royal karkhanas. Each karkhana was supervised by a noble of rank, and was assisted by a large staff of accountants and supervisors.
  • From the time of Alauddin Khalji, great importance was given to the department of public works or diwan-i-amirat. But the prince of builders was Firuz Tughlaq who not only repaired many old buildings, including sarais, mausoleums etc. but dug canals, and built many new towns. A separate department, therefore, was set up under Malik Ghazi who was called Mir-i-Imarat.

(4) Provincial and Local Government:

  • The sultanat was a loose structure made up of military commands. There was hardly any single direction, and the commanders were busy subduing the various Hindu chiefs, and extracting money from them for supporting the army. In such a situation, the question of a uniform civil administration over all parts of the dominion hardly arose. But this gradually changed, the Khalji rule forming the phase of transition.(
  • During the Khalji period, we hear of wallis or muqtis who were commanders of military and administrative tracts called iqtas or wilayat. The nearest term that can be used for these units is province, and their heads as governors.
  • The exact powers of governor or muqti varied according to  circumstances. The governor of Lakhnauti was almost independent, and declared himself a sultan more than once, and military campaigns had to be launched to subdue him. As the process of centralization of power proceeded in India, provincial governors had to submit to increasing central control unless they were prepared to be treated as rebels.
  • To begin with, the muqti had complete charge of the administration of the iqta including the task of maintaining an army with which he could be asked to join the sultan in case of need. He was expected to defray the cost of the army, meet his own expenses and to make financial contributions to the sultan. But the basis of this was not clear. Later, from the time of Balban, the muqti was expected to send the balance (fawazil) of the income after meeting his and the army’s expenses. This means that the central revenue department had made an assessment of the expected income of the iqta, and the cost of the maintenance of the army and the muqti’s own expenses. This process became even stricter in the time of Alauddin Khalji. Even more, the muqtis were now expected to follow the system of revenue assessment Alauddin had instituted in the doab in the areas called khalisa, income from which went  straight to the royal treasury, and was used for paying cash salaries to the soldiers.(
  • As the central control grew, the control over the muqti’s administration also increased. The naib diwan (also called khwaja) in charge of revenue administration began to be appointed from the centre. A barid or intelligence officer was also posted to keep the sultan informed. But it seems that the muqti appointed his own troops, keeping a naib ariz at the centre to represent him.
  • It is not clear who appointed the qazis. Appeals from the qazis, and against the conduct of the governors could be made to the sultan. The governor could, however, give revenue-free lands to scholars out of his iqta.
  • Under Muhammad bin Tughlaq, we hear of a number of persons who were appointed governors on revenue-farming terms. This attempt to maximise the income was a step back for it implied elimination of central control over revenue affairs. But it seems that such persons were not required to maintain troops for the service of the centre, these being placed under a separate officer. This duality of functions did not work and was apparently given up by Firuz.
  • According to Barani, there were 20 provinces in the Sultanat when it did not include the south. As compared to the provinces (subahs) of Akbar’s time, these were smaller. Thus, out of the modern U.P., the middle doab was divided between Meerut, Baran (now Bulandshahr) and Koil (now Aligarh), and another three were in the north-west.
  • Provinces in the Mughal sense really began under Muhammad bin Tughlaq. Under him, the number of provinces covering the entire country upto Malabar according to an Arab writer, Shihabuddin al Umar, was twenty-four.
  • We do not know whether there were any units equivalent to the modern district or division below the  provinces. We hear of shiqs and sarkars in the Afghan histories dealing with the Lodis and the Surs. But these accounts were written during Akbar’s time, and we are not certain that these were not, in fact, administrative units of a later time.
  • We do, however, hear of parganas, sadis (unit of 100), and chaurasis (unit of 84). The sadis and chaurasis were collections of villages. The number of villages could vary. Perhaps, a chaudhari who was a hereditary land-holder, and an amil or revenue collector were posted there, especially if the area was under khalisa.(
  • We hear of khuts and muqaddams. The former was the zamindar of one or more villages, while the latter was the village headman.
  • The patwari was also a village official because Alauddin Khalji had the account books of the patwaris examined in order to detect frauds by the amils and mutsarrifs who were dealt with very harshly.
  • Thus, a rudimentary system of government, some of it inherited from the earlier Hindu rulers, continued down to the village level.(
  • In this way, gradually a new centralised form of government emerged. The first step was the consolidation of the central government. As the central government became stronger and more confident, it tried to extend its direct control over the regions and the countryside, which, in turn, implied reducing the powers and privileges of the chiefs who dominated the countryside. This led to a prolonged struggle, and no clear forms had emerged by the time the Delhi sultanat disintegrated. This was a task which was taken up by the Mughals later on.

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