References: Satish Chandra(Medieval India) .Also minor facts from other books and figure and facts from verified Internet sources.
26.(MEDIEVAL INDIA)INDIAN IN THE FIRST HALF OF THE SEVENEEINTH CENTURY



It has been customary to divide the seventeenth century into two, the first half being dominated by 
Jahangir (1605-27) and Shah Jahan (1627-58), and the second half being under Aurangzeb (1658-1707). 
The first half is generally considered a period of internal peace, economic development and cultural 
growth, and the second half as one of growing conflict in various spheres— political, economic and 
religious, and of cultural stagnation and economic decline. While not accepting all these assumptions, 
for purposes of convenience we have adhered to the existing division of the seventeenth century into 
two almost equal halves for the study of political developments. Economics, social and cultural 
development will however, be taken up separately and will include the seventeenth century as an 
integrated entity.
Jahangir’s Accession—His Early Difficulties 
After the death of Akbar in 1605, Salim, who was his eldest son, succeeded to the throne, and assumed 
the title of Jahangir. Two of his younger brothers, Murad and Daniyal, had died earlier on account of 
drunkenness, but Salim’s accession was not without controversy. Although a favourite of his father who 
doted on him, Salim had disappointed him by his lackadaisical attitude during the campaign against 
Mewar to which he had been appointed. Earlier, he had refused to go to Transoxiana or to the Deccan. 
Akbar was also unhappy at his hard drinking which was the besetting sin of the Timurids. He had 
occasion to pull Salim up for this and the type of company he kept. In 1599, when Akbar was in the 
Deccan, Salim was instigated by his companions to go to Agra to seize the treasury. But better sense 
prevailed. Crossing the Jamuna, Salim set himself up at Allahabad. He appointed
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governors at Kalpi, Jaunpur and Bihar, and seized the treasury of Bihar which contained thirty lakhs of 
rupees.
Akbar hastened back to Agra. Eager not to break with his favourite son, Akbar allotted Bengal and Qrissa 
to him. But Salim refused to leave Allahabad, and even began to issue coins in his name. He was also 
responsible for the killing of Abul Fazl by the Bundela chief, Bir Singh Deo Bundela when he was 
returning to Agra from the Deccan at Akbar’s behest. Although Akbar was very angry and upset, and 
ordered a relentless pursuit and punishment of Bir Singh Deo, the latter retreated into the jungles and 
evaded arrest. Meanwhile, Akbar’s mother, Gulbadan Begum, softened Akbar’s wrath, and a patch up 
between the father and son was effected. However, in 1603, Salim returned to Allahabad, and resumed 
his old ways.
This was the background to the attempt made by two of Akbar’s leading nobles, Raja Man Singh and 
Khan-i-Azam Mirza Aziz Koka, to supersede Salim by his son, Khusrau. Man Singh was Khusrau’s 
maternal uncle, and Aziz Koka’s daughter had been married to Khusrau. Khusrau had been favoured by 
Akbar when Salim had been in disgrace. Moreover, Khusrau was cultured and refined, and did not have 
Salim’s blemishes of character. However, it seems that neither Man Singh nor Aziz Koka were very 
serious about the proposal, because they called a meeting of nobles to consider it while Akbar was on 
his death bed. As might have been expected, the proposal was turned down. It was argued that the 
succession of a son in the life time of his father was “contrary to the laws and customs of Chaghtai 
Tartars, and shall never be.”
Thereafter, the scheme which did not have the backing of Akbar, was dropped. However, we are told 
that to thwart this conspiracy, Shaikh Farid Bukhari called the Saiyids of Barha and other supporters of 
Salim, to back his claim, and also extracted from him a general promise to defend Islam. There are 
strong reasons to doubt that any such promise was made, or sought to be extracted. Nor does it seem 
correct to give a religious colouring to the event, because jahangir refused to take any action 
subsequently against Khusrau, or against Man Singh or Aziz Koka. However, it made him wary about the 
old Akbar Shahi nobles. Khusrau was also kept in a state of semi-confinement.
The matter would have ended, but Khusrau could not forget his dream of independence, and six months 
later, he escaped from
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Agra with a small body of 350 men. On the way to Lahore, he was joined by some Badakhshanis, and by 
Afghans and Indians so that his forces swelled to 12,000 by the time he reached Lahore. However, the 
governor of Lahore, Dilawar Khan, refused to allow him to enter the town. Jahangir hastened in pursuit 
after him. Jahangir was still uncertain of the loyalty of the Akbar Shahi nobles and the Rajputs since, as 
he says in the Tuzuk, some of “these short sighted ones” imagined that “by making Khusrau a tool they
might conduct the affairs of state through him”. Jahangir was relieved that Khusrau did not proceed 
towards Bengal where his maternal uncle, Man Singh, was the governor. Jahangir was suspicious of 
Badakhshanis whose temperament, according to him, was “seditious and turbulent”. He says that many 
of the Aimaqs or Turkish tribals attached to the royal army were in league with Khusrau. He was also 
uncertain of the loyalty of the Rajputs, calling Man Singh “an old wolf”. Moreover, Rai Ray an, the ruler 
of Bikaner who had been close to Akbar, had deserted the royal standards on the way to Lahore on the 
basis of an astrologer’s prediction that Jahangir’s reign would be very brief.
This may explain the harshness of Jahangir after he defeated Khusrau in a light skirmish at Bhairowal, 
and captured him shortly afterwards while he was trying to flee to Afghanistan. A double row of gibbets 
was created at Lahore over which Khusrau’s followers were crucified. Abur Rahim, son of Bairam Khan, 
was tortured brutally but pardoned. Itimad-ud-Daulah, father of Nur Jahan, was imprisoned and 
released on a payment of a fine of two lakhs, while his eldest son, Muhammad Sharif, was executed. 
Shaikh Nizam of Thanesar who had blessed Khusrau was banished to Mecca. Guru Arjun who had 
succeeded in 1581 and was responsible for the construction of the Harmandir (Golden Temple) at 
Amritsar, was fined on a charge of blessing Khusrau by putting a tika on his forehead and giving him 
some financial help. The Guru was executed for refusing to pay the fine.
Shortly afterwards, when Jahangir was at Kabul, a conspiracy was unearthed by his younger son, 
Khurram, that Khusrau was plotting the assassination of Jahangir. Jahangir ordered Khusrau to be 
blinded so that he could no longer be a claimant to the throne. 
The future trials and tribulations of Khusrau need not detain us further, except to note that he remained 
a subject of intrigue till
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his unnatural death in 1620. During this period that there was atleast one uprising in his favour.
The rebellion of Khusrau had made Jahangir suspicious and often ill tempered, though that was not his 
normal character. It led him to try and promote those who had been closely associated with him, and 
whom he could trust. Thus, he gave the post of Wazir, and the title of Amir-ul-Umara to Shaikh Farid 
Bukhari, son of Kliwaja Abdus Samad, the famous painter, who had been sent by Akbar to Salim to pacify 
him but had, instead, joined him. He had no special qualifications for the post, and was looked down 
upon by the grandees. Jahangir promoted Mirza Ghiyas Beg to the post of Joint Wazir, with the title of 
Itimad-ud-Daulah.
Territorial Consolidation and Expansion of the Empire: Mewar, East India and Kangra
While establishing his position on the throne, Jahangir was faced with the problem of consolidating the 
empire bequeathed to him by Akbar. This involved paying attention to the long continuing dispute with 
the Rana of Mewar, and the problem created in the Deccan by Malik Ambar. In Bengal, the Afghan 
menace had yet to be dealt with fully.
We have already seen how after considerable effort and display of political flexibility, in 1615 Jahangir 
was able to settle the contentious dispute with Mewar. This enabled him to further consolidate the 
alliance with the Rajputs. By 1620, he had also been able to shatter the efforts of Malik Ambar to lead a 
united front of Deccan states against the Mughals, and to dispute Mughal control over the territories 
ceded to them by the treaty of 1600 with Ahmadnagar. As has been explained elsewhere, Jahangir’s 
decision not to extend Mughal possessions in the Deccan beyond this limit was not on account of 
military weakness but was deliberate policy.
The settlement of Mewar, and containing Malik Ambar were substantial achievements, though 
historians have generally been chary of giving due credit to Jahangir for these successes.
A third achievement of Jahangir was the consolidation of Mughal position in Bengal. Although Akbar had 
broken the back of the power of the Afghans in this region, Afghan chiefs were still powerful in various 
parts of east Bengal. They had the support of many Hindu rajas of the region, such as the rajas of 
Jessore, Kamrup (western Assam), Cachar, Tippera, etc. Towards the end
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of his reign, Akbar had recalled Raja Man Singh, the governor of Bengal, to the court, and during his 
absence the Afghan chief, Usman Khan and others found an opportunity to raise a rebellion. Jahangir 
sent back Man Singh for some time but the situation continued to worsen. In 1608, Jahangir posted to 
Bengal Islam Khan, his close associate, and the grandson of Shaikh Salim Chishti, the patron saint of the 
Mughals. Islam Khan, though young and inexperienced, handled the situation with great energy and 
foresight. He won over many of the zamindars including the raja of Jessore to his side and fixed his 
headquarters at Dacca, which was strategically located. He first directed his efforts to the conquest of 
Sonargaon which was under the control of Musa Khan and his confederates who were called the Barah 
(twelve) Bhuiyan. After three years of campaigning, Sonargaon was captured. Soon afterwards, Musa 
Khan surrendered and he was sent to the court as a prisoner. The turn of Usman Khan came next, and 
he was defeated in a fierce battle. The back of the Afghan resistance was now broken and the other 
rebels soon surrendered. The principalities of Jessore, Sylhet, Cachar and Kamrup were annexed. Thus 
Mughal power was firmly entrenched in east Bengal up to the seacoast. To keep the area under full 
control, the provincial capital was transferred from Rajmahal to Dacca which began to develop rapidly. 
An attack was launched on the Ahom ruler of Assam, but it failed ignominously.
Like Akbar, Jahangir realised that conquest could be lasting not on the basis of force but by securing the 
goodwill of the people. He, therefore, treated the defeated Afghan chiefs and their followers with 
consideration and sympathy. After some time, many of the rajas and zamindars of Bengal detained at 
the court were released and allowed to return to Bengal. Even Musa Khan was released and his estates 
were restored. Thus, after a long spell, peace and prosperity returned to Bengal. To cap the process, the 
Afghans also now began to be inducted into the Mughal nobility in larger numbers and promoted to 
high positions. The leading Afghan noble under Jahangir was Khan-i-Jahan Lodi who was placed in 
charge of the Mughal operations in the Deccan, and enjoyed high favour with Jahangir.
Kangra
The fort of Kangra in modern Himachal was considered one of the strongest forts of the area. Mughal 
control over the mountaineous
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tracts had been steadily expanding, and many hill rajas, such as the ruler of Kumaon, had accepted 
Mughal suzerainty and agreed to pay tribute. However, it was felt that the various other rajas of the 
region would not submit unless the raja of Kangra who was proud of his mountain fastness was 
humbled. A campaign in 1615 led by Murtaza Khan, the governor of Punjab, failed. However, in 1620, 
Raja Bikramajit Baghela was sent to reduce the fort. The fort surrendered after a short siege. A Mughal 
commander to the fort, and a faujdar was appointed to control the area. In 1622, the ailing Jahangir, 
while visiting the mountains to avoid the heat of the plains, visited Kangra. In order to emphasize that 
Kangra fort would now be an Islamic stronghold, Jahangir had the khutba read inside the fort and, after 
slaughtering a bullock, ordered a lofty mosque to be built.
The determination of keeping hold of the fort of Kangra had the result of the submission of the Raja of 
Chamba who was the greatest of all the rajas of the region and, according to Jahangir, his country was 
“the asylum of all the zamindars (rajas) of the region” and that “uptil now he had not obeyed any king 
nor sent offerings.”
Nur Jahan, and the Nur Jahan ‘Junta’ 
Mehrunnisa, later entitled Nur Jahan after her marriage with Jahangir in 1611, was the grand-daughter 
of Khwaja Muhammad Sharif Tehrani who served as a high financial official in the Safavid administration 
under Shah Tahmasp. After his death, the family fell on bad days and his son, Khwaja Ghiyas Beg (the 
future Itimad-ud-Daula) decided to migrate to India. He was robbed on the way and in 1577 at 
Qandahar, a second daughter, Mehrunnisa, was born to him. The leader of the caravan took pity on 
Ghiyas Beg’s condition, and took him to Akbar at Fatehpur Sikri. He was taken into service, and rose by 
his diligence to the post of diwan of Kabul in 1595. Subsequently, he was appointed diwan bayutat to 
look after the karkhanas.
Recognizing the merit of Ghiyas Beg, in 1605 Jahangir made him diwan of half of the dominions, gave 
him the title of Itimad-ud-Daulah, and raised his mansab to 1500. However, when Khusrau’s plot to kill 
Jahangir was unearthed, Itimad-ud-Daula and his elder son, Sharif, were implicated. Itimad-ud-Daula, 
who had already lost his post of diwan was imprisoned and released
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after paying a fine. However, two years later (1609), Itimad was restored to his previous position.
Meanwhile, Mehrunnisa had been married at the age of seventeen to an Iranian adventurer, Ali Quli 
Istajlu, who had been a table attendant of Shah Ismail II (1576-78). On the death of his patron, Ali Quli 
had fled and, in course of time, joined Khan-i-Khanan Abdur Rahim who was besieging Thatta. 
Subsequently, he joined prince Salim in the Mewar campaign and, on account of his courage and 
bravery, received from him the title of Sher Afghan, a title which was by no means uncommon.
The rest of Sher Afghan’s life and death followed by Mehrunnisa’s exile at Agra, and marriage with 
Jahangir are too well known to be repeated in detail. Sher Afghan had fallen out with Salim shortly after 
he (Salim) rebelled against Akbar. On his accession, Jahangir excused him along with all those who had 
sided against him. However, he posted Sher Afghan to Burdhwan in East Bengal which was sti ll 
unsettled, unhealthy, and full of Afghan sedition. Accused of negligence and of colluding with the 
Afghan rebels, he was ordered to be transferred. It was the attempt of the new governor, Qutbuddin 
Khan, a foster-brother of Jahangir, to effect this order which led to a fracas in which both he and Sher 
Afghan were killed. The account of later chroniclers that Sher Afghan was killed on account of a 
conspiracy on the part of Jahangir who was in love with Mehrunnissa is not accepted by serious 
historians.
For four years, Mehrunnisa stayed at Agra, attending Salima Sultana Begum. She married Jahangir in 
1611 when Jahangir chanced to meet her at the Meena Bazar, and fell in love with her. Mehrunnisa was 
at that time a ripe thirty-five, but was distinguished by her vivacity, the charm of her conversation, her 
learning and her undoubted good looks. Jahangir named her Nur Mahal, then Nur Jahan, and finally 
Badshah Begum. But she is known in history as Nur Jahan.
There has been a lot of controversy about the role of Nur Jahan, and its impact on court politics during 
the remaining sixteen years of Jahangir’s life. According to Mutammed Khan who wrote in the early 
years of Shah Jahan’s reign, Nur Jahan’s father, Itimad-ud-Daula, and brother, Asaf Khan, “were by 
stages raised to such a position that the control of all important affairs of the empire passed into their 
hands, and her relations and connections were exalted by favours of all kind.” He goes on to say, “there 
did not
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remain a single one amongst the slaves, proteges or relations of that family who was not granted a 
satisfactory mansab and jagir”. He concludes that “the lady’s relations held in their jagirs the choicest 
parts of the great expanse of Hindustan”.
It has been pointed out that while Itimad-ud-Daula and Asaf Khan benefited from Nur Jahan’s marriage 
connection to the emperor, they did not owe their position primarily to her. As Jahangir says in his 
Memoirs, “on the basis of seniority in service, extent of sincerity and experience in the affairs of 
government, I exalted Itimad-ud-Daula to the high post of Wizarat of the Dominion”. At the time of his 
appointment in 1611, he held the rank of 1500 only, but within a year he was raised to the rank of 4000 
zat, 1000 sawar. His son, Asaf Khan, who was also considered to be very learned, sagacious and hardworking, continued to hold the post of Mir Bakhshi. His position was further strengthened by the 
marriage of his daughter, Arjumand Bano, with Khurram, the future Shah Jahan.
A modern historian, Dr. Beni Prasad, put forward the theory that a “junta” consisting of Nur Jahan, her 
father Itimad-ud-Daula, her brother Asaf Khan, and Prince Khurram became dominant at the Mughal 
court shortly after the marriage of Nur Jahan with Jahangir, and remained so till 1620. He argues that 
the “junta” consolidated its power by filling most of the vacancies in the imperial service with its own 
creatures to an extent that “its favour was the sole passport to honour and rank”. This naturally roused 
the jealousy and hostility of other nobles. In consequence, the Court, according to him, was split into 
two factions during this period, the adherents of the Nur Jahan ‘junta’, and the rival party whose 
candidate for the throne was Khusrau.
Dr. Beni Prasad also ascribes the rebellion of Shah Jahan in 1622 and the breakingup of the ‘junta’ in 
1620 to Nur Jahan’s machinations. Hungry for power, Nur Jahan realised that Shah Jahan (Khurram) with 
his dominant nature, would relegate her to the background if he were to succeed to the throne. She 
therefore decided to supersede him by a more reliant instrument, his brother Shahriyar, whose 
marriage was arranged with her daughter, Ladli Begum born from her first husband, Sher Afghan. “The 
guiding thread of the last seven years of Jahangir’s reign is supplied by Nur Jahan’s attempt to clear the 
path for her candidate.” (Beni Prasad)
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Beni Prasad’s theory of the Nur Jahan ‘junta’ has been trenchently criticized. A modern historian, Nurul 
Hasan, points out that the main rise of Itimad-ud-Daula and his family, took place after 1616. Also that 
during this period there were many families members of which held high mansabs. The families of Khani-Azam Mirza Aziz Koka, Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan, Abdullah Khan Firuz Jung were examples of this, 
despite the fact that some of them were hostile to the so-called Nur Jahan ‘junta’, or were not 
connected with it. Mahabat Khan has been cited as an example of one whose personal mansab of 
4000/3500 was not raised after 1612 due to the opposition of the ‘junta’. However, in 1614, Mahabat 
Khan received an additional jagir worth three crore dams, and was given a du-aspa sih aspa rank of 3500 
in 1615 which had to be curtailed later on when he did not bring to the muster the required contingent. 
There is evidence to show that Mahabat Khan remained high in Jahangir’s favour despite not receiving 
any increments in his mansab. There were many other nobles apart from Mahabat Khan who continued 
to enjoy Jahangir’s favour, despite lack of support from the “junta”. Thus, Nurul Hasan argues that 
“promotions were fairly well spread out and it would not be correct to assume that the sole passport to 
promotion was the favour of the ‘junta’.”
Regarding the alliance of Nur Jahan with Khurram, it has been pointed out that there is no 
contemporary evidence of such a factional alliance between 1611 and 1620. This allegation has been 
made on the testimony- of European sources, notably on the statements of Sir Thomas Roe who was the 
Ambassador of England at Jahangir’s court. Not conversant with Persian, the Europeans relied mainly on 
rumours that were circulating. But even they speak of an estrangement between Nur Jahan and 
Khurram after 1616.
There was, in fact, no coincidence of interests between Nur Jahan and Khurram (Shah Jahan). Nur 
Jahan’s main interest was the protection and preservation of Jahangir’s position. Shah Jahan was an 
aspirant for the throne and, as such, his interests and those of Jahangir could diverge also.
Khurram did not owe his position to the support and backing of Nur Jahan. Jahangir had first tried out 
Parwez in the Mewar and Deccan campaigns. Khurram rose in his estimation due to the failure of 
Parwez, and Khurram’s success in the Mewar campaign. Hence, he was the natural choice for leading 
the Mughal campaign
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in the Deccan. After his success against Malik Ambar in 1618, his mansab was raised to the 
unprecedented figure of 30,000 zat and sawar. He was styled Shah Jahan, and was accorded a chair near 
the throne in the darbar. As early as 1608, Khurram had been given the jagir of Hisar-Firuza sometimes 
considered the domain reserved for the crown prince. By 1618, Khurram’s position had become almost 
unassailable.
In 1620, Shah Jahan (Khurram) was again posted to the Deccan. This time he insisted on taking the 
imprisoned prince Khusrau with him. The betrothal of Shahriyar with Ladli Begum took place at about 
the same time, indicating mutual suspicion between Shah Jahan and the court circles. In fact, it is said 
that Itimad-ud-Daula had a hand in this marriage.
Thus, direct evidence of a factional alliance between Shah Jahan and Nur Jahan is of an extremely 
dubious nature. Nurul Hasan was of the opinion that “there were many factions among the nobles that 
intrigued against each other, but no single group succeeded in ousting the others from positions of 
power or importance.”
We may thus set aside the theory of a ‘junta’. But we still need to analyse the precise power and role of 
Nur Jahan. Nur Jahan was the constant companion of Jahangir, including the hunt, since she was a sure 
shot. She completely dominated the haram, and introduced many new designs of dresses, while her 
mother was credited with the discovery of attar of rose. The precise role of Nur Jahan in public affairs 
needs careful study. We are told that sometimes she sat in the jharoka window, and dictated orders to 
officers, and received important messengers. Sometimes farmans were issued in her name. Coins were 
stuck in her name, both in the dam and dirham, and even on a silver rupees. On the coins, the legend 
“Badshah Begum”, indicating her official title is mentioned. This has confused some observers to think 
that she was the sovereign in all but name. Although Nur Jahan became a channel for seeking royal 
favours, it does not seem that during the period 1611 to 1622, she entered into active politics. Even Beni 
Prasad argues that during the period, all the principles of Jahangir’s foreign and domestic policy, all his 
institutions of government were maintained. Nur Jahan and her associates closely studied Jahangir’s 
temperament and sought to manage rather than rule him. Jahangir continued to take keen interest in 
affairs of state, as
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is evident from his Memoirs. It was only after 1622, when Jahangir’s heal th had begun to fail, when the 
chosen crown prince Shah Jahan was in open rebellion, the able Itimad-ud-Daula was no more, and 
ambitious nobles such as Mahabat Khan tried to make the emperor their puppet that Nur Jahan had to 
involve herself in active politics. Hence, Beni Prasad’s charge that during this period (1622 -27) Nur 
Jahan’s rule plunged the country into blood and strife appears to be misplaced. After 1622, she had to 
cope with an extremely difficult situation. Her basic effort was to save the life and dignity of her 
husband. This she did successfully, and retired gracefully into the haram once a new successor to the 
throne had been chosen.
In a recent study of the Nur Jahan family, Irfan Habib has underlined the important positions held by 
Itimad-ud-Daula and his family. Thus, between 1611 and 1622, Itimad-ud-Daula, in addition to the post 
of Wazir, was appointed governor of Lahore, and his son, Asaf Khan, served as Wakil for some time. At 
the time of Itimad-ud-Daula’s death in 1621, in addition to Lahore and Kashmir, three provinces, Bengal, 
Orissa and Awadh were under the members of his extended family. Itimad-ud-Daula’s death did not 
signify any decline in his family’s position. Asaf Khan was wakil for most of the time, and the post of Mir 
Bakshi was held by Iradat Khan, a relation of Nur Jahan. In addition, members of the family held 
governorships of seven provinces—Lahore, Kashmir, Multan, Thatta, Agra, Gujarat and Orissa.
This lends substance to Mutammad Khan’s charge of the great rise of Nur Jahan’s family. However, as 
Irfan Habib points out, it does not mean that the entire Mughal nobility came to be divided into two 
groups: the proteges and supporters of Nur Jahan’s family, and the older nobility, indignant at the riches 
and presumption of the upstarts. Even during the time when Mahabat Khan held supreme power, no 
effort was made to take away any of the governorships from the possession of the family. It has been 
suggested that the family of Nur Jahan formed the core of the Persian (Khaurasani) element in the 
Mughal nobility, and that its rise represented the pre-dominance of this section in the nobility. However, 
there is little evidence that the Persian nobles as a class rallied together under the banner of Nur Jahan. 
The Mughal nobility remained hetrogenous in character, and political factors cut across family feuds and 
inter-sectional rivalries.
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The Rebellions of Shah Jahan and the coup de main at Mahabat Khan
By 1621, Jahangir was at the height of his power. The various disturbed regions—Mewar, Bengal and the 
Deccan had been brought largely under control. Relations with the Shah of Iran were extremely cordial, 
and there appeared to be no cloud on the horizon. Jahangir was only fifty-one years old, and a long era 
of peace and prosperity appeared to lie ahead. But two developments completely transformed the 
picture—the Persian threat to Qandahar, and the worsening health of Jahangir which unleased the 
latent struggle for succession among his sons. The death of the capable wazir, Itimad-ua-Daula, early in 
1622 led to jockeying of power among the nobles. All these factors pitch-forked Nur Jahan into the 
political arena.
Khurram (Shah Jahan) was the most competent and capable of Jahangir’s sons, and by 1619 had been 
marked out as the heir apparent. But it seems that it was being felt that Shah Jahan was becoming too 
powerful. Hence, in the same year, Khusrau was released from jail, and the mansab of Parwez, the 
younger brother of Shah Jahan, raised to 20,000. Shah Jahan’s demand that Khusrau be handed over to 
him before he would move to the Deccan was not liked since he had made such demands earlier. But his 
demand had to be acceded to. As we have seen, as a check on Shah Jahan’s ambition, Ladli Begum, 
daughter of Nur Jahan from her first husband, Sher Afghan, was betrothed to prince Shahriyar. Shah 
Jahan’s rejoinder was to get Khusrau strangled at Burhanpur (Feb. 1621), and put out that he had died of 
cholic. 
The next stage in the drama came with the siege of Qandahar by the Safavid, Shah Abbas in 1622. 
Jahangir sent urgent summons to Shah Jahan who was then in the Deccan to lead the campaign to 
relieve Qandahar. Shah Jahan was afraid that the campaign against Qandahar would be long and 
difficult, and that intrigues would be hatched against him when he was away from the court. Hence, he 
put forward a number of demands—that he should be allowed to stay at Mandu with his family for the 
duration of the rains, that when he went to Qandahar he should have full command over the army and 
control of the Punjab, and that the fort of Ranthambhor should be assigned to him for safeguarding his 
family. The demands were not by themselves unreasonable, but Jahangir was vexed that the delay 
would mean the Persians consolidating their position at Qandahar. A way could have been
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found if Jahangir had accepted the suggestion of Khan-i-Jahan Lodi, the governor of Multan, to 
immediately lead an army for the relief of Qandahar. That Shah Jahan’s attitude was not straightforward is borne out by his sending his agent, Zahid Beg, with presents to the Shah of Iran, wishing him 
good luck in his Qandahar enterprise. Shah Jahan had also arranged for a plentiful supply of money from 
the rulers of Deccan and the zamindars of Gondwana for his stay at Mandu.
Ascerbetic exchange of letters between Jahangir and Shah Jahan worsened the situation. Jahangir asked 
Shah Jahan to send to court the royal officers and forces—especially the Saiyids of Barha and Bukhara, 
the Shaikhzadas, the Afghans and Rajputs if he proposed to come after the rains. Sazawals or high level 
messengers were appointed to induce the commanders to return to Lahore where Jahangir was staying. 
Also, Shahriyar was appointed to lead the army to Qandahar. Jahangir passed orders that Shah Jahan’s 
jagirs in Hissar and the Doab should pay for the salaries of these soldiers, and Shah Jahan was asked to 
choose jagirs of equal value in the Deccan, Gujarat, Malwa or Khandesh, wherever he wished.
A brush with Shah Jahan’s men at Dholpur with Shahriyar’s men to whom this jagir had been 
transferred, led to further bitterness. However, Jahangir was not convinced till that time that Shah Jahan 
meditated rebellion. Hence, orders were passed that the subahs of Gujarat, Malwa, the Deccan and 
Khandesh should be handed over to Shah Jahan and that he might set up his habitation anywhere he 
liked and “employ himself in the administration of these regions”.
In his defiance of the Emperor, Shah Jahan was supported by most of the great amirs posted in the 
Deccan, Gujarat and Malwa. He also had the support of powerful nobles such as Abdur Rahim Khan-iKhanan and his son, and other noted military leaders including Rana Karan of Mewar, and Raja Bikramjit 
Baghela, the victor of Kangra. In the imperial camp, he could count on Asaf Khan, the wazir, and 
Abdullah Khan Firoz Jung. Above all, he had the seasoned soldiers of the Deccan campaign at his 
disposal.
Convinced of his superiority, and banking on the illness of Jahangir and the inability of Nur Jahan to 
bring together sufficient forces to meet him, Shah Jahan moved out of Mandu, and decided to make a 
sudden attack on Agra which contained the remaining hoards collected by Akbar. However, Nur Jahan 
had taken
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energetic action. Parvez was asked to hurry with his forces from Bihar, the Rajput rulers of Amber, 
Marwar, Kota and Bundi were summoned to the support of the throne, and the veteran military leader, 
Mahabat Khan, was summoned from Kabul to lead the imperialists. Asaf Khan was sent off to Agra, 
ostensibly to bring the hoarded treasures to Lahore. Jahangir himself, despite his frail health, moved 
from Lahore to Delhi.
In the battle at Bilochpur near Agra (March, 1623), Shah Jahan was decisively defeated, de spite the 
defection of Abdullah Khan Firoz Jung from the imperialist side. Shah Jahan now became a fugitive, and 
more and more nobles and commanders deserted him. Shah Jahan no longer had any hope of success, 
but he kept the empire distracted for the next three years, moving from one place to another. First he 
sought shelter with the ruler of Golconda who entertained him for some time only on the promise of his 
going to Orissa. Entering Orissa, Shah Jahan took the governor of the area by surprise. It was clear that 
he and other senior officers of the region had no heart in offering stout opposition to the prince. Soon, 
not only Orissa, but Bengal and Bihar came under Shah Jahan’s control. Mahabat Khan was pressed into 
service again to meet the threat. He met Shah Jahan at Jhusi, opposite Allahabad. The rapidly recruited 
raw troops of Shah Jahan could not meet the battle hardened, numerically superior forces of Mahabat 
Khan. Shah Jahan suffered a sharp defeat and retreated into the Deccan. He found shelter with Malik 
Ambar who was busy against the Mughals in Ahmadnagar and Berar. Ambar assigned to Shah Jahan the 
task of ousting the Mughals from Burhanpur. But the commandant of the fort defended it strongly and 
Shah Jahan failed twice. Desperate and humbled, Shah Jahan now wrote beseeching letters, seeking 
Jahangir’s pardon. Jahangir had no desire to drive his most competent son to desperation. Hence, Shah 
Jahan was pardoned. He was asked to send two of his sons, Dara and Aurangzeb, as hostages. Balaghat 
was assigned to him as his jagir. This was early in 1626.
Shah Jahan’s rebellion kept the empire distracted for four years. It resulted in the loss of Qandahar, and 
emboldened the Decannis to recover all the territories surrendered to the Mughals by Malik Ambar in 
1620. It also pointed to a basic weakness of the system—a successful prince tended to become a rival 
focus of power, particularly when it was felt that the monarch was not able or willing to wield the 
supreme power himself. Shah Jahan’s
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constant charge was that following Jahangir’s failing health, all effective power had slipped into the 
hands of Nur Jahan Begum— a charge which is difficult to accept since Shah Jahan’s father-in-law, Asaf 
Khan, was the imperial diwan. Also, though in poor health, Jahangir was still mentally alert and no 
decisions could be taken without his concurrence.
Perhaps, much of the prejudice against Nur Jahan, and the charge of meddling in imperial affairs leading 
to disaffection and rebellion, reflected the deep seated anti-feminist bias of many contemporary 
historians which has often been repeated uncritically by a number of modern historians.
Mahabat Khan’s coup de main
Struggle between the members of the royal family was an opportunity for ambitious nobles to augment 
their power, position and privileges. It was also an occasion when the old struggle for power between 
the monarchy and the nobles could re-surface. The danger of such a development was demonstrated by 
Mahabat Khan who had taken a leading role in the struggle against Shah Jahan. His powers and position 
and close association with Prince Parvez were considered a potential threat by some sections. To begin 
with, Mahabat Khan was appointed governor of Bengal, with Khan-i-Jahan Lodi replacing him as 
guardian of Parvez. Mahabat Khan was asked to render accounts, and to surrender the war elephants 
captured by him. A strong group of ahadis was sent to bring him to the court. Mahabat Khan came with 
a trusted body of Rajputs and seized the emperor at an opportune moment when the royal camp was 
crossing the river Jhelum on its way to Kabul. Nur Jahan, who had not been apprehended, escaped 
across the river but an assault against Mahabat Khan failed ignominiously. Nur Jahan now tried other 
ways. She surrendered herself to Mahabat Khan in order to be close to Jahangir. Within six months, 
taking advantage of the mistakes committed by Mahabat Khan who was a soldier but not a diplomat or 
an administrator, and due to the growing unpopularity of his Rajput soldiers, Nur Jahan was able to 
wean away most of the nobles from Mahabat Khan’s side. Realising his precarious position, Mahabat 
Khan abandoned Jahangir and fled from the court. Some time later, he joined Shah Jahan who was 
biding his time.
The defeat of Mahabat Khan was the greatest victory attained by Nur Jahan, and it was due, in no small 
measure, to her cool 
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courage and sagacity. However, Nur Jahan’s triumph was shortlived, for in less than a year’s time, 
Jahangir breathed his last, not far from Lahore (1627). The wily and shrewd Asaf Khan who had been 
appointed wakil by Jahangir, and who had been carefully preparing the ground for the succession of his 
son-in-law, Shah Jahan, now came into the open. Supported by the diwan, the chief nobles and the 
army, he made Nur Jahan a virtual prisoner and sent an urgent summons to Shah Jahan in the Deccan. 
Shah Jahan reached Agra and was enthroned amidst great rejoicing. Earlier, at his instance, all his rivals 
including his imprisoned brother, cousins, etc. were done to death. This precedent and the earlier 
precedent of a son rebelling against his father, which was begun by Jahangir and was followed by Shah 
Jahan, was to lead to bitter consequences for the Mughal dynasty. Shah Jahan himself was to reap the 
bitter fruits of what he had sown. As for Nur Jahan, after attaining the throne, Shah Jahan fixed a 
settlement upon her. She lived a retired life till her death eighteen years later.
Jahangir as a Ruler
The political achievements of Jahangir, and his role in consolidating the polity bequeathed to him by 
Akbar is generally underestimated by historians, and the role of Nur Jahan as a loyal and trusted consort 
distorted. Jahangir’s political flexibility which enabled him bring to an end the long drawn out war with 
Mewar, his generosity in dealing with the Afghan and important zamindar rebels of Bengal which 
enabled Bengal to embark upon a long process of renewed development and growth, and his policy of 
consolidating the gains of Akbar in the Deccan yielded results leading to a growing Mughal alliance with 
Bijapur and the frustration of a policy of confrontation with the Mughals.
Jahangir broadened the Mughal polity by bringing other Rajput rulers more or less on par with the 
Kachhawas. Thus, early in his reign, Rai Rayan Rai Singh of Bikaner; Raja Sur Singh of Jodhpur (and 
following his death, his son Raja Gaj Singh), and Rao Karan of Mewar were all granted mansabs of 5000. 
Raja Man Singh held the personal rank of 7000/7000, but after his death in 1614-15, his son Bhao Singh 
was granted the title of Mirza Raja and the rank of 4000 which was soon raised to 5000.
He also started inducting Afghans, such as Khan-i-Jahan Lodi to high positions, and made a beginning of 
enrolling into the
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imperial service a number of leading Maratha sardars, such as Kheloji, Maloji, Udaiji Ram etc. 
In the sphere of religion, which shall be reviewed separately, he more of less continued Akbar’s liberal 
policy, much to the disappointment of orthodox elements which had wanted the restoration of Islam to 
a position of hegemony.
Jahangir was an aesthete, and all his works, whether in the field of architecture, or painting or gardening 
showed the highest standards. He thus made the Mughal court, and the emperor personally, the arbiter 
of standards. He was ably assisted in this field by Nur Jahan who had herself a very refined cultural taste.
The cultural role of the Mughal emperor was another device which linked the ruling elites more closely 
than ever to the throne. The concept of adl or justice to which a great deal of popularity became 
attached by use of the bells, also brought the monarchy closer to the masses.
Like Babur, Jahangir was also very fond of the flaura and fauna of the country which he describes with 
the practised eye of an expert. After describing some of the flowers of Kashmir, he says “The red rose, 
the violet, and the narcissus grow of themselves,” and adds “I saw several sorts of red roses; one is 
specially sweat-scented, and another is a flower of the colour of sandal (light yellow) and with an 
exceedingly delicate scent”. He also mentions black tulips. He asked the court painter Mansur, to paint 
some of these flowers. Jahangir gives a long list of birds, including those not found in Kashmir.
The failures of Jahangir took place after 1621 when his health had begun to fail. This was compounded 
by the rebellion of Shah Jahan, and growing factiousness in the nobility.
State and Religion in the First Half of the 17th Century
The liberal character of the state instituted by Akbar was maintained during the first half of the 17th 
century, though with a few lapses under Jahangir, and with some modifications by Shah Jahan.
At the outset of Jahangir’s reign, there was an expectation in orthodox circles that Akbar’s policy of sulhi-kul and religious eclecticism would be abandoned, and the supremacy of the sharia restored. The 
hopes of the orthodox sections were raised by some actions of Jahangir immediately after his accession. 
Thus, he had asked the ulama and the learned men of Islam to collect distinctive
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appelations of God which were easy to remember so that he might repeat them while using his rosary. 
On Fridays he associated with learned and pious men and dervishes and saints. At the Ramzan Id which 
followed his first accession, he went to the Idgah, and several lacs of dams were distributed in charity. 
However, there was nothing unusual in these actions, and the orthodox elements were soon disabused 
of their expectations. Neither by temperament nor by training was Jahangir orthodox. Apart from his 
own fondness of drinking which he sometimes carried to excess—he tells us that by the time of his 
accession he had reduced his intake of wine from twenty cups of double distilled spirit (brandy) to five, 
and that, too, only at night. Jahangir felt free to invite his nobles and others to join him in wine drinking. 
When he visited the grave of Babur at Kabul he found a basin which could contain two Hindustani 
maunds of wine. Jahangir ordered another such a basin to be built, and every day he ordered to fill both 
the basins with wine and gave it to the servants who were present there. There was an accompaniment 
of dance and music. There are frequent references in his Memoirs to such parties to which nobles were 
invited.
In the Ordinances which Jahangir issued at the time of his accession, for two days in a week, Thursday, 
the day of his accession, and Sunday, the day of Akbar’s birthday and because “it was dedicated to the 
Sun and also the day on which creation began” (according to the Christians), there was to be no killing or 
slaughter of animals for food. Shortly, afterwards, in what were called the Ain-i-Jahangiri or Jahangiri 
rules, forcible conversion to Islam was forbidden.
Jahangir’s attitude towards Akbar’s policy of sulh-i-kul, and of giving respect and freedom to all religions 
is manifest from his Memoirs. Praising Akbar, he says:
“The professors of various faiths had room in the broad expanse of his innumerable sway. This was 
different from the practice of other realms, for in Persia there is room for Shias only, and in Turkey, India 
and Turan there is room for Sunnis only.” He goes on to say how in his dominions “which on all sides was 
limited only by the salt sea”, “there was room for the professors of opposite religions, and for beliefs, 
good and bad, and the road to altercation was closed. Sunnis and Shias met in one mosque, and the 
Europeans (Firangi) and Jews in one church, and observed their own forms of worship”.
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Not only did Jahangir follow Akbar’s policy of sulh-i-kul, he continued Akbar’s policy of enrolling murids 
(disciples) and giving each of them a token, or shast, and shabi or likeness of the emper or. At the time of 
initiation, the disciples were advised to avoid sectarian quarrels, and to follow the rule of universal 
peace with regard to religion. They were also advised not to kill any living creature with their own hands, 
honour the luminaries (Sun, light etc.) which are manifestations of God, and to dwell constantly on God.
However, the devise of discipleship which was meant to bind the nobles closely with the Emperor seems 
to have fallen into disuse after some time.
Jahangir also continued to celebrate the various Hindu festivals, Diwali, Holi, Dashera, Rakhi, Shivratri 
etc. at his court. Jahangir himself participated in them, as also many of the nobles. We are told that 
during the celebration of Diwali, Jahangir himself took part in a bout of gambling that continued for 
three nights.
Jahangir also banned cow slaughter in the Punjab, and perhaps extended it to Gujarat. Nauroz, which 
was an old Central Asian festival as also the festival of the Parsis, was celebrated for nineteen days with 
music and festivity. The Christians, too, were allowed to celebrate Easter, Christmas and other festivals. 
These practices were a public declaration of a policy of religious freedom to all. They also provided 
opportunity for greater social interaction between the ruler and his officials with people of various 
religious persuations.
The position regarding religious freedom is set out clearly in one of the early drafts of the Tuzuk where 
Jahangir says, “I ordered that with this exception (prohibition of forcible sati), they (the Hindus) may 
follow whatever is their prescribed custom, and none should exercise force or compulsion or oppression 
over anyone.”
There was no ban on the Hindus building new temples. Apart from Bir Singh Deo Bundela building a 
magnificient temple at Mathura, a large number of new temples were built at Banaras. The Christians 
too, were given land and permission to build churches.
Jahangir continued Akbar’s policy of giving gifts and grants to brahmans and temples. In his first Regnal 
year (1605-06), when marching against Khusrau, he distributed large sums of money to
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faqirs and brahmans. Documents in the possession of the Vrindavan temples of the Chaitanya sect show 
how Jahangir went on adding grants to the temples and their votaries. Thus, between 1612-15, he made 
at least five grants to the followers of Chaitanya at Vrindavan.
In 1621, when going to Kangra, Jahangir went via Haridwar which, he noted, was “one of the established 
place of worship of the Hindus where brahmans and recluses retire in lovely places to worship God in 
their own way”. He gave gifts in cash and in kind to many of them.
Despite his liberalism, there were occasions when Jahangir displayed a narrow spirit, perhaps out of a 
desire to please the orthodox clerical elements who were powerful, or out of a desire to be seen by 
them as an orthodox Muslim ruler. Thus, he declared the war against Mewar to be a jihad, although 
there was little reason for doing so. During the campaign, many Hindu temples were destroyed which, 
again, was uncalled for because Jahangir had instructed Khurram to treat the Rana as a friend if he was 
prepared to submit. Again, in 1621, the Kangra campaign was declared a jihad, even though it was 
commanded by a Hindu, Raja Bikramajit! As we have noted, in the presence of theologians a bullock was 
slaughtered in the fort and a mosque ordered to be erected. From Kangra, Jahangir went to the Durga 
temple at Jwalamukhi. He found that apart from “infidels whose custom is the worship of idols, crowds 
on crowds of the people of. Islam, traversing long distances, bring their offerings, and pray to the black 
(stone) image”. No attempt was made to put a stop to this practice. Earlier, while visiting Pushkar, 
Jahangir was shocked to find that the Hindus worshipped Vishnu in the form of a varaha (boar). He 
ordered the image to be broken noting that the Hindu theory of incarnation in ten forms was not 
acceptable to him since God could not be limited in this way. However, none of the other temples 
dedicated to Vishnu were harmed. At Ajmer, Jahangir granted in madadd-i-maash the entire village of 
Pushkar to the brahmans of that place.
In 1617, Jahangir issued an order in Gujarat that all Jain temples be closed and the Jain saints expelled 
from the empire because of moral reasons: wives and daughters of the devotees visited the Jain saints 
at the temples where they lived. But this order does not seem to have been implemented because we 
have inscriptional
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evidence from Gujarat supported by Jain sources that during the period when the order was issued, 
Jahangir continued to have good relations with Jain saints and also gave liberal grants for the 
construction of Jain temples.
There has been a good deal of controversy about Jahangir’s attitude towards the Sikhs, and his dealings 
with the Sikh Guru Arjun. In his Memoirs, Jahangir notes that at Gobindwal on the river Beas, Guru Arjun 
“posing as a religious guide and instructor” had enrolled as his followers a large number of Hindus and 
Muslims, that “They called him Guru, and from all sides came to him and expressed their absolute faith 
in him.” He goes on to say that this had continued for three or four generations. Denouncing the 
followers of the Guru as “fools and fraud-believers,” Jahangir declares that “Many times it occurred to 
me to put a stop to this vain affair or to bring him into the assembly of the people of Islam.”
This statement occurs almost immediately after Jahangir’s accession, and in the context of Khusrau’s 
rebellion. It is not clear when precisely Jahangir had contemplated taking action against the Sikhs. If it 
was during Akbar’s reign, it is well known that Akbar had favoured Guru Angad and Guru Ramdas, and 
given them a grant of five hundred bighas of land and a pond around which the Harmandir and the city 
of Amritsar grew. If after accession, the period had to be very brief because Khusrau rebelled barely six 
months after his accession. Thus, this again appears to be an attempt on Jahangir’s part of trying to 
please the orthodox sections.
It is clear that Jahangir took no action against the Sikhs as such, but only against Guru Arju n on a charge 
that he had blessed Khusrau by putting a tika on his head, and by giving him some money. According to 
Jahangir’s lights, this was treason. He, therefore, summoned him, handed over his houses, dwelling 
places and children to Murtaza Khan who was like a kotwal, confiscated the Guru’s property and 
commanded that he should be put to death.
It has been argued on the basis of Jesuit and other evidence, including Sikh traditions, that Jahangir had 
not ordered the Guru’s execution but only imposed a heavy fine on him which he refused to pay, and 
that it was due to the tortures inflicted on him to realize the fine that he died. However, this does not 
exonerate
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Jahangir from the charge of awarding excessive punishment to a highly respected saint for an 
inadvertent mistake. His action in imprisoning the Guru’s son and successor, Guru Hargovind, five years 
later for realizing the arrears of the fine, and keeping him in prison for two years, appears even less 
defensible.
It has been pointed out that Jahangir punished not only the Sikh Guru for token support to Khusrau but 
a sufi, Shaikh Nizam Thanesari, who had accompanied Khusrau for some distance. However, he was only 
banished to Mecca, and his road expenses paid.
Like Akbar, Jahangir was always eager to visit and to discourse with dervishes, saints and religious 
thinkers of various kinds, and to make grants to them. In 1613, Jahangir had started the custom that 
deserving people and dervishes were brought before him every night so that, after personal enquiry into 
their condition, land or gold or clothes were bestowed on them. There is no reason to believe that these 
were confined to Muslims.
Jahangir continued Akbar’s practice of inviting religious divines for personal discussions. It seems that 
Jahangir’s main area of religious interest was monotheism. It was this which made him seek the 
company of Mian Mir, the famous Qadri sufi of Lahore and a friend of Guru Arjun. Jahangir was also 
devoted to Muinuddin Chishti, the patron saint of the Mughals. In 1613, when he visited Ajmer, he 
walked on foot for a kos before entering the shrine. He was hostile to Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi who 
denounced wahdat-al-wajud or monotheism. As Jahangir says, he kept him for some time in “the prison 
of correction until the heat of his temperament and the confusion in his brain were somewhat 
quenched, and the excitement of the people should also subside”. The greatest satisfaction Jahangir 
found was among votaries of Vedant which he calls “the science of tasawwuf’. In this search, he met 
Jadrup Gosain at Ujjain in the eleventh year of his reign (1616). During the next three years, he met 
Jadrup seven times. Jadrup lived in a hole on the side of a hill which had been dug out and a door made. 
Hearing of his reputation, Jahangir wanted to call him to Agra, but did not do so on account of the 
trouble it would cause him. Jahangir went one-eighth of a kos or two and a half furlong on foot to see 
him. Jadrup made a great impression on Jahangir by his knowledge and simplicity. Jahangir says “he 
(Jadrup) had thoroughly mastered the science of Vedanta”, and
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“God Almighty has given him unusual grace, a lofty understanding, an exalted nature and sharp 
intellectual power”. He was free from the attachment of the world, so that “putting behind him the 
world and all that was in it, he sits content in solitude and without want”. Subsequently, Jadrup shifted 
to Mathura where Jahangir visited him twice. When Hakim Beg, brother-in-law of Nur Jahan, who held 
charge of Mathura, ill-treated, Jadrup, Jahangir dismissed him from service.
We do not know much about Jahangir’s personal religious beliefs. He remained within the framework of 
Islam, but had a good knowledge of other religions, especially Hinduism and Christianity. Though 
continuing to follow many Hindu practices which had become common in India, he specifically re jected 
idol-worship and, as we have seen, the theory of incarnation.
Jahangir had a very exalted opinion of kingly duties. Echoing Abul Fazl, he says that the just creator 
bestows sovereignty on him whom he considers fit for this glorious and exalted duty. It was therefore 
futile for the seditious and the short-sighted to try and deprive crown and dominion from one chosen by 
God the Crown-cherisher.
For Jahangir, the state was not only to be a liberal institution but to be marked by benevolence and 
justice. The benevolent aspect was emphasized by Jahangir in the Twelve Edicts issued by him after his 
accession. Thus, road and river cesses imposed by the jagirdars for their own profit were abolished; the 
local officials were not to open the bales of merchants on the roads without informing them and 
obtaining their permission; if anyone, whether unbeliever or a Muslim should die, his property and 
effects should be left to his heirs, and if they had no heirs, to utilise the proceeds for building mosques, 
sarais, repair of broken bridges, and digging of tanks and wells, i.e. works of public benefit. To improve 
facilities for the merchants, jagirdars and officials of the khalisa were asked to build sarais. Local officials 
were also told not to take possession of any person’s house; and not to take forcible possession of the 
raiyat’s lands to cultivate them on their own account. Hospitals were to be founded in great cities, and 
doctors appointed, the expenditure to be met from the khalisa establishment. Jahangir also repeated 
Akbar’s orders forbidding the cutting off the nose or ears of anyone as a punishment.
Jahangir’s chain of justice is too well known to be repeated here. Only one instance of Jahangir’s 
emphasis on justice
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irrespective of one’s position may be mentioned. A widow complained that Muqarrab Khan, governor of 
Gujarat, had taken her daughter by force at Cambay, and kept her in his own house, and when she 
enquired about the girl, said that she had died by an unavoidable death. After an enquiry, one of his 
attendants was found guilty for the outrage. He was put to death, the mansab of Muqarrab Khan 
reduced by half, and he was made to make an allowance to the widow.
However, despite his benevolence, the Mughal emperor remained a despot. Thus, Jahangir had no 
compunction in summarily executing a groom, and stringing two kahars (water carriers) whose sudden 
appearance had enabled a nilgai which Jahangir was hunting to get away. 
Liberalism and autocratic benevolence were underpinned by a policy of cultural pluralism, enabling 
people of all religions and regions to contribute. These included not only architecture and gardening, but 
music, painting, literature etc. The work of making Persian translations of Hindu religious works, such as 
Ramayana, continued. Court patronage was also given to Hindi poets. The new spirit was reflected in the 
Hindi poems of Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan in which verses on niti or polity was taken up, along with a 
strong lyrical sense of devotion to God in his various incarnations, especially Krishna.
Shah Jahan’s Religious Policy
There has been a controversy whether Shah Jahan continued the liberal policies of Akbar with some 
change in form, or whether he was “orthodox in his leanings as well as his beliefs and he took some 
measures to show that orthodoxy was back in power”. (I.H. Qureshi). Thus, he exempted the theologians 
from sijda or zaminbos, the former implying prostration before the ruler, and the latter putting both the 
hands on the ground and touching them to the forehead. It might be mentioned that Jahangir had also 
exempted the high theologians from sijda. Shah Jahan banned mixed marriages between Hindus and 
Muslims in Kashmir which had implied that Muslim girls embraced the religion of their Hindu husbands, 
and vice versa. Earlier, Jahangir had also banned this practice, but was unable to stop it.
Perhaps, the most significant step taken by Shah Jahan was that in the Sixth Regnal year (1633), he 
ordered that no temple whose foundation had been laid in Jahangir’s time but had not been
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completed would be allowed to be completed. Accordingly, 76 temples begun at Banaras were 
destroyed. Temples and churches were also destroyed during wars. Thus, during the Bundela rebellion, 
Bir Singh Deo’s temple at Orchha was destroyed and a mosque built in its place. Christian churches at 
Hugli were destroyed during the clash with the Portuguese there. However, it does not seem that Shah 
Jahan tried to implement seriously the policy of not allowing new temples to be built. Thus, in 1629, he 
granted land to Shantidas, the leading Jain jeweller and banker at Ahmadabad, to build a resting place 
(poshala) for Jain saints. Shantidas also built a beautiful Jain temple near Ahmadabad to which no 
objection was made. In 1654, when Aurangzeb was governor of Gujarat, he converted this temple into a 
mosque by building a mihrab (niche) for prayer inside it. This was part of Aurangzeb’s policy of breaking 
newly built temples in Gujarat. However, on a complain from Shantidas, and a ruling from the noted 
scholar Mulla Abdul Hakim that Aurangzeb had flagrantly violated the sharia by usurping Shantidas’s 
property, and that, in consequence, the mosque had no sanctity, Shah Jahan ordered the mihrab to be 
blocked up, and the temple restored to Shantidas. The imperial farman also commanded that any 
material taken from the temple should be restored and compensation paid for any material lost. 
Likewise the magnificent temple built at Mathura by Bir Singh Deo Bundela during the reign of Jahangir 
was not interfered with.
That Shah Jahan’s ban on new temples was only a token is conceded by I.H. Qureshi, a leading historian 
in Pakistan, saying that the measure was “more an assertion of a principle than an effective measure… 
(it) was more an effective declaration that Islam would again be treated as the dominant religion than 
an attempt at the suppression of Hinduism.”
It has been argued that the building of many magnificient mosques, including the Jama Masjid at Delhi, 
and the Taj Mahal at Agra which was supposed to replicate the Muslim idea of Paradise, also 
demonstrate Shah Jahan’s new emphasis on the power and majesty of Islam. The building of such 
mosques was not unusual. That broad tolerance continued was also evident from his confirmation of the 
grants given to the Vaishnava temples at Vrindavan. Even more significant was his order that the time gong at the temple may be permitted to be sounded since
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“a large number of God worshipping Hindu mendicants are engaged in divine worship according to their 
own religion and custom”. This was an affirmation of Akbar’s policy of sulh-i-kul. Shah Jahan came into 
conflict with the Sikh Guru Hargovind culminating in a furious battle at Kartarpur (1631), after which the 
Guru retreated to the Kashmir hills. We shall discuss Mughal relations with the Sikhs separately.
The Muslim orthodox sections rallied under Shaikh Abdul Haq of Delhi and Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi who 
was hailed as Mujaddid or renovator during the second millenium of Islam. Both of them were profound 
scholars of Muslim jurisprudence, theology etc., and laid great emphasis on the strict implementation of 
the sharia. The point to note here is that both of them had a political agenda which they tried to 
implement by winning over the leading nobles to their side by writing letters to them. They also enrolled 
students in their seminaries. From an analysis of their letters, it would appear that their main demands 
were: 
(i) the humiliation of the Hindus which implied breaking of temples, having no social intercourse with 
them and denying them public service, and if that was inescapable, not to trust them; 
(ii) revival of the jizyah which was the mark of the superiority of the Muslims, and was meant to 
humiliate the kafirs, and 
(iii) exclusion of all practices which were bidat i.e. not strictly within the ambit of the sharia, whether 
they applied to culture (ban on music and painting), morality (ban on wine etc.) or social practices 
(tuladan, jharoka darshan etc.) 
Like Jahangir, Shah Jahan also rejected almost all these demands. Even the ban on construction of new 
temples was not implemented strictly, as Aurangzeb found when he was governor of Gujarat. The li beral 
elements came together under the slogan of wahdat-al-wajud or monism. The Chisti saints, and the 
Qadiri saint Mian Mir of Lahore, who was backed and supported by Dara and Jahanara, led this trend. 
Shah Jahan did not join either of these trends, even though some contemporary historians gave him the 
title of mujaddid or renovator of Islam. Nor did the nobles, as a whole, join either the liberal or the 
orthodox group, remaining eclectic in their approach.
We may conclude that Shah Jahan tried to effect a compromise. While formally declaring the state to be 
an Islamic one, showing
257 
respect to the sharia, and observing its injunctions in his personal life, he did not reject any of the liberal 
measures of Akbar, such as jharoka darshan, weighing himself for gifts {tula dan), etc. Like all 
compromises, Shah Jahan’s compromise was based not on principle but on expediency. As such, it 
satisfied no party, and the orthodox elements, feeling themselves to be stronger than before, continued 
the demand of a state based on a strict implementation of the sharia.
Shah Jahan—Consolidation and Expansion of the Empire
After his accession in 1627, Shah Jahan embarked on a vigorous policy of expansion and consolidation in 
order to overcome the distractions caused by his own rebellion and the failing health of Jahangir. The 
first matter to engage his attention was the Deccan where all the gains made under Jahangir upto 1621 
had been lost. We have already discussed Shah Jahan’s Deccan policy, leading to the treaties of 1636 
with Bijapur and Golconda, and the renewed conflict with them towards the end of his reign.
As a result of Mughal expansion in the Deccan, the Mughal position in Bundelkhand and Gondwana in 
modern Central India was strengthened. The most powerful ruler in the area was Bir Singh Deo Bundela. 
In 1628-29, an army had been sent against Jujhar Singh, son of Bir Singh Deo Bundela (d. 1627) who had 
been a favourite of Jahangir. With the fall of the powerful fort of Irij, Jujhar Singh surrendered. He paid 
rupees fifteen lakhs and forty elephants as indemnity. His original rank of 4000/4000 Was restored, 
though some of his jagirs were confiscated. He was required to serve in the Deccan with 2000 horses, 
and 2000 infantry.
By 1634, Jujhar Singh returned, leaving his son to deputise for him in the Deccan. He embarked upon a 
career of conquest at the expense of the Gonds of the Gondwana region. He attacked Prem Narayan, 
the Gond ruler of Chauragarh. Prem Narayan had to vacate his fort after the Mughals refused to respond 
to his plea for help. He was treacherously attacked and killed by Jujhar Singh, violating his own promise 
of safe conduct. Jujhar Singh seized all the hoarded wealth of the Gond ruler. Prem Narayan’s son 
appealed to Mahabat Khan in Malwa. Negotiations now began between Shah Jahan and Jujhar Singh. 
Shah Jahan’s main attempt was to get as much as possible from the hoard of Prem Narayan, and 
compensation for the territory gained by the Bundela ruler.
258 
Thus, Jujhar Singh was at first asked to surrender the territories he had conquered in Gondwana. Once 
Mughal military preparations were complete, Shah Jahan demanded sarkar Biyanwan in place of 
Chauragarh, and a fine of thirty lakhs. After the Mughal campaign, and the killing of Jujhar Singh by the 
Gonds while he was in flight, a portion of the Orchha kingdom was granted to Raja Debi Singh whose 
family had been superseded by Jahangir earlier while giving tika to Bir Singh Deo. To exclude for all times 
the claims of Jujhar Singh’s family to the gaddi, his sons and grandsons were converted to Islam.
Thus, Shah Jahan’s Bundela policy was basically one of imperial aggrandizement. In order to present it as 
a victory of Islam, the magnificent temple built at Orchha by Bir Singh Deo was demolished, and a 
mosque erected at its place.
Shah Jahan also took action against Rana Raj Singh of Mewar for refortifying Chittor. We shall discuss 
the significance of this move in the context of Aurangzeb’s later breach with the Rajputs.
The growing power of the Mughal state was also reflected in operations against a number of other 
zamindars who were wealthy, but had so far paid only formal respect to Mughal power. Thus, Kipa of 
Chanda, called the chief zamindar of Gondwana, was made to pay eight lakhs; the Ujjainiya zamindar 
near Buxar; the zamindar of Ratanpur in modern Jharkhand, the zamindar of Palamau etc. were subdued 
and fleeced.
Shah Jahan also forced the rajas of Kumaon and of Garhwal to accept Mughal overlordship (1654, 1656), 
an earlier Mughal attempt to capture Srinagar, the capital of Garhwal, having failed.
Jagat Singh, son of Raja Basu of Mau Nurpur in the Punjab hills near Chamba, had been a favourite of 
Jahangir, both father and son having performed useful service, and been appointed faujdar of Kangra. 
They incurred Shah Jahan’s displeasure. However, unlike Bundelkhand, it did not attract imperial 
rapacity. Hence, after some hard fighting and after destroying a number of his forts, Jagat Singh was 
restored to his imperial mansab. The overall lesson was that in the new set up, even zamindars who had 
served the Mughal emperor earlier, would have to be more submissive.
More significant was the Mughal attempt to bring under control the Baltistan area in Kashmir, then 
known as Greater Tibet (Ladakh being called the Little Tibet). In 1634, and again in 1637, imperial forces 
attacked its ruler, Abdal, penetrated upto his capital, Skardu, and forced him to submit, and pay an 
indemnity
259 
of ten lakhs. That the Mughals could operate in these difficult and remote areas showed the high degree 
of devotion to service which had been instilled into the Mughal commanders and troops by this time. 
The operation was obviously aimed at bringing more closely under Imperial control the trade route to 
Yarkand, Khotan etc.
Shah Jahan’s attempt to bring the coastal areas of East Bengal seem to have some economic overtones 
also. Although the Mughals had, under Jahangir, captured Jessore and Bakla, the two coastal districts, 
they had not been able to revive trade and agriculture of the area due to the piratical activities of the 
Portuguese and the Arakanese. Apart from carrying on trade, the Portuguese raided the coastal towns 
and villages, took captives, sold them and converted many to Christianity.
The main Portuguese centre was at Hugli and there had been many complaints against them. This was 
the background to Shah Jahan’s attack on Hugli in 1632. The Portuguese fought well, but were no match 
for the Mughal army. With the fall of Hugli, the coastal area upto the sea was freed of pirates. The 
Mughal treatment of the captured Portuguese prisoners was very cruel and can hardly be justified. They 
were given the choice of Islam or imprisonment, and many of them languished in jail for long periods on 
their refusal to convert.
Attempts were also made by Shah Jahan to strengthen the Mughal hold on Sindh, and the lower Indus. 
For the purpose, campaigns were launched against the tribals who preyed on trade, and imperial thanas 
were set up.
Apart from these military activities, the power, wealth and majesty of the Mughal state was sought to 
be demonstrated by the Peacock Throne (takht-i-taus), the building of the Taj Mahal at Agra, and the 
foundation of a new Imperial capital at Delhi. The Peacock Throne struck all the visitors of the time, 
many of whom have described it. We are told by the contemporary historian, Lahori, that out of the 
existing jewels in the Imperial jewel house, selected jewels worth eighty-six lakhs of rupees, and pure 
gold of one lakh tolas, then worth fourteen lakhs of rupees, were handed over to the superintendent of 
the goldsmith’s department. The outside of the canopy was to be of enamel work, with occasional gems, 
the inside was to be thickly set with rubies, garnets and other jewels and it was to be supported by 
twelve emerald
260 
columns. On top of each pillar there were to be two peacocks thick set with gems, and between each 
two peacocks a tree with rubies and diamonds, emeralds and pearls.
The throne, which was three yards in length, two and a half in breadth, and five in height took seven 
years to complete, and Shah Jahan sat upon it for the first time in 1635.
The Taj Mahal, built in memory of Mumtaz Mahal, the favourite consort of Shah Jahan, who died in 
childbirth in 1630, was built over twelve years at a cost of rupees fifty lakhs which was a big sum for 
those days. The new city of Delhi, called Shahjahanabad, which was commenced in 1638 took almost ten 
years to complete and cost rupees sixty lakhs. A modern historian, Shirin Moosvi, has calculated that all 
the buildings and gardens of Shah Jahan, including renovations carried out in the Lahore and Agra forts, 
and the mausoleum of Jahangir, cost a little over Rs. 289 lakhs over a period of 28 years. The annual cost 
works out at Rs. 1,03,391/-. According to a recent estimate, 82.9 per cent of the Imperial income was 
assigned as jagirs. Of the remaining 17 per cent, Shah Jahan had fixed, according to the official historian, 
Qazwini, the khalisa or imperial establishment at 60 crore dams (Rs. 150 lakhs) annually. Out of this, the 
annual expenditure varied from Rs. 100 to Rs. 120 lakhs. Thus, the annual cost of building amounts to 
10.33 per cent of the annual khalisa expenditure, or 6.45 per cent of the annual khalisa income as 
reported by Qazwini. We may thus conclude:
“The cost of building construction represented a significant share of expenditure from the khalisa under 
Shahjahan. It does not, however, seem to have been so excessive as to set a heavy drain on imperial 
finance, or to interfere with military expenditure”. (Shireen Moosvi))
Evolution of the Mughal Ruling Class and the Mansabdari System
The growth and expansion of the Mughal ruling class during the first half of the 17th century will be 
clear from Table 1. The year 1595 has been selected because that is the year upto which information is 
contained in the Ain-i-Akbari.
261 Table 1. 500 Zat and Above 1595 % 1621 % 1647-48 % 1656 % 
Princes 4 3.25 4 1.65 4 0.90 8 1.54 
Iranis 27 21.95 68 28.10 126 28.44 139 26.83 
Turanis 46 37.39 48 19.83 103 23.25 123 23.75 
77 62.60 120 49.58 233 52.59 270 52.12 
Afghans 4 3.25 15 6.20 26 5.87 34 6.56 
Indian Muslims 14 11.35 35 14.46 65 14.67 59 11.39 
Other Muslims 6 4.87 31 12.81 29 6.55 49 9.46 
24 19.51 81 33.47 12 27.9 142 27.41 
Rajputs 20 16.26 34 14.05 73 16.48 87 16.80 
Marathas 0 – 1 0.41 10 2.26 12 2.32 
Other Hindus 2 1.26 6 2.48 7 1.58 7 1.34 
22 17.88 41 16.94 90 20.32 106 20.46 
Grand Total 123 100 242 197 443 360 518 421 
Based on Athar Ali, Apparatus of Empire
It will be seen that during the first half of the 17th century, the proportion of Iranis and Turanis declined 
from 62.60 per cent to 52.12 per cent, while those of the Afghans and Indian Muslims increased from 
19.51 to 27.41 per cent. We do not know for certain the origin of the “other Muslims”—some of them 
could be from countries other than Iran and Turan, or they could be descendants of Indian settlers. The 
proportion of Hindus grew marginally from 17.88 to 20.46 per cent.
Among the Iranis and Turanis, the Iranis made substantial gains under Jahangir, and maintained their 
position under Shah Jahan. Recent studies show that both under Jahangir and Shah Jahan, the Iranis 
almost monopolized the high offices at the centre—diwan, mir bakhshi, mir saman, and also advanced 
steadily in occupying the post of provincial governors. Thus, Akbar’s policy of looking upon the Iranis as 
better administrators than the Turanis was continued under both Jahangir and Shah Jahan.
262 
However, it would be wrong to look upon the Iranis and Turani nobles as “foreigners” in the real sense 
of the word since they had foresaken their homelands and were not representatives of a foreign power 
or agency. These were immigrants drawn to India by its riches, its security and absence of sectarian bias. 
The Mughal emperors gave a start to these immigrants in the service, but they had to prove their worth 
before they were advanced further. The case of Itimad-ud-Daula was a typical example of this.
Among the Afghans and Indian Muslims, the Afghans were discriminated against under Akbar, but came 
to their own under Jahangir. However, unlike the Iranis and Turanis, they were generally not given 
administrative posts or governorships. Apart from a cultural prejudice, a factor which seems to have 
weighed against the Afghans was the fact that many of them were closely connected with Afghan 
settlers on the land, and were zamindars. So, too were many of the Indian Muslims called Shaikhzadas, 
though in their case, their zamindari rights were often based on madadd-i-maash grants. However, 
Indian Muslims or Shaikhzadas continued to forge ahead, Sadullah Khan, the famous wazir of Shah 
Jahan, being drawn from this section.
Though the Rajputs continued to predominate among the Hindus, unlike Akbar Jahangir did not appoint 
any of them as provincial governors after Man Singh’s term as governor of Bengal ended in 1607. 
However, Rai Rayan Patr Das, a brahman, was made deputy governor, and then governor of Gujarat in 
1613-14, while Raja Kalyan, son of Raja Todar Mal, was governor of Orissa from 1613-14 to 1617. Shah 
Jahan modified this policy to some extent. Jai Singh Sawai was appointed governor of Agra in 1613, and 
in 1645 Jaswant Singh was appointed acting governor of Ajmer. Another favourite of Shah Jahan, Raja 
Bithal Das Gaur, was given important posts and made governor of Ajmer. These posts were few and far 
between. However, the prestige of the Rajputs remained high because there were hardly any 
campaigns, whether in the Deccan, or Balkh and Badakhshan, or Qandahar where Rajput contingents 
were not. employed, and important commands not given to the Rajput rajas. Shah Jahan fell foul of 
Rana Raj Singh, the successor of Rana Jagat Singh who had been a favourite of Jahangir. Thus, on a 
charge of breaching the treaty of 1615 whereby the walls of Chittor were not to be repaired, he sent an 
army against the Rana in 1654. Not only were the walls
263 
of Chittor pulled down, but some Parganas—Pur, Mandal, Mandal-garh etc. were sequestered. It may be 
noted that some repairs to the walls of Chittorgarh had been carried out under Rana Jagat Singh, but 
Jahangir had ignored it.
Thus, we see signs of tension between a section of the Rajputs against the Mughals towards the end of 
Shah Jahan’s reign.
The willingness of the Mughals to bring into the Mughal service representatives of local elements in the 
Deccan—the Habshis, Deccanis and Marathas showed that Akbar’s general approach of building a 
composite ruling class, including elements of various regions and communities, was continued. But for a 
variety of reasons, the alliance with the Marathas could not be stabilized.
Another aspect of the composite ruling class was the steady promotion of a small number of members 
belonging to the administrative services. These were generally drawn from the Khatri and Kayastha 
castes, though a few brahmans can also be found among them. Persons such as Raja Todar Mal, Rai Patr 
Das, Raja Bithaldas Gaur under Akbar and Jahangir, and Rai Ragunath under Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb 
belonged to these sections. Their induction not only drew in some very competent persons, but 
broadened the social base of the Mughal ruling class.
It will be seen that the number of mansabdars almost doubled from 1595-96 during Jahangir’s reign, and 
grew 4.2 times by the end of Shah Jahan’s reign. The basic reason for this was that a mansab had by now 
become a matter of prestige, and every one— including physicians, painters, even wrestlers wanted a 
mansab. It was to some extent also due to the excessive generosity of Jahangir. Jahangir tells us that at 
the time of his accessions he increased the ranks of the nobles “by not less than 20 per cent to 300 or 
400 per cent” according to each one’s circumstances. This was both on account of Khusrau’s rebellion, 
and Jahangir’s desire to set up a new nobility dependent on him, since he did not trust many of the 
senior Akbari nobles. Large increments were given subsequently also. Nor was there any addition to 
imperial territories during the period. In consequence, according to Qazwini the official biographer of 
Shah Jahan, out of seven crores of rupees which Akbar had left behind, Jahangir spent six crores, and the 
royal establishment or khalisa came down to one twentieth or five per cent of the total. Under Akbar, 
the khalisa had been much larger, though we do not have precise figures.
264 
Though Qazwini may have exaggerated in order to put the achievements of his master in a better light, 
there is no doubt that Shah Jahan faced a serious financial situation at the time of his accession. These 
developments provide a background to the changes in the mansabdari system during the first half of the 
seventeenth century.
During the period, there was a tendency for the salaries for both zat and sawar ranks to be reduced, 
though we are a little uncertain as to when exactly these reductions were made. According to the 
farman granted to Kr. Karan Singh of Mewar in 1615, though only its Hindi translation is now available, 
for a mansab of 5000 zat / 5000 sawar, his salary was calculated at the rate of Rs. 30,000 p.m. which was 
exactly the same as in the Ain. The salary of his sawars was also calculated at the rate of 9600 dams or 
Rs. 240/- per year which was the average salary paid to sawars under Akbar on the ten-twenty basis (10 
sawars, 20 horses) before dagh. It seems that some reduction in zat salary was made in or about 1605, 
but these effected only mansabdars between 400 to 100. The largest reduction of zat salary took place 
between 1616 and 1630. According to some documents of 1630, the zat salary was reduced by 37% all 
over; those having a mansab of 1500 to 7000 having a reduction of 26 to 42%, and those below it from 
32 to 60%. Thus, there was a larger cut in the salary of the lower mansabdars.
Sawar salaries, too, were reduced during the period, at first to 8800 dams or Rs. 220 per year, and then 
to 8000 dams or Rs. 200 per year. Two points should be noted. These were not the salaries paid to 
individual sawars, but were “contract rates”, or the rates at which a mansabdar was paid to hire sawars. 
What the sawar received depended on the quality and number of his horses, his ethnic background etc. 
Rajputs, were apparently, paid less than Iranis, Turanis, Afghans etc. Secondly, the state no longer 
bothered to fix the salary of a sawar after the dagh as was the case under Akbar.
An important development which is mentioned for the first time under Jahangir is the introduction of 
the du-aspa si-aspa, or literally the two-three horse rank. The du-aspa-sih-aspa rank simply implied that 
the holder would have double the number of sawars available for the ordinary rank, and would be paid 
accordingly. Thus, a mansabdar of 2000 zat, 2000 sawar du-aspa sih-aspa would maintain 4000 sawars, 
and be paid accordingly, i.e. twice the salary of 2000 sawars. The advantage of this system was that the
265 
Emperor could ask a competent noble to maintain a larger contingent without raising his zat rank. Not 
all the sawars needed to be made du-aspa sih-aspa (or 2 x 3). Thus, in the rank of 2000/ 2000 cited 
above, 1000 could be du-aspa sih-aspa i.e. muster 2000 sawars, and the rest (called barawardi) 1000, i.e. 
a total of 3000.
The du-aspa sih-aspa rate, it seems, was combined with another measure which we hear for the first 
time in Shah Jahan’s reign. We are told that it was “the practice of the realm (daulat) that those in North 
India who had their jagirs in the province in which they were posted would muster one -third of their 
sawar ranks, those whose jagirs were outside the province would muster one-fourth”. Later, for those 
serving in the Balkh and Badakshan, campaigns, this was reduced to one-fifth. Perhaps, one-fifth was 
also the rule for those who held jagirs in the Deccan.
Thus, a mansabdar of 2000/2000 (1000 du-aspa sih-aspa) would if he had a jagir outside his province of 
posting, muster ordinary 1000 x 1/4 = 250 sawar, and of the 1000 du-aspa sih-aspa at double of that, i.e. 
500, making a total of 750 sawars.
This measure was, by no means, an innovation of Shah Jahan. Even under Akbar, Badayuni tells us that 
mansabdars of 100, did not muster even 20. This situation must have continued till Shah Jahan 
systemtized it.
On the face of it, this was a tremendous concession to the mansabdars. They were required to maintain 
only one-third or one-fourth of their sawar rank, but continued to receive salary for the full contingent 
or what the English factors said, two-third of the salary for sawars as “dead pay”. However, this should 
be seen in the context of another measure which we hear of at this time. The salaries of the mansabdars 
were graded on a scale of twelve depending on the realization (hasil) of the jagir as compared to the 
assessed income (jama). Thus, a jagir could be ten-monthly (i.e. 10/ 12), or eight monthly, (8/12) or six 
monthly (i.e. half of the jama) or so on. We are told that only princes and two of the highest grandees 
received a ten-monthly jagir. Most of the mansabdars received jagirs which were eight monthly, but not 
less than four monthly.
1In some calculations, the jama of Berar and Khandesh has been excluded since these areas were added 
after 1595. However, these areas were included in the jama under Jahangir and Shah Jahan. Hence, for 
purposes of projecting comparative growth, Berar and Khandesh have been included in the jama figrues 
of 1595.
266 
The situation in the Deccan was even worse. From Akbar’s time, the jama of the Deccan was highly 
inflated. Thus, mansabdars posted in the Deccan received jagirs of only three or four months.
The months scale applied both to zat and sawar ranks. However, it was applied to the sawar rank on a 
slightly different basis. The salary of a sawar in a 12-monthly jagir was calculated at Rs. 40 p.m. per 
head, and it was scaled down according to months but not proportionately. Thus, in an 8-monthly jagir, 
a sawar was paid Rs. 30, one on 6 monthly jagir Rs. 25. The basis of this apparently was that the number 
of remounts decreased with the month scale, so that in a 5-monthly jagir, the number of horses was the 
same as the number of sawars. Thus, in effect, the ten-twenty system of Akbar was given up.
Between 1595 and 1656-57, there was only a limited increase of jama. The jama of the empire increased 
in round figure from 516.251 crore dams (Rs. 12.91 crore) to 630 crore dams (Rs. 15.75 crore) in 1627, 
and to 880 crore dams in 1647-48. If we exclude 18 crore dams which was the jama of Balkh and 
Badakhshan, the total comes to 862 crore dams or Rs. 16.55 crores. By 1656, the jama had grown to 912 
crore dams or Rs. 22.80 crores. In terms of percentage, the jama increased from 100 in 1595-96, to 122 
in 1627 and to 162 in 1947-48 and to 176 in 1656-57.
Thus, the increase in the mansab was far greater than the growth in the jama. It was to cope with this 
situation, that the zat and sawar salaries were reduced progressively. Simultaneously, the number of 
sawars and mounts a mansabdar was expected to maintain was scaled down considerably by means of 
the one-third/one-fourth rule and the month scale. The reduction of the contigents did not matter much 
in the peaceful atmosphere of north India, but later in the Deccan where conditions of law and order 
had yet to be established, and where a virtual breakdown was to take place in broad regions due to the 
rise of Maratha insurgency, the reduced military contingents of the mansabdars was to pose a serious 
military and financial problem. 
Thus, the gap between available resources and the requirements of the mansabdars which was sought 
to be papered over by changes in the mansabdari system, may be considered the early manifestation of 
what has been called “the crisis of the Jagirdai system”, which assumed an acute form during the latter 
part of Aurangzeb’s reign.

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