Q.1 How Tuzuk-i-Babari can be considered as a source of history of Medieval India? Elaborate. [15 Marks]
Tuzuk-i-Babari (aka Baburnama) is the autobiography of Babur, the founder of the Mughal empire in India. Babur wrote it in Turkish language; Abdur Rahim Khan Khan-i-Khanan translated it into Persian. Later, the book was translated into various European languages. It contains information from Babur’s birth in 1483 to 1529.
The Tuzuk-i-Baburi is a faithful description of the world the author had lived in, and of the people he had come into contact with. According to modern scholars, no other eastern prince has written such vivid, interesting and veracious account of his own life as Babur. The book reflect an interest in nature, society, politics, economics, history and geography.
Tuzuk-i-Babari as a source of history:
- Bābur describes his fluctuating fortunes as a minor ruler in Central Asia – he took and lost Samarkand twice – and his move to Kabul in 1504. There is a break in all known manuscripts between 1508 and 1519.
- By 1519 Babur is established in Kabul and from there launches an invasion into north-western India.
- The final section of the Baburnama covers the years 1525 to 1529 and includes the establishment of the Mughal empire and events till his death.
- The book covers topics as diverse as nature, society, politics, economics, history, geography, astronomy, statecraft, military matters, weapons and battles, plants and animals, biographies and family chronicles, courtiers and artists, poetry, music and paintings, wine parties, historical monument tours as well as contemplations on human nature.
- Establishment of Mughal power:
- In 1526, Babur and his Indian allies fought against Sultah Ibrahim at Panipat. The artillery used by Babur for the first time in north India helped him achieve easy victory.
- He also talks about the invitation by Rana Sanga and daulat khan lodi to attack Ibrahim Lodi. Also about Sanga retracing his steps after Babur proceeded.
- State system:
- Babur adopted the same state system in India that existed here during Delhi Sultans.
- He mentions that the rais and rajas, obedient as well as disobedient to the Muslim ruler.
- The Baburnama shows that Babur assigned the charge of territories to the nobles, granting them the right to collect land revenue and carry on the government there on his behalf as was the prevalent system. The shiqqdars were posted in the parganas under khallsa.
- In short. Thus they didn’t bring any important change in the political system in North India.
- When Babur came to India, he was astonished to see that the revenue department was completely manned by the Hindus.
- Regards to truth and simple writing::
- He writes about his own success and failure or about his shortcomings with candour, which greatly impresses the reader.
- His style of writing is not pompous or ornate like many Persian writers; rather it is simple and clear, there being no hypocrisy.
- With great regard for truth, Babur recorded historical events exactly as they had occurred.
- Lane-Poole said: “If ever there were a case when the testimony of a single historical document, unsupported by other evidence, should be accepted as sufficient proof, it is the case with Babur’s Memoirs. No reader of this prince of autobiographers can doubt his honesty or his competence as witness and chronicler.”
- Lover of Nature:
- Babur was a passionate lover of nature who found pleasure in streams, meadows and pasture lands of his own country; springs, lakes, plants, flowers, and fruits all had charm for him so that even when he came to India and founded the Mughal empire in India, he could not forget his native land Farghana.
- He wrote- “Hindustan is situated in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd climates. No part of it is in the 4th.” And “Once you cross the river Indus the country, the trees, the stones, the people and their customs are all Indian.”
- Literary taste:
- This love of nature gave him the poetic genius, he cultivated poetry from his early youth and his Diwan (collection of poems) written in Turkish language is regarded as a work of considerable merit.
- His mastery over prose was equally remarkable, he could write with ease both in Turkish and Persian and the most remarkable of his prose works is his autobiography.
- Babur’s observations about India in the Tuzuk are very important. He briefly dwells upon the political condition at the time of his invasion, and also gives a minute account of the flora and fauna of Hindustan.
- He mentions about mountains, rivers, jungles, and streams and about various kinds of foodstuffs, fruits and vegetables.
- Hindustan is a country of a few charms. Its people have no good looks, no good manners, no genius or capacity. There are no good horses, no good dogs, no grapes, muskmelons or good fruits, no ice or cold water, no bread or cooked food in the markets, no hot baths, no colleges, no candles, torches or candle sticks. There are no running waters in their gardens or residences. Their residences have no charm, air, regularity or symmetry.“
- He says that in India they have no aqueducts or canals in their gardens or palaces, their peasants and people of lower classes all go almost naked and use only a langoti to cover their nakedness.
- However, he wrote- “Pleasant things of Hindustan are that it is a large country and has masses of gold and silver.”
- Babur liked the climate of India especially the rainy season.
- He says, another good thing in Hindustan is that it has numberless workers of every kind. There is a fixed caste for every sort of work and for everything.
- Babur gives a vivid description of the jauhar performed by Medini Rai’s ladies at Chanderi.
- Political condition:
- Describing the political condition of India he wrote- “The capital of India is Delhi . . . when I conquered that country there were five Muslim and two Hindu rulers there.”
- Babur also described something about the kingdoms of Malwa, Gujarat, Bahamani kingdom, Mewar and Vijayanagra.
- About Nobles:
- It appears from the Baburnama that out of a total of 116 nobles. 31 were Indians including Afghans and Shaikhzadas. Rest were Turanis (Central Asian ‘Begs’) and a few Iranis.
- Technological details:
- Babur also describes the mechanism of Tas gharial (Water-clock) in the Baburnama.
- Tuzuk-i–Baburi gives an account of the casting of cannons.
- Architectural activity:
- He mentioned about laying down of several gardens and pavilions in India. e.g. Garden of Dholpur, Ram Bagh and Zahra Bagh at Agra. None of Babur’s pavilions are surviving today
- There are certain gaps in the manuscript. Babur could not add to his biography between the year 1508- 1519, 1520- 1525 and 1529-1530.
- The description of Hindustan by Babur is neither complete nor entirely correct. He made no mention of the states of Orissa, Khandesh, Sindh and Kashmir in his Memoirs.
- Besides, as he got very little time to assess the Indian conditions and remained busy mostly in conducting wars, his description cannot be regarded accurate as well.
- Babur viewed Indian people from the eyes of a conqueror. If he would have remained alive till the political condition of India would have stabilised, his opinion would have been certainly different.
It cannot be believed that the Indian people lacked culture at the time of his invasion. Thus, the description of Hindustan by Babur, certainly, provides us useful historical source material yet, it is neither possible nor desirable to accept it as it is. We have to be watchful in assessing the judgement which he passed about the Indian people and their culture.
Q.2 Give different perspectives regarding rise of Maratha as a power in Deccan towards the middle of the 17th century. [15 Marks]
The term “Maratha” originally referred to the speakers of the Marathi language. In the 17th century, it emerged as a designation for soldiers serving in the armies of Deccan sultanates. A number of Maratha warriors, including Shivaji’s father, Shahaji, originally served in those armies. Gradually they emerged as a powerful political entity and by the mid-1660’s, Shivaji had established an independent Maratha kingdom. Shivaji was crowned as Chhatrapati (sovereign) of the new Maratha kingdom in 1674.
There are different perspectives regarding rise of Maratha as a power, which has been propounded by different historians:
Hindu reaction against policies of Aurangzeb: by Jadunath Sirkar, GS Sardesai, V. V Joshi:
- This view focuses on Aurangzeb’s conservative religious policy. i.e. anti-Hindu approach, and rise of Marathas as reaction to this.
- Shiva ji was greatly influenced by the saint Ramdas who guided him an orthodox Hindu path.
- Shiva ji adopted title ‘Haindava dharmoddharak‘ at the time of coronation. He also adopted title of ‘Gau brahman Pratipalak‘.
- The military campaign of Shiva ji was characterised by the slogan – ‘har har mahadev’.
- Facts against this view:
- Early phase of rise of Marathas under Shahji and Shivaji started before Aurangzeb coming to the throne.
- This view presents chronological error: After dealing with Bijapur and Golkonda, next target of Marathas was Nayakas and Deshmukh chiefs, this led to even destruction of temples.
- Muslims were employed in Shivaji state system.
- Shivaji didn’t not ally with Hindu powers such as Rajputs for rebelling against Mughals.
- Titles adopted by Shiva ji were general titles adopted by Hindu kings, so this was no departure.
- Recent evidence and research have shown that Shivaji did not meet or know Ramdas until late in his life i.e after coronation.
National struggle for independence against alien rule (Mughals): by M.G Ranade, Raj Wade:
- It is identified as nascent beginnings of the nationalist sentiment in India.
- Geographical isolation of the Marathawada region protected it from foreign invasions, fostered a feeling of regional independence among the Marathas.
- Use of guerrila techniques against the Mughals that carried them out of Deccan and turned the Marathas into hardy warrior and disciplined soldiers.
- Maharashtra dharma and the spread of the devotional cult
- Common language Marathi
- Social Unity
- Common historical tradition
- Shivaji provided leadership
- Facts against this view:
- The term foreign has been used in the context of north Indian powers which hardly seems to conform to the notion of nationalistic consciousness.
- Discipline in the ranks of the Marathas was more a myth than a reality as can be seen in the policy of plunder and pillage followed by them towards their neighbour, both Hindus and Muslims.
- P V Ranade disputes the view that rise of Maratha power was caused by Maharashtra Dharma as it is very difficult to establish a direct link between Maharashtra dharma and the rise of Maratha power.
- Maratha society was as much stratified as north Indian society.
- Problem in accepting Mughals as an alien because Marathas grew in the services of Muslim states.
- According to Satish Chardra: In a nationalistic struggle there is a primary condition- existence and role of middle class which is absent here.
Mughal expansion and pressure in Deccan: by Adrew wick, Grant Duff:
- The expansion of Mughal in Deccan posed threat to the both Deccani states and Marathas.
- This was time when Shivaji began to mobilise the Maratha forces and began military adventure.
- This view has not been questioned yet but there was perhaps more than just this reason.
Socio-economic factor, Representing Social tension and struggle: by Satish Chandra.
- Maratha society was characterized by a land based hierarchical social structure. This structure was characterized by operation from the top.
- The position of Marathas in the Verna system was ambivalent and as late as early part on 19th century AD. The Marathas as a whole was not accepted as Kshatriyas by Brahmins.
- All these scenarios resulted in deep seated ferment within Maratha society and there was trend of social mobility towards rise in social scale.
- Shivaji claim of Kshatriya at time of coronation is a good example of such trend.
- Many social group relying to Shivaji were motivated by the prospect of rising in social scale.
- Maharashtra Dharma with its stress on egalitarian ideas provided as ideological justification for social mobility by individual and groups.
- Geography of Maharashtra also provided favourable condition.
- Satish chandra: Shivaji curtailed the power of big Deshmukhs and reformed the abuses and established necessary supervisory authority. Petty landholders, who were often at the mercy of bigger Deshmukhs benefited by this policy. It was these petty landholders that his strength lay.
Thus, it was not religion or nationalism but political and social factors that provided base for the rise of Marathas. It can be seen more as regional reaction against the centralising tendencies of the Mughal Empire. The Marathas wanted a large principality for themselves, for which an ideal background was provided by the disintegration of the Nizam Shahi power of Ahmednagar and the introduction of a new factor- Mughals. It’s inherent socio-economic contradiction helped in mobilizing the local landed element in general.
Q.3 “Dara Shikoh, known for his liberal views and interest in pantheism, was an erudite champion of mystical religious speculation and a poetic diviner of syncretic cultural interaction among people of all faiths.” Comment. [10 Marks]
- Dara Shikoh was the eldest son of Shahjahan and was the most favoured nominee for the thrown.
- Dara was designated with the title Padshahzada-i-Buzurg Martaba (“Prince of High Rank”) and was favoured as a successor by his father and his older sister, Princess Jahanara Begum
- He received the title of ‘Shah-i-Buland Iqbal’ from Shahjahan.
- At the end of 1657, Dara Shukoh was appointed Governor of the province of Bihar.
- On 6 September 1657, the illness of emperor Shah Jahan triggered a desperate struggle for power among the four Mughal princes, though strongest contenders were Dara Shukoh and Aurangzeb.
- He contested but lost the throne of the Mughal Empire to Aurangzeb.
- Dara Shukoh was defeated by Aurangzeb and Murad during the Battle of Samugarh, near Agra on 30 May 1658. Subsequently Aurangzeb took over Agra fort and deposed emperor Shah Jahan on 8 June 1658.
- He was executed by Aurangzeb in 1659 on charges of heresy.
- Dara was a follower of the Persian mystic saint Sarmad Kashani, as well as Lahore’s famous Qadiri Sufi saint Hazrat Mian Mir, whom he was introduced to by Mullah Shah Badakhshi (Mian Mir’s spiritual disciple and successor).
- Mian Mir was so widely respected among all communities that he was invited to lay the foundation stone of the Golden Temple in Amritsar by the Sikhs.
- The Qadiri order reflects liberal and syncretic tendencies of Islam which influenced Dara.
- Dara subsequently developed a friendship with the seventh Sikh Guru, Guru Har Rai.
- Dara devoted much effort towards finding a common mystical language between Islam and Hinduism.
- Towards this goal he completed the translation of 52 Upanishads from its original Sanskrit into Persian in 1657 so it could be read by Muslim scholars. His translation is often called Sirr-e-Akbar (The Greatest Mystery), where he states boldly, in the Introduction, his speculative hypothesis that the work referred to in the Qur’an as the “Kitab al-maknun” or the hidden book, is none other than the Upanishads.
- His most famous work, Majma-ul-Bahrain (“The Confluence of the Two Seas”), was also devoted to a revelation of the mystical and pluralistic affinities between Sufic and Vedantic speculation.
- Dara’s other famous works were:
- Safinat-ul-Auliya (Biographies of Sufi saints),
- Sakinat-ul-Auliya (Biographies of Dara’s two preceptors Miyan Mir and Mullah Shah),
- Hasanat-ul-Arifin (Contains Dara’s religious ideas).
- He was also a patron of fine arts, music and dancing, a trait frowned upon by his sibling Aurangzeb.
- The ‘Dara Shikoh album’ is a collection of paintings and calligraphy assembled from the 1630s until his death. It was presented to his wife Nadira Banu in 1641–42 and remained with her until her death after which the album was taken into the royal library and the inscriptions connecting it with Dara Shikoh were deliberately erased; however not everything was vandalised and many calligraphy scripts and paintings still bear his mark.
- The library established by Dara Shikoh still exists on the grounds of Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Kashmiri Gate, Delhi.
- Dara Shikoh is also credited with the commissioning of several exquisite, still extant, examples of Mughal architecture – among them
- the tomb of his wife Nadira Banu in Lahore,
- the tomb of Hazrat Mian Mir also in Lahore,
- the Dara Shikoh Library in Delhi,
- the Akhun Mullah Shah Mosque in Srinagar in Kashmir and
- the Pari Mahal garden palace (also in Srinagar).
- Many scholars believe that the course of Mughal history in the latter half of the 17th Century could have been totally different, had Dara ascended the throne instead of Aurangzeb.
Q.4 Give the account of Jagirdari system of the Mughals. How was it responsible for the decline of the Mughal Empire. [20 Marks]
The jagirdari system was a system that allotted jagirs to mansabdars in return for the services rendered by them to the Mughal empire. These assignments were given in lieu of cash salaries. It was not land that was assigned, but the income/revenue from the land/area was given to the jagirdars. The assignee didn’t enjoy the proprietry right. It was not hereditary in nature. Mansabdars who got jagirs known as Jagirdars and most mansabdars were jagirdars, because it was common practice to pay them through Jagirs.
Organisation of Jagirdari System:
During Akbar’s period all the territory was broadly divided into two: khalisa and jagir. The revenue from the first went to Imperial treasury, and that from jagir was assigned to jagirdars in lieu of their salary in cash (naqd) according to their rank.
- The bulk of the territory was assigned to mansabdars according to their rank. The estimated revenue was called jama or jamadami as it was calculated in dam.
- The jama included land revenue, inland transit duties, port customs and other taxes which were known as sair Jihat.
- Another term used by the revenue officials was hasil, that is, the amount of revenue actually collected.
- The areas whose revenue were yet to be assigned to mansabdars was known as paibaqi.
- Another important feature of the jagir system was shifting of jagir-holders from one jagir to another for administrative reasons.
- This system of transfers checked the jagirdars from developing local roots.
- At the same time, its disadvantage was that it discouraged the jagirdars from taking long term measures for the development of their areas. They were merely interested in extracting as much revenue as possible in a short time
Various Types of Jagirs:
- Four types:
- Jagirs, which were given in lieu of pay, were known as jagir tankha.
- Jagirs given to a person on certain conditions were called mashrut jagirs. It was subjected to the will of the king.
- e.g. in case of assigning any important duty or post. Suppose a mansabdar was appointed as fauzdar. So, on this condition he could be given an extra Jagir- known as Mashrut Jagir and he retained till he was a fauzdar. It didn’t mean that every fauzdar would be given extra Jagir i.e. depending on king’s will.
- Jagirs which involved no obligation of service and were independent of rank were called in’am jagirs, and
- Jagirs which were assigned to zamindars (chieftains) in their homelands, were called watan jagirs. Under Jahangir some Muslim nobles ware given jagirs resembling to watan jagir called al-tamgha.
- Tankha jagirs are transferable every three or four years, watan jagirs remained hereditary and non-transferable.
- Sometimes watan jagir was converted into khalisa for a certain period as Aurangzeb did in case of Jodhpur in 1679.
- When a zamindar or a tributary chief was made a mansabdar, he was given jagir tankha,, apart from his watan jagir, at another place if the salary of his rank was more than the income from his watan jagir.
- Maharaja Jaswant Singh, holding watan jagir in Marwar, held jagir tankha in Hissar.
Management of Jagirs
- The jagirdar was allowed to collect only authorised revenue (mal wajib) in accordance with the Imperial regulations. He employed his own officials (karkun) like amil (amalguzar), fotadar (treasurer), etc. who acted on his behalf.
- The Imperial officials kept watch on the jagirdars.
- The diwan of the suba was supposed to prevent the oppression on the peasants by the jagirdars.
- From the 20th year of Akbar, amin was posted in each province to see that the jagirdars were following Imperial regulations regarding collection of revenue.
- The faujdar often helped the jagirdar to collect revenue whenever difficulties arose. It appears that from the period of Aurangzeb, bigger jagirdars were having faujdari powers, too.
Jagirdari system as reason behind the decline of the Mughal Empire:
- There were some weaknesses associated with the Jagirdari system. Which played role in decline of Mughals.
- The Jagirdars were required to maintain certain number of cavalrymen as per the sawar rank but they din’t hold maintain the required number of cavalrymen.
- Badauni ponited out that Mansabdar arranged borrowed men & horses at the time of inspection.
- The system of transfer though a good thing, yet had a limitation since Jagirdar had no long term interest so they exploited Jagirs. Because of this, conflict emerged between the agrarian classes.
- The problem of Bejagiri emerged: It refers to more number of Mansabdars and non-availability of Jagirs.
- Dysfunctionality of empire in granting Jagirs- i.e. delayed granting through Jagir was lying in Paibaqi.
- The problem of Sair-Khait Jagir and Jor-Talab area.
- Jor-talab area were area where refractory Zamindar resided. Who resisted to pay revenue.
- Everyone wanted Jagir in Sair-Khait area and not in Jortalab area. This caused dissatisfaction.
- Mughal expansion in Deccan, where conditions were different. So, Mansab-Jagir system in t his area created problems.
- In the early 18th CAD, rise of Ijaradari system in Jagir land. i.e. Jagirdars giving contract to someone (Ijaradar) to collect revenue.
- In 18th CAD Jagir became hereditary.
- The Jagirdars were required to maintain certain number of cavalrymen as per the sawar rank but they din’t hold maintain the required number of cavalrymen.
- Various historians have studied the Jagirdari crisis like- Athar Ali, P.Hardy, M.N. Pearson and J. F. Richards. They have focussed on the issue of Bejagiri & their view is expansion of Mughal empire in Deccan created this crisis.
- For Athar Ali , the nobles competed for better jagirs, which were increasingly becoming rare due to the influx of nobles from the south. The logical consequence was the erosion in the political structure which was based on jaglrdari to a large extent.
- M.N. Pearson: Once Mughal patronage slackened due to the lack of any further military expansion, and, a shortage of fertile areas to be allotted as jagirs arose, the “personalised bureaucracy” of the Mugbal Empire showed signs of distress. This sounded the death-knell for the Mughal system.
- He said, The nobles were bound to the Empire only by patronage, which depended on the “constant military success” of the Emperor. And there was absence of an impersonalised bureaucracy (i.e there was personal bounding betweem emperor and nobles.)
- J. F. Richards: Questioned the long held belief that the Deccan was a deficit area which generated bejagiri leading to the Mughal decline.
- He said, the jagirdari crisis was of an administrative and managerial nature. The augmentation of the revenue resources of the Empire following the annexation of the Deccan states roughly kept pace with the expamion of the nobility during the second half of Aurangzeb’s reign.
- The lack of pai baqi land was due to a deliberate decision on Aurangzeb’s part to keep the most lucrative Jagirs under khalisa in order to provide for a continued compaigning in the Karnataka and against the Marathas. Thus, the crisis was an administrative one and not caused by bejaglri.
- Agrarian crisis as highlighted by Irfan Habib had it’s root in the Jagirdari system.
- The mechanism of collection of revenue that the Mughals had evolved was inherently flawed.
- Habib argued that peasant protests weakened the political and social fabric of the Empire.
- The imperial policy was to set the revenue at the highest rate possible to secure the greatest militery strength for the Empire, the nobles. On the other hand, tended to squeeze the maximum from their jagirs, even if it ruined the peasantry and destroyed the revenue paying capacity of the area.
- Since, the nobles’ jagirs were liable to be transferred frequently, they did not find it necessary to follow a far-sighted policy of agricultural development. As the burden on the peasantry increased, they were often deprived of their very means of survival. In reaction to this excessive exploitation the peasantry, protested.
- S. Chandra was the first one to make comprehensive study. He considered Jagirdari crisis a complex socio-economic & administrative crisis, not bejagiri.
- According to his view, Mughal decline has to be seen in the Mughal failure, towards the end of Aurangzeb’s reign, to maintain the system of the mansabdar-jagirdar. As this system went into disarray, the Empire was bound to collapse.
- According to Satish Chandra, the crisis of the Jagir system did not occur because of the growth in the size of the ruling class and the corresponding decline in the land earmarked to be assigned in jagir. Jagir system was in crisis because of its non-functionality.
- He also underlined other weaknesses like:
- problem of Sair-Khait & Jor-talab,
- Fierce competition to get Jagir,
- Rule of 1/3rd, 1/4th and 1/5th, Month scale and introduction to deccan where conditions were different.
- He further pointed out at the disturbed balance of tripolar relationship between jagirdar-zamindar-peasant. The difference between jama and Hasil in jagir lands. It eroded the military power of the jagirdar required to realise the revenue. It eventually resulted in the collapse of the tripolar relationship
However, weaknesses of Jagirdari system was not the only reason behind the fall of Mughals:
- Jadunath Sarkarhas focussed on the weakness of Aurangzeb e.g. his religious and Rajput policy.
- Shirin Moosvi has underlined Monetary crisis as Mughals had free coinage system which led to massive monetization of economy which trigger a crisis.
- Athar Ali gave cultural failure theory i.e. cultural failure of ruling classes in not responding to European challenge on the plain of Science& Tech and military organisation.
- The great firm theory was given by Caron Leonard – Indigenous bankers financers were closely associated with Mughals and nobles were depended on them.
- During the period, 1650-1750, these business houses directed their economic, political cooperation to regional powers and East Indian company in Bengal.
- So, lack of such support prooved detrimental for the Mughal empire.
- Foreign invasions of Nadir Shah & Ahmed Shah Abdali. Maratha predation in Mughal areas.
- Changed nature of nobility– in 18th C AD, the nobility began to represent centrifugal forces, court politics and conspiracy became rampant.
- Chetan Singh and Muzaffar Alam have presented regional centric approach for the decline of Mughal empire.
- Weak successors of Aurangzeb.
Thus, though weaknesses in the Jagirdari system were one among the many factors behind the fall of the Mughal empire.
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