State in the Mughal India: Re-examining the Myths of a Counter-visio
by IQTIDAR ALAM KHAN
Formerly professor at Centre For Advanced Study in History, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh
Social Scientist, Vol. 29, No. 1/2 (Jan. - Feb., 2001), pp. 16-45
Modern writings analysing the nature and character of the Mughal Empire and the imprint it has left on Indian society and culture are rightly perceived as having diverse lineages.' Many of them have a liberal-nationalist orientation and belong to the decades before independence, and to the early years of Independence. These are represented by research monographs, general histories as well as occasional essays by a large number of authors ranging from professional historians like Jadunath Sarkar, R,P.Tripathi, Tara Chand, Ishwari Parsad, P. Saran, Ibne Hasan and Mohammad Mujeeb, to political commentators and essayists like Jawaharlal Nehru and Humayun Kabir. Aspects of Mughal rule, such as supra-religious norms of governance, composite culture of the ruling elite and suppression of local sovereignties leading to political unification, are emphasised, to one or the other degree, in the writings of each one of these authors. They together delineate the contours of the standard characterization of the Mughal Empire in the broad framework of liberal nationalism pervading the then intellectual climate of the country. This characterization also permeated the standard history text-books in India till recetly. It is possible to argue that, besides being influenced by the Freedom Movement's urge for communal amity and political unification, this characterization also reflects the images of the Mughal political system and its cultural symbols furnished in the Persian and Urdu literary writings of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.2
A perceptible tendency, during the fifties and sixties of the twentieth century, on the part of a number of scholars, S. Nurul Hasan, Satish Chandra, Tapan Raychaudhuri and Irfan Habib, being more prominent among them, was to use Marxist tools of analysis in their studies of the Mughal Empire; and this appears to have reinforced, rather than contradicted, the dominant liberal-nationalist interpretation in many important aspects. In this category of writings, Irfan Habib's path-breaking work, The Agrarian System of Mughal India (1963) stands out for his rigorous application of the Marxist framework and also for the characterization of the Mughal Empire as an instrument of class oppression. He forcefully highlights the merciless extraction of surplus produce from the peasants by the "Mughal ruling class". In so far as, Irfan Habib focuses on the working of the Mughal fiscal administration and its impact on the lives of the people, his writings on the Mughal Empire appear to serve as a bridge connecting the liberal-nationalist interpretation with the earlier western scholarship of an exceptionally high quality in the field, represented by the researches of Moreland and others.
The above liberal-nationalist and Marxist view- points on the Mughal legacy, are now sought to be countered with great vehemence by a contrary and essentially communal thesis, which perceives the history of the entire medieval period of Indian history as a story of ceaseless tussle between Hindus and Muslims, a "civilizational clash" so to say, which left little scope for mutual adjustments and tolerance. In a Hindu communal version of this thesis, nationalists like Nehru and Tara Chand, who regarded Hindu-Muslim unity as so very essential for national resurgence and leaned towards the view that the origin of common Indian nationality could be traced back to Akbar's sulh-i-kul3 are harshly criticized for classing "ourselves (i.e. Hindus) with our old invaders and foes under the out-landish name,India".4 This thesis in its still more extreme form does not distinguish between Akbar and Aurangzeb; Akbar is another foreigner and invader, "only our enslaved western educated intellectuals continue to call him great".
In the writings of Muslim communalists, in India as well as Pakistan, similar perceptions find expression in an Islamic idiom. Akbar is, for example, charged with heresy and deviation from Islam6 and his religious policy is held responsible for the ultimate decline and fall of the Mughal Empire.7 On the other hand, Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi8 and Aurangzeb9 are glorified as the heroic figures endeavouring to stem the tide of forces hostile to Islam in the Mughal Empire.
The central idea of the communal interpretation of the Mughal imperial legacy in its Hindu as well as Muslim articulations boils down to the notion that in the Mughal Empire the entire Muslim community was in the position of a ruling group who all the time endeavoured to keep the Hindu majority subjugated and firmly under control, a relationship which hardly allowed any scope for a cultural repprochement or even cordial interaction between the two communities. The narration of the history of the Mughal rule in India in a Islamic jargon by many of the Persian chroniclers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries seems to have prepared the ground for the general acceptance of this idea during the nineteenth century. But it formally crystallized into an interpretative tool of historical narration only in the writings of the early colonialist vintage. Elliot's English translation of passages from Persian histories, selected deliberately with the aim of emphasising Hindu-Muslim divide in Indian history, seems to have given greater substance and credibility to this idea.10 Subsequently, it was propagated systematically through history text-books as well as different literary forms in the vernaculars, particularly Hindi, Bengali and Marathi. Before the end of the nineteenth century, the idea that the Mughal Empire represented "Muslim rule" came to be accepted by most of the educated Indians as if it was a universal truth.11 At the academic plane, this idea was, subsequently, challenged by many of the liberal nationalists; Mahatma Gandhi himself warned against its pernicious implications in 1920. But its spread at the popular level continued unabated throughout the twentieth century paving the ground for the blatant use of communalized history for political mobilization, by the champions of the Two-Nations Theory in both its "Pakistani" and "Hindutva" garbs.
It also needs to be pointed out in this context that, at present, there exists almost an unbridgeable hiatus between the academic discourses of different hues, including some having communal overtones, on the one hand, and the utterly vulgar versions of communal interpretation based on manufactured evidence, on the other. These vulgarized versions of communal interpretation are being disseminated aggressively through text-books and mass media all over the subcontinent. Total divorce from a critical reading of the source material and an attitude of hatred between communities are the two distinctive features of these versions which place them decisively beyond the pale of academic argument.'2 Yet in view of their wide currency and growing impact even on history studied at the institutions of higher learning, one cannot afford to ignore them in a discussion of the character of the Mughal Empire. As a matter of fact, in the given situation, the real and more consequential contention, on the present theme, is between academic history as such and vulgarized versions of the communal interpretation that have lately gained unprecedented respectability.
The ensuing remarks on the state in Mughal India are organized primarily keeping in view the questions that seem to underline the communal interpretation of Mughal history, including its vulgarized versions.
From its very inception the Timurid state system had features that demarcated it profoundly from other post-Abbassid sultanates (including the Delhi Sultanate and its fifteenth century successors). This demarcation was particularly marked in two respects: (a) Unlike them, in the Timurid system, the status of the Islamic shari'a as the guiding principle of the state was not firmly established, and (b) there also existed a great deal of uncertainity about the Timurid rulers' entitlement to sovereignty, their high aspirations and claims of noble lineage notwithstanding. This situation may be ascribed to the strong influence, on the Timurid polity, of the pagan code of the Mongols according to which the choice of the sovereign was limited to the narrow circle of direct descendants of Chingiz.13 Babur's own testimony bears out the fact that he considered the Tura-i Chingizi an important element in his heritage and, as far as possible, was anxious to conform to its tenets; he also clearly admits that before him, the Timurid rulers did not use for themselves any royal title higher than that of Mirza.14 They were, apparently, conscious of the weak nature of their claim of direct descent from Chingiz and did not consider it prudent to allow their commitment to the Mongol code to be doubted as a result of their formally assuming sovereign titles.
The impact of the Mongol code on Timurid polity appears to have weakened considerably during the reigns of Babur (1494-1530) and Humayun (1530-56) which may partly be ascribed to the influx of a large number of nobles and a still larger number of troopers, of diverse, mostly non-Turani, origins into the service of the first two 'Mughal' rulers,15 This weakening of the Mongol impact, however, did not automatically lead to the strengthening of the role of the Islamic shari'a in the Timurid state or the Mughal Empire as it came to be called in India after 1526. On the contrary, this development appears to have created a theoretical vacuum which was seemingly sought to be filled by borrowing convenient ideas, some of them quite repugnant to orthodox Islam, that became familiar to the Timurids through the non-Turani warrior elements (Afghans, Hazaras, Indian Shaikhzadas and Iranis of Shi'a as well Sunni persuasions) who joined their service in different capacities during this time. Babur and Humayun as well as many of their leading nobles also had the opportunity of interacting closely with a large number of hereditary chiefs in India. Mention may be made in this regard of the Gakkars and Janjuhas of the Salt Range,16 Khanzadas of Mewat,17 Bachgotis of Awadh,18 Baghelas of Bhatta19 and some of the Purbia chiefs of Malwa.20 These interactions with mostly Hindu hereditary chiefs, perhaps, represented an additional channel through which new ideas and information relating to the working of power structures at the local levels in India could have come to Babur and Humayun and their nobles.
Babur's appreciatory notice of the fiscal and military arrangements within the territory of the Janjuha chiefs of the Salt Range, his remarks on the "permanent" nature of the royal office in Bengal or Shaikh Zain's reference to the "established Indian practice (qa da-i- mustamarra-i-Hind)" of calculating the strength of the coiltigent of a chief at the rate of a hundred horsemen per revenue unit (vilayat) of one lakh (copper tanka?)21 illustrate as to what kind of new ideas, practices and customs relating to the art of governance were becoming familiar to the Timurids in India. These ideas were noticed by them carefully. Some of these, like the Bengali custom of not touching the predecessors' treasurers, that appeared to Babur "strange", were rejected. But others, like the custom of maintaining a ratio between the strength of contingents and revenues of the assignments or territories of the chiefs were in due course adopted in the Mughal administration.22 Some of the court practices so manifestly alien to orthodox Islamic shari'a were those introduced by Humayun during the first ten years of his reign. Of these, one may particularly mention his establishing the practice of raising the veil from his face in public, the socalled ceremony of jalwa-i quds (divine splendour).23 It suggests the influence of ishraqi doctrine of Shihab al Din Maqtul (d.1191) which later came to be reflected in a more refined form in Abu'l Fazl's theory of kingship as divine light (farr-i izidi).24
A more visible indication of the receding impact of the Mongol code on Timurid polity during this time was the growing tendency on the part of Babur and Humayun to assume sovereign titles rooted in different traditions. Beginning with assuming the title Padshah in 1508, Babur later styled himself Ghazi, Sultan ul-A'zam and Khaqa ul-Mu'azzam.25 If one goes by Khwandamir's account of 1536, Humayun also added to this list new honourifics, like Padshah-i Khilafat Panah (Sovereign Defender of the Caliphate), Padshah-i 'A'ali (the Exalted Sovereign), Padsha-i 'Alam (the Sovereign of the World), Shahinshah-i Nasal-i Adam (The Emperor of the (entire) Human Race),26 that vaguely alluded to his claim of carrying in his person the splendour of divinity (jalwa-i quds). He thus appears to have prepared the ground for Akbar's still more ambitious claims of Padshah-i Islam (King of Islam), Imam-i 'Adil (the Just Imam), Mujtahid ul-'Asr (Juriconsultant of the Age) and Insan-i Kamil (the Perfect Man).27
The attributes of sovereignty, norms of governance as well as policies in particular areas of administration of the Mughal Empire down to 1739, that often tended to violate the spirit of the Islamic shari'a, should be seen in above perspective. One may illustrate the point by citing the examples of (a) prohibition of cow slaughter or killing of peacocks and (b) abolition of jizya, in the Mughal Empire.
The prohibition of cow slaughter or killing of peacocks by Akbar in certain parts of his empire continued to be enforced down to the early years of Shah Jahan's reign.28 These measures, were not meant simply as gestures of goodwill towards the Hindu subjects but carried stringent punishments for the violators of the prohibition. There is on record the case of a well-known Muslim divine of Thanesar who was exiled by Akbar to Bhakkar on the charge of cow slaughter brought against him by the local Hindus.29 If one goes by a fatwa issued by Shah 'Abdul 'Aziz in the nineteenth century this prohibition amounted to preventing Muslims from carrying out one of the four important ordinances (ahkam) of Islam.30 According to Surat Singh's testimony; this prohibition of cow slaughter in the Mughal Empire continued down to Shah Jahan's reign.31 Documentary evidence surviving from the time of the rulers of Awadh goes to indicate that cow slaughter remained prohibited in several places in the erstwhile territory of the Kingdom of Awadh since Akbar's time.32 This might indicate that despite formal revoking of the ban on cow slaughter by Shah Jahan, the Mughal administration and, subsequently, that of the Nawab Wazirs, continued to prevent the killing of cows in many of the urban centres. A rather ambigous direction in the A'in-i kotwal to discourage the slaughter of "ox or buffalo or horse or camel"33 was perhaps invoked for the purpose.
A case of the killing of peacock somewhere near Burdwan by a Muslim and his arrest by the shiqdar of the locality in 1628 is reported by Manrique. It indicates that a regulation prohibiting the killing of peacocks was imposed in that locality at the time of the conquest of Bengal by Akbar (1575). The offence carried a punishment by whipping and the amputation of the right hand. Manrique defended the accused before shiqdar of Narayangadhi on the plea that the man "had only acted according to the precept of his faith". But this argument was rejected on the ground that Emperor's regulation regarding the matter was to the contrary.34 What was left unsaid was that, in a situation where the Emperor's order came into a clash with a religious injunction, the former would prevail. This was, apparently, the position not only under Akbar, who was known for his adherence to the principles of sulh-i kul, but also under Shah Jahan, notwithstanding his claim of being a defender of the orthodox shari'a.
The history of jizya in the Mughal Empire is still more instructive in this respect. It illustrates clearly that, by the beginning of Akbar's reign (1556) the Timurid body politic in India was fully geared to adopting policy measures suiting its strategic aims even if these flagrantly deviated from Islamic precepts35 and also that this propensity continued to grow with the passage of time; occasional attempts to establish the primacy of the shari'a were not successful.
Akbar's decision to abolish the jizya in 156436 was one such measure. In all likelihood this measure was not dictated primarily by a consideration of religious tolerance or intellectual influence of any kind. Till this time, Akbar had not yet developed his world-view identified with the principles of sulh-i kul. In the early 1560s, Akbar was known to be still under the influence of orthodox theologians like Shaikh 'Abd al-Nabi known for their hostility towards non- Muslims as well as Muslim sects like the Shi'ites and Mahdavis.37 As a matter of fact, the decision to abolish the jizya in 1564, as also several other measures of a similar nature, like grant of revenue-free lands for the support of the Vaishnavite temples at Vrindaban (1562, 1565)38 and abolition of pilgrimage tax (1562),39 comprised a package of conciliatory moves aimed at inducing as large a number of the Rajput chiefs as possible to join Mughal service. A Mughal tradition recorded in the seventeenth century suggests that the decision to establish an alliance with Rajputs and to exclude the Afghans from positions of authority was taken by Humayun at the time of his re- establishing himself at Delhi in 1555.40
It is interesting to note that after some initial difficulties, like the attempted reimposition of jizya in 1575,41 the rejection of jizya became a defining characteristic of the Mughal Empire. The jizya remained continuously abolished for about a hundred years following Akbar's second and final order to the effect in 1579.42 This long period included the first twenty years of Aurangzeb's reign.43 During the last twenty years of Aurangzeb's reign, there was an attempt to rigorously impose the jizya all over the Mughal Empire. It was, however, strongly disapproved of not only by many of the non- Muslims but also by a large section of the Muslim members of the Mughal ruling elite. Jahan Ara's and Prince Akbar's opposition to the jizya is well-known.44 As early as 1681, i.e within two years of its reimposition, Prince Mu'azzam (who ascended the throne as Bahadur Shah in 1707), is reported to have promised to the Rajput nobles to abolish the jizya after coming to the throne. During the war of succession, Prince 'Azam is also reported to have made a similar promise. As is well known, the jizya was formally abolished by Jahandar Shah in 1712 on the advice of the senior Iurani noble of Aurangzeb's time, Asad Khan. This break with Aurangzeb's policy was confirmed by the succeeding ruler Farrukh Siyar in April 1713. In taking this decision, he was whole-heartedly supported by Saiyed Brothers.45
In 1719, a section of Turani nobles tried to persuade Muhammad Shah (1719-1748) to reimpose the jizya but the plan fell through in face of strong opposition. On this occasion, two of the influential Hindu nobles are reported to have reminded Muhammad Shah that he was the emperor of both, the Hindus as well as the Muslims.46 The implicit message of this argument was that the Mughal Empire was not an Islamic state, that the Hindus serving the empire were at par with Muslims in similar positions and, therefore, it was not just and proper on the part of any Mughal Emperor to enforce a regulation which discriminated against the Hindus. The Mughal Empire seems to have acquired this character as a consequence of changes in the composition as well as cultural ethos of its nobility during the preceding two hundred years. Such a transformation was, perhaps, favoured by the Timurid polity being, from its inception, not an Islamic polity in the same sense as the other sultanates were.
The misconception that the Indian Muslims enjoyed the position of a ruling community in the Mughal Empire is rooted in early colonialist writings. These tend to depict Mughal rule as representing the domination of the fanatical Muslims over the Hindu majority which is supposed to have come to an end in most parts of the subcontinent only with the establishment of the English East India Company's authority.47 This misconception finds indirect support in Rushbrook Walliams' totally unhistorical characterization of Babur's success in Hindustan as a victory of the forces of Islam over a Rajput (i.e. Hindu) confederacy led by Rana Sangram Singh, which were all set to establish its dominance in the region after overthrowing the greatly weakened "Muhamadan" powers.48 A subsequent assessment, from an essentially Muslim communal standpoint, of the cultural scene in North India on the eve of Babur's invasion, even tends to suggest, again without firm evidence, the existence of proselytizing movements of the Hindus who were endeavouring to render the Muslims "apostates (murtid)".49 The logic of this view also goads one to regard Babur as a defender of Islam and Muslims in India. The ensuing paragraphs in this section are devoted to highlighting evidence that totally refute the impression of the Muslims being a ruling community in Mughal India.
It may be pointed out at the very outset that Rushbrook Williams' above thesis, tends to overestimate the political consequences of the Battle of Kanwa (1527). It was only an episode, though an important one, in the long-drawn struggle for supremacy in North India between the Mughals, on the one, hand, and the remnants of the Lodi Empire and their supporters among the Rajput and other chiefs, on the other. This struggle continued down to the Mughal victory in the Second Battle of Pahipat (November 1556). Rushbrook Williams also does not take into account the fact that the so-called Rajput confederacy was formed on the initiative of Hasan Khan Mewati and was joined by Mahmud Lodi, son of Sultan Sikandar Lodi, as well.5s Mahmud Lodi was set up as the king and is reported to have issued a gold coin from Rana Sangaram's camp which carried his name as the reigning sultan. Moreover, from the list of the chiefs forming this "confederacy" given by Shaikh Zain, one knows that out of the 2,01,000 troops commanded by Rana Sangaram at Kanwa, 22,000 were the retainers of his Muslim allies, Hasan Khan Mewati and Mahmud Lodi.51 A majority of these 22,000 troops fighting on Rana Sangaram's side at Kanwa would be identified as Muslims of either Afghan or Mewati origin. Such evidence, ignored by Rushbrook Williams, niether supports his characterization of the Mughal conquest as a victory of Islam over a Rajput "confederacy", nor does it permit the identification of Indian Muslims with the Mughal conquerors.
STATE IN THE MUGHAL INDIA If the testimony of two renowned contemporaries of Babur, namely Guru Nanak and Shaikh 'Abd al-Quddus Gangohi is an indicator of popular response to Babur, a vast majority of not only Hindus but of Muslims as well were intensely hostile to the invading Mughals. They were seen by the people of both communities as the enemies of religion as such. A reading of Macauliffe's translation of hymns composed by Guru Nanak, during the period of Babur's invasion, is very suggestive on this point. It gives the clear impression that the sufferings caused to the Hindus as well as Muslims by the harshness of the invaders was seen by them as a form of divine punishment for their sinful ways. The establishment of Babur's rule thus, is reported to have "led to some losing five-time prayers and others their hours of worship".52 A perusal of Shaikh 'Abd al-Quddus Gangohi's sayings in the Lataif-i Quddusi broadly corroborates this impression. Some of his sayings reveal that, to begin with, Shaikh 'Adb al-Quddus had characterized Babur's advance into the Punjab as an impending clamity (chiz-i bala) to dar al-Islam in India. Shaikh Rukan al-Din, the compiler of Lataif-i Quddusi mentions the burning down of Shaikh 'Abd al-Quddus Gangohi's hospice (hujrah) at Shahabad by the invading Mughals and the loss of his own books, including a rare Islamic treatise on 'ilm-ul kalam. Shaikh 'Abd al-Quddus himself was taken prisoner and treated most brutally. Rukn al-Din also alludes to the massacre of non-combatants including persons connected with mystic establishments at Rudauli.53 These details of the excesses committed by Babur's troops at different places in North India bring out starkly that the invading Mughals were capable of destroying even Islamic institutions like hospices of sufis and religious texts preserved there. But, on the other hand, as brought out by Richard M. Eaton in one of his well researched articles, there is no "firm evidence of temple destruction by any of the early Mughals, in Ayodhya or elsewhere". It is implied in his argument that this distinctly lenient attitude of the early Mughals towards Hindu religious institutions may be explained with reference to their real adversaries being Afghans.54 The character of the Mughal authority in this respect did not change much during the early decades of their rule in Hindustan. Another case of the Mughals massacring a large number of Muslim divines, this time at Burhanpur in 1561, is recorded by Badauni. Akbar's commander, Pir Muhammad Khan Sherwani, is held responsible for this atrocity. Badauni has also recorded the extreme misbehavior, in 1572-73, of the retainers of a rebellious Turani noble of Akbar, Ibrahim Husain Mirza, with Muslim women and children of the town of Pail. According to him, out of them, twelve women were raped, some of them till they were dead.55
It is therefore, understandable that despite Babur's public declaration of having a Turkish identity,s6 he came to be called in India a Mughal (i.e. Mongol) which was a distinctly hostile label. The earliest reference to Babur and his troops as Mughals is perhaps the one found in the sayings of Shaikh 'Abd al-Quddus Gangohi compiled by his son, Rukn al-din in 1538.57 Evidently, down to the middle of the sixteenth century, the depredations of the Mughal hordes invading the North-Western parts of India from time to time during the fourteenth century, were still fresh in popular memory. In India, both Hindus and Muslims, perceived Timur and through him Babur also as leaders of Mongol hordes.s8 As indicated by Shaikh 'Abd al- Quddus, this perception was shared by the religious elite of the Indian Muslims. The Indian Muslims had, in fact, suffered devastation and massacres at the hands of Timur and, to a lesser extent, Babur as well, by no means qualitatively different from that of the sufferings inflicted upon non-Muslims. In this light, J.E Richards' observation regarding the "familial charisma residing in direct descent from Timurid line", connoting for the Indian Muslims a "legitimate monarchy",59 may not be considered valid even for the early decades of Akbar's reign.
At a theoretical plane, the idea of Muslims being a ruling community in the Mughal Empire seems to have arisen from an attitude of seeing the Empire in isolation from the reality of growing hierarchical and economic differentiations within the caste and community formations. The political authority and control on resources within the Mughal Empire tended to be concentrated in the hands of the Mughal governing class, consisting of high mansabdars. They along with other high officials and hereditary chiefs, allied closely with the Empire, together formed the Mughal ruling class whose unity and cohesion, accoridng to Irfan Habib, found its practical expression in the absolute powers of the emperor.60 From this structuring of the Mughal ruling class, the population of "the kamin communities among Muslims, not untouchable but still kept separate and held in contempt", would naturally be excluded.61 In all likelihood, they would not be welcome to the Mughal service even as minor officials or troopers. This is in sharp contrast to the Mughal practice of generally recruiting educated Hindus, belonging to respectable castes like Brahmans, Khatris and Kaisthas, as petty officials.62 Again, the Mughal ruling class cannot also be imagined to include any segment of the vast Muslim population comprising the agricultural or pastoral communities that were spread all over the empire. The same may be said about the Muslim artisans located in the urban centres with the proviso that because the market for their products and services was largely represented by the Mughal governing class and their hangers-on, they were, comparatively speaking not always as antagonistic towards the empire as was the case with many of the peasant communities professing Islam. More so, perhaps, because some of them also aspired for being recruited as menials or guards in different official establishments of the Mughal Empire.
An attitude of keeping the common people brutally suppressed was a characteristic of the Mughal ruling class that relates directly to the extraction of agrarian surplus for their benefit by the revenue collection machine of the empire. Throughout the period of Mughal rule, all over the empire, the village communities as well as sami- pastoral tribes such as were either unwilling or unable to pay revenue at the time of harvest were attacked and killed by the imperial troops, their properties confiscated and women and children enslaved. The Afghan tribesmen of sarkar Kabul, Muslim peasantry and hill-tribes of Sind and Multan and Kashmiris as well as Muslim Mewatis of the neighbourhood of Delhi were not treated differently. Information on this count is almost unending which does not need to be reproduced here in full. To illustrate the point one may, however, reproduce here a few passages from the relevant sources. For example the following passage cited at random from Babur's diary of 1519 goes to show that Babur's method of collecting revenue from the Afghan tribesmen in 1519 was as ruthless as that of his successors in other parts of India where the peasant communities involved were, in most cases, non-Muslims. The passage reads:
The Khizr-Khail were understood to have their seat from Bahar (Vihara) and Mich-gram to Kara-su (sic). Arriving before dawn (Oct. 4th) the raid was allowed. Most of the goods of the Khizr-Khailis and their small children fell into the army's hands; a few tribesmen being near the mountains, drew off to them and were left.63
Subsequent to the establishment of the Mughal rule in India military campaigns for suppressing the Afghan tribesmen had become a regular feature. This situation contributed to generating strong antagonistic feelings among the Afghans of the region against Mughal rule which are reflected in the poetry of Aurangzeb's contemporary Khushhal Khan Khattak. In one of his famous poems immortalized in Urdu traslation by Iqbal, he expresses his disgust for the Mughal rulers in the following words:
Khushhal Khan prefers to be buried (after his death) in a place where the dust raised by the Mughal horsemen may never be carried by the wind.64
Similarly, the oppression of the predominantly Muslim peasantry of Sind by Mughal jagirdars during the reigns of Jahangir and Shah Jahan is attested by a contemporary, Yusuf Mirak, himself a scion of a Mughal aristocratic family settled in Sind. For example, in a passing remark, recommending the transfer of Sind to the khalsa (crown domain) he observes:
The ra'iyat of the vilayat of Sind are Muslims, mostly poor and God fearing (khuda taras.) They no longer have the strength (to continue to face) the tyranny of the jagirdars.65
But a more telling piece of evidence of this nature is represented by a casual report dated 21 February, 1703 in Akhbarat-i dabar-i mualla depicting the manner in which the Muslim Meos inhabiting villages in the vicinity of Delhi were treated by the Mughal administration during the reign of Aurangzeb. It records that the village Malkat, in pargana Palwal, where inhabitants were, apparently, all Muslims was attacked by the faujdar to punish their chief Ikram. During this attack, the village was put to fire and 200 Meos were killed. A minaret of the severed heads of the Meo peasants massacred was set up by the side of the highway.66
Outside the Mughal governing class, educated Muslims belonging to the social category of urban intelligentsia, specially those claiming noble descent, were, perhaps, the only section of the community who enjoyed a sort of privileged position in the Mughal Empire. They. along with favoured non-Muslim scholars and priests were marked out as deserving state patronage and,,often were preferred for recruitment as gentlemen troopers in the contingents of nobles. Some of them known for their general scholarship and command on Persian and Arabic even aspired for high offices in departments of sadarat, diwani and buyutat. The enforcement of orthodox shari'a as an overarching code for deciding the civil, particularly, financial and property disputes all over the empire contributed to enhancing the impression of their being a privileged group.67
However, as the policies of patronage disbursement as also of recruitment of troops and petty officials became increasingly less exclusive, the privileged status of the urban based Muslims claiming noble lineages was steadily undermined. This process appears to have become marked in the first half of the eighteenth century. The Urdu poetry of eighteenth century identified as shahr-ashob, as well as Shah Wali ul-lah's remark about the "poverty" of Muslims should be viewed in this perspective.
The erosion of the privileges of Muslim segments of the urban intelligentsia was accompanied by a perceptible tendency towards bending the rules of the shari'a for making them conform to the realities of a multi-religious society where the power and prestige enjoyed by non-Muslims was by no means negligible. As Shah Nawaz Khan noticed towards the middle of the eighteenth century, in the Mughal Empire of his time, the qazis "were guided by the registers of the deshpendyas and words of the zamindars."68 This incidentally indicates the functional orientation of the shari'a, making it acceptable to the non-Muslims.
The transformation of the Timurid state in India into a highty centralized and supra religious Mughal Empire was preceded by a drastic change in the composition of its nobility which, from Akbar's time onwards, reduced the nobles of Central Asian or Turani origin to a minority. The process of admitting into the nobility persons belonging to diverse racial, ethnic as well as religious backgrounds that gained momentum during Akbar's reign appears to have begun in the time of Babur himself. During the months separating the First Battle of Panipat (20 April 1526) from the Battle of Kanwa (17 March, 1527), Babur appears to have made a concerted attempt to take in his service as large a number of the ex-officers of the Lodi Empire as was possible in the given circumstances. To gain this objective he offered to many of them not only to restore the assignments held by them under Ibrahim Lodi but sometime also promised to enhance them appreciably.69 A count of names of nobles mentioned in connection with military campaigns and court ceremonies of Babur shows that out of 145 nobles, 33 were Afghans and Shaikhzadas recruited in India.70 It is true that many of them stayed with Babur only for a short while. But some of them like Araish Khan were still counted in the highest echelon of the Mughal nobility during the early years of Humayun's reign.71 Several other nobles of the same category joined Humayun's service during 1533-36.72
The inclusion of Shi'a Iranis in Humayun's service after his return from the Safavid court to the Kabul-Qandahar region in 1545 was a momentous development from this point of view. This was the first occasion that so many Irani Shi'as came to be included in the service of a Timurid ruler on a regular basis.73 Before this, in no state ruled by a Muslim dynasty did Shi'as and Sunnis co-exist in the nobility in such remarkable amity.74 Many of the state personnel of Irani origin who joined Humayun's service during 1548-55 as minor functionaries appear to have risen to high positions during the first twenty years of Akbar's reign. Already by 1575, the Iranis, many of them known to be Shi'as, constituted about 27 per cent of the total strength of the nobility, and over 38 per cent of the nobles having the mansab of 500 zat and above.75
The next decisive step in the transformation of the Mughal nobility into a truly composite body was the influx of Rajput chiefs which also commenced during the years 1556-75. Along with the Rajputs many more Indian Muslims, most of them Shaikhzadas, were also included in Akbar's nobility during the same period. This created a situation where the Indian Muslims and Rajputs came to be represented in the nobility in the range of 14 per cent and 10 per centin the total strength and over 9 per cent and 8 per cent among the mansabdars of 500 zat and above respectively.76 By the end of Akbar's reign (1605), the strength of the Rajputs and other Hindus among the nobles of 500 zat and above stood at over 22 per cent. It remained roughly at the same level among the nobles of the highest category (having the mansab of 1000 zat and above) down to the middle of Aurangzeb's reign, rising to 31.6 per cent in the last twenty years of Aurangzeb mainly on account of the recruitment of the Marathas and other Hindus from the Deccan.77
This transformation of the composition of the Mughal governing class created a situation where, by 1707, the Rajputs and other Hindus came to have a share in the resources as well as positions of authority within the state roughly to the extent of a third of those available.78 In this new situation the Turanis were reduced to a minority in the total strength as well as among high echelons. While, on the other hand, the strength of the nobles of Indian origin, i.e., Rajputs, other Hindus and Indian Muslims put together rose to nearly 44 per cent in the total strength. Their large representation in the nobility tended to make them aspire for establishing their sway in the empire after sidelining the Turanis and Iranis. The regime of the Saiyid Brothers (1712-20) was one such dispensation that failed partly due to the distrust and lack of co-operation between the Saiyid Brothers and the leading Rajput nobles, namely, Jai Singh Sawai and Ajit Singh.79
The cultural ethos of this composite nobility of the Mughal Empire, after an initial experiment with "the royal version of Shari a", translated itself, by the end of Akbar's reign, into a new supra-religious theory of sovereignty. Its articulation in Abu'l Fazl's writings carried the stamp of his magisterial learning and originality of thought. As Irfan Habib points out, he has two variants of this theory which can be traced to heterodox tendencies of medieval Islam; amongst them the most marked are the doctrines of the Unity of Existence (wah-dat ul-wajud) of Ibn Arabi (1181-1235) and of the Divine Light (farr-i izidi) of Shihab al-Din Suhrawardi Maqtul (d.1191).80 This theory of sovereignty continued to be restated and affirmed with varying degrees of emphasis on its different aspects, from time to time, in official documents down to the end of Muhammad Shah's reign (1748). Shorn of Abu'l Fazl's rhetoric projection of sulh-i kul as the guiding principle of the Mughal state, this theory boils down to giving a new definition of royalty which precludes entirely the identification of state with a particular religion and enjoins upon a just ruler that his benevolence and protection should be equally extended to all his subjects without making any distinction on the basis of religion or race. Within the framework of this theory, there was no scope for the operation of those provisions of shari'a which tend to impose certain disabilities on the zimmis: This theory makes it obligatory for the king to establish universal reconciliation (sulh-i kul) within his realm.80A
Of the documents issued by Akbar's successors reiterating the basic principles of this theory of sovereignty, the most significant, perhaps, is Aurangzeb's letter that he wrote to Rana Raj Singh of Mewar in 1658 to win his support in the war of succession. In this letter, he reiterates the basic principles of the theory of sovereignty evolved under Akbar. He states that the rulers are bound to ensure "that men belonging to various communities and different religions should live in the vale of peace and pass their days in prosperity, and no one should interfere in the affairs of another". The kings who resorted to "intolerance", according to a memorable statement in this letter, "become the cause of dispute and conflict and of harm to the people at large". This is a "habit deserving to be rejected and cast off". The letter concludes with a solemn promise that if he succeeded in seizing the throne, "the revered practices and established regulations of my great ancestors" would continue to be observed. In view of the attempt Aurangzeb made in the last twenty years of his reign to enforce rigidly an intolerant version of the orthodox shari a, this statement appears to be so ironical. But the fact that for winning support within the nobility, in 1658, Aurangzeb had to make an announcement to this effect indicates the wide acceptability that the supra-religious theory of sovereignty had come to gain among the Mughal governing class.81
It would, indeed appear that Aurangzeb's attempt to reverse this orientation did not meet with much success. It would not be very accurate to ascribe the Rathor Rebellion (1678-81) to the Rajput reaction to Aurangzeb's intolerant religious policy. As Athar Ali has shown, the Rathors were more agitated over Aurangzeb's interference on the issue of succession to Marwar's chiefship rather than his order for the destruction of newly-built temples.82 On the other hand, the Rajput chiefs serving the Mughal Empire as nobles or bound to it in some other way appeared, down to 1739, confident that the Empire's basic character was still the same as handed down by Akbar to his immediate successor. They were, perhaps, confident that by taking a stand in defence of the supra-religious character of the Mughal Empire, they would not be offending the religious sentiments of any influencial section of the nobility. Jai Singh Sawai's and Girdhar Bahadur's opposition to the proposal to reimpose the jizya on the ground, that the Mughal Emperor was the emperor of both the Hindus and Muslims,83 is very suggestive.
Strong commitment of many of the Rajputs and other Hindu chiefs to the idea of the Mughal Empire down to 1739, may be gauged from a revealing episode of the Battle of Karnal recorded by an eye- witness. During the time Muhammad Shah was facing Nadir Shah near Karnal, and negotiations for the Emperor's surrender before the invader were going on, an unnamed Rajput chief who was proceeding, along with his 2000 retainers, mostly foot-soldiers, and a lone elephant, to join the royal army at Karnal was surrounded and attacked by a large reconnoitering party of the Iranian horsemen near Gharaunda. In sharp contrast to the cowardice and selfishness displayed by the high nobles at Karnal, this unnamed Rajput warrior and his retainers faced the far superior Iranian force with amazing courage and determination till all of them, including the raja, were killed. As long as the raja was alive, he continued to urge his men from the back of his elephant to continue to move towards Karnal. In this fighting, a large number of Irani troops were also killed.84 It was, perhaps, the only occasion during Nadir Shah's invasion when a body of Indian troops made a determined stand against the invaders. The royal officers came to know of this incident only when they, after having surrendered before Nadir Shah in a most cowardly manner, passed through Gharaunda en rout to Delhi. This story speaks of the deep sense of attachment and loyalty for the Mughal emperor that many of the Rajput and other Hindu chiefs bound to him by ties of allegiance and military service, continued to have down to the middle of the eighteenth century. It was, apparently, an outcome of a general feeling on their part that they were an inseparable part of the Mughal Empire and had a stake in its survival. Supra-religious orientation of the theory of sovereignty permeating the over all working of the Mughal imperial institutions since Akbar's time appears to have contributed to creating and sustaining this situation in the face of a persisting orthodox reaction of which Aurangzeb's policies of the last twenty years of his reign were the most blatant manifestation.
From its very inception, the Mughal Empire manifested a tendency towards a greater degree of centralization of political and administrative authority as well as of the resources it controlled. The assignment system and organization of military hierarchy brought with him by Babur appear to have carried the seeds of this tendency. For example, the terms that Babur uses for the assignments conferred by him on his nobles in India indicate that there was an attempt to separate their stipulated personal incomes (wajh) from what was meant for the salaries ('alufa) or support (istiqamat) of their retainers.85 There is also some basis for imagining, that at times, a clear demarcation was sought to be made between the wajh jurisdiction and the routine military-cum-civil administration within a pargana or sarkar. This would have facilitated the apportioning of fixed amounts of revenues, of particular territories as khalisa revenues managed by staff other than that of the nobles having these territories within their wajhs.86
Similarly, a scrutiny of the terms which Babur occasionally uses to denote the status of the individual military personnel is, again, revealing. It points to the existence of a military hierarchy rising from the petty officers like jawanan-i jirga, jawanan-i yakka, ichikyan, nazdikyan, and yegits, to the highest rank, that of beg. Some of Babur's statements also suggest a system of promotions from lower to higher ranks.87 This organization evidently was later incorporated in the system of 12 grades (maratib) introduced by Humayun in 1535 in which the salary ('alufa) was linked to the rank (martiba) of a noble in military hierarchy.88 Similarly, the tendency towards an enhanced share of khalisa revenues so clearly documented for Akbar's reign may be seen taking shape under Babur.89 Moreover, some of Akbar's centralizing measures like the zabt system or the practice, of horse-branding (dagh) or bringing the whole of the empire under khalisa were anticipated by the Surs.90
The above manifestations of a tendency towards centralization within the imperial system inherited by Akbar in 1556 from his father received its fulfilment in the wholesale systematization and centralization that the empire underwent from 1574 onwards. Athar Ali correctly assigns to Akbar himself a pivotal role in bringing about this transformation. The introduction of mansab or number- rank, the division of the empire into subas, sarkars and mahals where the administration of one province was a replica of the other and the practice of linking the mansab obligation to expected income from assignment, were some of the aspects of this process which did not have precedents either in Timurid history or in the history of the Delhi Sultanate. These cannot but be ascribed to the genius of Akbar.91 But no one has suggested that this system was "perfected" by the end of Akbar's reign; and criticism directed against historians identified with Aligarh on this count is surely misplaced.92 The criticism does not for example, take into account Athar Ali's pointedly acknowledging Moreland's and Irfan Habib's contributions on the changes taking place in the mansab system under Jahangir and Shah Jahan. Athar Ali also mentions in this context the extension of the Mughal's zabt system to the Deccan by Murshid Quli Khan.93
Athar Ali has identified the artillery as one of the, "two new sources of strength and stability" in the Mughal Empire; the other one being the "silver influx".94 This perceptive comment on the significance of artillery for the centralization in the Mughal Empire may be set by the side of what Abu'l Fazl found in artillery: "a wonderful lock (qufl-i shigarf) for securing the august edifice of royalty (iqbal sara-i jahanbani) and a key (kulid-i dilkusha) to the door of conquest (darwaza-i kishwarsitani)", which clearly proclaims the use of artillery in strengthening the central authority and ensuring rapid military conquests.95 It is thus possible to argue that the matchlock brought by Babur with him made a noteworthy contribution towards the consolidation and growth of the Mughal Empire as a highly centralized state.96 For its accuracy upto a considerable distance and comparatively rapid fire, the matchlock had come to be regarded in the Mughal Empire as an instrument of combat more effective than the time tested bow-and-arrow, when used from the ground. The mounted archer of the Mughal army was no doubt more effective in open battle than the horsemen carrying musket.97 But the superiority of the mounted archer stemmed basically from his expertise in shooting arrows rapidly from the back of a moving horse. A foot- musketeer was always regarded far more effective than the foot-archer. The use of musket was considered particularly suitable in village- level operations aimed at forcing the defiant rural populations of unsettled tracts (mawas) to pay land revenue. This advantage of the central authority accruing from its possesion of muskets was, however, partly neutralized when, roughly from the middle of the seventeenth century, the peasant rebels all over the Empire also started using some kind of muskets.98
It is difficult to sum up a polity like that of the Mughal Empire in a few words, given its vast territorial possessions and the massive information we have on it. But let me put in a few words what my argument in this paper has been aimed at, I have tried to show that it is a mistake to see in the Mughal Empire either an Islamic state, in which the Shari'a prevailed, or a Muslim state in which the Muslims, as an entire community, were part of the ruling class. I do not suggest at all that Mughal Empire was a welfare state: on the contrary, I recognise that it served as a mechanism of class exploitation. But such mechanism, however repressive, had also a cultural aspect, deriving from both the Timurid ancestry and the Indian milieu. Both provided a foundation for the genius of Akbar to erect a unique structure. Under him was created a composite nobility and a conscious ideology of supra-religious sovereignty. This had a lasting impact on the character of the Mughal Empire as an Indian State. To deny its cultural and political significance on the ground that the empire did not have great share of GDP, or really systematised centralization, or true separation from sectarian identity, is to defy the entire tenor of our evidence. J.E Richards has wisely observed that the Mughal Empire exercised a profound impact on Indian economy and society; whether it was good or bad, is another question, he has said. I have ventured to suggest that when the balance sheet is drawn, then, against all its acts of repression, one idea would still be on its credit side, an idea that it did so much to promote, by its demands for allegiance, the idea of India.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
- Editors' introduction: The Mughal State: 1526-1750, ed. M.Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Delhi, 1998, p.41.
- Cf. Ghulam Husain Tabatabai, Siyar al-mutakhirin (1780)., Vol. I, Lucknow pp.183-4, who presents an idealized picture of the Mughal Empire in the context of which Akbar's "mazhab-i Ilahi" is characterized as a "great relief to the people (asaish-i ghair muntahai-i khalq-i khuda)" but Aurangzeb's outlook is derided. According to him, under Aurangzeb "religious sectarianism (t'assub-i mazhab) became violent (shiddat paziraft)". The so- called will of Babur (discovered by N.C.Mehta in the State Library of Bhopal and published in The Statesman, Calcutta, 6 February, 1936) is, possibly a nineteenth century forgery. The contents of the document may be seen as reflecting the way the Mughal Empire was perceived by the Persian knowing intellectual elite of the period. There is an attempt here to attribute to Babur the principles that came to be incorporated in Mughal theory of sovereignty under Akbar. Similarly, the nineteenth-century writers identified with the Aligarh Movement also present, by and large, a view of the Mughal Empire which tends to glorify Akbar for his tolerance and explain the Mughal decline with reference to Aurangzeb's intolerance. The well-known Urdu essayist of the nineteenth century, Muhammad Husain Azad, for example, glorifies Akbar's emphasis on composite culture but decries Aurangzeb for his "pious severity" (waz'a-i zahidana)" (cf. Ab-i hayat (Urdu), Delhi, n.d.,p.26 and Nairang-i Khayal, part I, Delhi, n.d., pp.155-56). Saiyid Ahamd Khan, who otherwise admired H.M. Elliot's translation of Persian historical texts, characterizes the Mughal history down to Shah Jahan's reign as the period of successes resulting from a policy of "love and amity (muhabbat aur meliol)" towards the subjects. He ascribes the disturbed state of Mughal Empire, particularly, the strained relations between "the rulers and the ruled", to "Aurangzeb's harshness towards Hindus (Aurangzeb ki Hinduon par sakhti)," Asbab-i baghawat-i Hind, ed. Abu Lais Siddiqui, Karachi, (originally 1858), 1986, pp.164-5.
- Cf. Jawaharlal Nehru. The Discovery of India(1947), London, 1960, pp.256, 261-62. He refers to Akbar as a "symbol of India's unity". According to him, "the Mughal rulers were looked upon as Indian national rulers, though in Aurangzeb's case there was a difference of opinion". Tara Chand, History of Freedom Movement in India. Vol. I (1962), Delhi 1982, pp.2-3 141, 155, comments that the Mughal rulers after Babur "identified themselves closely with the interests of India and followed, on the whole, policies which gave a great impetus to the tendencies of political unification and cultural harmony". He views the expansion of the Mughal Empire as having "profound consequences" in the form of reduced "plurality of political units". Tara Chand decries Aurangzeb's "bigoted religious policy" not only as "unwise" and "unjustified", but also holds him responsible for "widenning the gulf between the Hindu and the Muslim higher classes." This positive assessment of the historical role of the Mughal Empire is largely endorsed by Jadunath Sarkar, Fall of the Mughal Empire, Vol I, Calcutta, 1932, p.3 (foreword), who credits the Mughal Empire for uniting "much of the Indian continent under one sceptre, giving it a uniform civilization whose conquering light had penetrated beyond the bounds of that empire, and on the whole promote the general happiness of the people in a degree unapproached except in the mythical past. It broke the isolation of the provinces and the barrier between Indian and the outer world, and thus took the first step necessary for the modernization of India and the growth of an Indian nationality in some distant future." But like Nehru and Tara Chand, Sarkar also is of the opinion that Aurangzeb's religious policy undid the Hindu-Muslim unity that had been so laboriously built up by the preceding Mughal rulers. See also History of Aurangzib, Vol. III, Calcutta, 1916, pp.283-364.
- Golwalkar's presidential address to Hindu Mahasabha in 1939: Hindu Rashtra Darshan, p.133, cited from Bipan Chandra, Communalism in Modern India, New Delhi, 1984, p.215
- Cf. VHP literature edited by Gyanendra Pandey and Sudhir Chandra, 'Mandir-Masjid and V.H.P.'s Showroom', The Times of India, New Delhi, December 5, 1990, p.7
- K.A. Nizami, Hayat-i Shaikh 'Abd al-Haq Muhaddis Dehlvi (Urdu), Delhi, 1953, pp.278-79, argues forcefully to establish that the charges of heresy and deviation from Islam levelled by Badauni against Akbar cannot be refuted. He sternly rebukes "some of the present-day historians who tend to avoid relying on Badauni's accusations against Akbar" and asks "as to, then, why was Hazrat Mujadad Alf-i Sani (i.e. Shaikh Ahamd Sirhindi) so angry with him (i.e. Akbar) and had to write a letter to the nobles urging them to follow (the true) religion".
- I.H. Qureshi, The Administration of the Mughal Empire, Karachi,1966, p.6.
- Saeed Ahamd Akbarabadi, Musalmanaun ka 'uruj-o-zawal (Urdu), Delhi, 1947, p.403. It is argued that if Shaikh Ahamd Sirhindi had not opposed Akbar's policies with all his might, Islam would have been totally eliminated from India.
- In one of his well-known Persian poems, Rumuz-i be-khudi, Iqbal refers to Aurangzeb as "the last arrow of our quiver" in the fight between religion (din) and unbelief (kufr). Cf. Kuliyat-i Iqbal (Farsi), with a foreword by Jawed Iqbal, Lahore, 1972, p.98. (The well-known linguist and urdu scholar, Professor Masud Husian Khan, helped me in locating this couplet. I am greatly beholden to him for this help).
- H.M. Elliot, The History of India as Told by Its Own Historians., ed. John Dowson, Vol.I (1849), Original Preface, p.XXII, where the purpose of the translations is stated frankly; these were meant to "dispel the mists of ignorance" about the history of the "Muhammadan" period to make "the bombastic Babus" appreciate the "personal liberty" and other "political privileges" enjoyed by them "under our government".
- Ramesh Rawat, ('1857 and the Ranaissance in Hindi Literature', Social Scientist, Nos. 296-99; January-April 1998, p.107), for example, summarises his survey of historial perceptions in the nineteenth-century Hindi writings in the following words. "Invariably, every one of them has depicted 'Muslim rule' as a 'curse' and British rule as a boon, being indeed a veritable 'Ram Rajya'; Muslims were generally characterized as mischief-makers, quarrelsome, riotous, normally vicious, oppressors".
- Historical literature circulated by the Sangh Parivar, particularly that dealing with Ayodhya controvercy is a good example of narration totally divorced from a critical reading of source material. There is even an attempt to invent sources to support the "facts" arbitrarily considered to be beyond dispute. See, for example, reference to a "history" book which speaks of 77 imaginary battles for Ayodhya (S.P. Singh in The Indian Express, City Edition, New Delhi, Saturday, December 2,000). Similar examples can be cited from the vulgarized versions of Muslim communal history. Muhammad Aslam, a professor at the Punjab University, Lahore, for example, censures well-known scholars, Muhammad Husain Azad, Ziya ul-Hasan Farooqui and Mehr Muhammad Khan Shahab for mentioning Akbar's name with respect. He enters into a debate on the question whether Akbar died a Muslim. According to him, the testimony of contemporaries that Akbar recited the confession of faith (kalima) in his last moments is a story invented by a "flatterer (khushamdi)". Compare, Muhammad Aslam, Sarmaya-i 'umr (Urdu), Lahore 1976, p. 280-81.
- R.P. Tripathi's perceptive remark (The Mughal State ed. M.Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, p. 119) to the effect that Babur's "memoirs do not show any superstitious and morbid regard either for schoolmen or details of law" points to this character of Timurid state before 1526. For a detailed dicussion see my, 'The Turko-Mongol Theory of Kingship', Medieval India: A Miscellany, Vol. II, Bombay, 1972, pp. 10-16 and The Political Biography of a Mughal Noble: Mun'im Khan Khan-i Khananz, 1497-1575, New Delhi, 1973, pp.IX-XIII. M. Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam (The Mughal State, p.22) seem to ascribe the comparatively limited role of shari'a in the Timurid state to the "social" requirement of a situation where Muslims were in a minority and suggest that this "idea may have had intellectual roots in the reflections on kingship at the time when Muslim Persian wazirs served the kafir Mongol rulers". This argument, however, fails to explain the limited role of the shari'a in the Timurid state before 1526. And also, unless the "reflections" of Muslim Persian wazirs of the Mongols are documented, the speculation about these influencing the formation of Timurid state in India must remain unsubstantiated.
- A.S. Beveridge, The Babur-nama in English, London, 1969, p.344.
- In an eighteenth-century text, Tazkirat ul- Umara (bound in a volume entitled Haft risala-i taqwim al-buldan), MS. No.45, Buhar Collection, National Library, Calcutta, there are entered 145 names of nobles who served under Babur. The list is, apparantly, based on the Babur-nama and other sixteenth century histories. In this list, 33 nobles can be identified as Afghans or Indian Shaikhzadas who served Babur at one or the other time after Ibrahim Lodi's defeat, while 52 of them may be identified as the "Mughals" hailing from Central Asia. That there was an influx of the Iranis in lower grades of the nobility under Humayun, during 1545-55, is borne by the list given by Abu'l Fazl of nobles who accompanied Humayun to Hindustan in 1555. Out of 51 nobles in this list, 16 may be identified as Iranis of whom Bairam Khan, Khwaja Jalal al- Din Mahmud, Khwaja Sultan Ali and Mir Asghar Munshi, were already occupying important positions. Compare the Akbar-nama, Vol. I, ed. Agha Ahamd Ali, and Abdu-r Rahim, Calcutta, 1873, p.342. The accretion of troopers of Indian origion in the contingents of nobles is testified by Babur when he records, in May 1526, Shaikh Ghuran's bringing with him to Agra 3000 tarkash-bandan from Koil (mod. Aligarh). This process of influx of Indian troopers in the contingents of Babur's nobles is also testified by another statement of Babur recorded on 30 November 1527. A contigent led by an Afghan noble, 'Alam Khan, sent around this time against Biana, consisted of 250 to 300 Turanis and 2000 Hindustanis suggesting that already the ratio between the two categories of troopers was in the range of 1:8 or 1:10. Cf. The Babur-nama in English, pp.526, 538.
- The Babur-nama in English, pp.379-80.
- The Babur-nama in English, pp. 577-78.
- According to family traditions of the t'alluqadars of Hasanpur (District Sultanpur), their ancestor, Hasan Khan Bachgoti, was converted to Islam after coming into contact with Sher Shah. Some of Hasan Khan's parganas in the vicinity of Sultanpur were included in Mun'im Khan's charge as the military commander of Jaunpur in 1567, Cf. Bayazid Bayat, Ta'rikh Humayun wa Akbar, ed. M.Hidayat Husain, Calcutta, 1941, p.300. See District Gazetteers of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, Sultanpur, Vol. XVI, 1923.
- The Babur-nama in English, pp.521, 562, 639. Bir Singh Deo Baghela was with Rana Sangaram at Kanwa (1527). He made a friendly overture to Babur, in January 1529, by informing him about Sultan Mahmud's movements. His name is listed among the subordinate chiefs in Babur's revenue list.
- The Babur-nama in English, pp.562 (and n.3), 598. The Purbia chief Silahdi controlled, in 1528, Raisen and neighbouring territories. He is reported to have deserted Rana Sangram during the Battle of Kanwa (1527) and, perhaps, was with Babur for a brief interval.
- Cf. The Babur-nama in English, pp.379, 482, 562.
- Cf. Shireen Moosvi, 'The Evolution of Mansab System under Akbar until 1595-7', Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, No.2, 1981, p.175. She re- examines Abu'l Fazl's passage interpreted by Moreland earlier as suggesting the introduction of the second (sawar) rank and comes to the conclusion that it only lays down a system of fixing the number of horsemen to be maintained by the nobles keeping in view three different categories of jagirs. This system appears to have been conceived after the Indian practice noticed by Shaikh Zain of fiXing a ratio between horsemen and revenue.
- Jauhar Aftabchi, Tazkirat ul-waqi'at (1587), MS., Br. Library, Add. 16,711, f.17a and b, and Raf'i al-Din Ibrahim Shirazi, Tazkirat ul-muluk (1608-9), MS., Br. Library, Add.23,883, f. 158a and b.
- See Irfan Habib, 'A Political Theory for the Mughal Empire - a Study of the Ideas of Abu'l Fazl', Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, 59th (Patiala) session (1998), pp.332-34. The influence of ishraqi theory on Abu'l Fazl's doctrine of farr-i izidi is here discussed.
- Cf. The Babur-nama in English, p.344 and Nelson Wright, Catalogue of Coins in the Indian Museum, Calcutta, Vol.III, Oxford, 1908, pp.1-2.
- Khwandamir, Qanun-i Humayuni, ed. M.Hidayat Husain, Calcutta, 1940, pp.12,22.
- Projection of these titles for Akbar in the famous mahzar of 1579 may be seen in its text reproduced by Nizam al-Din Ahamd, Tabaqat-i Akbari, Vol.II, ed. B.De, Calcutta, 1927, p.272 and 'Abd al-Qadir Badauni, Muntakhab ut- tawarikh, Vol. II, eds. Ali Ahmad and Lees, Calcutta, 1864-69, p.272. See also S.Nurual Hasan, 'The Mahzar of Akbar's Reign', Journal of U.P.Historical Soceity, Vol.XVI, Pt.I, p.126.
- Cf. 'Abd al-Qadir Badauni, Mutakhab ut-tawarikh, Vol. III, p. 118 Vol.II p.261,303. Surat Singh, Tazkira-i Pir Hassu Taili, MS.Department of History, AMU, Aligarh, ff. 36a-37b and Travels of Fray Sebastian Manrique, 1629- 1648, tr. C.E. Luard, Vol.II, Oxford, 1827, p.113.
- Muntakhab ut-tawarikh, Vol. III, p.118.
- For Shah Abdul Aziz's fatwa defining darul-harb see, K.A.Nizami, 1857 ka ta'rikhi roznamcha (Urdu), Delhi, 1958, pp.9-10.
- Surat Singh, Tazkira-i Pir Hassan Taili, MS., Department of History, AMU., ff. 35b-37a.
- Gyanendra Pandey, 'Rallying round the Cow' in Subaltern Studies, II, ed. Ranjit Guha, Delhi, 1983, pp.120-23.
- Abu'l Fazl, A'in-i Akbari, Vol.I, Lucknow, 1893, p.198.
- Travels of Fray Sebastian Manrique 1629-1648, tr. C.E.Luard, Vol.II, London, 1927, pp.112-13.
- In his insightful observation about the legend carried in the seal of Akbar on a farman dating back to 1564, Irfan Habib notes that the reference is to"just conduct (rasti)" rather than an appeal to Islam or shari'a. He interprets it as an indication of Akbar's early gropings towards a non-sectarian basis for his sovereignty. Alternately, this could also be viewed as an indication of the Islamic impact on the routine administration in a Timurid state not being very manifest. See Irfan Habib, 'Three Early Farmans of Akbar, in Favour of Ramdas, the Master Dyer', Akbar and His India, ed. Irfan Habib, Delhi, 1997, pp.276-77.
- Akbar-nama, Vol.II, pp.203-4
- 'Abd ul-Qadir Badauni, Muntakhab ut-tawarikh, Vol.III, p.80. Cf. my 'A Note on the Conception of Akbar's Religious Policy', in History and Society: Essays in Honour of Professor Niharanjan Ray, ed. Debi Parsad Chattopadhyaya, Calcutta, 1978, p.457.
- Tarapad Mukherjee and Irfan Habib, 'Akbar and the Temples of Mathura and its Enviorons', Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, 48th session (Goa 1987), Delhi, 1988, pp.237-38.
- Akbar-nama, Vol. II, p.190.
- Farid Bhakkari, Zakhirat al-khawanin, ed. S.Moin ul-Haq, Karachi, 1961, pp.103-4.
- Mutakhab ut-tawarikh, Vol.II, p.210. In Lowe's translation (vol.II, p.213) of Badauni's passage the word jizya is translated as "tax"
- Tabaqat-i Akbari, Vol.II, p.347 and Muntakhab ut-tawarikh, Vol.II, p.276.
- For a detailed examination of the evidence relating to the reimposition of jizya by Aurangzeb in 1679 see S.R. Sharma, The Religious Policy of the Mughal Empire, Oxford, 1940, pp.153-4.
- S.R. Sharma has noticed (op.cit, pp.153-60) the rigorous manner in which jizya was imposed, despite mass protests by Hindus at Delhi and later at Burhanpur also. It is indicative of Aurangzeb's determination to enforce the orthodox shari'a not only as a civil code but also as the guiding principle of the state.
- See Satish Chandra, Parties and Politics at the Mughal Court, 1707-1740, Aligarh, 1959, pp.23,24,74 and 'Jizyah and the State in India', Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Vol.VII, Part I, January 1969, p.337.
- Shiv Das, Shah-nama-i munawwar kalam, MS., Br.Lib., Or.26, ff.64b-65a. The Later Mughals, vol.lI, Calcutta, 1922, p.103.
- A blatant statement of this idea is represented by H.M. Elliot's much quoted passage in his 'Original Preface' (1849) to the first volume of The History of India as Told by Its own Historians, ed. John Dowson (p.xxii), where he sneers regarding the educated Hindus ("bombastic Babus") not appreciating that the "personal liberty" and other "political privileges" denied to them earlier (in the so-called Muslim rule) were allowed for the first time under East India Company's colonial dispensation.
- L.E Rushbrook Williams, An Empire Builder of the Sixteenth Century, reprint Delhi, n.d., pp.18-19.
- Cf. K.A.Nizami, Slatin-i Delhi ke mazhabi rujhanat (urdu), Delhi, 1958. p.450
- Rizq al-lah Mushtaqi (d.1581), Waqi'at-i Mushtaqi, MS. Br.Library, Or.1929, f.44a, even suggests that the initiative for establishing an anti-Mughal alliance came from Hasan Khan Mewati. He writes: "Hasan Khan Mewati raised Sultan Mahmud, son of Sultan Sikandar, to kingship and gathered the Rana of Chittor, Salahdi and a large number of Afghans and started a rebellion against Babur Padshah".
- The Babur-nama in English, p.562.
- M.A. Macauliffe, The Sikh Religion, Sacred Writings and Authors, Vol.I, reprint, Delhi, 1963, pp.112-13.
- Lataif-i Quddusi, Delhi, 1311H., pp.8,31, 33,35, 63-4. Cf. Simon Digby, 'Abd al-Quddus Gangohi (1456-1537): The Personality and Attitudes of a Medieval Indian Sufi', Medieval India: a Miscellany, Vol.III, Bombay, 1975, pp.10-11.
- Richard M. Eaton, 'Temple Destruction in Pre-Modern India', Frontline, (Chennai), December 22, 2000, pp.67, 68-9.
- Muntakhab ut-tawarikh, Vol.II, pp.50-1, 55.
- One such decument was Babur's letter to the Afghan commandant of Biana asking him to surrender. This letter carried following Persian couplet of Babur's own composition: "Strive not with the Turk, O Mir of Biana, His skill and his courage are obvious (ba turk sateza makun ai mir-i Biana, chalaki o mardangi-i turk 'ayan ast)."
- Lataif-i Quddusi, pp.8, 33.
- Yahya Sirhindi, Ta'rikh-i Mubarak Shahi ed. Hidayat Husain, Calcutta, 1931, p.161. Timur's trooops are called Mughals. It is stated that, at the time of Timur's invasions, the Muslim population of the towns as well of the countryside along with the Hindus in the neighbourhood of Delhi had withdrawn to the hills and other remot places. The massacre near Delhi of fifty thousand men, taken prisoners by Timur's troops while they were marching on Delhi, is also reported. Cf. 'Abd al-Qadir Badauni, Muntakhab ut-tawarikh, Vol.I, p.269. It is maintained that a majority of the 50,000 prisoners massacred outside Delhi were Muslims.
- J.E Richards, 'The Formulation of Imperial Authority under Akbar and Jahagir' in The Mughal State, 1526-1750, ed. M. Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, p.129.
- Irfan Habib, The Agrarian System of Mughal India, 1556-1707, revised edition, New Delhi, 1999, p.366.
- Cf. Irfan Habib, 'Caste in Indian History', included in Essays in Indian History: Towards a Merxist Perception, New Delhi, 1995, p.174.
- Shah Wali ul-lah, the eighteenth-century Muslim divine complains in one of his letters to Ahamd Shah Abdali that the positions of revenue staff (mutasadian wa karkunan) were monopolized by Hindus who were very prosperous. It is implied in this statement that the "Muslims" were under represented in clerical jobs and, therefore, were not prosperous. Shah Wali ul-lah ke siyasi maktubat, ed. Khaliq Nizami, 1950, Aligarh, p.51.
- The Babur-nama in English, p.413.
- Kuliyat-i Iqbal, Delhi, 1993, p.371. See the poem: 'The last will of Khushhal Khan (Khushhal Khan ki Wasiat)'.
- Yusuf Mirak, Mazhar-i Shahjahani, ed. Saiyid Husam al-Din Rashdi, Haiderabad Sind, 1962, p.242.
- Cf. Akhbarat-i Darbar-i Mu'alla, 9 volumes, case 47, Royal Asiatic Society, London. Cf. Irfan Habib, The Agrarian System of Mughal India, revised p.399.
- Cf. S.Zaheer Husain Jafri, 'Tension and Conflict in the Agrarian Society of Awadh', in Studies in the Anlatomy of a Transformation: Awadh from Mughal to Colonial Rule, New Delhi, 1998, pp.61-7. Recurring tensions between a family of grantees in Awadh with the local chiefs is attributed to their holding ecclesiastical offices. See also Irfan Habib, 'A Documentary History of Gosains (Gosvamis) of the Caitanya sect at Vrndavana', in Govindadeva: A Dialogue in Stone, ed. Margaret H. Case, New Delhi, 1996. Information regarding the Gosains of Vrindavan gleaned from the large number of orders of the Mughal authorities preserved in the temples there is presented. It is given the form of a calendar to assist reconstruct the lives and affairs of individuals many of whom were recipients of grants as well as other favours from Mughal authorities down to 1725.
- Ma'asir ul-umara, Vol.I, ed. Maulvi Abdur Rahim, Calcutta, 1888, p.239.
- The Babur-nama in English, pp.478,526-27.
- Supra, f.n.15.
- Gulbadan Begum, Humayun-nama, ed. A.S.Beveridge, London, 1902, p.25. Araish Khan is mentioned as "one of the nobles (umara) of Hind" who advised Humayun not to announce Babur's death till his own enthronement was completed.
- Khwandamir, Qanunl-i Humayuni, pp.12,97-8. The seating arrangement (bisat-i nishat) introduced by Humayun in 1535 was planned after the signs of zodiac. In this arrangement, according to Khwadamir, the nobles of Indian origin and mystics (mashaikh) were allotted the house (daira) of Saturn identified with darkness. This points to the presence, at Humayun's court around 1535, of a number of Indian Shaikhzadas as well who were, apparently, considered a group distinct from Afghans on account of their dark complexion. The coming over of several Afghan nobles to Humayun's court in 1533 is mentioned by Khwandamir separately.
- Supra, f.n.15. Also see my book, The Political Biography of a Mughal Noble, pp.22-34 (Appendix to chapter II, which gives short biographical notices on the nobles who served Humayun during 1545-55).
- Subsequently, the Mughals seem to have become proudly conscious of this character of their polity. This is aptly reflected in Jahagir's declaration that, in the Mughal Empire, the Sunnis and Shi'ites worship in the same mosque. Tuzuk-iJahangiri, ed. Saiyid Ahamd Khan, Gazipur-Aligarh, 1963-64, p.16.
- Cf. my article, 'The Nobility under Akbar and the Development of his Religious Policy, 1560-80', Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, No.1 and 2, 1968, pp.30-2, 35.
- Op. cit., pp.31-2, 35.
- Athar Ali, The Mughal Nobility under Aurangzeb, Bombay, 1966, p.31.
- See, Richard M.Eaton, Essays on Islam and Indian History, New Delhi, 2000, pp.216-17,250-51, and Norman P. Ziegler. 'Some Notes on Rajput Loyalties during the Mughal Period' in The Mughal State, ed. M. Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, pp.192-3, 202, 204, 210. Interesting insights of these two scholars on the socio-cultural dimension of the process of incorporation of the Rajputs in Mughal nobility deserve serious consideration, pose as they do new questions and open new avenues of enquiry.
- Cf. Satish Chandra, Parties and Politics at the Mughal Court, 1707-1740, pp.116-29.
- See Irfan Habib, 'A Political Theory for the Mughal Empire', (cited supra f.n.24), pp.329-40, and Athar Ali, 'Towards an Interpretation of the Maghal Empire', Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, No.1, 1978, p.41.
80A. M. Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, (The Mughal State: 1526-1750, p.23) tend to agree with the dominant view in the writings of the Pakistani historians that after Akbar's death the idea of Islamic monarchy was revived by his successor. (I.H. Qureshi, The Administration of the Mughal Empire, p.39). In taking this position, they seem to rely on Nur al-Din al-Khaqani's Akhlaq- i Jahangiri (which is supposed to have drawn inspiration from the Akhlaq-i Hakimi by Hasan Ali bin Ashraf Munshi al-Khaqani), but do not substantiate their argument by citing any passage from this unpublished text. However, in another text with the same title by 'Abd ul-Wahab Ilhami (MS. M.A. Library, Aligarh, Subhan ul-lah Collection 891.0026), by akhlaq is meant general ethics wherein sometimes there is found advice to a king (not particularly Jahangir) with reference to the Prophet's and pious caliphs' traditions, and Jahangir's name is inserted simply as a token of respect for the reigning sovereign. It implies no pretension to set forth the fundamental doctrine of the Mughal-Indian state. [In making these observations, I have relied on Prof. Irfan Habib's reading of the text].
- The text of this letter (nishan) was published by Kaviraj Shyamaldas in his Vir Vinod a long time back. But its significance as a document testifying to the lasting impact of Akbar's supra-religious theory of sovereignty on the Mughal polity was highlighted for the first time when Athar Ali translated an extract from it in his article 'The Religious Issue in the War of Succession, 1658-1659', Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, 23rd Session (Aligarh, 1960), Calcutta 1961, p.251, published in a revised version later in his 'Towards an Interpretation of the Mughal Empire', Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, No.1, 1978, p.42.
- Athar Ali, 'Causes of the Rathor Rebellion of 1679', Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, 24th Session, (Delhi 1961), Calcutta 1963, pp.143- 49.
- Shiv Das, Shahnama-i munnawwar kalam, MS., Br.Lib. Or.26, ff.64b-65b., William Irvine, The Later Mughals, Vol.I, Calcutta, 1922, p.103,
- Cf. Muhammad Bakhsh Ashob, Ta'rikh-i shahadat-i Farrukh Siyar wa julus- i Muhammad Shah, (1787), MS. British Lib., Or.1832, Vol.II, ff. 205a-206a.
- See my article 'The Mughal Assignment System During Akbar's Early Years, 1556-1575', Medieval India, 1: Researches in the History of India, ed. Irfan Habib, Delhi, 1992, pp.67-8. The expressions Wajh-wa-istiqamat and Wajh-wa-'alufa have been misread as Wajh-i istiqamat and wajah-i 'alufa by A.R. Khan, 'Babur's settlement of his conquests in Hindustan', Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, 29th Session (Patiala 1967), Patna, 1968, p.218.
- Cf. The Babur-nama in English, pp.476,662,776. For example, the territory of Delhi was not assigned to any noble. It was, apparently, administered by a team of shiqdars and diwans appointed by the king. In the case of Bihar, in May 1529, it was assigned to an Afghan noble, Muhammad Khan Nuhani, against 50 lakhs (bahlulis?) of revenue, while one crore of revenues were reserved as khalisa. These khalisa revenues were, possibly, collected by Murshid Iraqi appointed as the diwan of the territory on 13 April the same year.
- Ahsan Raza Khan, 'Gradation of Nobility under Babur', Islamic Culture (Hyderabad), Vol.XI, No.I, January, 1986.
- Khwandamir, Qanun-i Humayuni, pp.41, 43-50, See also Shireen Moosvi, 'The Evolution of the Mansab System under Akbar until 1596-7', Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, No.2, 1981, p.174. With reference to the above passage of Khwadamir, she observes. "Although there is no reference to numerical ranks during Humayun's reign, he did attempt some sort of classification of nobles, and in his time salaries were fixed according to that gradation".
- The Babur-nama in English, p.617. Babur's reference on 22 October 1528 is to his imposing a 30% cut on the wajhs of nobles "to be used for war material and appliances" including firearms. It was a rather drastic measure. There is nothing in this statement that might rule out its interpretation suggesting a dramatic increase in the khalisa share of revenues.
- Athar Ali, 'Towards an Interpretation of the Mughal Empire', Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, No.1, 1978, pp.39-40.
- Athar Ali, 'Towards an Interpretation of the Mughal Empire', Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, No.1, 1978, pp.39-40.
- For this criticism see M. Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, The Mughal State, 1226-1750, p.30.
- Athar Ali, 'Towards an Interpretation of the Mughal Empire', op.cit., p.41.
- Ibid., p.46.
- A'in-i Akbari, Vol.I, p.82. See the summary translation of the passage in my 'Nature of Gunpowder Artillery in India during the Sixteenth Century: a Reappraisal of the Impact of European Gunnery', Journal of the Royal Asiatic Soceity, third series, Vol.9, Part I, April 1999, p.27.
- The muskets brought with him by Babur were the Turkish matchlocks introduced in Central Asia from the Ottoman Empire, possibly, in the first decade of the sixteenth century, cf. my articles, 'Firearms in Central Asia and Iran during the Fifteenth Century etc.', Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, 56th session (Calcutta, 1995), Calcutta 1996, p.440 and 'Nature of Handguns in Mughal India: 16th and 17th Centuries', Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, 52nd Session (New Delhi, 1991-92), New Delhi, 1992, pp.382-83.
- See my article, 'The Matchlock Musket in the Mughal Empire: An Instrument of Centralization', Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, 59th Session (Patiala, 1998), Aligarh, 1999, pp.342-44, 346-51. Bernier's statement (Travels in the Mughal Empire A.D.1656-1668, tr. and annotated Archibold Constable, ed. V.A. Smith, Oxford, 1916, p.48): "a horseman shooting six times before a musketeer can fire twice", is often incorrectly interpreted as suggesting that the bow and arrow were more efficient than the musket. The pay scales of the "muskteers" mentioned by Bernier at another place (p.217) indicate that the military personnel to whom he is referring were musket- carrying horsemen. His statement, therefore, should only mean that mouted archers were more efficient than musket- carrying horsemen.
- See my article, 'Muskets in the Mawas: Instruments of Peasant Resistance' in Making of History: Essays presented to Irfan Habib, ed. K.N.Panikkar, Terence J. Byres and Utsa Patnaik, New Delhi, 2000, pp.81-2, 92-7.