Under Sher Shāh's weak successors, the Sūr Sultanate rapidly began to decline. His son Islām Shāh strove to hold the terri- tory together in spite of several revolts; but after his death, the Sūrs split into different factions, and the areas of Bengal, Bihar, Delhi, Agra, Sāmbhal, and the Punjab were being torn apart. This provided Humāyūn with the much-awaited opportunity to reconquer his Indian possessions. In 1555 he entered the Punjab in triumph and, after inflicting a number of defeats on the Sūrs, once again occupied Delhi and Agra. He died at Delhi in 1556.
The Mughal emperor Akbar, who reigned for fifty years (1556–1605), was a minor of fourteen when he ascended the throne at Kalanaur in the Punjab. His regent, Bairam Khān, was responsible for defeating the Sūr minister, Hīmū, at Pa- nipat late in the same year, thus securing Delhi for the young king. During four years of Bairam Khān's regency, the limits of the empire were extended in the east to the border of Bihar, while to the south Gwalior and Ajmer were reconquered and Mewat was pacified (map (e)). The recovery of virtually the whole of northern India was, however, accomplished during the next two decades with the integration of Malwa, parts of Rajputana, much of Gondwana, Gujarat, Bihar, and Bengal. Kabul was annexed in 1585 and Kashmir in the following year. The conquest of Sind was completed in 1591, although Bhak- kar had been annexed by 1574. Qalāt and eastern Makran, in what is now Baluchistan, were conquered in 1595, and in the same year Kandahar, which had been taken over by the Safa- vids in 1588, was recovered without fighting, as its Persian gov- ernor surrendered it on negotiated terms. Orissa was added to the empire in 1592.
Most of the Rajput states like Jaipur, Marwar, Bikaner, and Jaisalmer, which were not annexed, had accepted Mughal suzerainty as allies; Mewar and some minor Rajput states in alliance with it were exceptions. Under the sultanate, relations between Delhi and the Rajput states had perennially posed a difficult political problem, which Akbar proved able to solve. Among the causes of his success in Rajputana was his friendly attitude toward Hindus. As early as 1562 he took as a wife the first of a number of Rajput princesses whom he married. To cement his Rajput alliances, he appointed a number of his Hindu wives' kin to imperial office, often giving them high military commands. His patronage and promotion of men of talent, however, was not confined to Muslims or Rajputs but in principle knew no bounds of creed, race, or language. In prac- tice, however, he showed little accommodation to the Afghans in Bengal or elsewhere for fear of a revival of their power, while toward Persians and Turks ("Irāni" and "Turāni") Akbar's internal politics called for the maintenance of a judi- cial balance in the assignment of offices. Akbar's empire did not lack cohesion or internal stability as in the days of the Tughluqs. Rather, its enlargement had proceeded concurrently with the strengthening of the civil and military administration, over which the emperor had firm control (see text for plate VI.A.2).
Akbar's external relations with the Western and Central Asian powers as well as with the Europeans displayed sound geopolitical insight and were aimed at preventing any threat to the territorial integrity of his empire. He succeeded in recover- ing Kandahar from the Safavids without bloodshed; but all the same, through skillful diplomacy he maintained friendly rela- tions with both the Safavids and the Uzbegs, despite their pro- tracted bitter conflict with one another. Although both were eager for Akbar's support, he persistently avoided any direct interference in their affairs.
The major European nation actively concerned with India during Akbar's reign was Portugal, whose representatives were established at Goa and had extended their power over neigh- boring places. Controlling all mercantile traffic, they occasion- ally interfered with the pilgrim ships bound for Arabia. Al- though provoked in various ways by the Portuguese, Akbar, recognizing their naval power and his own lack of such power, declined to enter into combat with them. In any event he did not wish to antagonize them for fear of creating further com- plications in the Deccan, which he had not fully subjugated. He wanted, rather, to enlist their support against Khandesh and also to obtain from them a supply of guns and ammunition; but in those aims he could not succeed. Virtually throughout his lifetime Akbar maintained a dialogue with the Portuguese, going so far as to propose an alliance with them in 1601, which also came to naught. More significant were his intermittent con- tacts with Jesuits from Portugal and other nations, over the period from 1572 to 1602. Although they failed to convert him to Christianity, they did induce him to build churches at Lahore, Agra, Cambay, and Hugli and to grant them permission to preach Christianity in India and seek Indian converts, which they did with some success.
The English were well behind the Portuguese in embarking on their Eastern ventures. An English Jesuit, Thomas Stevens of Oxford, arrived at Goa in 1579 and spent about forty years in India. Although he never visited the Mughal court, his letters
Before concluding our account of Akbar, a word is in order about his short-lived capital at Fathpur Sīkrī (map (d)), twenty-three miles to the west of the prior imperial capital at Agra. This site was selected because it was the residence of a famous Sufi saint, Shaikh Salīm Chishtī, whom Akbar had asked to pray for a male offspring for the imperial succession. Blessed with the birth of a son, the emperor honored the saint by locating his new capital where he did, commencing its con- struction in 1569. But the splendid edifices erected at Fathpur Sīkrī, created in an eclectic style appropriate to the founding emperor, were not long enjoyed by the imperial court, for a shortage of water caused the city to be abandoned before the end of the 16th century. Thereafter the Mughal capital re- mained at Agra till 1648, when Shāh Jahān restored the throne to Delhi, renamed Shāhjahānābād.
Sources (in addition to those in the General Bibliography)
'Abbas Sarwānī; 'Abd al-Bā&ktod;ī Nihāwandī; 'Abd al &Htod;aqq; 'Abdullāh; Abū al Fazl ibn Mubārak (1 and 2); Abū Turāb Valī; Ahmad Tattawī; Ahmad Yādgār; Bābur; Badāyūnī; Firishtah; Begam Gulbadan; Haydar Mīrzā; Jawhar; Ma'&stod;um Nāmī; Muhammad 'Arif Qandhari; Ni'mat Allah; Nizām al- Dīn Ahmad, al Harawi; Nur ul-Haqq Mashriqī; Rizqullāh Mushtāqī.
M. Akbar (1948b); S. Banerji (1938–41); M. S. Commissariat (1938); S. M. Edwardes (1926); W. Erskine (1854); E. D. Maclagen (1932); W. H. Moreland (1920); I. Prasad (1956); K. R. Qanungo (1921), (1965); Sukumar Ray (1948); Riazul Islam (1970); T. Roe (1926); J. H. Ryley (1899); G. Sarwar (1939); J. M. Shelat (1959); H. K. Sherwani (1974); R. Shyam (1966); V. A. Smith (1917); A. L. Srivastava (1962– 67); L. F. R. Williams (1918).
VI.A.2 The Mughal Empire, c. 1605
By the time of Akbar's death in 1605, the administrative structure of the Mughal Empire had been cast in an enduring mold. Although the empire continued to grow for nearly an- other century, the existing administrative system was such that it could easily accommodate imperial expansion. Plate VI.A.2 illustrates that system in a variety of ways. We have selected 1605 as a benchmark date not only because of its relationship to the life of Akbar, but also because it follows closely on the completion, in 1603, of Abul Fazl's Ā'in-i Akbarī (The Insti- tutions of Akbar), on which the data presented are primarily based. Further, the year 1605 has been a favorite benchmark date for previous scholars, eight of whose maps of the empire at that time are presented, in adapted form—along with our own view, for comparison—in the Introduction to this atlas. We have commented in the text relevant to those maps on the wide range of opinion among historians about what the limits of the empire actually were as of 1605.
Map VI.A.1 (a) is a more detailed version of the view we presented in the atlas Introduction, portraying internal sūbah (provincial) boundaries as well as the exterior limits of the empire and showing all locatable administrative centers down to the sarkār (district) level. In drawing the limits of the re- spective sūbahs on map (a), we found it necessary to plot on work maps not only the sarkar towns within each, but also sev- eral hundred pargana centers lying on either side of particular sūbah boundaries. In general, the denser the distribution of locatable centers, the more accurate the boundaries derived from plotting them; boundaries in deserts or thinly populated forest areas or along the periphery of the empire are obviously less precise than boundaries well within it in densely settled areas. The type of raw data we have relied on in drawing our map is illustrated in the excerpt from the Ā'īn, relative to the Sarkār of Delhi, which appears in the upper right corner of the plate. Maps (b) and (c) below it indicate in much greater detail than the main map the sorts of spatial data that can be derived from the Ā'īn.
As noted in the text for plate VI.A.1, the administrative structure laid down for the Mughal Empire during the reign of Akbar borrowed heavily from the institutions of his worthy Sūr predecessor, Sher Shāh, which related particularly to: (a) control by a strong central government over different branches of the administration, (b) local administration, and (c) revenue assessment and collection. Sher Shāh, in turn, was not an innovator in all these spheres, having adopted or
The parganas were grouped into sarkārs, which were headed by shiqdar-i shiqdārān and munsif-i munsifān. The former supervised the work of the shiqdārs of the parganas within his jurisdiction and maintained a sizable force to suppress rebel- lions. The latter, though chiefly concerned with dispensing civil justice, also kept a watch over the amīns in the parganas. Above the sarkārs were provisional units of varying size to which Sher Shāh did not attach much importance, probably because power- ful provincial heads had in the past overthrown the monarchs at the center. Some of these units were like military governor- ships, placed under the charge of a faujdār, while Delhi had a faujdār as well as a shiqdār and an amīn. In certain strategic areas the offices of faujdārs and shiqdārs were combined. Cer- tain large provinces (e.g., Bengal) were reduced to smaller administrative units for more effective control.
Under Akbar the provinces assumed far greater importance than under Sher Shāh, and their administration was reorganized on a uniform basis. As our administrative chart shows, lower- level units continued to exist, with the shiqdār as head of the pargana, with an amīn, qānūngū, treasurer, and accountant subordinate to him. The chief officer of the sarkār was the faujdār (a term borrowed from Sher Shāh's system), and he in turn was subject to the provincial head, or sūbadār. These local arrangements continued under the British, when the tahsils were almost analogous to the parganas, with the tahsildār sub- stituting for the shiqdār or 'āmil and the sarkār becoming a district unit headed by the district officer or "collector," who was a replica of the old shiqdār-i shiqdārān or the faujdār of the Mughal days.
In regard to revenue settlement, Sher Shāh had introduced a system of land measurement almost throughout his empire with the exception of Multan, Malwa, and Rajputana. The state demand was calculated by averaging the highest, middle, and lowest produce of various parts of the area cultivated. The government's share was fixed at approximately one-fourth. Akbar accepted this measurement system and also adopted Sher Shāh's schedules. Later, however, he made his own im- provements in the classification of land as well as in the method of measurement through a new standard yard and also in assess- ment, which led to the formulation of new schedules based on the average of the produce of ten years but calculated every year by dropping the oldest year and adding the medium pro- duce of the latest year. The government's share was put at one- third of the total yield. It might be observed that the basic ele- ments of Sher Shāh's revenue system continued to operate throughout the Mughal period, while under the British they were evident in the ryotwārī system prevailing in the Madras and Bombay Presidencies in the 19th century.
In military organization Sher Shāh had followed the Khaljīs in maintaining a permanent standing army. Akbar went a step further, organizing his huge army according to a well-graded mansabdārī system (to be described below). Sher Shāh's in- telligence system also served as a good model for the Mughals. He had spies and informers attached to his expeditionary forces; and his system of dāk chaukīs, borrowed from the Lodīs, served not only for transporting mail and messages, but also for gathering news. Akbar organized intelligence and postal services into a regular department, headed by the dārogha-i- dāk-o-sawānih.
The Mughal emperor was head of the administrative organi- zation and was styled as padshāh (superior king). The padshāh was the chief executive, commander-in-chief, sole lawmaker, and supreme dispenser of justice. His chief adviser was the wakīl, who was formally the head of the administration, but whose actual power varied according to his personal relations with the emperor (see notes on Bairam Khān vis-à-vis Akbar in text for plate VI.A.1; no later wakīl was comparably power- ful). The wazīr headed the fiscal administration, and the mīr bakhshī exercised ministerial authority over the armed forces, while the sadr acted, among other duties, as the head of the