Mansabdari was a system of army and civil services introduced by Akbar in place of the Jagirdari system. Strictly speaking, Akbar was not the originator of this system. It was originally a system introduced by ‘Khalifa’ Abba Saiyed and thereafter imported into India. Akbar introduced several changes in this system. This system was the pillar of the Mughal administration. By abolishing the jagirdari system, the mansabdari system was introduced. It proved quite effective.
Meaning of the Mansabdari System:
The ‘Mansab’ is an Arabic word meaning rank or position or status of a person. Thus Mansabdari was a system in which the rank of a government official was determined. Every civil and military officer was given a ‘mansab’. Different numbers which could be divided by ten were used for ranking officers. It was also meant for fixing the salaries and allowances of officers.
Main Features of the Mansabdari System:
1. The king himself appointed the mansabdars. He could enhance the mansab, lower down it or remove it.
2. A mansabdar could be asked to perform any civil or military service.
3. There were 33 categories of the Mansabdars. The lowest mansabdar commanded 10 soldiers and the highest 10,000 soldiers. Only the princes of the royal family and most important Rajput rulers were given a mansab of 10,000.
4. A mansabdar was paid his salary in cash.
5. The salary due to the soldiers was added to the personal salary of the mansabdar. Sometimes for paying the salaries to the soldier, a jagir was given to the mansabdar. But the revenue was realised by officers and necessary adjustments made.
6. Mansabdari system was not hereditary.
7. In addition to meeting his personal expenses, the mansabdar had to maintain out of his” salary a stipulated quota of horses, elephants, camels and mules and carts.
8. A mansabdar holing a rank of 5000 had to maintain 340 horses, 100 elephants, 400 camels, 100 mules and 160 carts.
9. Handsome salaries were paid to a Mansabdar. A mansabdar with a rank of 5,000 got a salary of Rs. 30,000 per month; a mansabdar of 3,000 could get Rs. 17,000 and a mansabdar of 10,000 got rupees 8,200.
10. The horses were classified into six categories and the elephants into five.
11. For every ten cavalry men, the Mansabdar had to maintain twenty horses for horses had to be provided rest while on march and replacements were necessarily in times of war.
12. A record of the description (‘huliy’) of each horseman under a mansabdar and of branding (‘dag’) horses to prevent corruption was kept.