The Mughal Empire: Administration, Social, Economic and Religious Conditions

Salient Features of the Mughal Empire:

Administration:

  1. It was a semi Arabic system in Indian setting.
  2. Military type of government.
  3. Despotic form of government, but enlightened as power was not misused.
  4. The state however, was not much concerned with social welfare and Reforms.
  5. Law and justice for not modern, officer was quite corrupt.
  6. Except for Aurangzeb. Mughal rulers were free of religious intolerance.
  7. A peculiarity was the manufacture of articles by the state to satisfy it needs.
  8. Another special feature was the commitment of order etc. in writing.
  9. Army was formed of infantry, cavalry, artillery, elephantry navy (mostly used for transport and not for war) department.

Economy:

  1. Source of revenue were land revenue, customs, mints, gifts confiscation, plunder in wars, salt tax, and income from mines and government controlled factories pilgrimage tax, Jizya.
  2. Expenditure came under salaries to mansabdars and troops, building works of public utility, charities, war and expeditions.

Law and justice:

  • The Mughal rulers love justice, Kings Court was supreme. Panchayat administered justice in villages. The defects were that record of cases was not made. Corruption was rampant and punishments were too harsh.

Social life:

  1. Society was divided on the basic of nobility or status.
  2. The middle classes were very limited.
  3. Majority belongs to the lowest sections earning very little.
  4. Food was cheap, Hindus were mostly vegetarian, the Muslim ate meat. Wine was used. Opium and bhang were also common.
  5. Amusement included keeping pigeons, dance, music, and Polo, kite flying.
  6. Position of women was bad among Hindus. Purdah System was established. Among Hindus Sati and child marriage were prevalent but not widow marriage.
  7. There was mutual tolerance between Hindu and Muslims during Akbar’s reign and Sanskrit books were translated into Persian. Indians learnt Persian and Arabic. But the relations deteriorated after Akbar.
  8. Social evils included superstitions, child marriage, very low position of women, dowry system, Sati, drinking and gambling etc.

Economic Life:

  1. Agriculture was chief occupation but there were many famines.
  2. Industry developed especially cotton textiles, silk dyeing, painting, and manufacturing of wooden and leather articles weapons and carpets.
  3. Internal and external trade flourished. Export of textiles spices Indigo shawls etc. And import of gold, silver, raw silk, diamond, ivory, perfumes, drugs etc.
  4. Growth of big and prosperous cities.
  5. Prices very low but incomes were also low.
  6. After Aurangzeb, economic conditions deteriorated.

Religious condition:

  1. Period of comparative religious tolerance especially in Akbar’s reign.
  2. Bhakti movement gained strength.
  3. Progress of Sufism.
  4. Art, architecture and literature:
  5. The the Mughal Empire very fond of arts. Architecture flourished. Use of costly material and beautification minarets and domes.
  6.  In painting naturalistic themes, growth of Rajput and Kangra School.
  7. Persian, Hindi and Sanskrit literature flourished. Birbal, Surdas, Bhushan, etc. were great writers.
  8. Education was not the duty of the state by the rulers encouraged it. Female education was ignored.