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The Early Modern Monarchism in Mughal India (With a Bibliographical Survey)

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The Early Modern Monarchism in Mughal India (With a Bibliographical Survey)
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Item Code: NAF760
Author: Osamu Konda
Publisher: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 2014
ISBN: 978121512763
Pages: 334 (6 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 9.0 inch x 6.0 inch
weight of the book: 560 gms
About The Book

The scope of examination in this volume extends beyond early modern monarchism as an independent topic of study; it also covers religion, culture, commerce, industry, and foreign trade under the reign of early modern monarchs, and focuses on their relevance to Mughal Indian monarchism. In the hope that it may serve as a useful reference for readers, at the end of this volume two appendices are included: an abridged look at feudalism in India, and an overview of sources and materials related to the history of Mughal India.


About the Author

Osamu Kondo was born in Japan. He studied at Kyoto University and Punjab University. Lahore. He received Litt. D. from Kyoto University and is now Professor of History at Bukkyo University, Kyoto and Professor Emeritus of Otemon Gakuin University, Osaka. His works are mostly published in Japanese, including Studies in the History of Mughal India (2003).


This work, which is made up of seven chapters and two appendices, marks my first attempt to present a study of this depth dealing with the history of Mughal India in English. The focal point of this work is the issue of monarchism.

If one follows the convention of dividing Indian history into the three chronological categories of ancient, medieval, and modern, I doubt that most historians would object to placing the Mughal era within the medieval period. It is my view, however, that separating the early modern from the medieval period, and the contemporary from the modern period -in other words employing a five-tiered periodization consisting of ancient, medieval, early modern, modern, and contemporary periods- allows us to present the trends and the developments in society in these eras in a richer manner. If one applies this five-tiered framework, then it is safe to say that the Mughal era lies squarely in the early modern period of Indian history. From the standpoint of social formation theory, an early modern society connotes a late feudal society.

If we consider monarchism in Mughal India based on the understanding that Mughal reign coincides with the early modern period in Indian history, the first problem that should be addressed is the absolute authority wielded by monarchs. In this early modern society, small-scale farming in rural areas developed more than in the preceding periods. In addition, commerce and industry flourished, particularly commercial trade between remote areas. This era likewise saw tremendous growth in the area of foreign trade. In order to rule over this financially prosperous great empire, the monarch stood at the head of and exerted his control over a vast military and a well-developed bureaucratic machine. As a sovereign, his authority was felt not only in the political arena, but in the religious world as well. The early modern monarch, however, differed from both the despotic autocrats of ancient India and the rulers of the medieval period, whose positions depended largely on bloodline relations with the nobility in each disruptive state.

The scope of examination in this volume extends beyond early modern monarchism as an independent topic of study: it also covers religion, culture, commerce, industry, and foreign trade under the reign of early modern monarchs, and focuses on their relevance to Mughal Indian monarchism. In the hope that it may serve as a useful reference for readers, at the end of this volume I have included two appendices: an abridged look at feudalism in India, and an overview of sources and materials related to the history of Mughal India. Some of the chapters and appendices presented here contain portions or entire papers that I have published in English in the past, but readers should note that I made minor revisions to these before their inclusion in this work. The relevant works are listed below.

"Commerce and Industry in Mughal India, with Special Reference to Gujarat," Acta Asiatica (Bulletin of the Institute of Eastern Culture), No.48, Tokyo, 1985, pp. 72-96. (Chapter VI)

"Japan and the India Ocean at the Time of the Mughal Empire, with Special Rference to Gujarat," in The Indian Ocean: Exploration in history, commerce, and politics, ed. by Satish Chandra, New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1987, pp. 174-190. (Chapter VII)

"Feudal Social Formation in Indian History," in The Making of History: Essays presented to Irfan Habib, ed. by K.N. Panikkar, Terence J Byres and Utsa Patnaik, New Delhi: Tulika, 2000, pp. 56-77. (Appendix I)

"Akbar and the Theologians' Declaration (Mab?ar) of 1579,” in Religion in Indian History, ed. by Irfan Habib, New Delhi: Tulika, 2007, pp. 158-166. (Chapter IV)

I should also mention that the basis for the first chapter was a paper titled the "Concept of India at the Time of Akbar, read at the Akbar Fourth Centenary International Seminar, 'Reason and Tolerance in Indian History,' held by the Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi,

Research into the history of Mughal India advanced by leaps and bounds after the Second World War. The field, however, was dominated by what we may term ‘interpretive’ studies, and hard empirical research seemed to take second stage, so to speak. Furthermore, the reality is that many of the basic primary historical sources so far published for the Mughal period that we now have to rely on are texts that were edited before the War. Given these circumstances regarding the history of Mughal India in the academic atmosphere, one source that could be consistenly relied upon, both in terms of empirical research and methodology, was Professor Irfan Habib ad his numerous studies. I know I am not alone in being the recipient of his abundant knowledge and wisdom, but in publishing this work I wish to acknowledge my boundless respect and gratitude to Professor Irfan Habib.



The present volume is a collection of selected papers that I have published over the years dealing with the history of Mughal India, with revisions and additions made where necessary. The dates of publication span a considerable period of time, and during that period I was academically impressed and stimulated both directly and indirectly by the works of many researchers. Therefore, before detailing the themes of this work, I would like to provide an outline of the characteristics of recent research into Mughal Indian history, with a particular focus on the works of contemporary scholars. This is because I believe that doing so will, at least to some extent, put the present volume in proper perspective.

One project that stands out from the perspective of recent research into the history of Mughal India is the New Cambridge History of India. The first Cambridge History of India, published in the 1920's and 1930's, devoted its fourth volume to the 'Mughal Period', and attempted a comprehensive overview of the period encompassing politics, economies, arts and other perspectives. In the New Cambridge History of India, in contrast, the Mughal period and successive periods are discussed in chronological order in four groups of books, with multiple researchers in each chronological group individually authoring separate volumes on particular themes. Publication began in 1987, with M.N. Pearson authoring the first book to appear in the series'. Pearson has written several works dealing with the presence of the Portuguese in India and the response in Indian society to that presence, and is well-known in Japan due in part to a Japanese translation of one of those works. In the New Cambridge History of India, too, he deals with the history of relations between Portugal and India.

The first division in the series is titled 'The Mughals and their Contemporaries', and it comprises nine works: the above-mentioned work by Pearson, four volumes dealing with Mughal history and another four volumes dealing with the history of the Deccan and South India. The four dealing with Mughal Indian history comprise one on painting" one on architecture, one on political history, and one on Indian sufism. While socio-economic history is notably absent from this list, this is most likely due to the fact that Cambridge University Press has already published the two-volume The Cambridge Economic History of India, with the first volume dedicated to the socio-economic history of the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal period, It is also worth mentioning that the forays into the Indian Ocean by the various East India Companies as well as trade activity during the Mughal period are dealt with in a work by Om Prakash belonging to the second division of the series, which is titled 'Indian States and the Transition to Colonialism’.

The Mughal empire was established during the reign of Akbar (1556- 1605), the third Mughal emperor. Accordingly, examinations of the formation and features of the Mughal empire naturally tend to focus on Akbar's reign. Douglas E. Streusand, who has explored the history of Akbar's reign in the context of comparison with the Ottoman empire, has characterized the Mughal empire as being a 'hybrid state' that is Islamic at the centre and Indian in the provinces. Irfan Habib organized a number of researchers, including many of the staff of Aligarh Muslim University, to put together a collection of papers examining many aspects of the Akbar's reign. Iqtidar Alam Khan, another central scholar in the so called 'Aligarh school', published a collection of papers related to the Akbar period that serves to compliment Habib's edition. Alam Khan has published an impressive number of papers related to the history of the Mughal India, particularly the history of technology, and of these he has recently collected and put out as one volume papers related to the history of firearms. He is also noted for his pioneering publication in the 1970's of biographical research on Mun'irn Khan, a prime person under Akbar.

The study of the history of the agrarian system authored by Irfan Habib published in the early 1960's arguably has had more influence on research both within India and elsewhere, into the history of the Mughal empire than any other work of its kind. In recent years a revised edition has been published. The new edition is substantially different from the original. The layout has been changed, and in addition to drawing exhaustively on more recent literature, it includes newly added maps and illustrations. According to the author himself, the most significant difference is in the descriptions of the nature of the village community. Shireen Moosvi, who studied under Irfan Habib, has published a study that gives more weight to Habib's theories by employing analyses of copious statistical data from materials of the period of Akbar's reign. She has recently published another book of her collected articles, too, Nomam Ahmad Siddiqi presents some unique views on the increase in zaminddrs andjagfrdars regarding the agrarian system in the early half of the 18th century, where Habib left off'. Irfan Habib has also completed a comprehensive historical atlas of the Mughal empire that illustrates in detail politics and economies of individual provinces". Habib has since then published a collection of papers of a more theoretical and historiographical nature that cover a range of areas from antiquity to modernity. Recently, a collection of articles by various scholars both inside and outside of India has been published in honour of Habib, and it should be noted that this felicitation volume contains at the end a categorized list of the startling number of academic works that Irfan Habib has produced.

Another figure who played a significant role in the study of Mughal Indian history at Aligarh Muslim University was the late M. Athar Ali (1925-1998). His study of the nobility during the period of Aurangazeb's reign was re-released as a revised edition in his later years, but in this ca e, aside from the addition of a new preface, the revised edition is identical to the first edition that was published in the 1960'S. Athar Ali subsequently produced a reference work comprising extensive tables based On exhaustive research of changes in the ranks and offices of high- level Mughal bureaucrats extending from Akbar's reign to Shahjahan's. With this work it is possible to trace the change over time in rank and post for each individual bureaucrat mentioned. While his unexpected death left works unfinished, a collection of Athar Ali's papers was published posthumously with a preface by his friend and colleague Irfan Habib. Afzal Husain likewise put out a study of the nobility in Akbar's reign and Jahangir's reign, the methodology of which consists of following events occurring in various well-known clans along familial lines. For research on the period of Shahjahan's reign we also have the work of Firdos Anwar.

John F. Richards of Duke University, in addition to being a series editor of The New Cambridge History of India, is also the author of the Mughol Empire as mentioned in note , one of the books in this series. Richards' first major work dealt with the spread of Mughal rule in the Deccan Plateau. He subsequently translated and annotated a kind of administrative handbook containing samples of administrative documents such as letters of appointment for officials. A collection of Richards' papers in academic journals has been published separately. He has also served as editor of two books so far. One deals with royal power and authority in South Asia, and the other treats the currency system in the Mughal empire. More recently, Richards has put out a massive new work in which he draws comparisons between Mughal India and histories of the same era in Europe, China and others, and in addition to pointing out that the expansion of farmland in each of these areas was an important objective in the agricultural policies of the various governments, he presents a commentary on the history of the early modern world from a broad-minded environmental history perspective. Also concerning the currency system, Sanjay Subrahmanyam has edited a volume of collected papers previously published by a number of authors that covers not only the Mughal period but also the period of the Delhi Sultanate .

S. Nurul Hasan (1921-1993) produced significant results in research on zamindiirs, and a collection of his papers has been compiled by Satish Chandra, who contributed the introduction. Nurul Hasan made clear many important points and provided insightful suggestions on various periods and themes related to the Mughal era. Ahsan Raza Khan, who was trained by Nurul Hasan, also conducted a study of wealthy zamindiirs in each province under Akbar's reign:

Since the death of Nurul Hasan, Satish Chandra, one year junior to the former, has continued to occupy the position of senior authority among researchers of the Mughal era. Chandra presented in the 1950's a work on struggles and splits in political parties at the Mughal court in the early 18th century. He followed this by editing and translating into English a collection of correspondence of one of the Saiyid brothers, who were active around this time as supporters of the emperors and manipulators of the affairs of state. He subsequently published a three-volume collection of previously published articles. Chandra also served as editor and chose from among papers published in the Proceedings of the Indian History Congress those dealing with agriculture, land taxation, commerce. markets, currency systems, etc. for a volume of Indian History Congress Golden Jubilee Year Publication Series.

K.N. Chaudhuri, formerly of the University of London, together with Clive J. Dewey, has edited a collection of works related to economic history. Chaudhuri was one of the first scholars to present research on the early phases of the English East India Company. He subsequently authored a massive work on the English East India Company in succeeding periods and trade in Asia. Following these, Chaudhuri has further published two works on trade and economic history in the Indian Ocean.

The abundance of economic, social, and civilizational history research surrounding the Indian Ocean is a recent characteristic trend. One Indian Scholar who advanced that trend was Ashin Das Gupta (1932-1998). His first work was on the history of trade via the Malabar Coast, but he later roadened the themes of his research to include external trade in the Gujarat and Bengal regions, and his work on the process of decline in the 18th century of the port of Surat, the largest trading port in Mughal India, is well known. A collection of selected papers by Ashim Das Gupta is also available. Together with M.N. Pearson, he also edited a collection of articles by a number of researchers dealing with the early modern history of trade in the Indian Ocean. Much more research from Ashim Das Gupta was anticipated, but those hopes were dashed by his unexpected death. Satish Chandra has likewise also edited a collection of works which take up issues related to the Indian Ocean, but research in this volume is not limited to the early modern era.

M.N. Pearson, mentioned above as one of the authors of a volume in The New Cambridge History of India, also has many books and articles to his name dealing with the early modern history of the Indian Ocean. Pearson's account of the history of Gujarat making extensive use of Portuguese materials was the starting point for his academic research, but he followed this with research on the history of trade, relying on Portuguese documents here as well, covering all of western India. He has also authored a book on pilgrimages to Mecca by Muslims which examines not only religious aspects, but economic, cultural and political aspects as well. There is also a collection of papers published in journals, etc. by various researchers dealing with the spice trade edited with an introduction by Pearson:

Concerning Dutch trade activities with India, Om Prakash, who like Pearson authored one volume for The New Cambridge History of India-this one dealing with the history of the forays into India by the East India Companies of various countries as mentioned above, published research focusing on trade in Bengal. Prakash also has to his name a presentation of Indian-related materials from the Dutch East India Company, and after editing with his introduction a collection of works by various scholars published to date relating to the penetration of Asia by European countries, he recently published another book of his own articles on the Indian Ocean trade: Tapan Raychaudhuri, who transferred from Delhi University to the University of Oxford, authored as early as in the early 1960's a study on Dutch commercial activities and the transformation of local communities along the Coromandel Coast. Also related to the Coromandel Coast, we have the research of Sinnappah Arasaratnam5o. There are two collections of essays by Arasaratnam dealing with 17th century Indian Ocean history and the Coromandel Coast. Together with Aniruddha Ray, Arasaratnam also put out a study drawing comparisons between the port of Masul ipatam on the Coromandel Coast and the port of Cambay in Gujarat.

As for French forays into the Indian Ocean, collected works by Catherine Manning and Indrani Ray (1935-1983) have been published in succession. Aniruddha Ray has recently released a large, two-volume study on French activities in India after the establishment of the French East India Company. The penetration into Asia by the powers of Europe by sea had an enormous effect on traditional Asian travel via land routes. This argument was advanced by Danish scholar Niels Steensgaard, who interpreted the rise in prominence of sea travel to Asia in the 17th century as a 'revolution. Concerning the development of domestic transportation in India, which is linked to outgoing traffic, there is a series of studies by a French scholar Jean Deloche.

There is also a wealth of research on urban and regional histories. Since the capital of the Mughal empire was shifted by Shahjahan from Agra to Delhi in 1648, the prosperity of Delhi mirrored the rise and decline of the empire itself. The newly constructed imperial capital was called Shahjahanabad after the reigning emperor. The research by Stephen P. Blake examines various aspects of the new capital, beginning with its construction and covering its landscape, society, economy, court culture, popular culture and others. In the spirit of Max Weber, Blake expresses his view of the Mughal empire as a 'patrimonial-bureaucratic empire. There is also a monograph on Delhi by Shama Mitra Chenoy, and it is worth nothing that in her research she employs the methodology of social history in exploring markets, shops, factories, forms of housing and the lives of ordinary people. R.E. Frykenberg put together a number of diverse papers on the characteristics of Delhi over a long course of history from the Delhi Sultantate period to the modern age into one volume. It includes many essays on Delhi in the Mughal period. As for Agra, the capital of the Mughal empire from the time of Akbar until it was moved to Delhi I.P. Gupta has published a study on the development of the city and its urban structure.




  Preface v
  Recent studies of Mughal Indian History 1
Chapter -I Geography Image of Indian at the Time of Akbar 27
Chapter -II Abu'l-Fazl's Conception of Kingship 41
Descriptions in the A'in'I Akbari (I) 43
Descriptions in the A'ni-I Akbari (II) 49
Descriptions in the Akbar-nama 53
Abu'l-Fazl's Conception of kingship 58
Chapter -III Diplomatics under Akbar with Special Reference to Mughal Royal Edicts 65
The Role of Diplomatic in Mughal India 66
The Procedure of Issuing the Farman 69
Two Types of Farman 73
Formats of Farman 77
Three Examples of the Farman 84
Chapter -IV Religion and Culture in Mughal India 103
Religion Problems during Akbar's Reign 105
Two Currents Indo- Islamic Thought in Mughal India 112
Some Features of Indo- Islamic Culture in Mughal India 119
Chapter -V A wealthy Jain Merchant of Ahmadabad and the Mughal Authorities 127
The Early Life of Shantidas Jawahari 128
Shantiddas during the Reign of Shahjahan 132
Shantidas and the Dispute over Imperial Succession 137
Commerce in Ahmadabad and the Mughal's Policy towards Jains 143
Chapter -VI Commerce and Industry in Mughal India, with special reference to Gujarat 157
The Markets and Trade Routes 158
Textile Manufacture in Gujarat 166
Surat and Overseas Trade 173
Chapter -VII Japan and the Indian Ocean at the Time of the Mughal Empire 187
Japan and India in the Early Days 187
Japan Activities in the South Seas 189
Gujarati Merchants in the Southeast Asian Ports 193
Japan and India during the Mughal Period 196
Appendix I The Feudal Social Formation in Indian History 207
History Premises of India Feudalism 212
History Stages of Indian Feudalism 223
Appendix II A Bibliographical survey of Source Materials for Mughal Indian History 231
Historical Premises of Indian Feudalism 231
Historical Stages of India Feudalism 241
  Select Bibliography of Modern works 277
  Index 313

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