Detailed Answers: Mains Marathon History Optional Test 5 – UPSC Mains 2017 History Optional Initiative



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History Optional Questions – Test 5

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Following are the suggested answers of Test-5 Questions:

Q1. Akbar build Mughal Empire by enlisting support of Rajput, Aurangzeb destroyed it by eliminating them. Do you agree?


During the reign of Aurangzeb, the Mughal-Rajput relations got converted from good to bad and later to worst. The warmth and friendship characterized Mughal-Rajput relations since days of Akbar disappeared. Aurangzeb has to face serious rebellions from states of Marwad and Mewar. But the statement does not represent the truth.

It is true that the warmth and friendship of Mughal Rajput relations got reduced, Aurangzeb had to face the rebellions from Marwad and Mewar but it should be kept in mind that other states such as Amber, Kota, Bundi, Harauti, Bikaner and Kisangarh continued to serve the empire with the same loyalty as before.

Strategic focus had shifted from Rajputana to Deccan during the reign of Aurangzeb and because of this; impact of change in Mughal-Rajput relations under Aurangzeb should not be over emphasized.

The decline of Mughal Empire was a process. Although we witness the changes in religious policy, Rajput policy and Deccan policy during the reign of Aurangzeb, but these were outcome of changing geopolitical environment. The impact of these changes were also not very significant, so Aurangzeb alone cannot be held responsible for disintegration of Mughal empire.

Q2. Enumerate the factors that shaped Aurangzeb’s religious policy.


Aurangzeb was devoted SunniMuslim. He was a man of simple habits. He was free from evils of age. This devoted religious outlook influenced the Mughal state policy to some extent.

Aurangzeb fought number of battles. In the war of succession his main opponent was Dara Shukoh. He was supported by liberal elements whereas orthodox elements supported Aurangzeb, that is why in 1659 Aurangzeb ordered to demolish new Hindu temples so his orthodox supporters could be convinced that the new emperor was a truly committed Muslim ruler.

Some of the orthodox measures initiated by Aurangzeb were the outcome of changes in Mughal Rajput relations. After 1667, the warmth in Mughal Rajput relations had got reduced significantly. Aurangzeb no longer trusted Rajputs completely. The Mughal Empire was facing a number of serious challenges in the form of revolts of Jat, Satnami and Ahom. During this period of crisis, Aurangzeb needed greater support of Muslimnobles and to achieve this objective he issued orders to prohibit public celebrations of Hindu religious festivals in 1668-69. Orders were issued to demolish Hindu temples.

Economic challenges being faced by Mughal empire were also responsible for some of the orthodox elements. The department of history writing was closed down in 1668 because Aurangzeb did not want to spend limited resources on non-politico-military affairs. The reimposition of Jaziya was outcome of serious challenge posed by Rajput revolt. The Rajput of Marwad had raised the banner of revolt and refused to accept Ajit Singh. To counter this challenge, Aurangzeb needed full support of Muslims and to mobilize them behind throne, he imposed Jaziya. Reimposition of Jaziya was the outcome of politico-military factors. It also revealed that Aurangzeb’s decision of removal of Jaziya in 1694 to counter the challenge in Deccan.

Q3. Stress the evolution of Mughal Deccan policy from Akbar to Aurangzeb.


Akbar was the first Mughal emperor to pay attention to Deccan. His Deccan policy paved entry of Mughals into peninsular India. Beginning in 1591, Akbar initiated number of steps to secure Mughal entrance into Deccan.

Akbar’s Deccan policy was influenced and directed by number of politico-military-economic factors. The safety of Mughal rule in Gujarat required the wiping out of rebellious activities being organized by Guajarati rebels from Deccani states. When Akbar conquered Gujarat in 1572, a number of Guajarati nobles took shelter in Deccani states e.g. Khandesh, Ahmednagar. Subjugation of these Deccani states was essential to eliminate the rebellious activities.

The ports located on the west coast of Maharashtra were enjoying immense economic significance. Akbar wanted to establish Mughal control over these ports so that Mughal external trade could be increased. It was possible only by establishing Mughal sovereignty over Deccani states. It was possible only by establishing Mughal sovereignty over Deccan states. The rising power of Portuguese was assuming threatening proportions. The Deccani states were small. The Deccani rules didn’t have strength to stand against Portuguese so Akbar had turned his attention towards Deccan.

The sultan of Gujarat used to enjoy a number of ceremonial rights over Deccani states. The rulers of this Deccani states used to read Khutba in name of sultan of Gujarat. After conquering Gujarat in 1572, he demanded the transfer of these ceremonial rights but Deccani rulers refused to comply. To ensure the Mughal sovereignty was accepted by rulers of Deccan, Akbar turned his attention towards Deccan.

Akbar was an imperialistic ruler. He was extremely powerful and after completing conquest of north India it was quite expected that Akbar must turn his attention towards Deccan. In 1591, Akbar completed the conquest of Sindh. There was hardly any other territory left in North India to be subjugated.

After Akbar, Jahangir succeeded the throne. Despite the fact that he was not a powerful ruler, Jahangir continued the policy of his father. The objective of his Deccan policy was to maintain Mughal dominance over Ahmednagar and increase pressure over Deccani states of Bijapur and Golkonda. Rise of Malik Amber as prime minister of Ahmednagar transformed nature of challenge in Deccan, Malik Amber is considered to be one of the ablest administrators and military strategist in the entire history of India. He started guerrilla warfare against Mughals. As a result of this Mughals had to struggle hard to maintain their dominance over Ahmednagar.

Ahmednagar declared its independence from Mughal rule, the Mughal forces had to struggle hard to restore control over Ahmednagar. In 1617, prince Khurram forced Ahmednagar to accept the sovereignty of Mughals once again but this success proved to be short lived. Finally in 1621, Ahmednagar accepted Mughal sovereignty and agreed to pay 60 lac rupiya to Mughals as indemnity. Jahangir could not get any new success in Deccan but success in maintaining Mughal dominance was no less significant.

Shahjahan had lived in Deccan for long time as Mughal governor. He had acknowledged the geo-political circumstances prevailing in Deccan. Therefore he followed very calculated aggressive policy against Deccani states. He annexed Ahmednagar in 1636. He brought immense pressure on Bijapur and Golkonda. In 1636, Portuguese state accepted Mughal sovereignty. In this way Shahjahan’sDeccan policy was highly successful.

Aurangzeb was one of the most capable Mughal rulers. He had lived in Deccan for many years as Mughal governor. He knew the geo-political environment prevailing in Deccan very well. During the reign of Aurangzeb the nature of Deccan challenge changed significantly as a result of emergence of Marathas under Shivaji.

Aurangzeb was under impression that the Deccani Muslim states of Bijapur and Golkonda were supporting Marathas against Mughals so that Mughals could remain busy in Maratha land and rulers of Bijapur and Golkonda could remain free from Mughal interference. Annexation of Bijapur and Golkonda was considered precondition to tackle the challenge of Marathas as result of this Bijapur and Golkonda were Annexed by Mughals in 1686 and 1687 respectively.

The Shia-Sunni differences were considered to have played role in annexation of Bijapur and Golkonda. Both of these states were ruled by Shia rulers and Aurangzeb was orthodox SunniMuslim.

Maratha king Sambhaji was captured in 1689. This was climax of success of Aurangzeb in deccan. Hereafter the Mughals had to face an extremely serious challenge of Maratha national revolt.

Q4. Analyse the causes of agrarian crisis faced by the peasants in Mughal Empire during latter half of 17th century.


Mughal empire had to face a very serious agrarian crisis during latter half of 17th century. This crisis was the outcome of combined effect of number of politico-administrative-economic and natural factors.

The burden of land revenue had increased significantly on peasantry during reigns of Shahjahan and Aurangzeb. As a result of this availability of surplus with the peasants got reduced. They enjoyed hardly any safety against fluctuations in production. Even slight reduction in production used to cause trouble for peasants. Reintroduction of Ijardari system also adversely affected the vast majority of peasantry. The ijardars misused their power to extract as much as possible from peasantry. There was no protection from state against these intermediaries.

Jagirdars also contributed to intensification of agrarian crisis. Jagirdars were given the power to administer criminal justice by Aurangzeb. The availability of good Jagirs were few. Difference between Jama and Haasil was high because the Jagirdars tried to extract as much as possible from peasantry.

Natural calamities were also involved in agrarian crisis of 17th century. According to Peter Mundi and Abdul Hamid Lahori,Deccan was destructed by severe famine in 1630-32. According to Kafi Khan, a serious drought took place during 1666-67. The crop got destroyed and peasants had to face severe crisis.

Lack of proper attention to politico-administrative matters by Aurangzeb was also responsible to agrarian crisis. He was busy in Deccan for twenty five years continuously. He could not pay attention to needs of agriculture and suffering of peasantry.

Local officials misused their authority to exploit the peasantry. According to contemporary records the Subedar of Maratha increased the burden of land revenue to peasantry disproportionately. Plea of peasantry was not heard. They had no option to raise banner of revolt under Chudamal and Surajmal.

Excessive financial burden faced by Mughal empire due to continuous military campaign were also behind the agrarian crisis of later 17th century. State was facing resource crunch and ultimate burden fell on poor peasantry.

Q5. 18th century enjoyed a place of great significance in Indian history. Discuss.


The 18th century was the age of transformation from medieval to modern age. While some of the medieval features disappear from Indian society, polity and economy, at the same time some modern features started becoming visible. These elements of continuity and change imparted a unique characteristic to life of India in 18th century.

Because of various significant changes witnessed during 18th century, historians have put forward various views and theories about character of 18th century. Serious debates have continued among scholars over the issue of characterization of 18th century.

Colonial historians emphasize that nature and character of life in India in 18th century was sharply different from life during 16th and 17th century. They emphasized that social life in 18th century was marred by number of evils like casteism and untouchability. The concept of purity and pollution was visible in society in rigid form. They also emphasized that Indian economy declined sharply during 18th century. The progress and prosperity visible in India during 16th and 17th century were not visible. In terms of political developments as well 18th century was portrait of age of sharp break from past.

The closer examination of dimensions of life in India during 18th century clearly reveal that there was not sharp break from past in society, polity and economy. The social institutions and practices were not new to 18th century. The evils like casteism and untouchability were going on since ages. During the first half of 18th century, Indian economy was highly advanced. The demand of Indian products was so high in European market that British parliament enacted law in 1710 and 1720 to ban use of Indian printed cloths. Such laws were maintained in every country of Europe. Significant changes were witnessed during 18th century. While Mughal empire underwent disintegration but it must be emphasized that the process of disintegration commenced in 17th century. When Mughal Empire was disintegrating other forces such as Marathas gained ground. Before the disastrous defeat in 3rd battle of Panipath, it was appearing that Marathas would replace Mughal Empire.

A closer examination of life in India during 18th century reveals that level of economic progress was high. Huge amount of foreign wealth moved into India due to favorable trade in India. According to available data, East India Company brought bullion worth 20 million pounds during 1st half of 18th century. The commerce of India was considered to be commerce of world. India was the biggest manufacturing nation in the first half of 18th century.

Q6.  Give an account for the population during Mughal India.


Various historians have studied the population of India during Mughal periods. Moreland made the first attempt to estimate the population with the help of data of the Ain-i-Akbari. He tried to determine the population of northern india on the basis of the figures given in Ain-i-Akbari. This work gives figures for Arazi i.e. measured area which he took to represent the gross cropped area.

Comparing the Arazi with the gross cultivation at the beginning of this century and assuming a constant correspondence between the extent of cultivation and the size of population right through the intervening period, he concluded that from Multan to Monghyr, there were 30 to 40 million people at the end of 16th century. He put the population of Akbar’s empire in 1600 at 60 million and India as a whole at 100 million.

Kingsley Davis raised Moreland’s estimate for the whole of India to 125 million in his book Population of India and Pakistan. Another significant attempt to estimate population by using different kinds of data was made by Ashok V. Desai. Desai compared the purchasing power of the lowest urban wages on the basis first of prices and wages given in Ain-i-Akbari and then of All India prices and wages of the early 1960’s.

ShirinMoosvi gives the estimate of population of India in 17th century as between 140 million to 150 million. She estimates the population of Akbar’s empire at 100 million and that of india at 145 million.

Nizamuddin Ahmad in his book Tabaqat-i-Akbari in 1593 AD records that in Akbar’s empire there were 120 big towns and 3200 townships, taking the total population of Akbar’s empire to be nearly 100 million and the urban population at 15 percent of it. The average size of these 3200 towns works out at about 5000 each.

European travellers also provided estimated population of some major cities. Thus we get the population of Agra in year 1609 to be 500000 and of Delhi in 1659 to be 500000.the population of Surat, Patna, Dacca and Muslipatanam during mid-17th century was around 200000.

Q7. Political order and stability provided by the Mughals in north India led to revival of economic life and contributed to the growth of numerous towns and commercial activities. Discuss.


During the Mughal period a number of urban centers sprang up especially in northern India. The Mughal emperors not only founded number of new towns but also tried to promote the progress of existing cities and towns. Some of the new towns promoted by Mughals included Attock, benaras, Allahabad, Fatehpur Sikri, Moradabad, Faizabad etc. The existing cities which made further progress during Mughal period included Lahore, Agra, Delhi, Patna etc.

The growth of cities resulted in large number of craftsmen moving there to meet the requirements of local people. However, in the course of time some of these developed into industries of great prominence on account of volumes of production and quality of product and soon began to export to other parts of empire. In Delhi a number of industries made tremendous progress during the Mughal rule with the cotton fabrics topping the list. Delhi produced well colored chintzes in large quantities and several qualities to suit the requirements of all sections of society.

The other prominent industries of Delhi were indigo, brass utensils, leather, swords, guns, palanquins, sugar etc. In Lahore large number of industries flourished which included carpet weaving, Shawl industry etc.

The most outstanding feature of the growth and development of cities during the Mughal period was enormous growth in commerce which formed an integral part of the life of these cities. Most of the cities developed as commercial centers because they were located on the main highways and also commanded a rich hinterland. Some of the trading centers of the period were Delhi, Agra, Lahore, Benaras, Patna etc.

Q8. Write a brief note on coinage during the Mughal India.


Mughals were able to establish a currency of very high metallic standard and uniformity throughout their vast empire. They coined gold, silver and copper. The gold issues were almost wholly pure while in the silver the proportion of alloy never rose above 4 percent.

The currency system was moreover was one of free coinage ie it was open to take bullion to the mint and on payment of charges, get it converted into specie. The coins, therefore, circulated at values practically corresponding to their weights in respective metals and ratios at which one unit exchanged for another of a different metal was a matter to be determined by market and not administration.

The basic units for all cash transactions was the silver coin rupya or in its Anglicized form the rupee. The silver fractional unit of Ana or Anna, equivalent to one sixteenth of a rupya, seems to have come into common use in the seventeenth century. The gold Mohr was also known as Ashrafi was not in general commercial use, but mostly employed for hoarding purposes, especially by the aristocracy. The main copper coin was the Dam. In Akbar’s reign it gradually replaced the copper Tanka of which it was supposed to be half in value. The Dam was also known as paisa while half Dam was known as Adhela.

The weights of rupee and Mohr remained unaltered throughout the period. Only Aurangzeb at his accession made a trifling increase in the weights of both coins, which, however, left their relative weights unaltered. Jahangir gave two heavier kinds of Rupees and Mohr’s, but the innovation was the new issue bore special names. A peculiarity of Mughal currency system was that a coin also lost in value simply on account of its age. The year in which it minted was inscribed on it, along with the name of the mint and the titles of reigning emperor. The newly coined rupees were known as sikka. These bore premium over those struck in the precedingyears of the same reign which were known as Chalani or Peth. These in turn had a higher value than the coins current from former reigns known as Khazana.

Mughals imposed their standard of currency on all the regions that came under their way. This was significant from trade point of view. But in certain regions local currencies inherited from previous regimes continued. The most important of these were the silver coins of a rather heavy alloy which were current in Gujarat and western India and were very close to each other in worth. Malwa had Muzaffaris each worth less than half a rupee, Berar had silver tankas worth 16 Dams or 2/5th of a rupee. In Khandeshtankas were probably only units of account, for their value was arbitrarily raised by Akbar from 2/5th to 3/5th of a rupee. In Gujarat the Mahmudi continued to be used at the great port of Surat.

Q9. Give an account of patronage of Mughals for science and technology. Discuss the development of astronomy during medieval period.


Patronage of science and technology at the Mughal court mainly related to sciences like astronomy and medicine which had practical utility. Astronomy was helpful in calculation of time, framing of calendars, determination of seasonal cycles and festivals associated with these. It was also helpful in agricultural activities besides seafaring and voyages. It was essential for the study of planetary motions and making of horoscope. Medicine was necessary for treatment of diseases.

Humayun took keen interest in astronomy while Akbar encouraged scientific inventions. However, the system of education remained highly oriented towards religious studies and scientific information was often mixed up with superstition and religious myths. There did not develop a scientific temperament and outlook. Interest in sciences could not lead to the growth of a rational outlook in society.

In the sphere of technology, the important developments were in artillery, use of gunpowder and cannon making, the manufacture of ships, wheeled carriages for riding, glass manufacture etc. Mughals introduced the artillery in battles in north India which brought about a major change in method of warfare. The manufacture of cannon and guns was actively patronized at the Mughal court. But Indian technology could not advance to a high level of perfection.

Glass ware was not as superior as that of contemporary Europe. Mirrors, binoculars and spectacles were not manufactured. Tools and techniques did not register any considerable improvement. Although the Indian craftsmen could copy European ships, horse drawn carriages and make identical models, they could neither improve upon these nor develop their working tools to a higher level of efficiency. By and large, the artisans were not very rich and had neither the means nor time to bring improvements in their tools. The imperial Karkhanas were managed by officials who considered manual work and labour as inferior occupations and therefore, did not help in bringing about improvements in tools. The caste system ensured regular supply of cheap labour and as such the need for labour saving devices or machines was hardly felt.

Aristocracy appreciated and patronized skill and workmanship of the artisans hence manual or handicraft production was always preferred to mechanized production. For all these reasons there was hardly any sustained interest taken in technology or its improvement. The response of ruling class in matters of science and technology was selective, depending upon convenience, utility and needs. The progress was not uniform, sustained or universal. On the whole science and technology remained backward.

Astronomy was one of the important sciences in medieval times. Several rulers in colonial India took keen interest in astronomy. Firoz shah Tughlaq in spite of his orthodoxy had keen interest in astronomy. He ordered the preparation of astronomical charts and tables at his court. He also got observation posts built at Delhi. Several instruments for use in calculation of distance and time such as astrolabes instrument for measurement of time were also made. He also installed a water clock i.e.Tas-i-Ghadial at Faridabad. Humayun was also keenly interested in astronomy. He organized his court in conformity with the signs of zodiac.

Among regional rulers, Firuz shah Bahamani set up an observatory at Daulatabad. In the 18th century a seminar attempt was made of Sawai Raja Jai Singh of Jaipur. The major centers for the study of astronomy were Delhi, Mathura, Ujjain and Banaras. Astronomical charts were referred as Zij. Several such works were prepared in 17th and 18th century of which the Zij-i-Shahjahani of Hanif Ibrahim of Delhi and Zij-i-JadidMd.Shahi by Raja Sawai Raja Jai Singh are considered two of the most important examples. An important development in the period was the combination of the Indian and Arab tradition and influences in the study of astronomy. The process had begun as early as Alberuni during 11th century and continued down to the late 18th century.

Q10. Persian Literature made tremendous progress during the period of rule of the Mughals. Discuss.


Literature made tremendous progress during the period of rule of Mughals. Both original and translated works were produced in large numbers. The literature grew not only in Persian but also was produced in Hindi, Sanskrit, Urdu and other regional languages.

Persian was made state language by Akbar which helped in the growth of its literature. Babur was a scholar. He wrote his biography Tuzuk-i-Babri in Turki language and it was so beautifully written that it was translated into Persian thrice. He also wrote poems in Turki and Persian and his collections of poems Diwan became quite famous. Humayun had good command over both Turki and Persian literature. He had sufficient knowledge of philosophy, mathematics and astronomy. He patronized scholars of all subjects. Akbar himself was not educated but he created those circumstances which helped in the growth of literature during the period of his rule. He gave encouragementto Persian language and famous works of different languages like Sanskrit, Arabic, Turki, Greek etc. were translated into it. He established a separate department for this purpose. Many scholars rose to eminence under his patronage.

Jahangir was also well educated. He wrote his biography Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri himself for the first seventeen years of his rule and got prepared the rest of it by Mautmid Khan. Shahjahan also gave protection to scholars. Dara Shukoh arranged for the translation of many Sanskrit texts in Persian. During the period of later Mughals, Persian remained the court language till the rule of Muhammad Shah. Afterwards, it was replaced by Urdu. Yet, good works were produced by many scholars in Persian even afterwards. Thus Persian got the maximum incentive to grow during the rule of Mughals and therefore made very good progress.

Q11. Abulfazl is the most distinguished historian in medieval India. Comment.


AbulFazl was the founder of a new school in Indo-Muslim historiography. AbulFazl’s magnum opus is the Akbarnama. An official history of the reign of Akbar was divided into two volumes. The first dealing with past history which goes back to the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. The 2nd one covers the reign of Akbar except the concluding years.

The work marks a new beginning since it inaugurated a series of court histories which continued under Jahangir and Shahjahan and first decade of Aurangzeb’s reign. Such official histories are based on archival material, corroborated information and administrative documents. As such their authenticity is indisputable. Akbarnama is also important for its treatment of past which is rooted in India itself.

Another significant feature is the detailed information contained in this work on Mughal administration. Its principal institution and its functioning as well as extremely valuable statistical data on land revenue, mansabs, details of Jagirdari system and various rules and regulations framed in that connection. This portion of Ain-i-Akbari is the most important compendium and source material for Mughal administration.

He is further distinguished by his fairly secular outlook. He is remarkably free from religious bias and prejudices which abound in medieval history writing. He also attempts an analytical presentation of history, since he explore the causes and effects of events described by him.

AbulFazl has been criticized for his panegyric style of writing. However this can only be expected in an official account of history of a ruler.

These various features of AbulFazl’s history writing make him the most distinguished historian in medieval India.

Q12. Trace the development of music during the Mughal period.


All Mughal rulers with the exception of Aurangzeb loved and encouraged music. Numerous musicians, Hindu and Muslim, Indian and foreign, adorned the court of Akbar. They were divided into seven groups. Each one played the music on each day of the week.

Mughal court extended the patronage to both vocal and instrumental music. Tansen was perhaps the greatest musician of the age to whom huge amounts were paid as presents and rewards by Akbar. He was originally in the service of Rajput king of Rewa and belonged to the Gwalior school of music.

BazBahadur of Malwa was also a skilled musician, who on leaving Malwa got ino the service of Akbar. Jahangir and Shahjahan also extended their patronage to music. The two chief vocalists of Shahjahan’s court were Ramdas and Mahapattar. A musician by the name Jagannath delighted him so with his performance that the emperor is said to have weighed him in gold and given it to him as his fee.

Development of music received impetus in the court of Mohd. Shah Rangila. Two famous vocalists Sadarang and Adarang contributed to singing. Several forms of music developed during his reign.

Music received death blow during the reign of Aurangzeb who dismissed his court musicians and prohibited singing. The reign of Mohd. Shah witnessed development in the field of music. New forms of music like Tarana, Dadra etc. emerged. Sadarang and Adarang were associated with Khayal.

Q13. Trace the development of architecture from 1556 AD to 1707 AD.


The Mughal architecture is a mixture of the Islamic architecture of central Asia and Hindu architecture of India. Akbar was responsible for its origin and development. Akbar possessed a national attitude and that reflected in all fine arts which grew and developed during the period of his rule.

Akbar employed designers and architects from both among Hindus and Muslim artists and gave them perfect freedom to construct his buildings on the model of Hindu or Muslim or mixed art. It helped in the adjustment of both types of architecture and the net result was the creation of a new type of architecture called Mughal architecture. Some basic features of Mughal architecture were construction of round domes, high minarets, mehrabs, pillars of various types, open court yards etc. in the building.

The first building constructed during the reign of Akbar was the mausoleum of Humayun at Delhi. It was constructed by Humayun’s widow Haji Begum with the help of Persian architect named MirakMirzaGiyas. Therefore, it clearly exhibits the influence of Persian art and can be compared fairly with the mausoleum of Timur and BibiKhanam at Samarqand.

Akbar constructed forts of Agra, Allahabad and Lahore and many buildings within these forts. But his finest buildings were constructed at Fatehpur Sikri. Red sandstone was used for the construction of these buildings and hindu and Islamic architecture have been freely combined in their construction. The fort in agra was constructed during a period of fifteen years.

Diwan-i-aam, Diwan-i-khas, PanchMahal, palace of turki sultana, Khasmahal, jodhabaimahal, Mariam mahal, Birbalmahal, hiranmahal, Jami Masjid, Hathi pole, BulandDarwaza and the mausoleum of sheikhSalimChishti are few of the fine buildings raised by Akbar at FatehpurSikri. Jami masjid occupies a place amongst most renowned mosques constructed in India. TheBulanddarwaza is a complete structure by itself.

Jahangir was more interested in paintings than architecture. He therefore himself neither planned nor constructed any buildings. But, he completed the mausoleum of Akbar at Sikandra. It was planned by Akbar. Jahangir brought about certain changes in it and completed it. Another building constructed by Jahangir is his own mausoleum in Lahore. Mausoleum of Itimad-ud-daula, father of begum Nurjahan.This building provides a link between two important phases of Mughal architecture, namely those of Akbar and Shahjahan.

Mughal architecture reached its superfection during the reign of Shahjahan. Its style and spirit also changed. It is clearly reflected in the striking contrast offered by their respective buildings. The manly vigor, the direct simplicity and the varied originality of Akbar’s buildings stand widely apart from the extreme and almost effeminate grace and the appearance, thatcharacterize the pretty creations of Shahjahan. Red sandstone was replaced by white marble and other precious stones. Maximum carvings were attempted and costly colors were used to beautify buildings. It is all different from the buildings of Akbar. Shahjahan failed to bring out any new or superior architectural style, yet he succeeded in adding beauty to his buildings. He constructed Jama masjid and red fort in Delhi. Many buildings in red fort were also constructed by him. Among the buildings constructed in the fort of Agra by him, Moti Masjid is the most beautiful. It is built of chaste white marble and is as beautiful as pearl.

Among all buildings constructed by Shahjahan, the best one is the Tajmahal at Agra wich has been regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Aurangzeb had no taste in the fine arts including architecture. Therefore no good building was constructed during the period of his rule. Architecture could make no progress later on.

Q14. Mughal paintings marked the zenith of its rise during the period of Jahangir. Discuss.


Painting had made tremendous progress in India prior to coming of Turks in India but during the period of Delhi sultanate it practically vanished in larger parts of India because the Turks and Afgan rulers prohibited it in deference to the direction of Koran. But, the Mughal emperors revived this art and once again it reached the stage of perfection.

Babur and Humayun did not accept the prohibition of Islam concerning the art of painting. When Humayun got shelter in Persia, he came in contact with two disciples of the famous Persian painter Bihzed namely Abdul Samadand Mir Sayyid. He invited them to come with him. Both of them joined him when he reached Kabul and came to India along with him. Humayun and Akbar took lessons in painting from Abdul Samad.

Akbar encouraged the painters at his court. He established a separate department of painting under Abdul Samad and ordered to prepare painting not only on the books which was the usual practice so far but also to prepare frescos on palace walls in Fatehpur Sikri. He invited renowned painters from China and Persia and assigned them work according to their individual tastes and aptitude and provided them all facilities to make use of their capabilities.

The paintings marked the zenith of its rise during the rule of Jahangir. The cause of progress during his reign was not only that he was interested in it and patronized artists at his court but because he himself possessed the knowledge of art. Jahangir attracted many artists at his court. He also got completed the works taken up by the artists during the life time of his father. He rewarded the artists well. Abdul Hasan was given the title of Nadir-u-zaman while Mansur was titled Nadir-u-Asar. Besides, from among his prominent court artists were Aga Raza, Muhammad Nadir, Muhammad Murad, Bishan Das, Manohar, Madhav, Tulsi and Govardhan.

Under Shahjahan patronage to painting continued but the number of painters reduced at his court and therefore the art certainly declined during his rule. Aurangzeb withdrew the royal patronage which was given to artists.

Q15. Nobility apart from office and public service did not exist in Mughal state. Discuss.


In Mughal state nobility had to place his entire service at the disposal of the emperor. His duties did not end by supplying the contingent according to the rank held by him or other obligations associated with the Mansabdari system. He could be called upon to perform any duty and could be transferred and posted to any part of the empire.

The nobles also played an important role in administration. All important offices whether in the center or in the province were held by the nobles. In provinces their role was important and prosperity of empire was dependent on their efficiency. The working and maintenance of the spirit of administration depended on the ability and personality of the nobles holding offices in the provinces. In frontier provinces they were to look after the defense of the border and to keep themselves informed of the events taking place in the adjacent kingdoms.

Nobility in Mughal state was formed of groups based on racial and ethnic affinities. As an institution it provided a source of strength of Mughal government only for some time, but with the passage of time their sole interest became self-aggrandizement. They began to suffer from mutual jealousy and always tried to bring disgrace on any one who displayed the ability and energy either in administration or in military operation so as to receive approbation from emperor. The prolonged military operation in Deccan for over a century is a glaring example of the underhand activities of nobles which would not permit any noble to conclude the task.

The nobility depended for its prosperity on prosperity of emperor and with the decline in fortunes of the empire they too were lost into the multitude.

Nobles however played a conspicuous part in social and cultural life of country. As individuals they were gifted persons and possessed many virtues. They conducted themselves with great dignity. The virtues of sensibility, benevolence and acuteness were not rare among the nobility. Their manners almost became norms of sophistication. Spending and not hoarding was the dominant note of nobles life. They were great patrons of art and their taste for things beautiful at once made them consumers of costly items. This was a source of encouragement to the artisans, poets and scholars. The protection afforded by the powerful patrons to rich merchants and tradesmen who paid higher wages to workmen tended to preserve the arts.

Some nobles also invested money in trade and helped promote the commerce of Mughal state.

Q16. The cementing of hitherto scattered and disunited people into one political whole was not only an offspring of Shivaji’s genius but as much the outcome of topography, social and religious renaissance. Comment.


The meteoric rise of Marathas under the inspiring leadership of Shivaji in the 17th century was nothing short of a phenomenon. The Marathas emerged as a powerful force with the rise of Shivaji. They were gradually groomed into a community by Shivaji who threw all his political intelligence and foresight for its onward march in Indian history. They emerged as the most enduring and effective regional power to contest the cosmic authority of Mughals.

Culturally and linguistically, Maharashtra had its existence even before 13th century, but was devoid of any political identity until the advent of Shivaji on the scene. Although certain small families like Shirkes, Ghorpades, Mauryas, Nimbalkaretc. ruled over various parts as big landed magnets. The Marathas reacted against the dominance of Mongols, ArabsandTurks and thus emerged as a military people drawing their strength from the continuity of deep rooted traditions and from a certain sturdy character which was possible more due to their nurturing around hilly and mountainous regions.

Geographically the region was isolated and separated on the one side from the fertile northern plains by the vindhyas, Satpura ranges and river Narmada. Towards the west the Ghats running along the entire western coast made the region rugged and uneven. Scanty rainfall made the land agriculturally poor. The hardships made the people brave, hardy, resolute and determined. Uneven hilly terrain where every hill was a natural fort was an ideal ground for the development of guerrilla warfare. The Mughal warfare merely paled into insignificance before the tactics of hit and run effectively developed by Shivaji.

Maratha intelligentsia under the patronage of Bijapur and Golkonda had gained adequate experience of their war and peace strategy which proved an invaluable asset to Marathas under Shivaji.

The existence of various dynasties for about 350 years became very crucial in defining the paths of social mobility and political aspirations of Marathas. In fluid political scenario the growth of bhakti movement and development of Maratha provided the base for turning them into a community with strong roots. Bhakti movement was the most important dimension in widening the fold of Marathas as the upward social mobility got under way through the teachings and preaching of an array of saints and poets spanning over four centuries.

The Muslim raids during the reign of Alauddin Khilji made the princes and families of Maratha territories more provincial as well. These raids helped knit the people together as they gradually got attracted around the cult of local saints. TheVarkari movement created a strong sense of brotherhood irrespective of caste, community and provided the basis to maharashtrians to emerge as one unified Maratha community.

The emergence of Maratha as a community has a long historical legacy. The widening of its fold over 300 years provided all the attributes to the Marathas to emerge as a strong regional identity.

Q17. Shivaji represented more continuity with the contemporary kingdoms than discontinuity. Discuss critically the role of Shivaji in building of the Maratha kingdom.


Shivaji did not represent proto nationalism. He did not lead a movement of Marathas. His polity was like others at the time offering social stability for Maratha soldiers and Brahmin administrators as had Bijapur and Ahmednagar.

Shivaji did not significantly alter the power of rural elite families of Maharashtra especially Deshmukh. He attacked the largest of these who were rivals but all the remaining families were left in peace. Shivaji attempted to integrate deshmukhs. Shivaji was not attempting to create a universal Hindu rule. He espoused tolerance and syncretism. Shivaji had no difficulty in allying with Muslim states which surrounded him.

But none of these should any way minimize the main accomplishments of Shivaji. Shivaji was a general of extraordinary personal charisma and ability to motivate his progressively larger armies. Many of his encounters depended on great personal courage which he had in abundance. He evolved a strategy that continuously baffled and defeated armies. He realized the importance of supply lines for the large armies and therefore adopted the strategy to cut off supplies through the mobility of his light cavalry. These tactics had been developed by Malik Amber in the early seventeenth century but Shivaji raised them to a higher standard.

Shivaji understood the importance of forts in the geopolitics of Maharashtra and thus captured few of them and also built some. The forts were manifestation of supra local power and manifestation of kingly authority.

Shivaji worked to rebuild Maharashtra. He encouraged the taqqavi loans, settlements to repopulate devastated area and carefully commanded his armies when they were in monsoon cantonments so as not to disturb the cultivators. He laid out rules for the measurement of agricultural land.

Shivaji not only stopped giving out large grants in land but broke the power of large landed families by destroying their forts and making revenue arrangements with village headmen. The administrative system adopted by the Shivaji was portfolio based and helped to be efficient.

Q18. The seeds of Maratha confederacy were inherent in the socio-political background of Maratha movement. Discuss.


Confederation means a combination of autonomous political units existing for some common goals or purposes. The objective conditions created after the death of Shivaji and rise of Peshawa to the de-jure supreme position exacerbated and contributed to the process of confederation.

Maratha movement always dispelled the acceptance of central authority or external dominance. Even during the centralizing period of Shivaji, the strong Maratha chiefs were largely autonomous. Ajnapatra, a Marathi text on polity written during the reign of Shivaji regards the Maratha chiefs as partners of king and co-sharer of sovereignty.

After the death of Shivaji various claimants of throne came up and each attempted to garner the support of the strong Maratha chiefs to sustain his or her claim. This development generated healthy environment for the development of factionalism at Maratha court. The political muddling gave added advantage and opportunities to the powerful watandars to come to fore and play a crucial role.

Under the political chaos, Shahu appointed BalajiVishwanath as his Peshawa. Peshawa defeated other claimants to the Maratha throne and his political acumen helped to halt the process of factionalism. Soon Peshawa gained ascendancy and king was reduced to titular head. Second PeshawaBajirao I started granting large watans outside the swarajya territory with large autonomy to strengthen his own position. Watandars also extended their own watans by conquering adjoining areas. Soon they emerged as effective power pockets. Important among them were Sindhiyas of Gwalior, Gaekwads of Baroda, Holkars of Indore and others.

Peshawa followed the policy of playing these Maratha chiefs one against the other so that they would not pose any challenge to the authority of Peshawa. This led to granting them more autonomy, power and privileges. They developed mutual jealousies among themselves and this led finally to opposition to central authority.

The large territorial expansion in a way helped weaken the Maratha movement under the confederates as it generated more areas of friction and dispute. Homogeneity was lost and Maratha movement became the parallel movement of series of feudatory chiefs infected with mutual jealousies and hostilities. The Peshawa power eclipsed and there emerged Maratha confederacy. After the death of Shahu in 1748, the Maratha king was reduced from the status of Chatrapati to the raja of Satara.

Thus the Maratha confederacy was an outcome of nature of Maratha’s socio-political movement and objective conditions created after the death of Shivaji and Peshawa’s diplomacy to strengthen his own position.

Q19. Why did Marathas failed to establish a strong empire?


After the death of Aurangzeb, Marathas expanded their state into a vast empire. Gradually whole of Deccan and many areas of northern India came under the control of the Marathas. But after the third battle of Panipath their power and influence declined. The reasons for their decline are many.

The empire could only weak successors after Shivaji. The Maratha power ably founded and organized by Shivaji became somewhat disorganized under his weak successors though it was again reviewed in the beginning of the 18th century under the guidance of first three Peshawas. Thus death of Shivaji was an irreparable loss to the nation for it failed to produce another leader of his type.

The members of Maratha confederacy i.e.Peshwa, Holkar, Gaekwad, Bhosle, Scindhiya etc. indulged in fighting resulting in the wastage of their power and energy which they could otherwise use against a common enemy. These mutual jealousies and distrust could not make them stand in the face of clever politicians and Britishers.

The fundamental cause for decline was that their political system did not help in strengthening and establishing permanent system of administration in the captured areas. The same policy that helped them in increasing their power itself destroyed them. Though principally the Maratha chiefs were the representatives of the central Maratha government but practically they had their independent authority. The selfishness and ambitiousness of Maratha chiefs did not help them in having respect for the Sataragovernment. Because of this by the middle of 18th century five separate powers of Marathas came into existence. The five power unity came to end after the third battle of Panipath. In this war the unhappy people did not favorMarathas because of their policy of plundering and exploitation.

Marathas did not pay any particular attention to strengthening of their financial position and consequently they always suffered from financial stringency. The whole affair of their income and expenditure was unsystematic and their resources were altogether disorderly. In the words of Dr. K.K.Dutta Maratha state lacked sound economic policy and satisfactory financial arrangements and without it the political development of a nation becomes impossible.

Shivaji adopted the policy of Guerilla warfare and his field was hilly. But when the Maratha rule extended to the plains this type of warfare failed. Their fighting techniques were old and hence could not stand against the Britishers who were conversant with latest technologies.

The idea of hindu rule of Shivaji was substituted by that of Maratha rule in the time of Peshawa. The result was that they began to ill-treat non Marathas. They even lost the sympathies of Rajputs and Jats.

Marathas were not good diplomats. On the other hand the English were masters in art of diplomacy. The Marathas didn’t realize in time that their real rivals were the English. They co-operated with the English against Tipu sultan in 3rd Anglo-Mysore war. Marathas resented the subsidiary alliance made by Wellesley with the Nizam, since it deprived them of their plundering preserve.Even though, they did not helpTipu against the English in 4th Anglo-Mysore war. The poor diplomacy thus contributed to downfall.

Marathas like Mughals neglected the sea power. The neglect of sea power brought their fall nearer. The disastrous defeat at third battle of Panipath was crushing. But it also exposed the internal hollowness to everyone. After 1773, Britishers started participating in the internal disputes of Marathas. Both parties fought four wars and Britishers captured many states of Marathas as well as money. These helped in decline of the Maratha power.

Q20. Write a note on Ashtapradhan system of administration under Shivaji.


Ashtapradhan refer to a group of eight ministers under Shivaji. It was pivot of central administration under Shivaji.

The system consisted of Peshwa, Amatya, Mantri, Sachiv, Sumant, Senapati, Panditrao and Nyayadhish. They were given specific responsibility.

Peshawa looked after the general administration and welfare of the kingdom, promoting harmony in the administration. He represented king in his absence and put his seal below the king’s to all royal letters and dispatches. Amatya was responsible for the account of income and expenditure of the state. Mantri was responsible for the personal safety of the king and supervise his daily routine work. The duty of Sachiv was to see that all royal letters and dispatches were drafted in the proper style. He also checked the accounts of the parganas. Sumant was the foreign minister. He advised the king regarding questions of war and peace with other states. He received foreign ambassadors, collected news from other states and advised king in appointing ambassadors to foreign states. Senapati was in charge of recruitment in army, organization, discipline, training of soldiers and arranging their supplies. Senapati was not the commander in chief of the army. Panditrao took care of charitable and religious works of the state. He also tried to attempt moral uplift of the people. Nyayadhish was the highest judicial authority in the kingdom next only to the king.

Among these pradhans all were Brahmins except Senapati. All were expected to command the army if there was need for it except Panditrao and Nyayadhish. All royal letters, dispatches and treaties were signed by four other ministers besides the king and peshawa. However Senapati, Panditraoand Nyayadhish were not among those four.

Besides these eight ministers chitnis or munshi were other important officers who looked after the correspondence of the state. Every minister was assisted in his work by a host of junior officers like diwan, mazumdars, phadnis etc. Shivaji thus organized a systematic and quite efficient administration at centre.

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