This study of the political career of Mun'im Khan (1497-1575) is a part of the larger enquiry into the structure and role of Mughal nobility which has been in progress at Aligarh for some time past. On this subject, there have already appeared from Aligarh two monographs, namely, The Parties and Politics at Mughal Court by Satish Chandra and The Mughal Nobility Under Aurangzib by M. Athar Ali. In these works an attempt has been made to analyses the working of institutions and traditions that defined the organization and the role of the nobility during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, a period marked by a crisis and then a rapid process of disintegration of the Mughal imperial system. Here, the same subject is studied from yet another angle, through, as goes without saying, the scope of this work is much smaller and it deals with a period when the Mughal states in India was still in its formative stages. The present work attempts the political biography of a noble as a case-study, aiming at attaining an insight into the actual working of the political institutions and policies of the Mughal Empire during the sixteenth century.
Mr. Iqtidar Alam Khan, Reader in History at Aligarh Muslim University, was born in 1932. He has been a Fellow of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Simla, during 1969-70. In 1970-71, he was a visiting scholar at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, under the U.K. Government's Assistance Programmer to Centers of Advanced Study in India. His first Monograph, Mirza Kamran: A Biographical Study, was published by Asia Publishing House in 1963. He has to his credit a number of research papers relating to the evolution of Timurid state in India.
The present study was undertaken by me on the suggestion of Professor.S.Nurul Hasan who supervised its progess through various stages. Those familiar with Professor Hanan's approach to the stusdy of Medieval Indian History should be able to recognise the imprint of his thinking on this work. I am deeply indebted to him and to the late Mrs. Khurshed N.Hasan for the kindness and understanding they always showed to me.
Before approving it for publication, the University had referred my book to the late Professor Muhammad Habib for suggesting improvements in its prosentation. Professor Habib very kindly went through the manusript and removed many errors of language. It is a matter of great honour for me that my book was read and corrected by such an eminet historian.
I am grateful to a large number of friends who helped me in different ways in the preparation of this book. Among others, I would particullarly like to thank Dr.Irfan Habib, Dr. Peter Hardy, Dr. Athar Ali, Dr Barun De, Mr. Simon Digby, and Dr. Hasan Ahmad whose invaluable advice and suggestions went a long way in enabling me to give this work a presentable form. I am also deeply obliged to my younger colleagues, Messrs Rafi Ahmad Alvi, Ishtiaq Ahmad Zilli, Inayat Ali Zaidi, Mrs. Madhu Trivedi and Miss Suneeta Budhwar for their help in correcting the proofs. To Mr. Hiromu Nagashima I am grateful for saving me from error in interpreting passage in the Akbar Nama.
This press copy of this book was typed by my friend Mr. Inshaullah Farooqi, while the maps incuded here have been prepared by Messrs Zahor Ali Khan and Muhammad Anis. For their generous help and co-operation I am greatly beholden to these friends.
Most of the material for this monograph was collected in the Research Library of the Depatment of History, the Maulana Azad Library and the National Library, Culcutta. I am very grateful to the staff of these Library and the help and assistance they rendered to me.
Lastly, it is my privilege to thank Professor K.A. Nizami, University, for the keen interest that that he has evinced in the publication of this book.
This study of the political career of Mun 'im Khan (1494-1575) is a part of the larger enquiry into the structure and role of the Mughal nobility which has been in progress at Aligarh for some time past. On this subject, there have already appeared from Aligarh two monographs, namely, The Parties and Politics at Mughal Court by Satish Chandra and The Mughal Nobility Under Aurangzib by M.Athar Ali. In these works an attempt has been made to analyse the working of institutions and tradition that defined the organization and the role of the nobility during the late seventeenth and early eighteen centuries, a period marked by a crisis and then a rapid process of disintegration of the Mughal imperial system. Here, the same subject is studied from yet another angle, though, as goes without saying, the scope of this work is much smaller and it deals with a period when the Mughal state in India was still in its formative stages. The present work attempts the political biography of a noble as a case-study, aiming at attaining an insight into the actual working of the political intuitions and policies of the Mughal Empire during the sixteenth century.
For understanding the perspective in which Mun'im Khan's political career is sought to be studied in this volume it would be helpful to discuss the features of the Timurid polity as it stood on the eve of the establishment of the Mughal rule in Hindustan and the change it underwent during the subsequent fifty years that Mun'im Khan was in active service.
The nobility which came with Babur to Hindustan naturally had a predominantly Turani complexion; a few individuals of Khurasani or Persian extraction who seem to have joined Babur's service in minor capacities after the fall of the Timurid power in Hirat were, perhaps, the only exceptions, though even among these Khurasanis a considerable section consisted of the Turkish- speaking persons of diverse origins who had come to be classed with the Persians owing to their prolonged stay there in the service of Sultan Husain Mirza. Among Babur's Turani officers, on the whole, the nobles of Mongol descent, as distinct from the Turks, constituted a vast majority. It is worth remembering here that the distinction that Babur makes between the 'Turks'and the 'Mughals' serving under him is rather misleading. The two designations are generally used by Babur to differentiate those Mongol clans who were settled in Central Asia for a long time, and had already adopted Turkish language as their mother tongue, from the nomads of Kashghar and beyond who had the Mongol (or even, Uighur) language as their mother tongue. Sometimes, two persons claiming affiliation to the same Mongol clan would be differently identified as 'Turk' and 'Mughal' in keeping with the region from which they came or the degree of Turkish cultural influence they had imbibed. Hence the claims of Babur and his nobles to Turkish identity and their contemptuous attitude towards the 'Mughals' should not lead one to think that in the Timurid polity before 1526, the traditions of the early Turks had a greater role as compared to those of the Mongols. Although, it is true that a large number of Turani nobles serving Babur had abandoned, for several generation, the Mongol language and the various forms of Mongol social etiquette in favour of Turkish language and Central Asian customs; yet the position of the Timurid royalty and its relations with the nobility, till Babur;s time, continued to be governed to a very great extent, by traditions evolved under the early Mongol Khaquans, which are variously referred to in the chronicles as Yasa-i-Chengizi, Yasa-i Chaghtai, Tura-i Chengizi, or Chagtai etc. Apparently, in this respect, the Timurid nobility resembled the Indian Afghans in whose case also cultural transformation had failed to bring about a corresponding change in the essential features of their polity.
Regarding the Chegizi traditions of kingship, which were so strong in the Timurid state till Babur's time, it may be noted that despite the divine origin of the powers of the sovereign, the tribal character of the Mongal polity did not permit the rise of absolutism comparable to Turkish monarchy. In the empire founded by Chegiz khan the principle in force was that' the empire belonged not to the ruler, but to the ruling family'. And according to the Mongol code all those who claimed descent from Chengiz Khan would be included in the circle of royalty. This would naturally make the number of persons claiming 'royal linege' and thus aspiring to a share in the sovereignty, very large. The provision in the Mongol code that the Khan be elected by the princes high officials from amongst the descendants Chengiz Khan be elected by the princes and high officials from amongst the descendants of Chengiz Khan suggested that at least in theory, a king in a predominantly Mongol state owed his rise to the throne as much to the nobility's support as would be the case, some times, with a Turkish Sultan, though unlike the latter he would fail to acquire absolute powers, over the nobility.
A 16th Century Painting Depicting a reception at Mun'im Khan's residence
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