authority, and regional traditions of elite control in local communities.
Elaborate Persian imperial institutions unified a Mughal polity that also
danced to the tune of personal loyalties embedded in regions where centuries
of cultural mixing produced new societies.
Imperial elites broadly organised by Indo-Persian institutions that spread
under Mughal authority, became leading figures in these societies. Their
identities developed in mixtures of ethnic and religious loyalties inside their
regions; but their influence and livelihoods were organised under the
umbrella of Mughal supremacy.
Imperial society long outlasted the great emperors because Mughal power
strengthened regional elites, who were also imperial subordinates, so that
when they became independent, in the eighteenth century, many retained
their imperial identities, and all drew upon strength that was a legacy of
In all the Mughal regions, the imperial system absorbed not only great
warriors, rajas and landlords, but also locally dominant caste groups. Royal
endowments to temples and brahmins continued.
Mughals thus applied old medieval principles by strengthening subordinate
rulers (samantas), and the Indo-Persian imperial culture gave multiple,
layered sovereignties a new legitimacy, derived from a supreme emperor.
Aurangzeb revitalised a legal proclamation of the ancient Dharmasastras in
his famous 1665 farman, declaring that, “whoever turns (wasteland) into
cultivable land should be recognised as the (owner) malik and should not be
deprived (of land).” Local landed elites obtained entitlements to village
sovereignty from the highest authority.
Omnipotancy of Imperial Authority and Spread of Darbari
Culture The idea that a supreme emperor was an all-powerful authority
became very widespread. This idea drew strength from ancient and early
medieval ideas about imperial supremacy.
COMMON PERSIAN LEXICON
Among regional elites, the Persian language provided a common lexicon
for politics, administration and law. Persian immigrants became a
privileged elite in Mughal ethnic politics; they formed a cultural elite in
and around courts of the emperor and his nobles.