Raja Todar Mal was born in Laharpur, Uttar Pradesh in a Hindu family, considered by historians as either Khatri or Kayastha, and rose to become the Finance Minister in Akbar's Darbar of the Mughal empire.
Todar Mal's father died when he was very young leaving no means of livelihood for him. Todar Mal started his career from the humble position of a writer but slowly moved up the ranks when the Pathan Sultan Sher Shah Suri committed him to the charge of building a new fort of Rohtas in Punjab with the objective of preventing Ghakkar raids and to also act as a barrier to the Mughals in the north-west.
After the Sur dynasty was overthrown by the Mughals, Todar Mal continued in public service. Under Emperor Akbar, he was made in charge of Agra and settled in Gujarat. Later, he was made in charge of Gujarat as well. He also managed Akbar's Mint at Bengal as well as served in Punjab. Raja Todarmal built a fortress-palace at Laharpur, Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh. Some sources state that Todar Mal was born in Lahore, Punjab but the British misinterpreted it as Laharpur, Awadh, U.P.
Beveridge records that Raja Todar Mal had got leave from Akbar and was on his way to Haridwar, but he received a letter from Akbar in which the latter is said to have said that "it was better to go on working and doing good to the world than to go on a piligrimage." Following Todar Mal's death on 8 November 1589 in Lahore, his body was cremated according to the Hindu traditions. Raja Bhagwan Das, his colleague in the charge of Lahore, was present at the ceremony. Of his two sons, Dhari was killed in a battle in Sindh. Another Kalyan Das was sent by Todar Mal to bring in the Kumaon Raja. He rose to become the Finance Minister in Akbar's Darbar. Todar Mal overhauled the revenue system of Akbar's Mughal empire. Todar Mal also translated Bhagavata Purana into Persian.
Todar Mal's descendants settled in the city of Jodhpur in the State of Rajasthan and include several luminaries in the legal profession, who have also campaigned against the medieval practices of sati and jauhar.
As a soldier
Todar Mal is recognized as an able warrior, who led in various battles.
|“||In 971, he was employed under Muzaffar ( 9Bad .1165) and in 972, he served under Akbar against Khan Zaman (vide no 61).||”|
|“||In the 19th year, after the conquest of Patna, he got an Salam and naqqara (A'in 19) and was ordered to accompany MunSim Khan to Bengal. He was the soul of the expedition. In the battle with Da'ud Khan-i-Kharani, when Khan Alam had been killed, and Munsim Khan's horse had run away, the Raja held his ground bravely, and not only was there no defeat but an actual victory. "What harm" said Todar Mal
, "if Khan Alam is dead; what fear if the Khan Khanan's horse has run away, the empire is ours!"
As a Finance minister of Akbar
Todar Mal succeeded Khwaja Malik I'timad Khan in 1560. Raja Todar Mal introduced standard weights and measures, a land survey and settlement system, revenue districts and officers. He can be thought of as one of first statisticians in India, and perhaps in the world. Many of the fundamental data collection schemes as practiced over the centuries in the Indian subcontinent and neighboring countries can be attributed to him.Land settlement, equilnace of land is attributed to him. This system of maintenance by Patwari is still used in Indian Subcontinent which was improved by British and Gov of India. Also now GOI had launched Patwari Information system based on GIS for this purpose.
Raja Todar Mal, as finance minister of Akbar, introduced a new system of revenue known as zabt and a system of taxation called dahshala. He took a careful survey of crop yields and prices cultivated for a 10 year period 1570-1580. On this basis tax was fixed on each crop in cash. Each province was divided into revenue circles with their own rates of revenue and a schedule of individual crops. This system was prevalent where the Mughal administration could survey the land and keep careful accounts. This system was not applicable in the provinces like Gujarat and Bengal. Todar Mal died in Lahore on 8 November 1589.
In popular culture
Todar Mal is featured in the video game Sid Meier's Civilization 4: Beyond the Sword and Sid Meier's Civilization 5: Gods and Kings as a "great merchant" available in the game.
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