Chela (Mughal army)

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Chela were slave soldiers in the Mughal army. As a counterpoise to the mercenaries in their employ, over whom they had a very loose hold, commanders were in the habit of getting together, as the kernel of their force, a body of personal dependents or slaves, who had no one to look to except their master. Such troops were known by the Hindi name of chela (a slave). They were fed, clothed, and lodged by their employer, had mostly been brought up and trained by him, and had no other home than his camp. They were recruited chiefly from children taken in war or bought from their parents during times of famine. The great majority were of Hindu origin, but all were made Mahomedans when received into the body of chelas. These chelas were the only troops on which a man could place entire reliance as being ready to follow his fortunes in both foul and fair weather.

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 This article incorporates text from The army of the Indian Moghuls: its organization and administration, by William Irvine, a publication from 1903 now in the public domain in the United States.