A Jagir, also spelled as Jageer (Devanagari: जागीर, Persian: جاگیر, ja- meaning "place", -gir meaning "keeping, holding") was a type of feudal land grant in South Asia bestowed by a monarch to a feudal superior in recognition of his administrative and/or military service. The word jagir is a distorted form of the more formal Sanskrit term jehagiri. The feudal owner/lord of the Jagir were called Jagirdar or Jageerdar and they also used various other titles e.g. Raja, Nawab, Chaudhary, Rao, Zaildar, Thakur, Sardar, Mankari, Bhomichar, etc. Sometimes they called their seat (primary place of residence and rule) Thikana, Garh or Gadh, etc.
Definition of Jagir
Since jagirs existed at least from 13th century Hindu Rajput kingdoms and Delhi Sultanate till 1947 British Raj, there are several definitions of jagirs, as they varied from era-to-era, ruling dynasty to dynasty, and so on.
The Supreme Court of India used the following definition of the Jagir from Rajasthan Land Reforms and Resumption of Jagirs Act (Rajasthan Act VI of 1952) in its Thakur Amar Singhji vs State Of Rajasthan(And Other ...) on 15 April 1955 judgement:
The word 'jagir' connoted originally grants made by Rajput Rulers to their clansmen for military services rendered or to be rendered. Later on grants made for religious and charitable purposes and even to non-Rajputs were called jagirs, and both in its popular sense and legislative practice, the word jagir came to be used as connoting all grants which conferred on the grantees rights in respect of land revenue, and that is the sense in which the word jagir should be construed in Article 31-A.
Types of Jagir
A jagir was technically a feudal life estate, as the grant lawfully reverted to the monarch upon the feudal superior's death. However, in practice, jagirs became hereditary by primogeniture. The recipient of the jagir (termed a jagirdar) was the de facto ruler of the territory and was able to earn income from tax revenues and had magisterial authority . The jagirdar would typically reside at the capital to serve as a Minister, typically appearing twice a day before the monarch.
13th century origin of Jagirs
This feudal system of land ownership is referred to as the jagirdar system. The Jagir system pre-dates Islamic rule of India. There is evidence of jagir by Hindu Rajput Kings from at least since 13th century,and prior to 13 century Jats as jagir holders in northern region and northern Rajasthan,  a system which was also retained by the Sultans of Delhi from 13th century on wards, was later adopted by the Maratha Empire in the early 17th century, and continued under the British East India Company. Shortly following independence from the British Crown in 1947, the jagirdar system was abolished by the Indian government in 1951. Most princely states of India of British Raj era were jagirs.
Types of Jagirs
The Jagir grants were of several kinds and were known under different expressions, including:
- Jagir, an area of neighboring towns or villages with an administrative Paigah (depending on the extent of the estate, equivalent to a European county or duchy with an administrative seat)
- Samasthan, Sanskrit equivalent for a Persian jagir
- Agrahar, equivalent to a European town or village
- Umli, equivalent to a European town or village
- Mukasa, equivalent to a European town or village
- Inam, portion of a town or village
- Maktha, portion of a town or village
Examples of Jagirs
- Bidhwan jagir of 90 villages given to Jaglan Jats in Loharu Princely State
- Chaube Jagirs - British Raj protectorates
- Hasht-Bhaiya jagir during British Raj that was originally under Princely State of Orchha
- Kapshi was a Princely State Jagir in Bombay Presidency of British Raj
- Feudalism in Pakistan
- Translation directory
- Indian Kanoon Document 1750663
- Indian Kanoon: Jagirs of Rajasthan
- Staff (2000). Merriam-Webster's collegiate encyclopedia. Merriam-Webster. p. 834. ISBN 0-87779-017-5.
- Singh, Kumar Suresh; Lal, Rajendra Behari (2003). Gujarat, Part 3. People of India, Kumar Suresh Singh Gujarat, Anthropological Survey of India 22. Popular Prakashan. p. 1350. ISBN 81-7991-106-3.
- Indian Kanoon document 10572