Todar Mal

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Todar Mal
Raja Todar Mall, Finance Minister of Akbar.jpg
Born1 January 1500
Laharpur, Uttar Pradesh, India
Died(1589-11-08)8 November 1589 (aged 89)
Present-day Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
OccupationFinance minister of the Mughal Empire during the reign of Akbar

Raja Todar Mal (1 January 1500 – 8 November 1589) was the Finance Minister (Mushriff-i-Diwan) of the Mughal empire during Emperor Akbar's reign. He was also the Vakil-us-Sultanat (Counsellor of the Empire) and Joint Wazir. He was one of the premier nobles in the Mughal Empire and was a Mansabdar of 4000. He was one of the Navaratnas in Akbar's court. Under Todar Mal there were 15 other Dewans nominated for 15 Subahs of Akbar .


Todar Mal was born in the town of Laharpur in present-day Uttar Pradesh[1][2] in a Hindu family, considered by historians as either Agarwal,[3] Khatri[4][5][6][7] or Kayastha.[8][9][10] 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 Sher Shah Suri, the Sur emperor, assigned 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.[11]

After the Sur dynasty was overthrown by the Mughals, Todar Mal continued in the service of the ruling power, which was now the Mughal Emperor Akbar. Under Akbar, he was placed in charge of Agra. Later, he was made governor of Gujarat. At various times, he also managed Akbar's Mint at Bengal and served in Punjab. Todar Mal's most significant contribution, which is appreciated even today, is that he overhauled the revenue system of Akbar's Mughal empire. Raja Todarmal built a fortress-palace at Laharpur in the Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh.

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 written that "it was better to go on working and doing good to the world than to go on a pilgrimage." Todar Mal also translated Bhagavata Purana into Persian.

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 son, Kalyan Das, was sent by Todar Mal to subdue the Raja of Kumaon in the Himalayas. He rose to become the Finance Minister in Akbar's Darbar.

As a soldier[edit]

Todar Mal is recognized as an able warrior, who led in various battles.

In 1571, he was employed under Muzaffar and in 1572, he served under Akbar against Khan Zaman (vide no 61).[12]

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!"[12]

In Malwa[edit]

In July 1564, Todar Mal accompanied Akbar in his campaign against Abdullah Khan Uzbeg, the subahdar of Malwa, who had revolted against the imperial authority. No reason of 'Abdullah's rebellion is furnished by the contemporary writers. Probably, having got the post of a governor he became power-corrupt and decided to become independent. Akbar became very much disturbed and decided to punish him. The emperor started his march on the pretext of elephant hunting on 2 July 1564. The imperial army reached the village Liwani in Indore on 5 August and on the 6th completely defeated 'Abdullah Khan Uzbeg, who fled to Gujarat. The imperial forces returned to the capital on 9 October 1564.

According to Abu-l-Fazl there were 300 officers with the emperor on the day of victory. He gives the name of thirty (30) officers including that of Todar Mal As there is no other mention of Todar Mal's activities, it can be stated that he was with Akbar in his Malwa expedition from start to finish (2 July – 9 October 1564).

As a Finance minister of Akbar[edit]

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.[citation needed] This system of maintenance by Patwari is still used in Indian Subcontinent which was improved by British Raj and Government of India.

Raja Todar Mal, as finance minister of Akbar, introduced a new system of revenue known as zabt and a system of taxation called dahshala.[13]

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. For the revenue system, Akbar's territory was divided into 15 Subahs, which were further subdivided into a total of 187 Sarkars across 15 subahs, and those 187 sarkars (sirkar) were further subdivided into a total of 3367 Mahals or Pargana. Several Mahals were grouped into Dasturs, a unit between Mahal and Sirkar. Portion of larger Mahal or Pargana was called taraf. Mahals was subdivided into standardised Bighas. A Bigha was made of 3600 Ilahi Gaj, which is roughly half of modern acre. Unit of measurement was standardised to Ilahi Gaj, which was equivalent to 41 fingers (29-32 inches). Lead measuring rope, called Tenab, was also standardised by joining pieces of Bamboo with iron rings so that the length of Tenab did not vary with seasonal changes.[14][15]

This system was not applicable in the provinces like Gujarat and Bengal.[citation needed]


Todar Mal died in Lahore on 8 November 1589.[16]


The Kashi Vishwanath Temple was rebuilt in 1585 by Todar Mal.[17][18]

In popular culture[edit]

In the historical serial, Bharat Ek Khoj, Todar Mal was played by popular character actor, Harish Patel in the two episodes (Episodes 32 and 33) on the life and times of Emperor Akbar.

Todar Mal is featured in the video games Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword, Sid Meier's Civilization V: Gods and Kings, and most recently in Sid Meier's Civilization VI as a "great merchant".

In the Indian movie Jodhaa Akbar, Raja Todar Mal is portrayed by Pramod Moutho. In the Indian historical fiction television series Jodha Akbar, Todar Mal is portrayed by Shaurya Singh.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Ain i Akbari by Abul Fazlallami, translated from the original Persian, by Heinrich Blochmann and Colonel Henry Sullivan Jarrett, Volume 1, Page 376, Low Price Publications India
  2. ^ The Akbar Nama : Abu-I-Fazl : Translated from the Persian by Henry Beveridge, ICS. Pages : 61-62. Vol. III
  3. ^ Dwarka Nath Gupta (1999). Socio-cultural History of an Indian Caste. Mittal Publications, New Delhi. p. 15. Two of Akbar's finance ministers - Madhu Sah and Todar Mal are said to have been Agarwals
  4. ^ Political history, 1542-1605 A.D by Ashirbadi Lal Srivastava. Shiva Lal Agarwala. 1962. p. 357,364.
  5. ^ Studies in Social Change by Krishna Swarup Mathur, B. R. K. Shukla, Banvir Singh. Ethnographic & Folk Culture Society. 1973. p. 96.
  6. ^ Sher Shah and his times by Kalika Ranjan Qanungo. Orient Longmans. 1965. p. 285.
  7. ^ Naravane, Susheila, author. (5 September 2018). Acute Akbar versus the spirited Nur Jahan : the soul's journey through time and the who's who of rebirth. ISBN 978-1-78901-387-0. OCLC 1063603921.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Hugh Tinker (1990). South Asia: A Short History. University of Hawaii Press. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-824-81287-4. Retrieved 15 August 2011. kayastha.
  9. ^ Schimmel, Annemarie; Welch, Stuart Cary (1983). Anvari's Divan: A Pocket Book for Akbar. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-87-099331-2. Raja Todar Mal, a Hindu of the clerical Kayastha caste, was born in Oudh to a family from the Punjab.
  10. ^ Hawley, John Stratton (2010). "Seeing the Bhakti Movement". In Ray, Himanshu Prabha (ed.). Archaeology and Text: The Temple in South Asia. Oxford University Press. p. 241. ISBN 978-0-19-806096-3. All of these temples were established through a connection with the Mughal throne—either through Todar Mal, a Kayasth from Avadh, or through a member of the Kacchvaha lineage of eastern Rajasthan—and they bear a definite stylistic similarity, but it seems to owe nothing to the Dravidian south.
  11. ^ bahādur.), Muḥammad Laṭīf (Saiyid, khān (1896). Agra, Historical & Descriptive: With an Account of Akbar and His Court and of the Modern City of Agra. Illustrated with Portraits of the Moghul Emperors and Drawings of the Principal Architectural Monuments of that City and Its Suburbs, and a Map of Agra. Printed at the Calcutta central Press Company, limited.
  12. ^ a b The Ain i Akbari by Abul Fazlallami, translated from the original Persian, by Heinrich Blochmann and Colonel Henry Sullivan Jarret, Volume 1, Page 376, Low Price Publications India
  13. ^ "Todar Mal". The Reflective Indian. 24 February 2013. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  14. ^ [Indian History, VK Agnihotri, pp.B249 ]
  15. ^ [The Challenges of Indian Management, B R Virmani pp.57]
  16. ^ "The Akbarnama of Abu Fazl, Volume 3, chpt. 207".
  17. ^ "New Page 1".
  18. ^ "Tirupati temple - Medieval history". A.P Tourism. Retrieved 13 December 2013.


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