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
Present-day Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
OccupationFinance minister of the Mughal Empire during the reign of Akbar

Raja Todar Mal was the finance minister of the Mughal empire during Akbar's reign. He was one of the Navaratnas in Akbar's court.


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][4][5][6] Khatri[7][8][9][10] or Kayastha.[11][12]

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 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.[13]

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 971, he was employed under Muzaffar and in 972, he served under Akbar against Khan Zaman (vide no 61).[14]

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!"[14]

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.[15]

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 197 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.[16][17]

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


Todar Mal died in Lahore on 8 November 1589.[18]


The Kashi Vishwanath Temple was rebuilt in 1585 by Todar Mal.[19][20]

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. ^ Jogendra Nath Bhattacharya (1896). Hindu Castes and Sects: An Exposition of the Origin of the Hindu Caste System and the Bearing of the Sects Towards Each Other and Towards Other Religious Systems. Thacker, Spink & Co. p. 618. Todar Mal, the great Finance Minister of an Akbar was an Agarwal, according to Colonel Tod
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ Sebastian, Sunny (26 March 2006). "A festival that takes you to Akbar era". The Hindu. Retrieved 1 August 2014. The beginning of `mela' goes back to 1851. Raja Todarmal, the Minister of Akbar, was the Badshah in the `mela'. According to legend, the Emperor had given a boon to Todarmal to be in his place for a day. This is the commemoration of that event," Rajesh Chouhan, Sub-Divisional Officer, Beawar, said talking to this correspondent. A person from the Agarwal community got the privilege to don the mantle of the emperor as Todarmal was believed to be from the community, Mr.Chouhan explained.
  6. ^ "Todarmal?s Moti Mahal decaying". Hindustan Times. 22 November 2006.
  7. ^ Political history, 1542-1605 A.D by Ashirbadi Lal Srivastava. Shiva Lal Agarwala. 1962. p. 357,364.
  8. ^ Studies in Social Change by Krishna Swarup Mathur, B. R. K. Shukla, Banvir Singh. Ethnographic & Folk Culture Society. 1973. p. 96.
  9. ^ Sher Shah and his times by Kalika Ranjan Qanungo. Orient Longmans. 1965. p. 285.
  10. ^ Naravane, Susheila, author. 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)
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Annemarie Schimmel (1983). Anvari's Divan: A Pocket Book for Akbar. Metropolitan Museum of Art. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-8709-9331-2.
  13. ^ Saiyid Khan Bahadur, Muḥammad Laṭīf (1896). Agra: Historical & Descriptive with an Account of Akbar and his court. Calcutta Central Press Company. pp. 281–283.CS1 maint: location (link)
  14. ^ 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
  15. ^ "Todar Mal". The Reflective Indian. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  16. ^ [Indian History, VK Agnihotri, pp.B249 ]
  17. ^ [The Challenges of Indian Management, B R Virmani pp.57]
  18. ^ "The Akbarnama of Abu Fazl, Volume 3, chpt. 207".
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Tirupati temple - Medieval history". A.P Tourism. Retrieved 13 December 2013.


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