Economic and Social Life

• Many European travellers and traders came to India and their accounts contain a mine of information about the socio-economic conditions of India.
• In general, they described the wealth and prosperity of India and also the luxurious life of the aristocratic classes.
• They also mentioned the poverty and sufferings of the ordinary people such as peasants and artisans.

Mughal Nobility

 The nobles of the Mughal period formed a privileged class. Most of them were foreigners such as
o Turks and Afghans
 The Mughal nobles were paid high salaries but their expenses were also very high
 Each noble maintained a large number of servants, horses, elephants, etc.
 While the wealthy people wore silk and cotton clothes, the poor people wore the minimum cloths.
 Nikitin observed that the people of Deccan were bare-footed. It might be due to high cost of leather.
 Rice, millets and pulses were the staple food of the common people
 Fish was popular on the coastal region
 While ghee and oil were cheaper, salt and sugar were more expensive, milk and milk products

were available in plenty


 An estimate claims that the population of India at the beginning of the seventeenth century was about 125 million.
 A large variety of crops such as wheat, rice, gram, barley, pulses were cultivated.
 Commercial crops such as cotton, indigo, sugarcane and oil-seeds were also cultivated.
 During the seventeenth century two new crops, namely, tobacco and maize were added
 But, no new agricultural technique was introduced during this period
 India was able to export food items like rice and sugar to the neighbouring countries
Growth of Trade

 The Indian trading classes were large in numbers and spread throughout the country.
 Seth, bohra traders specialized in long distance trade while local traders were called banik
 Another class of traders was known as banjaras, who specialized in carrying bulk goods.
 The banjaras used to move to long distances with their goods on the back of oxen
 Bulk goods were also taken through rivers on boats.
 The Guajarati merchants included the Hindus, Jains and Muslims. In Rajasthan, Oswals, Maheshwaris and Agarwals came to be called the Marwaris
 In south India, the Chettis on the Coramandal coast and the Muslim merchants of Malabar were the most important trading communities.
 Bengal exported sugar, rice as well as delicate muslin and silk.
 Gujarat was an entry point of foreign goods. From there, fine textiles and silk were taken to north India.
 The major imports into India were certain metals such as tin and copper, war horses and luxury
items such as ivory.
 The balance of trade was maintained by the import of gold and silver.
 The growth of foreign trade had resulted in the increased import of gold and silver in the seventeenth century.

Cultural Development under the Mughals

 The Mughal period witnessed a significant and widespread development in cultural activity.
 It was manifest in the sphere of art and architecture, painting, music and literature.
 Indian traditions were blended with Turko-Iranian culture which was brought into India by the Mughals.

Art and Architecture

 The Mughals were fond of laying gardens with running water.
 Some of the Mughal gardens such as the Nishat Bagh in Kashmir, the Shalimar Bagh at Lahore and the Pinjore garden in the Punjab have survived even today.
 During the reign of Sher Shah, the mausoleum at Sasaram in Bihar and the Purana Qila near
Delhi were built.
 Large scale construction of buildings started with the advent of Akbar
 He built many forts and the most famous one was the Agra Fort.
 It was built in red sandstone
 His other forts are at Lahore and Allahabad
 The climax of fort-building reached its climax during the reign of Shah Jahan.
 The famous Red Fort at Delhi with its Rang Mahal, Diwan-i-Am and Diwan-i-Khaswas his

 Akbar also built a palacecum-fort complex at Fatepur Sikri (City of Victory), 36 kilometres from
 Many buildings in Guajarati and Bengali styles are found in this complex.
 Guajarati style buildings were probably built for his Rajput wives.
 The most magnificent building in it is the Jama Masjid and the gateway to it called Buland
Darwaza or the Lofty Gate.
 The height of the gateway is 176 feet. It was built to commemorate Akbar‘s victory over Gujarat.
 Other important buildings at Fatepur Sikri are Jodh Bai’s palace and Panch Mahal with five storeys. Dur
 During Akbar‘s reign, the Humayun’s tomb was built at Delhi and it had a massive dome of marble.
 It may be considered the precursor of the Taj Mahal.
 Akbar’s tomb at Sikandara near Agra was completed by Jahangir.
 Nur Jahan built the tomb of Itimaddaulah at Agra.
 It was constructed wholly of white marble with floral designs made of semi-precious stones
on the walls. (Pietra dura)
 This method became more popular during the reign of Shah Jahan.
 The pietra dura method was used on a large scale in the Taj Mahal
 Taj Mahal is considered as jewel of the builder’s art.
 It contains all the architectural forms developed by the Mughals.
 The chief glory of the Taj is the massive dome and the four slender minarets
 The decorations are kept to the minimum.
 The Moti Masjid at Agra was built entirely in white marble. The Jama Masjid at Delhi was built in red stone.
 Many features of Mughal tradition can be seen in the Golden Temple at Amritsar.

Paintings and Music

 The foundation for the Mughal painting was laid by Humayun when he was staying in Persia
 He brought with him two painters – Mir Sayyid Ali and Abdal Samad to India.
 Akbar commissioned the illustrations of several literary and religious texts
 He invited a large number of painters from different parts of the country to his court.
 Both Hindus and Muslims joined in this work.
 Baswan, Miskina and Daswant attained great positions as Akabar‘s court artists
 Illustrations of Persian versions of Mahabharata and Ramayana were produced in miniature form.
 Art Studio established by Akbar. Historical works such as Akbar Nama also remained the main themes of Mughal paintings
 Mughal paintings reached its climax during the reign of Jahangir.
 He employed a number of painters like Abul Hasan, Bishan Das, Madhu, Anant, Manohar, Govardhan and Ustad Mansur
 Music had also developed under the Mughals.
 Akbar patronized Tansen of Gwalior.
 Tansen composed many ragas. Jahangir and Shah Jahan were also fond of music

Language and Literature

 Persian language became widespread in the Mughal Empire by the time of Akbar‘s reign.
 Many historical works were written during this period.
 They include Ain-i-Akbari and Akabar Nama authored by Abul Fazl.

 The leading poet of that period was his brother Abul Faizi.
 The translation of Mahabharata into the Persian language was done under his supervision.
 Utbi and Naziri were the two other leading Persian poets
 Jahangir‘s autobiography, Tuzuk-i-Jahangiriwas famous for its style
 He also patronized many scholars like Ghiyas Beg, Naqib Khan and Niamatullah
 Shah Jahan also patronized many writers and historians like Abdul Hamid Lahori, author of
Padshah Nama and Inayat Khan who wrote Shah Jahan Nama.
 His son Dara Shikoh translated the Bhagavat Gita and Upanishads into the Persian language
 Regional languages such as Bengali, Oriya, Rajasthani and Guajarati had also developed during this period.
 Many devotional works including the Ramayana and Mahabharata were translated into regional languages.
 The most influential Hindi poet was Tulsidas, who wrote the Hindi version of the
Ramayana, the Ramcharitmanas.

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