Mansabdari a title derived from the term Mansab that means rank. The Mughal emperor akbar brought the entire military organisation into a system, which was called Mansabdari system. The holder of a mansab was in the service of the state and he was bound to render service as was asked to. All servants of the empire, whether in the civil or military departments were graded in this system. There were thirty-three grades of mansabdars ranging from 'commanders of 10' to 'commanders of 10,000'. Till the middle of Akbar's reign, the highest rank an ordinary officer could hold was that of a commander of 5000; the more exalted grades between commanders of 7000 and 10,000 were reserved for the royal princes. During the period following the reign of Akbar, the grades were increased upto 20,000 or even more.
Appointment, promotion, suspension or dismissal of mansabdars rested entirely with the emperor. No portion of a mansabdar's property was hereditary, a mansabdar's children had to begin life a new. A mansabdar did not always begin at the lowest grade, the emperor, if satisfied, could and actually did grant higher or even highest grade to any person. There was no distinction between civil and military departments, officers both civil and military held mansabs and were liable to be transferred from one branch of the administration to another. Each mansabdar was expected to maintain prescribed number of horses, elephants, equipment etc according to his rank and dignity. These rules, though initially were strictly enforced, but later were slackened. [Abdul Karim]