Mir Bakhshi head of the military department holding the rank of imperial minister in the Mughal period. In the Sultanate period, the head of this department was called Ariz-i-Mamalik.
Under the mansabdari system of the Mughals, the emperor usually controlled the appointment, promotion, suspension and dismissal of the mansabdars. Every one of them, high or low, was directly under him and responsible for his own men. Appointment was done on the introduction of the chief Bakhshi. As the head of the military department, an ideal Bakhshi must combine both military and literary qualification. He was also the secretary for war, and the head of the office.
Alauddin Khalji was the first ruler in India to introduce branding of horses (dagh, 1312-13). The system was revived by Sher shah, and then again by Emperor Akbar. During his time horses were classified according to breed, and there was a separate department of branding under the Bakhshi with the assistance of certain officers, who carried out the inspection of review, wrote the reports and issued certificates. Bakhshi performed some of the wazir's earlier duties also. Thus Mir Bakhshi became an officer of influence, being second only to the Diwan or Vakil. Akbar had several Bakhshis under the Mir Bakhshi. Towards the close of Aurangzeb's reign three Bakhshis assisted the Mir Bakhshi who continued to be the chief military adviser. Duties were divided among the Bakhshis according to some definite procedure. Mir Bakhshi was in charge of recruitment, reviews and other similar affairs connected with the army. Assistant Bakhshis were sent with each contingent of the invading army. These Bakhshis were mainly responsible for disbursing salaries of the soldiers. In this way, Bakhshis were appointed in the provinces, sarkars and such other smaller units. The subordinate Bakhshis were made responsible to the Mir Bakhshi. [Nasrin Akhter]