What Is Sardeshmukhi?

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India’s history is rich and diverse, shaped by various cultural, social, and economic systems that have evolved over centuries. One such historical system is “Sardeshmukhi,” a form of land revenue collection that was prevalent during different periods of Indian history. Sardeshmukhi played a crucial role in the economic structure of regions where it was implemented, impacting both the ruling authority and the people. In this blog, we delve into the concept of Sardeshmukhi, its significance, and its impact on the socio-economic landscape.

What Is Sardeshmukhi?

Sardeshmukhi, also spelled as Sardeshmukhee, is a term derived from the Marathi language, where “sardesh” means a headman or overseer, and “mukhi” means chief. In the context of historical land revenue collection, Sardeshmukhi referred to a system where a local representative or headman was responsible for collecting revenue from a specific region on behalf of the ruling authority.

Significance And Historical Context:

Sardeshmukhi was prevalent during various periods of Indian history, particularly during the medieval and pre-colonial eras. It was commonly observed in regions with feudal systems and decentralized governance structures. The system allowed the ruling authority, often a king or a noble, to delegate the responsibility of revenue collection to local intermediaries, reducing the administrative burden on the central authority.

Key Features Of Sardeshmukhi:

  1. Local Governance: The Sardeshmukhi system was characterized by local representation and governance. The headman or representative acted as a liaison between the local population and the ruling authority.
  2. Revenue Collection: The primary responsibility of the Sardeshmukhi was to collect revenue from the designated region on behalf of the ruling authority. This revenue was often in the form of agricultural produce or a share of the land’s yield.
  3. Intermediary Role: The Sardeshmukhi played an intermediary role between the people and the ruling authority. They had the authority to ensure compliance with revenue collection while also addressing local issues and concerns.
  4. Social and Economic Impact: The Sardeshmukhi system had implications for both the local population and the ruling authority. It allowed for efficient revenue collection and reduced administrative challenges for the central authority. However, it also led to potential exploitation and abuse by local intermediaries.

Challenges And Criticisms:

While Sardeshmukhi aimed to streamline revenue collection, it also faced criticisms and challenges. One major concern was the potential for corruption and exploitation by local intermediaries, who could use their position for personal gain at the expense of the local population. Additionally, the system could result in disparities in revenue collection and allocation, impacting the socio-economic balance within regions.

Legacy And Modern Context:

With changes in governance structures, administrative practices, and economic systems, the Sardeshmukhi system gradually faded from prominence. Modern governance emphasizes more centralized revenue collection methods and equitable distribution of resources.


Sardeshmukhi offers a window into the historical intricacies of India’s socio-economic landscape. As a system that once played a pivotal role in revenue collection and local governance, it reflects the complexities of balancing administrative efficiency, local representation, and the potential for exploitation. By understanding historical systems like Sardeshmukhi, we gain insights into the diverse historical tapestry that has shaped the nation’s evolution and contributes to the understanding of governance, economic systems, and social dynamics.


What Is Meant By Sardeshmukhi?

Sardeshmukhi means claim to 1/10th of standard land revenue imposed on the entire population of the villages or towns. Chhatrapati Shivaji’s claim of sardeshmukhi was linked to his claim as the ruler of possessing superior rights over all the deshmukhs of the area.

What Was The Sardeshmukhi Answer?

Sardeshmukhi was a tax taken by Shivaji from Deshmukhas or local rulers, he used to take 1/10th of their income as land tax.

What Is The Difference Between Sardeshmukhi And Chauth?

chauth meaning one-fourth = kind of protection money charged by Shivaji in territories adjoining his empire normally 1/4 th of what they paid to their kings and feudal lords. sardesmukhi = charged normally at 1/10th as land revenue by Shivaji a tribute money being a former Chief/ feudal lord.

What Is Short And Sardeshmukhi?

Marathas were granted the right to collect Chauth and Sardeshmukhi by the Mughals in exchange for a promise to not raid adjoining Mughal territories. Chauth and sardeshmukhi were the taxes collected not in the Maratha kingdom but in the neighbouring territories of the Mughal empire or Deccan Sultanates.

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