Orfeas Katsoulis | Sep 9, 2022

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Abu'l-Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar (in Persian, ابو الفتح جلال الدين محمد اكبر) (15 October 1542-27 October 1605) better known as Akbar or Akbar the Great (Akbar-i-azam, اکبر اعظم), was the third Mughal emperor of India from 1556 to 1605. Akbar succeeded his father, Humayun, under a regent, Bairam Khan, who helped the young emperor expand and consolidate the Mughal domains in India.

Akbar had a strong personality and was a very successful general. He gradually expanded the Mughal Empire to include much of the Indian subcontinent. His power and influence, however, spread throughout the subcontinent because of the Mughals' military, political, cultural, and economic dominance. To unify the vast Mughal state, Akbar established a centralized system of administration throughout his empire and adopted a policy of conciliation of conquered rulers through marriage and diplomacy. To preserve peace and order in a religiously and culturally diverse empire, he adopted policies that won the support of his non-Muslim subjects. Eschewing tribal ties and the identity of the Islamic state, Akbar strove to unite distant lands of his kingdom through loyalty, expressed through Indo-Persian culture.

He developed a strong and stable economy, which led to commercial expansion and greater patronage of culture. Akbar himself was a patron of art and culture. He was fond of literature and created a library of over 24,000 volumes written in Sanskrit, Urdu, Persian, Greek, Latin, Arabic and Kashmiri, staffed by many scholars, translators, artists, calligraphers, scribes, bookbinders and readers. He did much of the cataloging himself through three main groupings. Akbar also established the Fatehpur Sikri library exclusively for women, and decreed that schools for the education of Muslims and Hindus be established throughout the kingdom. He also encouraged bookbinding to be considered a great art. Holy men of many religions, poets, architects and craftsmen adorned his court from all over the world for study and discussion. Akbar's courts in Delhi, Agra and Fatehpur Sikri became centers of arts, letters and learning. Timurid and Perso-Islamic culture began to merge and blend with indigenous Indian elements, and a distinct Indo-Persian culture emerged characterized by Mughal-style arts, painting and architecture. Disillusioned with orthodox Islam and perhaps hoping to achieve religious unity within his empire, Akbar promulgated Din-i Ilahi, a syncretic creed derived mainly from Islam and Hinduism, as well as some parts of Zoroastrianism and Christianity. However, Akbar also ordered the Chittorgarh Massacre, in which 30,000 Hindu peasants were massacred.

Akbar's reign significantly influenced the course of Indian history. During his rule, the Mughal Empire tripled in size and wealth. He created a powerful military system and instituted effective political and social reforms. By abolishing the Yizia, the sectarian tax, on non-Muslims and appointing them to high civil and military posts, he was the first Mughal ruler to win the trust and loyalty of the native subjects. He had Sanskrit literature translated, participated in native festivals and realized that a stable empire depended on the cooperation and goodwill of his subjects. Thus, the foundations of a multicultural empire under his rule were laid during his reign. Akbar was succeeded as emperor by his son, Prince Salim, later known as Jahangir.

Defeated in battles at Chausa and Kannauj in 1539 to 1541 by the forces of Sher Shah Suri, the Mughal emperor Humayun fled westward to Sind. There he met and married Hamida Banu Begum, then 14 years old, daughter of Shaikh Ali Akbar Jami, a Persian teacher of Humayun's younger brother Hindal Mirza. Jalal ud-din Muhammad Akbar was born the following year, on October 15, 1542 (the fourth day of Rajab, 949 AH) in the Rajput fortress of Umarkot in Rajputana (in present-day Sind), where the local Hindu ruler Rana Prasad had given refuge to his parents.

During the extended period of Humayun's exile, Akbar was raised in Kabul by the extended family of his paternal uncles, Kamran Mirza and Askari Mirza, and his aunts, particularly Kamran Mirza's wife. He spent his youth learning to hunt, run and fight, which made him a bold, powerful and brave warrior, but he never learned to read or write. This, however, did not hinder his quest for knowledge, as it is always said that when he retired at night he would have someone read. On November 20, 1551, Humayun's younger brother, Hindal Mirza, was killed fighting in a battle against the forces of Kamran Mirza. Upon hearing the news of his brother's death, Humayun was overcome with grief.

Out of affection for the memory of his brother, Humayun betrothed Hindal's nine-year-old daughter, Ruqaiya Sultan Begum, to his son Akbar. Their betrothal took place in Kabul, shortly after Akbar's first appointment as viceroy in Ghazni province. Humayun conferred on the imperial couple all the wealth, army and followers of Hindal and Ghazni. One of Hindal's jagir was given to his nephew, Akbar, who was appointed viceroy and was also given command of his uncle's army. Akbar's marriage to Ruqaiya was solemnized in Jalandhar, Punjab, when they were both 14 years old. She was his first wife and chief consort.

After the chaos over the succession of Sher Shah's son Suri Islam Shah, Humayun reconquered Delhi in 1555, leading an army partly in his Persian ally Tahmasp I. A few months later, Humayun died. Akbar's guardian, Bairam Khan, concealed the death to prepare for Akbar's succession. Akbar succeeded Humayun on February 14, 1556, while in the midst of a war against Sikandar Shah to reclaim the Mughal throne. In Kalanaur, Punjab, 14-year-old Akbar was enthroned by Bairam Khan on a newly built platform, which still stands today. He was proclaimed Shahanshah (Persian for "King of Kings"). Bairam Khan ruled on his behalf until he came of age.

Military innovations

Akbar was given the epithet "the Great" because of his many achievements. including his record of undefeated military campaigns that consolidated Mughal rule in the Indian subcontinent. The basis of this military prowess and authority was Akbar's skillful structural and organizational calibration of the Mughal army. The Mansabdari system in particular has been acclaimed for its role in defending Mughal power in Akbar's time. The system persisted with few changes until the end of the Mughal Empire, but was progressively weakened by his successors.

Organizational reforms were accompanied by innovations in cannons, fortifications, and the use of elephants. Akbar also became interested in wick keys and employed them effectively during several conflicts. He sought help from the Ottomans, and also increasingly from Europeans, especially Portuguese and Italians, to acquire firearms and artillery. Firearms in Akbar's time became far superior to anything that regional rulers, tributaries or the zamindars could deploy. Such was the impact of these weapons that Akbar's vizier, Abu'l-Fazl ibn Mubarak, once declared that "with the exception of Turkey, there is perhaps no country in which its guns have more means of securing government than The term "gunpowder empire" has often been used by scholars and historians in analyzing the success of the Mughals in India. Mughal power has been considered to be due to their mastery of warfare techniques, especially the use of firearms encouraged by Akbar.

Struggle for northern India

Akbar's father Humayun had regained control of the Punjab, Delhi, and Agra with Safavid support, but even in these areas Mughal rule was precarious, and when the Surs recaptured Agra and Delhi after Humayun's death, the fate of the infant emperor seemed uncertain. Akbar's minority and the lack of any possibility of military assistance from the Mughal stronghold of Kabul, which was in the midst of an invasion by the ruler of Badakhshan, Prince Mirza Suleiman, aggravated the situation. When his regent, Bairam Khan, called a council of war to order the Mughal forces, none of Akbar's chiefs approved. However, Bairam Khan was finally able to prevail over the nobles, and it was decided that the Mughals would march against the strongest of the Southern rulers, Sikandar Shah Suri, in the Punjab. Delhi came under the regency of Tardi Baig Khan. Sikandar Shah Suri, however, did not present much concern for Akbar, and avoided giving battle when the Mughal army approached. The most serious threat came from Hemu, a minister and general of one of the Southern rulers, who had proclaimed himself Hindu emperor and expelled the Mughals from the Indo-Gangetic plains.

Urged by Bairam Khan, who reorganized the Mughal army again before Hemu could consolidate his position, Akbar marched on Delhi to reclaim it. His army, led by Bairam Khan, defeated Hemu and the Southern army on November 5, 1556, at the Second Battle of Panipat, 50 miles (80 km) north of Delhi. Soon after the battle, Mughal forces occupied Delhi and then Agra. Akbar made a triumphal entry into Delhi, where he remained for a month. Then he and Bairam Khan returned to Punjab to deal with Sikandar Shah, who had become active again. In the next six months, the Mughals won another major battle against Sikander Shah Suri, who fled to eastern Bengal. Akbar and his forces occupied Lahore and then seized Multan in the Punjab. In 1558, Akbar took possession of Ajmer, the opening to Rajputana, after the defeat and flight of its Muslim ruler. The Mughals also besieged and defeated the Sur forces that controlled the fortress of Gwalior, the largest fortress north of the Narmada River.

The royal begums, along with the families of the Mughal amirs, were finally brought from Kabul to India at this time, according to Akbar's vizier, Abul Fazl, "so that the men could settle down and be restrained to some extent from leaving for a country to which they were accustomed." Akbar had firmly declared his intentions that the Mughals were in India to stay. This was a far cry from the political arrangements of his grandfather, Babur, and his father, Humayun, who had done little to indicate that they were anything but transient rulers. However, Akbar methodically reintroduced a historical legacy of the Timurid Renaissance that his ancestors had left behind.

Expansion into central India

In 1559, the Mughals had launched a southward advance into Rajputana and Malwa. However, Akbar's quarrels with his regent, Bairam Khan, temporarily put a stop to the expansion. The young emperor, at the age of eighteen, wanted to take a more active part in the management of affairs. Encouraged by his foster mother, Maham Anga, and his relatives, Akbar decided to dispense with the services of Bairam Khan. After another court dispute, Akbar finally dismissed Bairam Khan in the spring of 1560 and ordered him to go on Hach to Mecca. Bairam Khan left for Mecca, but on his way he was incited by his opponents to revolt. He was defeated by the Mughal army in the Punjab and forced to submit. Akbar pardoned him, however, and gave him the choice of continuing at his court or resuming his pilgrimage; Bairam chose the latter. Bairam Khan was subsequently killed on his way to Mecca, allegedly by an Afghan with a personal vendetta.

In 1560, Akbar resumed military operations. A Mughal army under the command of his adopted brother, Adham Khan, and a Mughal commander, Pir Muhammad Khan, began the Mughal conquest of Malwa. The Afghan ruler, Baz Bahadur, was defeated at the Battle of Sarangpur and fled to Khandesh in search of refuge, leaving behind his harem, treasure and war elephants. Despite initial success, the campaign proved a disaster from Akbar's point of view. His adopted brother retained all the spoils and continued the Central Asian practice of massacring the surrendered garrison, their wives and children, and many Muslim theologians and Sayyids, who were descendants of Muhammad. Akbar personally traveled to Malwa to confront Adham Khan and relieve him of command. Pir Muhammad Khan was then sent in search of Baz Bahadur, but was repulsed by the alliance of the rulers of Khandesh and Berar. Baz Bahadur temporarily regained control of Malwa until, the following year, Akbar sent another Mughal army to invade and annex the kingdom. Malwa became a province of the nascent imperial administration of Akbar's regime. Baz Bahadur survived as a refugee in various courts until, eight years later, in 1570, he took over Akbar's service.

Despite the ultimate success at Malwa, the conflict exposed cracks in Akbar's personal relations with his relatives and Mughal nobles. When Adham Khan confronted Akbar after another dispute in 1562, the emperor knocked him down and threw him from a terrace into the palace courtyard at Agra. Still alive, Adham Khan was dragged and thrown into the courtyard once again by Akbar to ensure his death. Akbar now sought to eliminate the threat of overly powerful subjects.He created specialized ministerial posts related to imperial rule; no member of the Mughal nobility was to have unquestioned preeminence.When a powerful clan of Uzbek chiefs broke out in rebellion in 1564, Akbar defeated them and decisively defeated them at Malwa and then in Bihar.He pardoned the rebel leaders, hoping to conciliate them, but they rebelled again, so Akbar had to quell their uprising a second time. After a third revolt with the proclamation of Mirza Muhammad Hakim, Akbar's brother and Mughal ruler of Kabul, as emperor, his patience finally ran out. Several Uzbek chieftains were subsequently killed and the rebel leaders trampled to death under elephants. Simultaneously, the Mirza, a group of distant cousins of Akbar who held important fiefdoms near Agra, had also revolted. They too were killed and expelled from the empire. In 1566, Akbar moved to meet the forces of his brother, Muhammad Hakim, who had marched into the Punjab with dreams of seizing the imperial throne. However, after a brief confrontation, Muhammad Hakim accepted Akbar's supremacy and retreated to Kabul.

In 1564, Mughal forces began the conquest of Garha, a sparsely populated mountainous area in central India that was of interest to the Mughals because of its herd of wild elephants. The territory was ruled by Raja Vir Narayan, a minor, and his mother, Durgavati, a Rajput warrior queen of the Gonds. Akbar did not personally lead the campaign because he was worried about the Uzbek rebellion, leaving the expedition in the hands of Asaf Khan, the Mughal governor of Kara. Durgavati committed suicide after her defeat at the Battle of Damoh, while Raja Vir Narayan was killed at the Fall of Chauragarh, the mountain stronghold of the Gonds. The Mughals seized immense wealth, an uncalculated amount of gold and silver, jewels and 1000 elephants. Kamala Devi, a younger sister of Durgavati, was sent to the Mughal harem.The brother of Durgavati's late husband was installed as Mughal administrator of the region.As in Malwa, however, Akbar entered into a dispute with his vassals over the conquest of Gondwana.Asaf Khan was accused of keeping most of the treasures and sending only 200 elephants to Akbar. When he was called to account, he fled Gondwana. He first went to the Uzbeks, then returned to Gondwana, where he was pursued by Mughal forces. Finally, he submitted and Akbar returned him to his former position.

Around 1564 is also when there was an assassination attempt on Akbar documented in a painting.

The attempt was made when Akbar was returning from a visit to the dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin near Delhi, by an assassin who shot an arrow. The arrow pierced his right shoulder. The assassin was arrested and ordered beheaded by the Emperor. The culprit was a slave of Mirza Sharfuddin, a nobleman of Akbar's court whose rebellion had recently been suppressed.

Conquest of Rajputana

Having established Mughal dominance over northern India, Akbar turned his attention to the conquest of Rajputana. No imperial power in India based on the Indo-Gangetic plains could be secure if there was a rival power center on its flank in Rajputana. The Mughals had already established their dominance over parts of northern Rajputana at Mewat, Ajmer and Nagor. Now, Akbar was determined to drive into the heartland of the Rajput kings who had never before submitted to the Muslim rulers of the Delhi Sultanate. From 1561 onward, the Mughals actively engaged the Rajput in warfare and diplomacy. Most of the Rajput states accepted Akbar's sovereignty; the rulers of Mewar and Marwar, Udai Singh and Chandrasen Rathore, however, remained outside the imperial fold. Rana Udai Singh was descended from the Sisodia ruler, Rana Sanga, who had died fighting Babur at the battle of Khanua in 1527. As head of the Sisodia clan, he possessed the highest ritual status of all Rajput. kings and chieftains in India. Unless Udai Singh was reduced to submission, the imperial authority of the Mughals would be diminished in Rajput eyes. Moreover, Akbar, in this early period, was still enthusiastically devoted to the cause of Islam and tried to impress the superiority of his faith over the more prestigious warriors of Brahminical Hinduism.

In 1567, Akbar moved to reduce the Chittor Fort at Mewar. The fortress-capital of Mewar was of great strategic importance as it lay on the shortest route from Agra to Gujarat and was also considered a key to holding the interior parts of Rajputana. Udai Singh retreated to the Mewar hills, leaving two Rajput warriors, Jaimal Rathore and Patta, in charge of the defense of his capital. Chittorgarh fell in February 1568 after a four-month siege. Akbar had the surviving defenders and 30,000 non-combatants massacred and their heads displayed on towers erected throughout the region to demonstrate his authority. The spoils that fell to the Mughals were distributed throughout the empire. He remained in Chittorgarh for three days, then returned to Agra, where, to commemorate the victory, he installed statues of Jaimal and Patta mounted on elephants at the gates of his fort. Udai Singh's power and influence were broken. He never again dared to leave his mountain retreat at Mewar and Akbar was content to leave him alone.

The fall of Chittorgarh was followed by a Mughal attack on Ranthambore Fort in 1568, Ranthambore was in the hands of the Hada Rajputs and was reputed to be the most powerful fortress in India. Ranthambore was in the hands of the Hada Rajputs and was reputed to be the most powerful fortress in India. However, it fell only after a couple of months. Akbar was now the master of almost the whole of Rajputana. Most of the Rajput kings had submitted to the Mughals. Only the Mewar clans continued to resist. Udai Singh's son and successor, Pratap Singh, was subsequently defeated by the Mughals at the Battle of Haldighati in 1576. Akbar would celebrate his conquest of Rajputana by laying the foundations of a new capital, 37 km southwest of Agra in 1569. It was called Fatehpur Sikri ("the city of victory"). Rana Pratap Singh, however, continually attacked the Mughals and was able to retain most of the kingdom of his ancestors in Akbar's lifetime.

Annexation of western and eastern India

Akbar's next military objectives were the conquest of Gujarat and Bengal, which connected India with the commercial centers of Asia, Africa and Europe via the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, respectively. In addition, Gujarat had been a haven for rebellious Mughal nobles, while in Bengal, the Afghans still had considerable influence under their ruler, Sulaiman Khan Karrani. Akbar moved first against Gujarat, which lay in the thief of the Mughal provinces of Rajputana and Malwa. Gujarat, with its coastal regions, possessed areas of rich agricultural production in its central plain, impressive production of textiles and other industrial goods, and the busiest seaports in India. Akbar intended to link the maritime state with the massive resources of the Indo-Gangetic plains. However, the apparent casus belli was that the rebel Mirzas, who had previously been expelled from India, now operated from a base in southern Gujarat. In addition, Akbar had received invitations from cliques in Gujarat to overthrow the reigning king, which served as justification for his military expedition. In 1572, he moved to occupy Ahmedabad, the capital, and other northern cities, and was proclaimed the rightful ruler of Gujarat. In 1573, he had expelled the Mirza who, after offering token resistance, fled to take refuge in Deccan. Surat, the commercial capital of the region, and other coastal cities soon capitulated to the Mughals. The king, Muzaffar Shah III, was caught hiding in a cornfield; Akbar retired him with a small allowance.

Having established his authority over Gujarat, Akbar returned to Fatehpur Sikiri, where he built the Buland Darwaza to commemorate his victories, but a rebellion by Afghan nobles supported by the Rajput ruler of Idar and renewed intrigues by the Mirza forced a return to Gujarat. Akbar crossed the Rajputana and reached Ahmedabad in eleven days, a journey that normally took six weeks. The outnumbered Mughal army won a decisive victory on September 2, 1573. Akbar killed the rebel leaders and erected a tower with their severed heads. The conquest and subjugation of Gujarat proved highly profitable for the Mughals; the territory yielded an income of more than five million rupees annually to Akbar's treasury, after expenses.

Akbar had now defeated most of the Afghan remnants in India. The sole center of Afghan power was now in Bengal, where Sulaiman Khan Karrani, an Afghan chief whose family had served under Sher Shah Suri, reigned in power. While Sulaiman Khan scrupulously avoided offending Akbar, his son, Daud Khan, who had succeeded him in 1572, decided otherwise. While Sulaiman Khan had the Khutba read in Akbar's name and acknowledged Mughal supremacy, Daud Khan assumed the insignia of kingship and ordered the khutba to be proclaimed in his own name in defiance of Akbar. Munim Khan, the Mughal governor of Bihar, was ordered to punish Daud Khan, but later, Akbar himself left for Bengal.This was an opportunity to bring trade in the east under Mughal control.In 1574, the Mughals seized Patna from Daud Khan, who fled to Bengal.Akbar returned to Fatehpur Sikri and left his generals to finish the campaign. Subsequently, the Mughal army won victory at the Battle of Tukaroi in 1575, leading to the annexation of Bengal and parts of Bihar that had been under Daud Khan's rule. Only Odisha remained in the hands of the Karrani dynasty as a fief of the Mughal Empire. However, a year later, Daud Khan revolted and attempted to regain Bengal. He was defeated by the Mughal general, Khan Jahan Quli, and had to flee into exile. Subsequently, Daud Khan was captured and executed by Mughal forces. His severed head was sent to Akbar, while his limbs were hung in Tandah, the Mughal capital of Bengal.

Campaigns in Afghanistan and Central Asia

After his conquests of Gujarat and Bengal, Akbar was preoccupied with domestic concerns. He did not leave Fatehpur Sikri on a military campaign until 1581, when Punjab was again invaded by his brother, Mirza Muhammad Hakim. Akbar expelled his brother to Kabul and this time moved on, determined to end the threat of Muhammad Hakim once and for all. In contrast to the problem his predecessors had in getting the Mughal nobles to remain in India, the problem now was to get them to leave India. According to Abul Fazl, they were "afraid of the cold of Afghanistan." Hindu officials, in turn, were also inhibited by the traditional taboo of crossing the Indus. Akbar, however, encouraged them. The soldiers were paid eight months in advance. In August 1581, Akbar seized Kabul and took up residence in the ancient citadel of Babur. There he remained for three weeks, in the absence of his brother, who had fled to the mountains. Akbar left Kabul in the hands of his sister, Bakht-un-Nisa Begum, and returned to India. He pardoned his brother, who assumed de facto charge of the Mughal administration in Kabul; Bakht-un-Nis remained the official governor. A few years later, in 1585, Muhammad Hakim died and Kabul passed back into Akbar's hands. It was officially incorporated as a province of the Mughal Empire.

The Kabul expedition was the beginning of a long period of activity on the empire's northern frontiers. For thirteen years, beginning in 1585, Akbar remained in the north, moving his capital to Lahore in the Punjab while facing challenges beyond the Khyber Pass. The most serious threat came from the Uzbeks, the tribe that had driven his grandfather, Babur, out of Central Asia. They had been organized under Abdullah Khan Shaybanid, an able warlord who had taken Badakhshan and Balkh from Akbar's distant Timurid kinsmen, and whose Uzbek troops now posed a serious challenge to the northwestern frontiers of the Mughal Empire. The Afghan tribes on the frontier were also restless, partly because of the hostility of the Yusufzai of Bajaur and Swat, and partly because of the activity of a new religious leader, Bayazid, the founder of the Roshaniyya sect. The Uzbeks were also known to be subsidizing the Afghans.

In 1586, Akbar negotiated a pact with Abdullah Khan in which the Mughals agreed to remain neutral during the Uzbek invasion of the Safavids in the Khorasan. In return, Abdullah Khan agreed to refrain from supporting, subsidizing or harboring Afghan tribes hostile to the Mughals. Thus freed, Akbar initiated a series of campaigns to pacify the Yusufzais and other rebels. Akbar ordered Zain Khan to lead an expedition against the Afghan tribes. Raja Birbal, a renowned minister in Akbar's court, was also given military command. The expedition proved to be a disaster, and on their retreat from the mountains, Birbal and his entourage were ambushed and killed by the Afghans at the Malandarai Pass in February 1586. Akbar immediately sent fresh armies to re-invade the Yusufzai lands under the command of Raja Todar Mal. For the next six years, the Mughals held the Yusufzai in the mountain valleys and forced many Swat and Bajaur chiefs into submission. Scores of forts were built and occupied to secure the region. Akbar's response demonstrated his ability to maintain firm military control over the Afghan tribes.

Despite his pact with the Uzbeks, Akbar nurtured the secret hope of reconquering Central Asia from present-day Afghanistan. However, Badakshan and Balkh remained firmly part of the Uzbek domain. There was only a transitory occupation of the two provinces by the Mughals under his grandson, Shah Jahan, in the mid-17th century. However, Akbar's stay on the northern frontiers was very fruitful. The last rebellious Afghan tribes were subdued by 1600. The Roshaniyya movement was firmly suppressed. The Afridi and Orakzai tribes, which had risen under the Roshaniyyas, had been subjugated. The leaders of the movement were captured and exiled. Jalaluddin, the son of the founder of the Roshaniyya movement, Bayazid, was killed in 1601 in a fight with Mughal troops near Gazni. Mughal rule over present-day Afghanistan was finally secure, particularly after the passing of the Uzbek threat with the death of Abdullah Khan in 1598.

Conquests in the Indus Valley

While in Lahore dealing with the Uzbeks, Akbar had tried to subjugate the Indus Valley to secure the border provinces. He sent an army to conquer Kashmir in the upper Indus basin when, in 1585, Ali Shah, the reigning king of the Shia Chak dynasty, refused to send his son as a hostage to the Mughal court. Ali Shah immediately surrendered to the Mughals, but another of his sons, Yaqub, crowned himself king and led a stubborn resistance to the Mughal armies. Finally, in June 1589, Akbar himself traveled from Lahore to Srinagar to receive the surrender of Yaqub and his rebel forces. Baltistan and Ladakh, which were Tibetan provinces adjacent to Kashmir, swore allegiance to Akbar. The Mughals also moved to conquer Sind in the lower Indus Valley. Since 1574, the northern fortress of Bhakkar had remained under imperial control. Now, in 1586, the Mughal governor of Multan tried unsuccessfully to secure the capitulation of Mirza Jani Beg, the independent ruler of Thatta in southern Sindh. Akbar responded by sending a Mughal army to besiege Sehwan, the river capital of the region. Jani Beg assembled a large army to confront the Mughals. The outnumbered Mughal forces defeated the Sindhi forces at the Battle of Sehwan. After suffering further defeats, Jani Beg surrendered to the Mughals in 1591 and, in 1593, paid homage to Akbar at Lahore.

Subjugation of parts of Balochistan

As early as 1586, about half a dozen Baluchi chiefs, who were still under the nominal Afghan rule of Pani, had been persuaded to attend the imperial court and recognize Akbar's vassalage. In preparations to take Kandahar from the Safavids, Akbar ordered the Mughal forces to conquer the rest of the Afghan parts of Baluchistan in 1595. The Mughal general, Mir Masum, led an attack on the fortress of Sibi, located northwest of Quetta, and defeated a coalition of local chiefs in a pitched battle. They were made to recognize Mughal supremacy and attend Akbar's court. As a result, today's Pakistani and Afghan parts of Baluchistan, including the areas of the strategic Makran region within it, became part of the Mughal Empire. The Mughals who now bordered the Persians ruled Kandahar on three sides.

Safavids and Kandahar

Kandahar was the name given by Arab historians to the ancient Indian kingdom of Gandhara. It was closely associated with the Mughals from the time of their ancestor, Tamerlane, the warlord who had conquered much of western, central and southern Asia in the 14th century. However, the Safavids regarded him as an apanage of the Persian-ruled territory of Khorasan and declared his association with the Mughal emperors to be usurpation. In 1558, as Akbar consolidated his rule over northern India, the Safavid emperor, Tahmasp I, seized Kandahar and expelled its Mughal governor. For the next thirty years, it remained under Persian rule. The recovery of Kandahar had not been a priority for Akbar, but after his prolonged military activity on the northern frontiers, a move to restore Mughal rule over the region became desirable. The conquests of Sindh, Kashmir and parts of Baluchistan, and the ongoing consolidation of Mughal power over present-day Afghanistan had increased Akbar's confidence. Moreover, Kandahar was at this time under threat from the Uzbeks, but the Emperor of Persia, himself besieged by the Ottoman Turks, was unable to send reinforcements. Circumstances favored the Mughals.

In 1593, Akbar received the exiled Safavid prince, Rostam Mirza, after he had fought with his family. Rostam Mirza swore allegiance to the Mughals; he was granted a rank (mansab) of commander of 5000 men and received Multan as jagir. Besieged by constant Uzbek raids, and seeing Rostom Mirza's reception at the Mughal court, the Safavid prince and governor of Kandahar, Mozaffar Hosayn, also agreed to defect to the Mughals. Mozaffar Hosayn, who in any case was in an adversarial relationship with his supreme lord, Shah Abbas, was granted a rank of 5000 men, and his daughter Kandahari Begum was married to Akbar's grandson, the Mughal prince, Sha Jahan. Kandahar was finally secured in 1595 with the arrival of a garrison led by the Mughal general, Shah Bayg Khan. The reconquest of Kandahar did not overtly alter the Mughal-Persian relationship. Akbar and the Persian Shah continued to exchange ambassadors and gifts. However, the power equation between the two had now shifted in favor of the Mughals.

Sultans of Deccan

In 1593, Akbar began military operations against the Deccan sultans who had not submitted to his authority. He besieged Ahmednagar Fort in 1595, which forced Chand Bibi to cede Berar. A subsequent revolt forced Akbar to take the fort in August 1600. Akbar occupied Burhanpur and besieged Asirgarh Fort in 1599, and took it on January 17, 1601, when Miran Bahadur Shah refused to subdue Khandesh. Akbar then established the subahs of Ahmadnagar, Berar and Khandesh under Prince Daniyal. "At the time of his death in 1605, Akbar controlled a wide expanse of territory from the Bay of Bengal to Qandahar and Badakshan. He touched the western sea at Sind and Surat and was astride the center of India."

Political governance

Akbar's system of central government was based on the system that had evolved from the Delhi Sultanate, but the functions of various departments were carefully reorganized by establishing detailed regulations for their functioning:


Akbar set out to reform the land revenue administration of his empire by adopting a system that had been used by Sher Shah Suri. A cultivated area where crops grew well was measured and taxed through fixed rates based on the cultivation and productivity of the area. However, this posed a difficulty for the peasantry because tax rates were fixed on the basis of prevailing imperial court prices, which were often higher than those in the countryside. Akbar switched to a decentralized system of annual assessment, but this resulted in corruption among local officials and was abandoned in 1580, to be replaced by a system called dahsala. Under the new system, revenue was calculated as one-third of the average production of the previous ten years, which would be paid to the state in cash. Subsequently, this system was refined, taking into account local prices and grouping areas with similar productivity into assessment circles. Remission was granted to farmers when the crop failed in times of flood or drought. Akbar's dahsala system (also known as zabti ) is attributed to Raja Todar Mal, who also served as revenue officer under Sher Shah Suri, and the structure of revenue administration was laid down by the latter in a detailed memorandum submitted to the emperor in 1582-1583.

Other local methods of assessment continued in some areas. Fallow or uncultivated land was charged at favorable rates. Akbar also actively encouraged the improvement and extension of agriculture. The village remained the primary unit of revenue assessment. zamindars in each area were required to provide loans and agricultural implements in times of need, to encourage farmers to plow as much land as possible and sow superior quality seeds. In turn, the zamindars were granted the hereditary right to collect a share of the produce. Peasants had the hereditary right to cultivate the land as long as they paid the land revenue. While the revenue assessment system showed concern for the small peasantry, it also maintained a level of distrust of revenue officials. Revenue officers were guaranteed only three-fourths of their salary, and the remaining one-fourth depended on the full realization of the assessed revenue.

Military organization

Akbar organized his army and nobility through a system called mansabdari. Under this system, each army officer was assigned a rank (a mansabdar) and was assigned a number of cavalry that he had to supply the imperial army. The mansabdars were divided into 33 classes. The first three command ranks, ranging from 7000 to 10000 soldiers, were usually reserved for princes. Other ranks between 10 and 5000 were assigned to other members of the nobility. The standing army of the empire was quite small and the imperial forces consisted mainly of contingents maintained by the mansabdars. Individuals were usually appointed to a low mansab and then promoted, depending on their merit and the emperor's favor. Each mansabdar was required to maintain a certain number of cavalrymen and twice that number of horses. The number of horses was larger because they had to be rested and replaced quickly in times of war. Akbar employed strict measures to ensure that the quality of the armed forces was maintained at a high level; horses were regularly inspected and normally only Arabian horses were used. The mansabdars were well paid for their services and constituted the highest paid military service in the world at the time.


Akbar was a follower of Salim Chishti, a holy man who lived in the Sikri region near Agra. Believing the area to be fortunate for him, he had a mosque built there for the priest's use. Subsequently, he celebrated the victories over Chittor and Ranthambore by laying the foundations of a new walled capital 23 miles (37 km) west of Agra in 1569, which was named Fatehpur (" city of victory ") after the conquest of Gujarat in 1573. It later became known as Fatehpur Sikri to distinguish it from other cities with similar names, where palaces were built for each of Akbar's major queens, a huge artificial lake and sumptuous courtyards filled with water. However, the city was soon abandoned and the capital was moved to Lahore in 1585. The reason may have been that the water supply in Fatehpur Sikri was insufficient or of poor quality. Or, as some historians believe, Akbar had to attend to the northwestern areas of his empire and therefore moved his capital to the northwest. Other sources indicate that Akbar simply lost interest in the city or realized that it was not militarily defensible. In 1599, Akbar moved his capital to Agra, from where he reigned until his death.


Akbar's reign was characterized by commercial expansion. The Mughal government encouraged merchants, provided protection and security for transactions, and imposed a very low customs duty to encourage foreign trade. In addition, it endeavored to foster a climate conducive to trade by requiring local administrators to provide restitution to merchants for goods stolen while in their territory. To minimize such incidents, bands of highway policemen called rahdars were enlisted to patrol the roads and ensure the safety of traders. Other active measures taken included the construction and protection of trade and communication routes. In fact, Akbar would make concerted efforts to improve roads to facilitate the use of wheeled vehicles through the Khyber Pass, the most popular route frequented by traders and travelers traveling from Kabul to Mughal India. He also strategically occupied the northwestern cities of Multan and Lahore in the Punjab and built large fortresses, such as Attock, near the junction of the Grand Trunk Road and the Indus River, as well as a network of smaller fortresses called thanas along the border to secure overland trade with Persia and Central Asia.


Akbar was a great innovator when it came to coinage, and Akbar's coins established a new chapter in India's numismatic history. Akbar's coins established a new chapter in India's numismatic history. The coins of Akbar's grandfather, Babur, and father, Humayun, are basic and lack any innovation, as the former was busy laying the foundations of Mughal rule in India, while the latter was overthrown by the Afghan Sher Shah Suri. and returned to the throne only to die a year later. While the reign of Babur and Humayun represented turmoil, Akbar's relatively long 50-year reign allowed him to experiment with coinage.

Akbar introduced coins with decorative floral motifs, dotted borders, quatrefoil and other types. His coins were round and square with a unique 'mehrab' (rhombus) shaped coin that highlighted numismatic calligraphy at its finest. Akbar's (Mohur) portrait type gold coin is generally attributed to his son, Prince Salim (later Emperor Jahangir), who rebelled and then sought reconciliation by minting and presenting to his father the Mohur gold with Akbar's portrait. Akbar's tolerant view is represented by the 'Ram-Sita' type of silver coinage, while during the latter part of Akbar's reign, coins depicting Akbar's newly promoted 'Din-e-ilahi' concept of religion were minted with the Ilahi and Jalla type. Jalal-Hu type coins.

These innovative concepts introduced by Akbar that set the precedent for Mughal coins were refined and perfected by his son, Jahangir, and later by his grandson, Shah Jahan.

Wedding rings

The practice of arranging marriages between Hindu princesses and Muslim kings was known long before Akbar's time, but in most cases these marriages did not result in stable relationships between the families involved, and the women were lost to their families and did not return after marriage.

However, Akbar's policy of marriage alliances marked a departure in India from earlier practice in the sense that marriage itself marked the beginning of a new order of relations, in which Hindu Rajputs who married their daughters or sisters to him would be treated on a par with their Muslim in-laws and brothers-in-law in all respects except in being able to dine and pray with him or take Muslim wives. These Rajputs became members of his court and the marriage of their daughters or sisters to a Muslim ceased to be a sign of degradation, except for certain proud elements who still considered it a sign of humiliation.

The Kacchwaha Rajput, Raja Bharmal, from the small kingdom of Amber, who had come to Akbar's court soon after the latter's accession, signed an alliance giving his daughter in marriage to the emperor. Bharmal was made a high-ranking nobleman at the imperial court, and subsequently his son Bhagwant Das and grandson Man Singh also rose to high ranks in the nobility.

Other Rajput kingdoms also entered into marriage alliances with Akbar, but marriage was not insisted upon as a precondition for forming alliances. Two major Rajput clans remained on the sidelines: the Sisodiyas of Mewar and Hadas of Ranthambore. At another turning point in Akbar's reign, Raja Man Singh I of Amber went with Akbar to meet the Hada leader, Surjan Hada, to make an alliance. Surjan agreed to an alliance on the condition that Akbar would not marry any of his daughters. Consequently, no marriage alliance was signed, but Surjan became a nobleman and was put in charge of Garh-Katanga.

The political effect of these alliances was significant. While some Rajput women who entered Akbar's harem converted to Islam, they were generally provided with full religious freedom, and their relatives, who remained Hindus, formed a significant part of the nobility and served to articulate the views of the majority of the common population at the imperial court. The interaction between Hindu and Muslim nobles at the imperial court resulted in the exchange of thoughts and the fusion of the two cultures. In addition, the new generations of the Mughal line represented a fusion of Mughal and Rajput blood, thus strengthening the ties between the two. As a result, the Rajput became the strongest allies of the Mughals, and Rajput soldiers and generals fought for the Mughal army under Akbar, leading it in several campaigns, including the conquest of Gujarat in 1572. Akbar's policy of religious tolerance ensured that employment in the imperial administration was open to all on merit regardless of creed, and this led to an increase in the strength of the empire's administrative services.

Another legend is that Akbar's daughter, Meherunnissa, was in love with Tansen and played a role in his arrival at Akbar's court. Tansen converted to Islam from Hinduism, apparently on the eve of his marriage to Akbar's daughter.

Relations with the Portuguese

By the time of Akbar's ascension in 1556, the Portuguese had established several forts and factories on the west coast of the subcontinent, and largely controlled shipping and maritime trade in that region. As a consequence of this colonialism, all other commercial entities were subject to the terms and conditions of the Portuguese, and this was resented by the rulers and merchants of the time, including Bahadur Shah of Gujarat.

In the year 1572, the Mughal Empire annexed Gujarat and acquired its first access to the sea after local officials informed Akbar that the Portuguese had begun to exert control in the Indian Ocean, and Akbar was therefore aware of the threat posed by the Portuguese and was content to obtain a charterz (permission) from them to sail in the Persian Gulf region. Akbar was therefore aware of the threat posed by the presence of the Portuguese and was content to obtain a cartaz (permission) from them to sail in the Persian Gulf region. At the initial meeting of the Mughals and the Portuguese during the siege of Suraten 1572, the Portuguese, recognizing the superior strength of the Mughal army, chose to adopt diplomacy rather than war. The Portuguese governor, at Akbar's request, sent an ambassador to him for friendly relations. Akbar's efforts to purchase and secure from the Portuguese some of his compact artillery pieces were unsuccessful and, therefore, Akbar was unable to establish the Mughal navy along the coast of Gujarat.

Akbar accepted the offer of diplomacy, but the Portuguese continually asserted their authority and power in the Indian Ocean; in fact, Akbar was very concerned when he had to seek permission from the Portuguese before any ship of the Mughal Empire left for the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina. In 1573, he issued a firman ordering the Mughal administrative officials in Gujarat not to provoke the Portuguese in the territory they occupied in Daman. The Portuguese, in turn, issued passes for members of Akbar's family to perform Hajj to Mecca. The Portuguese mentioned the extraordinary status of the ship and the special status to be granted to its occupants.

In September 1579 Jesuits from Goa were invited to visit Akbar's court. The emperor had his scribes translate the New Testament and granted the Jesuits the freedom to preach the Gospel. One of his sons, Sultan Murad Mirza, was entrusted to Antony of Montserrat for his education. While debating at court, the Jesuits did not merely expound their own beliefs, but also reviled Islam and Muhammad. Their comments angered the Imams and the Ulema, who objected to the remarks, but Akbar ordered their comments to be recorded and watched the Jesuits and their behavior closely. This event was followed by a rebellion of Muslim clerics in 1581 led by Mullah Muhammad Yazdi and Muiz-ul-Mulk, the chief Cadi of Bengal. The rebels wanted to overthrow Akbar and install his brother Mirza Muhammad Hakim, ruler of Kabul, on the Mughal throne. Akbar successfully defeated the rebels, but had become more cautious with his guests and his proclamations, which he then carefully checked with his advisors.

Relations with the Ottoman Empire

In 1555, when Akbar was still a child, the Ottoman admiral Seydi Ali Reis visited the Mughal Emperor Humayun. In 1569, during the early years of Akbar's rule, another Ottoman admiral Kurtoğlu Hızır Reis arrived on the shores of the Mughal Empire. These Ottoman admirals sought to put an end to the growing threats of the Portuguese Empire during their campaigns in the Indian Ocean. During his reign, Akbar himself is known to have sent six documents addressed to the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.

In 1576, Akbar sent a large contingent of pilgrims led by Khwaja Sultan Naqshbandi, Yahya Saleh, with 600,000 gold and silver coins and 12,000 honorary kaftans and large shipments of rice. In October 1576 Akbar sent a delegation including members of his family, including his aunt Gulbadan Begum and his consort Salima, on Hajj in two ships from Surat, including an Ottoman ship, which arrived at the port of Jeddah in 1577. He then proceeded to Mecca and Medina. Four more caravans were sent between 1577 and 1580, with exquisite gifts for the Meccan and Medina authorities.

The Mughal imperial entourage remained in Mecca and Medina for almost four years and attended the Hajj four times. During this period, Akbar financed the pilgrimages of many poor Muslims from the Mughal Empire and also financed the foundations of the dervish lodge of the Qadiriyya Sufi order in Hijaz. The Mughals eventually left for Surat, and their return was assisted by the Ottoman Bajah in Jeddah. Due to Akbar's attempts to build up the Mughal presence in Mecca and Medina, the local Sharifs began to have more confidence in the financial support provided by the Mughal Empire, lessening their dependence on Ottoman largesse. Mughal-Ottoman trade also flourished during this period; in fact, merchants loyal to Akbar are known to have arrived in Aleppo after traveling upriver through the port of Basra.

According to some accounts, Akbar expressed a desire to form an alliance with the Portuguese, mainly to promote his interests, but each time the Portuguese attempted to invade the Ottomans, Akbar failed. In 1587, a Portuguese fleet sent to attack Yemen was fiercely defeated and routed by the Ottoman Navy; thereafter, the Mughal-Portuguese alliance immediately collapsed, mainly due to continued pressure from the prestigious vassals of the Mughal Empire in Jandira.

Relations with the Safavid dynasty

The Safavids and the Mughals had a long history of diplomatic relations, and the Safavid ruler Tahmasp I had provided refuge for Humayun when he had to flee the Indian subcontinent after his defeat by Sher Shah Suri. However, the Safavids differed from the Sunni Mughals and Ottomans in following the Shiite sect of Islam. One of the most enduring disputes between the Safavids and the Mughals concerned the control of the city of Kandahar in the Hindu Kush region, which formed the border between the two empires. The Hindukush region was militarily very important due to its geography, and this was well recognized by the strategists of the time. Consequently, the city, which was being administered by Bairam Khan at the time of Akbar's accession, was invaded and captured by the Persian ruler Husain Mirza, a cousin of Tahmasp I, in 1558. Subsequently, Bairam Khan sent an envoy to the court of Tahmasp I in an effort to maintain peaceful relations with the Safavids. This gesture was reciprocated and a cordial relationship continued to prevail between the two empires during the first two decades of Akbar's reign. However, the death of Tahmasp I in 1576 resulted in civil war and instability in the Safavid empire, and diplomatic relations between the two empires ceased for more than a decade. They were restored only in 1587 after the ascension of Shah Abbas to the Safavid throne. Shortly thereafter, Akbar's army completed its annexation of Kabul, and to further secure the northwestern borders of his empire, proceeded to Qandahar. The city capitulated without resistance on April 18, 1595, and the ruler Muzaffar Hussain moved to Akbar's court. Qandahar remained in Mughal possession, and the Hindukush the western frontier of the empire, for several decades until Shah Jahan's expedition to Badakhshan in 1646. Diplomatic relations continued to be maintained between the Safavid and Mughal courts until the end of Akbar's reign.

Relations with other contemporary kingdoms

Vincent Arthur Smith notes that the merchant Mildenhall was employed in 1600 while the Company's establishment was being adjusted to carry a letter from Queen Isabella to Akbar requesting freedom to trade in his dominions on terms as good as those enjoyed by the Portuguese.

Akbar was also visited by the French explorer Pierre Malherbe.

It is believed that Akbar, as well as his mother and other members of his family, were Sunni Hanafi Muslims. His early days were spent in the context of an atmosphere in which liberal sentiments were encouraged and religious narrow-mindedness was frowned upon. From the 15th century, several rulers in various parts of the country adopted a more liberal policy of religious tolerance, attempting to foster communal harmony between Hindus and Muslims. These sentiments were earlier encouraged by the teachings of popular saints such as Guru Nanak, Kabir and Chaitania The Persian poet Hafez's verses advocating human sympathy and a liberal outlook, as well as the Timurid spirit of religious tolerance in the empire, persisted in politics from the time of Tamerlane to Humayun, and influenced Akbar's policy of tolerance in matters of religion. Moreover, his childhood tutors, which included two Iranian Shiites, were largely above sectarian prejudice and made a significant contribution to Akbar's later inclination toward religious tolerance.

Akbar sponsored religious debates between different Muslim groups (Sunnis, Shiites, Ismailis and Sufis), Parsis, Hindus (Shivaites and Vishnus), Sikhs, Jains, Jews, Jesuits and materialists, but he was partial to Sufism and proclaimed that 'the wisdom of Vedanta is the wisdom of Sufism'.

When he was in Fatehpur Sikri, he held discussions because he loved to know about the religious beliefs of others. On one of those days he learned that religious people of other religions were often intolerant of others' religious beliefs. This led him to form the idea of the new religion, Din-i Ilahi which means universal peace. His idea of this religion did not discriminate against other religions and focused on the ideas of peace, unity and tolerance. He tried to bring about a reconciliation of differences between faiths, incorporating notions of both Islam and Hinduism, but it never left the court and disappeared with his death.

Association with the Muslim aristocracy

During the first part of his reign, Akbar adopted an attitude of repression towards Muslim sects that were condemned by orthodoxy as heretical. In 1567, following the advice of Shaikh Abdu'n Nabi, he ordered the exhumation of Mir Murtaza Sharifi Shirazi, a Shiite buried in Delhi, because of the proximity of the tomb to that of Jursan Amir, arguing that a "heretic" could not be buried so close to the tomb of a Sunni saint, reflecting a restrictive attitude toward Shiites, which continued to persist until the early 1570s. He suppressed Mahdavism in 1573 during his campaign in Gujarat, in the course of which Mahdavi leader Bandagi Miyan Miyan Sheik Mustafa was arrested and brought to court for debate in chains and released after eighteen months. However, as Akbar came increasingly under the influence of the pantheistic Sufi mysticism of the early 1570s, it caused a great change in his outlook and culminated in his shift from orthodox Islam as traditionally professed in favor of a new concept of Islam that transcended the boundaries of religion. Accordingly, during the latter half of his reign, he adopted a policy of tolerance towards the Shiites and declared a ban on Shiite-Sunni conflict, and the empire remained neutral in matters of internal sectarian conflict. In the year 1578, the Mughal Emperor Akbar referred to himself as:

Emperor of Islam, Emir of the Faithful, Shadow of God on earth, Abul Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar Badshah Ghazi (whose empire Allah perpetuated), is a most just, wise and God-fearing ruler.

In 1580, a rebellion broke out in the eastern part of Akbar's empire, and the cadi issued a series of fatwas declaring Akbar a heretic. Akbar suppressed the rebellion and handed down severe punishments to the cadi. To further strengthen his position in dealing with the Qazis, Akbar issued a mazhar, or declaration, which was signed by all the leading ulema in 1579. The mahzar stated that Akbar was the caliph of the time, a higher rank than that of a Mujtahid: in the event of a difference of opinion among the Mujtahids, Akbar could choose any opinion and could also issue decrees that were not against the nass. Given the Islamic sectarian conflicts that prevailed in various parts of the country at the time, it is believed that Mazhar helped stabilize the religious situation in the empire. It made Akbar very powerful because of the total supremacy granted to the Khalifa by Islam, and also helped him eliminate the religious and political influence of the Ottoman Khalifa over his subjects, thus ensuring their total loyalty to him.

Whenever Akbar attended congregations in a mosque, the following proclamation was made.

The Lord gave me the Kingdom, made me wise, strong and courageous, guiding me through righteousness and truth, filling my mind with the love of truth, no praise of man could sum up his state, Allah Hu Akbar, God is great.


Akbar was deeply interested in religious and philosophical questions. An orthodox Muslim at first, he later became influenced by the Sufi mysticism being preached in the country at the time, and moved away from orthodoxy, appointing to his court several talented people with liberal ideas, including Abul Fazl, Faizi and Birbal. In 1575, he built a hall called Ibadat Khana ("House of Worship") in Fatehpur Sikri, to which he invited selected theologians, mystics, and courtiers recognized for their intellectual achievements and discussed matters of spirituality with them. These discussions, initially restricted to Muslims, were bitter and resulted in the participants shouting and insulting each other. Annoyed by this, Akbar opened the Ibadat Khana to people of all religions as well as atheists, which resulted in the scope of the discussions widening and extending even to areas such as the validity of the Qur'an and the nature of God. This came as a surprise to orthodox theologians, who tried to discredit Akbar by circulating rumors about his desire to abandon Islam.

Akbar's effort to develop a meeting point between the representatives of various religions was not very successful, as each of them tried to assert the superiority of their respective religions by denouncing other religions. Meanwhile, the debates in the Ibadat Khana became more acrimonious and, contrary to their purpose of leading to better understanding among religions, instead led to greater bitterness among them, resulting in Akbar's discontinuation of the debates in 1582. However, his interaction with various religious theologians had convinced him that, despite their differences, all religions had various good practices, which he sought to combine in a new religious movement known as Din-i-Ilahi.

Some modern scholars claim that Akbar did not start a new religion but introduced what Dr. Oscar R. Gomez calls the transtheistic perspective of Tibetan Tantric Buddhism, and that he did not use the word Din-i-Ilahi. According to contemporary events at the Mughal court, Akbar was in fact angered by the acts of embezzlement of wealth by many high-ranking Muslim clerics.

The so-called Din-i-Ilahi was more of an ethical system and is said to prohibit lust, sensuality, slander and pride, considering them as sins. Piety, prudence, abstinence and kindness are the fundamental virtues. The soul is encouraged to purify itself through the longing for God. Celibacy was respected, chastity was imposed, the killing of animals was forbidden and there were no sacred scriptures or priestly hierarchy. However, a noble leader of Akbar's court, Aziz Koka, wrote him a letter from Mecca in 1594 arguing that the discipleship promoted by Akbar was nothing more than a desire on Akbar's part to portray his superiority in religious matters. To commemorate Din-e-Ilahi, he changed the name of Prayag to Allahabad (pronounced as ilahabad ) in 1583.

It has been argued that the theory of Din-i-Ilahi being a new religion was a misconception that arose due to mistranslations of Abul Fazl's work by later British historians. However, it is also accepted that the policy of sulh-e-kul, which formed the essence of Din-i-Ilahi, was adopted by Akbar not only for religious purposes but as part of the overall imperial administrative policy. This also formed the basis of Akbar's policy of religious tolerance. At the time of Akbar's death in 1605 there were no signs of discontent among his Muslim subjects, and the impression of even a theologian like Abdu'l Haq was that close ties remained.

Relationship with Hindus

Akbar decreed that Hindus who had been forced to convert to Islam could reconvert to Hinduism without facing the death penalty. In his days of tolerance, Hindus loved him so much that there are numerous references to him, and his praises are also sung in religious songs and hymns.

Akbar practiced several Hindu customs. He celebrated Diwali, allowed Brahmin priests to tie strings of jewels around their wrists as a blessing and, following his example, many of the nobles began to wear rakhi (protective amulets). He renounced beef and forbade the sale of all meats on certain days.

Even his son Jahangir and grandson Shahjahan kept many of Akbar's concessions, such as prohibiting cow slaughter, eating only vegetarian dishes on certain days of the week and drinking only Ganges water. Even when he was in the Punjab, 200 miles away from the Ganges, the water was sealed in large jars and transported to him. He referred to the Ganges water as the "water of immortality".

Relationship with the Jains

Akbar regularly held discussions with Jain scholars and was also greatly affected by some of their teachings. His first encounter with Jain rituals was when he saw a Sravaka procession called Champa after a six-month fast. Impressed by its power and devotion, he invited his guru, or spiritual master, Acharya Hiravijaya Suri to Fatehpur Sikri. Acharya accepted the invitation and began his march to the Mughal capital from Gujarat.

Akbar was impressed by the scholastic qualities and character of Acharya. He held several interfaith dialogues between philosophers of different religions. The Jains' arguments against eating meat persuaded him to become a vegetarian. Akbar also issued many imperial orders that were favorable to Jain interests, such as prohibiting the killing of animals. Jain authors also wrote about their experience at the Mughal court in Sanskrit texts that are still largely unknown to historians.

The Supreme Court of India has cited examples of coexistence of Jain architecture and the Mughal Empire, calling Akbar "the architect of modern India" and saying he "had great respect" for Jainism. In 1584, 1592 and 1598, Akbar had declared the "Amari Ghosana", which prohibited the killing of animals during Paryushan and Mahavir Jayanti and removed the Jazia tax from Jain pilgrimage places like Palitana. Santichandra, a disciple of Suri, was sent to the Emperor, who in turn left his disciples Bhanuchandra and Siddhichandra at the court. Akbar again invited Hiravijaya Suri's successor, Vijayasena Suri, to his court, who visited him between 1593 and 1595.

Akbar's religious tolerance was not followed by his son Jahangir, who even threatened Akbar's former friend Bhanuchandra.


The court historian Abul Fazl extensively recounted Akbar's reign in the books Akbarnama and Ain-i-akbari. Other contemporary sources of Akbar's reign include the works of Badayuni, Shaikhzada Rashidi and Shaikh Ahmed Sirhindi.

Akbar was a warrior, emperor, general, animal trainer (allegedly keeping thousands of cheetah hunters during his reign and training many himself) and theologian. He is believed to have been dyslexic, was read to every day and had an extraordinary memory.

Akbar was said to have been a wise emperor and a good judge of character. His son and heir, Jahangir, wrote effusive praise of Akbar's character in his memoirs and dozens of anecdotes to illustrate his virtues. According to Jahangir, Akbar was "of the hue of wheat; his eyes and eyebrows were black and his complexion darker than fair". Antonio de Montserrat, the Catalan Jesuit who visited his court described him as follows:

One could easily recognize, even at first glance, that he is king. He has broad shoulders, somewhat crooked legs, suitable for riding, and a light brown complexion. He carries his head tilted to the right shoulder. His forehead is wide and open, his eyes so bright and sparkling that they look like a sea glistening in the sunlight. His eyelashes are very long. Her eyebrows are not very marked. His nose is straight and small, though not insignificant. His nostrils are wide open as if teasing. Between the left nostril and the upper lip is a mole. He shaves his beard but wears a mustache. He limps on his left leg, although he has never received an injury there.

Akbar was not tall, but he was of strong build and very agile. He was also noted for several acts of bravery. One such incident occurred on his way back from Malwa to Agra when Akbar was 19 years old. Akbar rode alone in front of his escort and was confronted by a tigress who, along with her cubs, came out of the bushes that crossed his path. When the tigress charged the emperor, it was alleged that he had dispatched the animal with his sword in a solitary blow. Her attendants approached and found the emperor standing silently beside the dead animal.

Abul Fazl, and even the hostile critic Badayuni, described him with a commanding personality. He was noted for his command in battle and "like Alexander the Great, he was always willing to risk his life, regardless of the political consequences." He would often plunge his horse into a swollen river during the rainy season and cross it safely. He rarely indulged in cruelty and is said to have been affectionate to his relatives. He forgave his brother Hakim, who was a repentant rebel. But on rare occasions, he dealt cruelly with offenders, such as his maternal uncle Muazzam and his foster brother Adham Khan, who was twice defenestrated for provoking Akbar's wrath.

It is said that he was extremely moderate in his diet. Ain-e-Akbari mentions that during his travels and also at home, Akbar drank water from the river Ganges, which he called "the water of immortality". Special people were stationed at Sorun and later at Haridwar to send water, in sealed jars, to wherever it was destined. According to Jahangir's memoirs, he was fond of fruits and disliked meat very much, which he gave up eating in his later years.

Akbar also once visited Vrindavan, the birthplace of Krishna in the year 1570, and gave permission for the Gaudiya Vaisnavas to build four temples, which were Madana-mohana, Govindaji, Gopinatha and Jugal Kisore.

To defend his position that speech arose from hearing, he conducted a language deprivation experiment and had children raised in isolation, not allowed to speak, and noted that as they grew older, they remained mute.


During Akbar's reign, the ongoing process of interreligious discourse and syncretism resulted in a series of religious attributions in terms of positions of assimilation, doubt or uncertainty, which he himself attended or left unchallenged. Such hagiographic accounts of Akbar traversed a wide range of confessional and sectarian spaces, including various Parsi, Jain, and Jesuit missionary accounts, as well as contemporary accounts of Brahminical and Muslim orthodoxy. Existing sects and denominations, as well as various religious figures representing popular worship, felt they had a claim on him. The diversity of these accounts is attributed to the fact that his reign resulted in the formation of a flexible centralized state accompanied by personal authority and cultural heterogeneity.

Akbarnāma, the Book of Akbar

The Akbarnāma (Persian : اکبر نامہ), literally meaning Book of Akbar, is an official biographical account of Akbar, the third Mughal emperor (r. 1542-1605), written in Persian. It includes vivid and detailed descriptions of his life and times.

The work was commissioned by Akbar and written by Abul Fazl, one of the Nine Jewels (Hindi: Navaratnas) of Akbar's royal court. The book is said to have taken seven years to complete and the original manuscripts contained a number of paintings to support the texts, and all the paintings depicted the Mughal school of painting and the work of the masters of the imperial workshop, including Basawan, whose use of portraiture in his illustrations was an innovation in Indian art.

Akbar's first wife and chief consort was his cousin, Princess Ruqaiya Sultan Begum, the only daughter of his paternal uncle, Prince Hindal Mirza, and his wife Sultanam Begum. In 1551, Hindal Mirza died fighting bravely in a battle against the forces of Kamran Mirza. Upon hearing the news of his brother's death, Humayun was overcome with grief. Out of affection for his brother's memory, Humayun betrothed Hindal's nine-year-old daughter Ruqaiya to his son Akbar. Their betrothal took place in Kabul, shortly after Akbar's first appointment as viceroy in Ghazni province. Humayun bestowed on the imperial couple all the wealth, army and adherents of Hindal and Ghazni which one of Hindal's jagir gave to his nephew, Akbar, who was appointed viceroy and also received command of his uncle's army. Akbar's marriage to Ruqaiya was solemnized near Jalandhar, Punjab, when they were both 14. She herself, childless, adopted Akbar's favorite grandson, Prince Khurram (the future Emperor Shah Jahan). She died on January 19, 1626.

His second wife was the daughter of Abdullah Khan Mughal. The marriage took place in 1557 during the siege of Mankot. Bairam Khan did not approve of this marriage, because Abdullah's sister was married to Akbar's uncle, Prince Kamran Mirza, so he regarded Abdullah as a supporter of Kamran. He opposed until Nasir-al-mulk made him understand that opposition in such matters was unacceptable. Nasir-al-mulk arranged a pleasure meeting and a joyous banquet, and a royal feast was provided.

His third wife was his cousin, Salima Sultan Begum, the daughter of Nur-ud-din Muhammad Mirza and his wife Gulrukh Begum also known as Gulrang, the daughter of Emperor Babur. At first, Humayun betrothed her to Bairam Khan. After Bairam Khan's death in 1561, Akbar married her the same year. She died childless on January 2, 1613.

In 1562, he married the daughter of Raja Bharmal, ruler of Amer. The marriage took place when Akbar was returning from Ajmer after offering prayers at the tomb of Moinuddin Chishti. Bharmal had told Akbar that he was being harassed by his brother-in-law Sharif-ud-din Mirza (the Mughal hakim of Mewat). Akbar insisted that Bharmal should submit to him personally, it was also suggested that his daughter should marry him as a sign of complete submission. She was titled Mariam-uz-Zamani after giving birth to Akbar's eldest surviving son, Prince Salim (the future emperor Jahangir). She died on May 19, 1623.

In the same year, Akbar married the ex-wife of Abdul Wasi, the son of Shaikh Bada, lord of Agra, and Akbar had fallen in love with her and ordered Abdul Wasi to divorce her. Akbar had fallen in love with her and ordered Abdul Wasi to divorce her. Another of his wives was Gauhar-un-Nissa Begum, the daughter of Shaikh Muhammad Bakhtiyar and the sister of Shaikh Jamal Bakhtiyar. Her dynasty was called Din Laqab and had long lived in Chandwar and Jalesar near Agra. She was the chief wife of Akbar.

His next marriage took place in 1564 to the daughter of Miran Mubrak Shah, the ruler of Khandesh. In 1564, he sent gifts to the court with a request that Akbar marry off his daughter. Miran's request was granted and an order was issued. Itimad Khan was sent with Miran's ambassadors, and when he approached the fort of Asir, which was Miran's residence. Miran received Itimad with honor and sent his daughter with Itimad. A large number of nobles accompanied her. The marriage took place in September 1564 when she arrived at Akbar's court. As a dowry, Mubarak Shah gave Bijagarh and Handia to his imperial son-in-law.

He married another Rajput princess in 1570, who was the daughter of Kahan, the brother of Rai Kalyan Mal Rai, the ruler of Bikaner. The marriage took place in 1570, when Akbar arrived in this part of the country. Kalyan paid homage to Akbar and asked him to marry his brother's daughter. Akbar accepted his proposal and the marriage was arranged. He also married the daughter of Rawal Har Rai, the ruler of Jaisalmer in 1570. Rawal had sent a request for Akbar to marry his daughter. Akbar accepted the proposal. Raja Bahgwan Das was sent on this service. The marriage ceremony took place after Akbar's return from Nagor. She was the mother of Princess Mahi Begum, who died on April 8, 1577.

Another of his wives was Bhakkari Begum, the daughter of Sultan Mahmud of Bhakkar. On July 2, 1572, Akbar's envoy, I'timad Khan, arrived at Mahmud's court to escort his daughter to Akbar. I'timad Khan brought with him for Sultan Mahmud an elegant dress of honor, a bejeweled scimitar belt, a horse with saddle and bridle, and four elephants. Mahmud celebrated the occasion by holding extravagant festivities for fifteen days. On the wedding day, the festivities reached their zenith and the ulema, saints and nobles were duly honored with rewards. Mahmud offered 30,000 rupees in cash and in kind to I'timad Khan and took leave of his daughter with a large dowry and an impressive retinue. He arrived in Ajmer and awaited Akbar. Sultan Mahmud's gifts, carried by the delegation, were presented to the ladies of the imperial harem.

His ninth wife was Qasima Banu Begum, the daughter of the Arab Shah. The wedding took place in 1575. A grand feast was held and the high officials and other pillars of the state were present. In 1577, the raja of the state of Dungarpur requested that his daughter marry Akbar. Akbar took his loyalty into account and granted his request. Rai Loukaran and Rajah Birbar, servants of the Rajah, were sent from Dihalpur to do the honor of bringing his daughter. The two delivered the lady to Akbar's court, where the marriage was celebrated on July 12, 1577.

His eleventh wife was Bibi Daulat Shad. She was the mother of Princess Shakr-un-Nissa Begum and Princess Aram Banu Begum born on December 22, 1584. His next wife was the daughter of Shams Chak, a Kashmiri. The marriage took place on November 3, 1592. Shams belonged to the great men of the country and had long cherished this desire. In 1593, he married the daughter of Qazi Isa and cousin of Najib Khan. Najib told Akbar that his uncle had made a gift to his daughter. Akbar accepted his representation and on July 3, 1593, he visited Najib Khan's house and married Qazi Isa's daughter.

At some point, Akbar welcomed into his harem Rukmavati, a daughter of Rao Maldev of Marwar by one of his mistresses. This was a dolo union as opposed to a formal marriage, representing the bride's lower status in her father's household and serving as an expression of vassalage to a supreme lord. The date of this event is not recorded.

On October 3, 1605, Akbar fell ill with an attack of dysentery from which he never recovered. He is believed to have died on October 27, 1605, after which his body was buried in his mausoleum at Sikandra, Agra.

Akbar left a rich legacy for both the Mughal Empire and the Indian subcontinent in general. He firmly entrenched Mughal authority in India and beyond, after being threatened by the Afghans during his father's reign, establishing his military and diplomatic superiority. During his reign, the nature of the state changed to a secular and liberal one, with an emphasis on cultural integration. He also introduced several far-sighted social reforms, including the prohibition of saty, the legalization of widow remarriage, and the raising of the age of marriage. Folktales revolving around him and Birbal, one of his navratnas, are popular in India.

Bhavishia-purana is a minor Purana depicting the various Hindu holy days and includes a section devoted to the various dynasties that ruled India, the oldest part of which dates from 500 AD and the most recent from the 18th century. It contains a history of Akbar in which he is compared with the other Mughal rulers. The section called "Akbar Bahshaha Varnan," written in Sanskrit, describes his birth as a "reincarnation" of a sage who immolated himself on seeing the first Mughal ruler Babur, who is described as the "cruel king of Mlecchas (Muslims)." This text states that Akbar "was a miraculous child" and would not follow the previous "violent ways" of the Mughals.

Citing Akbar's merger of India's disparate "fiefdoms" in the Mughal Empire, as well as the enduring legacy of "pluralism and tolerance" that "underlies the values of India's modern republic," Time magazine included his name in its list of the top 25 world leaders.

On the other hand, his legacy is explicitly negative in Pakistan for the same reasons. Historian Mubarak Ali, while studying Akbar's image in Pakistani textbooks, observes that Akbar "is conveniently ignored and not mentioned in any school textbook from the first class to matriculation," unlike the omnipresence of Emperor Aurangzeb. He quotes historian Ishtiaq Hussain Qureshi, who said that because of his religious tolerance, "Akbar had so weakened Islam through his policies that it could not be restored to its dominant position in affairs." A common thread among Pakistani historians is to blame Akbar's Rajput policies. In conclusion, after analyzing many textbooks, Mubarak Ali says that "Akbar is criticized for uniting Muslims and Hindus as one nation and endangering the separate identity of Muslims. This policy of Akbar contradicts the two-nation theory and therefore makes him an unpopular figure in Pakistan."


  1. Akbar
  2. Akbar
  3. ^ a b c Official sources, such as contemporary biographer Abu'l-Fazl, record Akbar's birth name and date as Jalal ud-din Muhammad Akbar and 15 October 1542 . However, based on recollections of Humayun's personal attendant Jauhar, historian Vincent Arthur Smith holds that Akbar was born on 23 November 1542 (the fourteenth day of Sha'aban, which had a full moon) and was originally named Badr ud-din ("The full moon of religion"). According to Smith, the recorded date of birth was changed at the time of Akbar's circumcision ceremony in March 1546 in order to throw off astrologers and sorcerers, and the name accordingly changed to Jalal ud-din ("Splendour of Religion")[20]
  4. Beveridge, 1907, p. 88.
  5. Beveridge, 1907, pp. 240-243.
  6. Beveridge, 1907, pp. 59-60.
  7. Fisher 2016, p. 57
  8. Eraly 1997, p. 110
  9. Wink 2009, p. 11-12
  10. Abraham Eraly: The Mughal Throne. Londyn: Phoenix, 2004, s. 115. ISBN 0-7538-1758-6.
  11. Jan Kieniewicz: Historia Indii. Wrocław: Zakład Narodowy Imienia Ossolińskich, 1980, s. 350. ISBN 83-04-01896-9.
  12. Abraham Eraly: The Mughal Throne. Londyn: Phoenix, 2004, s. 103-04. ISBN 0-7538-1758-6.
  13. Abraham Eraly: The Mughal Throne. Londyn: Phoenix, 2004, s. 115-16. ISBN 0-7538-1758-6.

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