Akbar the Great

Akbar the Great

::"Akbar redirects here. For other uses, see Akbar (disambiguation)"Infobox Monarch
name =Akbar
title =Mughal Emperor

caption =
reign =
coronation =
othertitles =His Majesty Al-Sultan al-'Azam wal Khaqan al-Mukarram, Imam-i-'Adil, Sultan ul-Islam Kaffatt ul-Anam, Amir ul-Mu'minin, Khalifat ul-Muta'ali Sahib-i-Zaman, Padshah Ghazi Zillu'llah ['Arsh-Ashyani] , Emperor of India
full name =Abu'l-Fath Jalal ud-din Muhammad Akbar I
native_lang1 =
native_lang2 =
native_lang8 =
predecessor =Humayun
successor =Jahangir
spouses =36 wives
issue =Jahangir, 5 other sons and 6 daughters
royal house =House of Timur
dynasty =Mughal
father =Humayun
mother =Nawab Hamida Banu Begum Sahiba
date of birth =23 November 1542
place of birth =Umarkot Fort, Sind
date of death =27 October 1605
place of death =Fatehpur Sikri, Agra
date of burial =
place of burial =Bihishtabad Sikandara, Agra
religion =Din-i-Ilahi

Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar (Ur|جلال الدین محمد اکبر "Jalāl ud-Dīn Muhammad Akbar"), also known as "Akbar the Great" ("Akbar-e-Azam") (full title: "Al-Sultan al-'Azam wal Khaqan al-Mukarram, Imam-i-'Adil, Sultan ul-Islam Kaffatt ul-Anam, Amir ul-Mu'minin, Khalifat ul-Muta'ali Abu'l-Fath Jalal ud-din Muhammad Akbar I Sahib-i-Zaman, Padshah Ghazi Zillu'llah ['Arsh-Ashyani] ") (November 23, 1542ndash October 17 or October 27, 1605) [cite web|accessdate=2008-05-23|url=http://www.bookrags.com/biography/jalal-ud-din-mohammed-akbar/|title=Jalal-ud-din Mohammed Akbar Biography|publisher=BookRags] [cite web|accessdate=2008-05-23|url=http://www.the-south-asian.com/Dec2000/Akbar.htm|title=Akbar|publisher=The South Asian] was the son of Nasiruddin Humayun whom he succeeded as ruler of the Mughal Empire from 1556 to 1605. He was the grandson of Babur who founded the Mughal dynasty. On the eve of his death in 1605, the Mughal empire spanned almost 500 million acres (doubling during Akbar's reign).

Akbar, widely considered the greatest of the Mughal emperors, was only 13 when he ascended throne of Delhi, due to the death of his father Humayun.cite web|accessdate=2008-05-23|url=http://www.boloji.com/history/022.htm|title= The Nine Gems of Akbar|publisher=Boloji] It took him better part of two decades to consolidate and bring parts of northern and central india in his realm. During his reign, he reduced external military threats from the Afghan descendants of Sher Shah by waging wars against afghan tribes, and at the Second Battle of Panipat he defeated the Hindu king Samrat Hemu Chandra Vikramaditya, also called Hemu.cite book|author= Fazl, Abul|title=Akbarnama Volume II] cite book|title=The life and times of Humayun|author= Prasad, Ishwari|year=1970|url=http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=Ishwari%20Prasad%20life%20and%20times%20of%20humayun&hl=en&lr=&oi=scholart] Emperor solidified his rule by pursuing diplomacy with the powerful Rajput caste, and by admitting Rajput princesses in his harem. [cite web|accessdate=2008-05-30|url=http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-Akbar.html|title=Akbar|publisher=Columbia Encyclopedia|year=2008]

Akbar was an artisan, artist, armorer, blacksmith, carpenter, emperor, general, inventor, animal trainer (reputedly keeping thousands of hunting cheetahs during his reign and training many himself), lacemaker, technologist and theologian.cite journal|author= Habib, Irfan|year=1992|title=Akbar and Technology|journal=Social Scientist|volume=20|issues=9–10|pages= pp. 3–15|doi=10.2307/3517712] His most lasting contributions were to the arts. He initiated a large collection of literature, including the "Akbar-nama" and the "Ain-i-Akbari", and incorporated art from around the world into the Mughal collections. He also commissioned the building of widely admired buildings, and invented the first prefabricated homes and movable structures. Akbar began a series of religious debates where Muslim scholars would debate religious matters with Sikhs, Hindus, Cārvāka atheists and even Jesuits from Portugal. He founded his own religious cult, the Din-i-Ilahi or the "Divine Faith"; however, it amounted only to a form of personality cult for Akbar, and quickly dissolved after his death leaving his wife behind.cite book|author= Fazl, Abul|title=Akbarnama Volume III]

The name Akbar

Akbar was christened Badruddin Mohammed Akbar. Badruddin means full moon because he was born on the night of a full moon. He was named after his maternal grand father Shaikh Ali Akbar Jami. After the capture of Kabul by Humayun his date of birth and name were changed to throw off evil sorcerers. [cite book|page=57|author= Hoyland, J.S.; Banerjee S.N.|title=Commentary of Father Monserrate, S.J: On his journey to the court of Akbar, Asean Educational Services Published|year=1996|isbn=8120608070] Popular myth records that Akbar, meaning "Great", was a title given to Akbar by people of India. This is not true because he was given the name Akbar at birth after his maternal grandfather.

Early years

Akbar was born on November 14, 1542, at the Rajput Fortress of Amarkot in Sind where the Mughal Emperor Humayun and his recently wedded wife, Hamida Banu Begum were taking refuge. Humayun had been driven into exile, following decisive battles, by the Afghan leader Sher Khan Sur.cite book|author= Banjerji, S.K.|title=Humayun Badshah] Akbar did not go to Persia with his parents and soon they were transferred to Princely State of Rewa (in present day Madhya Pradesh) where Akbar grew up in village of Mukundpur. Akbar and prince Ram Singh who later became Maharaja of Rewa grew up together and stayed close friends through life.

Humayun was the eldest son of Babur. For a time Akbar was raised by his uncle Askari and his wife in the rugged country of Afghanistan rather than in the splendour of the Persian court. He spent his youth learning to hunt, run and fight, but he never learned to read or write, the sole exception in Babur's line.cite book|author= Fazl, Abul|title=Akbarnama Volume I] Nonetheless, Akbar matured into a well-informed ruler, with refined tastes in the arts, architecture and music, a love for literature, and a breadth of vision that tolerated other opinions.

Following the chaos over the succession of Islam Shah (Sher Khan Sur's son), Humayun reconquered Delhi in 1555, leading an army partly provided by his Persian ally Shah Tahmasp. Months later, Humayun died. Bairam Khan cleverly concealed the report of Humayun's death in order to prepare for Akbar's accession to the throne. Akbar succeeded his father on February 14, 1556 Gregorian February 24, while in the midst of a war against Sikandar Shah for the reclamation of the Mughal throne. In Kalanaur (Gurdaspur, Punjab) the 13 year old Akbar donned a golden robe and Dark Tiara and sat on a newly constructed platform, which still stands, [cite web|accessdate=2008-05-30|url=http://punjabgovt.nic.in/government/gurdas1.gif|title=Gurdas|publisher=Government of Punjab] and was proclaimed "Shahanshah" (Persian for "King of Kings"). The mosque built at the time of Akbar can still be seen and the place where he prayed can be visited.

The reign of Akbar

Early conquests

Akbar decided early in his reign that he should eliminate the threat of Sher Shah's dynasty, and decided to lead an army against the strongest of the three, Sikandar Shah Suri, in the Punjab. He left Delhi under the regency of Tardi Baig Khan.

Sikandar Shah Suri presented no major concern for Akbar, and often withdrew from territory as Akbar approached. However, back in Delhi Hemu, a Hindu King, also known as Hemu Vikramaditya, captured Agra and then Delhi on 6 October 1556 and declared himself as Emperor of India. Tardi Beg Khan promptly fled the city. Hemu Vikramaditya, who during three years from October 1553 to October 1556, had won 22 successive battles not only appointed himself the ruler, or "Raja Vikramaditya", but also re-established Hindu Kingdom in Delhi.

News of the capitulation of Delhi spread quickly to Akbar, and he was advised to withdraw to Kabul, which was relatively secure. But urged by Bairam Khan, Akbar marched on Delhi to reclaim it. To bolster troop morale, he ordered that someone should "prepare fireworks as a treat for the soldiers" and "make an image of Hemu, fill it with gunpowder, and set it on fire". Tardi Beg and his retreating troops joined the march, and also urged Akbar to retreat to Kabul, but he refused again. Later, Bairam Khan had the former regent executed for cowardice, though Abul Fazl and Jahangir both record that they believed that Bairam Khan was merely using the retreat from Delhi as an excuse to eliminate a rival.

Akbar's army defeated the more numerous forces of Hemu Vikramaditya at the Second Battle of Panipat, convert|50|mi|km north of Delhi, thanks to a chance arrow into Hemu's eye. Hemu was brought to Akbar unconscious, and was beheaded. Some sources say that it was Bairam Khan who killed Hemu, but Akbar certainly used the term "Ghazi", warrior for the faith, a term used by both Babur, his grandfather, and Timur when fighting "Hindus" in India. Hemu's body was into pieces, his head was hung outside Delhi Darwaza, while his torso was hung outside Purana Qila, opposite present day Pragati Maidan in Delhi. Acting out as a "Ghazi" ("victor") Akbar constructed a victory pillar made from the heads of the captured/surrendered army of Raja Hemchandra Vikramaditiya and rebellious soldiers, just like Babur did. Pictures of such towers are displayed in the National Museum, New Delhi, and Panipat Museum in Haryana.

The victory also left Akbar with over 1,500 war elephants which he used to re-engage Sikandar Shah at the siege of Mankot. Sikandar surrendered and so was spared death, and lived the last remaining two years of his life on a large estate granted to him by Akbar. In 1557 , Adil Shah, brother of Sikandar, died during a battle in Bengal.

Bairam Khan

Akbar was only 13 years old when he became emperor, and so his general ruled on his behalf until he came of age. The regency belonged to Bairam Khan, a Shia (Afghan) noble born in Badakhshan who successfully dealt with pretenders to the throne and improved the discipline of the Mughal armies. He ensured power was centralised and was able to expand the empires boundaries with orders from the capital. These moves helped to consolidate Mughal power in the newly recovered empire.

Respect for Bairam's regency was not, however, universal. There were many people plotting his demise in order to assume the apparent absolute rule they saw in him. Much was written, critically, of his religion. The majority of the early court were Sunni Muslims, and Bairam's Shia'ism was disliked. Bairam knew about this, and perhaps even to spite that, appointed a Shia Sheikh, Gadai to become the Administrator General, one of the more important roles in the empire. Further Bairam lived a rather opulent lifestyle, which appeared to be even more excessive than that of Akbar.

The most serious of those opposed to Bairam was Maham Anga, Akbar's aunt, chief nurse and mother of his foster brother, Adham Khan. Maham was both shrewd and manipulative and hoped to rule herself by proxy through her son. In March 1560 the pair of them urged Akbar to visit them in Delhi, leaving Bairam in the capital, Agra. While in Delhi Akbar was bombarded by people who told him he was now ready to take full control of the empire and to dismiss Bairam. He was persuaded to fund an excursion for Bairam to go on Hajj to Mecca, which was to act, essentially, as a form of ostracism. Bairam was shocked at the news from Delhi, but was loyal to Akbar, and despite Akbar's refusal to even meet with the General, refused the suggestions by some of his commanders to march on Delhi and "rescue" Akbar.

Bairam left for Mecca, but was quickly met by an army sent by Adham Khan, approved by Akbar, which was sent to "escort" him from the Mughal territories. Bairam saw this as the last straw, and led an attack on the army, but was captured and sent as a rebel back to Akbar to be sentenced. Bairam Khan, whose military genius had seen the Mughals regain their lands in India, who had served both Humayun and Akbar loyally, and laid the foundation for a strong empire, was now before the emperor as a prisoner. Maham Anga urged Akbar to execute Bairam, but Akbar refused. Instead, in defiance of Anga, he laid down full honours to the General, and gave him robes of honour, and agreed to fund him a proper Hajj excursion. However, shortly after Bairam Khan's Hajj journey got underway, just before he reached the port city of Khambhat he was killed by an Afghan assassin whose father had been killed five years ago in a battle led by Bairam. Bairam died on January 31, 1561.


Akbar is recorded as saying "A monarch should be ever intent on conquest, lest his neighbours rise in arms against him", and he went on to expand the Mughal empire to include Malwa (1562), Gujarat (1572), Bengal (1574), Kabul (1581), Kashmir (1586), and Kandesh (1601), among others. Akbar installed a governor over each of the conquered provinces, under his authority.

Akbar did not want to have his court tied too closely to the city of Delhi. He ordered the court moved to Fatehpur Sikri, near Agra, but when this site proved untenable, he set up a roaming camp that let him keep a close eye on what was happening throughout the empire. He developed and encouraged commerce.

Akbar's tax reforms were especially noteworthy, and formed the basis of the Mughal Empire's immense wealth in succeeding generations. His officials prepared a detailed and accurate cadaster (land register) noting each land parcel's soil quality, water access, etc., and so assessed their value, taking account of prevailing prices for various crops in each region. This was a distinct improvement on earlier land tax systems, including the Egyptian and Roman ones, which had levied land taxes as an in-kind share of the harvest. By making taxes reflect the value of the land rather than the harvest, this stimulated both investment in improvements and more productive use of the land. The economic effect was such that the revered Qing emperor Kang Xi adopted similar measures a century later in China, with similar success.

Fatehpur Sikri

Starting in 1571, Akbar built a walled capital called Fatehpur Sikri ("Fatehpur" means "town of victory") near Agra. Palaces for each of Akbar's senior queens, a huge artificial lake, and sumptuous water-filled courtyards were built there. 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 northwest areas of his empire and therefore moved his capital northwest. In 1599, Akbar shifted his capital back to Agra from where he reigned until his death.

Navratnas, the nine jewels in Akbar's court

* Abul-Fazel - Akbar's chief advisor and author of Akbarnama
* Faizi - poet laureate of Akbar's Court.
* Miyan Tansen - Legendary Musician, well known for his voice and music.
* Birbal - known for wit.
* Raja Todar Mal- was Akbar’s finance minister.
* Raja Man Singh- The Kacchwaha Rajput Raja of Amber(Jaipur) was Akbar's trusted general and Commander-in-chief.
* Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khana- was a poet and son of Akbar’s trusted protector and caretaker, Bairam Khan.
* Fakir Aziao-Din - Was a mystic and advisor to the Emperor.
* Mullah Do Piaza- Was an advisor.

Akbar's Tomb

Akbar's Tomb is situated at Sikandra, Agra, about 8 km from the city of Agra. The site was chosen by Akbar himself, and construction commenced in 1600, following the Tartary tradition of constructing one's tomb during one's lifetime, after his death in 1605, his son Jahangir completed the construction in 1613.


Akbar is said to be a wise ruler and a sound judge of character. His son and heir, Jahangir, in his memoirs, wrote effusive praise of Akbar's character, and dozens of anecdotes to illustrate his virtues.cite book|author=Jahangir|title=Tuzk-e-Jahangiri (Memoirs of Jahangir)|date=1600s]

According to Jahangir, Akbar's complexion was like the yellow of wheat, Portuguese who visited his court described him as plainly white. Akbar was tall, broad shouldered, strongly built with long arms and hands. Once on his way back from Malwa to Agra, Akbar rode alone in advance of his escort and suddenly found himself in-front of a fierce tigress who along with her cubs came out from the shrubbery across his path. The tigress, intent on protecting her cubs, charged the young emperor (Akbar was only 19 at that time). Displaying immense intrepidity, cold blooded courage and sure-sightedness, Akbar brought the raging tigress down in a single blow of his sword. His approaching attendants found the emperor standing quietly by the side of slaughtered beast.cite book|author= Garbe, Richard von|title=Akbar, Emperor of India|publisher=Chicago-The Open Court Publishing Company|year=1909]

In yet another instance of Akbar's courage and strength, Bihari Mal (a prince of Rajput state Amber), his son, grandson and few retainers were paying Akbar a visit at an imperial camp near elephants). Visiting Rajputs watched in utter amazement and respect as the young man conquered the elephant by making it kneel down. He sprang from the back of the elephant and cordially greeted the visitors (who now recognized him as the emperor Akbar) "(This incident was also portrayed in the recent bollywood movie 'Jodhaa Akbar' although certain liberties were taken from the original event for the sake of the script)."

Abul Fazal, and even the hostile critic Badayuni, described him as having a commanding personality. He was fearless in chase and in the battle field, and, "like Alexander of Macedon, was always ready to risk his life, regardless of political consequences". He often plunged on his horse into the flooded river during the rainy seasons and safely crossed it. He rarely indulged in cruelty and is said to have been affectionate towards his relatives. He pardoned his brother Hakim, who was a repented rebel. But on rare occasions, he dealt cruelly with offenders, such as his maternal uncle Muazzam and his foster-brother Adham Khan.

He is said to have been extremely moderate in his diet. "Ain-e-Akbari" mentions that during his travels and also while at home, Akbar drank water from the Ganga river, which he called ‘the water of immortality’. Special people were stationed at Sorun and later Haridwar to dispatch water, in sealed jars, to wherever he was stationed. [ [http://persian.packhum.org/persian/main?url=pf%3Ffile%3D00702015%26ct%3D48%26rqs%3D60 Hardwar] Ain-e-Akbari, by Abul Fazl 'Allami, Volume I, A´I´N 22. The A´bda´r Kha´nah. P 55. Translated from the original persian, by H. Blochmann, and Colonel H. S. Jarrett, Asiatic society of Bengal. Calcutta, 1873 – 1907.] According to Jahangir's memoirs, he was fond of fruits and had little liking for meat, which he stopped eating in his later years. He was more religiously tolerant than many of the Muslim rulers before and after him. Jahangir wrote: "As in the wide expanse of the Divine compassion there is room for all classes and the followers of all creeds, so... in his dominions, ... there was room for the professors of opposite religions, and for beliefs good and bad, and the road to altercation was closed. Sunnis and Shias met in one mosque, and Franks and Jews in one church, and observed their own forms of worship."

To defend his stance that speech arose from hearing, he carried out a Language deprivation experiment, and had children raised in isolation, not allowed to be spoken to, and pointed out that as they grew older, they remained mute. [cite web|accessdate=2008-05-30|url=http://www.sign-lang.uni-hamburg.de/bibweb/Miles/1200-1750.html|title=1200—1750|publisher=University of Hamburg]

Akbar, the third generation Mughal emperor who lived from 1542–1605 A.D, has been extolled as the greatest of all Mughals, righteous in deed and noble in character.

Relation with Hindus

Rajput Wives of Akbar

In the most critical instance, Akbar persuaded the Kacchwaha Rajput, Raja Bharmal, of Amber (modern day Jaipur) into a matrimonial alliance, and married Raja Bharmal's daughter Harka Bai, that proved to be a turning point in the history of the Mughal empire, as this was the first instance of royal matrimony between Hindu and Muslim dynasties in India. Harka Bai was rechristened Mariam-uz-zamani. After her marriage she was treated as an outcaste by her family and in the 61 years of married life she never visited Amber/Jaipur.harvnb|Nath|1982|p=397] Her position in Mughal household was not of much importance because she was not assigned any significant place either in Agra or Delhi instead she was assigned a small village of Barah near Bayana in Bharatpur district where she passed her time till her death. She died in 1623 and her tomb is near Agra. [harvnb|Nath|1982|p=16] As a custom Hindus were cremated and never buried. Her burial signifies she was converted to Islam after marriage.

Rajput ladies who entered the Delhi royal harem became Muslims and were buried in Muslim cemetries, they could no longer visit their parents' houses or dine with them. cite book|author= Sarkar, Jadunath|page=38|title=A History of Jaipur|year= 1984|publisher=Orient Longman|isbn=81255003339 ]

Subsequently a mosque was built in her honor by Jahangir in Lahore, Pakistan which is called Mariam-uz-zamani mosque. [harvnb|Nath|1982|p=52] Mariam-uz-zamani was never called Jodha Bai instead Jodha Bai was the wife of Prince Salim, future emperor Jahangir. [harvnb|Nath|1982|p=396]

Other Rajput kingdoms soon established matrimonial alliances with the Emperor of Delhi. The law of Hindu succession has always been patrimonial, so the Hindu lineage was not threatened in marrying their princesses for political gain. Rajputs who did give their daughters to Mughals still did not treat Mughals as equals. They would not dine with Mughals or take muslim women as their lawful wives. [cite book|author= Sarkar, Jadunath|page=37|title=A History of Jaipur|year= 1984|publisher=Orient Longman|isbn=81255003339 ]

Two major Rajput clans remained against him, the Sisodiyas of Mewar and Hadas (Chauhans) of Ranthambore. In another turning point of Akbar's reign, Raja Man Singh I of Amber went with Akbar to meet the Hada leader, Surjan Hada, to effect an alliance. Surjan grudgingly accepted an alliance on the condition that Akbar did not marry any of his daughters. Surjan later moved his residence to Banaras. Surjan Hada's son, Bhoja Hada, opposed the marriage of his granddaughter (his daughter's daughter. His daughter was married to Prince Jagat Singh, son of Man Singh I of Amber) to Jahangir which caused Jahangir to move against Bhoj. [cite book|author= Agrawal, Ashvini|page=99|title=Studies in Mughal history|year= 1983|publisher=Motilal Banarsidass|isbn=9788120823266 ] . After his death, his granddaughter was married to Jahangir. A daughter of Raja Man Singh I was also married to Jahangir and she committed suicide. [cite book|author= Srivastava, Ashirbadi Lal|page=473|title=Akbar the Great|year= 1972|publisher=Shiva Lal Agrawala ]

Rajput nobles did not like the idea of their kings marrying their daughters to Mughals. Rathore Kalyandas threatened to kill both Mota Raja Udai Singh (of Jodhpur) and Jahangir because Udai Singh had decided to marry his daughter Jodha Bai to Jahangir. Akbar on hearing ordered imperial forces to attack Kalyandas. He was attacked at Siwana and died fighting along with his men and the women of Siwana committed Jauhar. [cite book|author= Alam, Muzaffar Alam; Subrahmanyam, Sanjay|page=177|title=The Mughal State, 1526-1750|year= 1998|publisher=Oxford University Press|isbn=9780195639056 ]

Entering into alliance with Rajput kingdoms enabled Akbar to extend the border of his Empire to far off regions, and the Rajputs became the strongest allies of the Mughals. Rajput soldiers fought for the Mughal empire for the next 130 years till its collapse following the death of Aurangzeb. Akbar could trust the rajputs because he held their dearest (eldest son) hostages in perpetuity.

However, Maharana Pratap of Mewar declined to accept Akbar's suzerainty and till the end was opposed to Akbar whom he considered a foreign invader. Pratap also stopped the marriage etiquette of Rajputs who had been giving their daughters to Mughals and his supporting Rajputs instead:

:With such examples as Marwar and Amber (of giving their daughters to Mughals), and with less power to resist the temptation, the minor chiefs of Rajasthan, with a brave and numerous vassalage, were transformed into satraps of Delhi. :But these were fearful odds against Pratap. The arms of his country turned upon him, derived additional force from their self-degradation, which kindled into jealousy and hatred against the magnanimous resolution they lacked the virtue to imitate. When Hindu prejudice was thus violated by every prince in Rajasthan, the Rana renounced all "matrimonial" alliance with those who were thus degraded. To the eternal honour of Pratap and his issue be it told that, to the very close of the monarchy of the Moguls, they refused such alliances not only with the throne, but even with their brother princes of Marwar and Ambar. It is a proud triumph of virtue to be able to record from the autograph letters of the most powerful of the Rajput princes, Bukhet Singh and Sawai Jai Singh, that whilst they had risen to greatness by the surrender of principle, as Mewar had decayed from her adherence to it, they should solicit, and that humbly, to be readmitted to the honour of matrimonial intercourse and "to be purified," " to be regenerated," " to be made Rajputs" and that this favour was granted only on condition of their abjuring the contaminating practice (of giving daughters to Mughals) which, for more than a century, had disunited them. [James Tod, "Annals and Antiquities of Rajast'han or the Central and Western Rajpoot States of India," 2 vols. London, Smith, Elder (1829, 1832); New Delhi, Munshiram Publishers, (2001), pp. 83-4. ISBN 8170691281]

Hindu Temples Saved

Akbar sent a golden umbrella for an idol which was destroyed. He also allowed conversion of a mosque into Hindu temple at Kurukshetra. This temple had previously been destroyed and converted into a mosque.cite book|author=Harbans, Mukhia|title=The Mughals of India|publisher=Blackwell Publishing|isbn= 9780631185550|page= 23 ] Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi, a contemporary of Akbar, does not credit him for saving the temple instead gives credit to the "infidels" (Hindus)for building their own temple by demolishing the mosque. [cite book|author= Alam, Muzaffar|page=77|title=Languages of Political Islam in India 1200-1800|year= 2004|publisher=Orient Longman|isbn=8178240629 ]

Hindu Temples Destroyed

Contrary to popular belief Akbar, continued the policy of Babur and Humayun in the destruction of Hindu temples. It is recorded by Bayazid Biyat, personal attendant of Humayun, that Akbar gave two villages for the upkeep of a mosque and a Madrasa which was setup by destroying a Hindu temple, this was done under the supervision of 'Todar Mal' who was highly regarded Hindu minister (vizir) of Akbar.. In Akbar's time Todar Mal was called a simple one ("sada-lauh") because he mourned the loss of the idols he used to worship and he was also called "a blind follower of custom and narrow mindedness" for being a Hindu. [cite book|author= Ali, M.A.|year= 2006|publisher=Oxford University Press |isbn= 0195648609|title=Mughal India: Studies in Polity, Ideas, Society and Culture|page=161 ]

Akbar's army was responsible for demolition of rich Hindu temples which had gold idols in the Doab region between Ganga and Yamuna.

Historian Abd al-Qadir Badauni records that during Akbar's reign at Nagarkot, near Kangra, 200 cows were slaughtered, numerous Hindus killed and a temple was demolished.

During the third siege of Chittor many temples were destroyed. The shrine of Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer was presented brass candlesticks by Akbar which were taken after the destruction of Kalika temple by Akbar during the third siege of Chittor. [cite book|author=Watson, C.C.|title=Rajputana District Gazetteers|year=1904|publisher=Scottish Mission Industries Co., Ltd.|page= 17 ]

Jesuit Father Monserrate, Aquaviva and Enrique arrived at Akbar's court in early 1580 and Monserrate recording his journey in a travelogue comments that religious zeal of Mussalmans has destroyed many Hindu temples and in their places countless tombs and shrines of mussalmans have been erected in which these men are worshipped as if they were saints. [cite book|author= Monserrate, Antonio|title=Commentary of Father Monserrate, S. J. on His Journey to the Court of Akbar|publisher=Asian Educational Services| year=1996|page=27|isbn=9788120608078 ] Monserrate also tutored Emperor's son Murad.

Jihad Against Hindu Kings

During his time Akbar was looked upon by orthodox muslim elements as a pious Muslim committed to defending Islam against infedilty. [harvnb|Habib|1997|p= 85] Rizqullah Mushtaqi, a well known Shaikhzada of Delhi, writing around 1580, says that Akbar was sent by God to to protect Islam from being suppressed by Hemu. [cite book|author= Mushtaqi, Rizqullah |title=Waqiat-i Mushtaqi|page=94]

Akbar spread Islam in India by waging a holy war (Jihad) against Hindu kings. Abd al-Qadir Badauni who was then one of Akbar's court chaplains or imams, states that he sought an interview with the emperor when the royal troops were marching against Rana Pratap in 1576, begging leave of absence for "the privilege of joining the campaign to soak his Islamic beard in Hindu infidel blood". Akbar was so pleased at the expression of allegiance to his person and to the Islamic idea of Jihad that he bestowed a handful of gold coins on Badaoni as a token of his pleasure. [cite book|author= Badauni, Abd al-Qadir|title=Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh, vol. II|page=383]

At first the Emperor said: “Why he has just been appointed one of the Court-Imáms, how can he go?” Naqíb Khán represented that I had a very strong desire to take part in a holy war. So the Emperor sent for me, and asked me: “Are you in earnest?” I answered: “Yes.” Then he said, “For what reason?” I humbly replied: “I have the presumption to desire to dye these black mustachios and beard in infidel blood through loyalty to your Majesty's person:— .....And when I put out my hand towards the couch in order to kiss his foot, he withdrew it; but, just as I was going out of the audience chamber, he called me back, and filling both his hands he presented me with a sum of 56 ashrafí, and bid me farewell.

During the siege of Chittor, 8000 rajputs had remained inside the fort to defend various temples after the cavalry sallied out to meet Akbar's army in the plain below. These 8000 died fighting to the last man in defence of Hindu temples when Akbar's army stormed the fort and attacked the temples. In addition there were 30,000 plus Hindu peasants inside the fort who were unarmed and massacred in cold blood by Akbar's forces [cite book|author= Chandra, Dr. Satish|title=Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals|publisher=Har Anand Publications|isbn= 8124105227|page= 107 ] by Akbar's order on February 24, 1568 CE. Carthaginian on gaining the Battle of Cannae measured his success by bushels of rings taken from the fingers of equestrian roman soldiers and similarly Akbar measured his by the quantity of cordons of distinction collected from the fallen rajput soldiers and other civilians of Chittor, which amounted to seventy four and half "man" by weight. To eternise the memory of this deed the number 74.5 is accursed and marked on a banker's letter in Rajasthan it is the strongest of seals, for "the sin of the sack of Chittor" is invoked on him who violates a letter under the safeguard of this mysterious number. [cite book|author= Payne, Tod|year= 1994|publisher=Asian Educational Services |isbn= 8120603508|title=Tod's Annals of Rajasthan: The Annals of Mewar|page=71]

Akbar celebrated the victory over Chittor and Ranathambore by laying the foundation of a new city, convert|23|mi|km W.S.W of Agra in 1569. It was called Fatehpur Sikri (city of victory). [cite book|author= Hastings, James|year= 2003|publisher=Kessinger Publishing |isbn= 0766136825 |title=Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics Part 10 ]

Akbar, bolstered by his success, was looking forward to widespread acclamation as a great conqueror of Islam and his vigorous Islamic policy is illustrated by "Fatahnama-i-Chittor" issued by him after the conquest of Chittor at Ajmer, where he stayed for some time en route to Agra, on Ramazan 10, 975/March 9,1568, where the infidels (Hindus) are reviled:

...the Omnipotent one who enjoined the task of destroying the wicked infidels (Hindus) on the dutiful mujahids through the blows of their thunder-like scimitars laid down: "Fight them! Allah will chastise them at your hands and He will lay them low and give you victory over them". [cite book|author= Zilli, Ishtiaq Ahmed|title=Proceedings of Indian History Congress, New Delhi, 1972|page=351]

Further on the call to Jihad against Hindu kings of India is raised and also a call to the destruction of Hindu temples:

This is of the grace of my Lord that He may try me whether I am grateful or ungrateful - we spend our precious time to the best of our ability in war ("ghiza") and Jihad and with the help of Eternal Allah, who is the supporter of our ever-increasing empire, we are busy in subjugating the localities, habitations, forts and towns which are under the possession of the infidels(Hindus), may Allah forsake and annihilate all of them, and thus raising the standard of Islam everywhere and removing the darkness of polytheism and violent sins by the use of sword. We destroy the places of worship of idols in those places and other parts of India. [cite book|author= Zilli, Ishtiaq Ahmed|title=Proceedings of Indian History Congress, New Delhi, 1972|page=352]
The reimposition of jizya in 1575 is also symbolic of this vigrous Islamic policy. [cite book|author= Ali, M.A.|year= 2006|publisher=Oxford University Press |isbn= 0195648609|title=Mughal India: Studies in Polity, Ideas, Society and Culture|page=159 ]

Taxation on Hindus

Jizya was repealed in 1562 by Akbar but was reinstated in 1575. [cite book|author= Day, Upendra Nath|year= 1970|publisher=Munshiram Manoharlal |title=The Mughal Government, A.D. 1556-1707|page=134 ] This tax had been used as a weapon by Muslim rulers in India to convert poor Hindus to the fold of Islam because this tax could not be imposed on Muslims. [cite book|author= Dasgupta, Ajit Kumar|year= 1993|publisher=Routledge| isbn=0415061954|title=History of Indian Economic Thought|page=45 ] This tax caused most burden on the poor, and on their inability to pay the poor Hindus faced execution but by converting to Islam their life was spared. Firoz Shah Tughlaq explained how jizya was used to help conversions:

I encouraged my Kafir (infidel) subjects to embrace the religion of the prophet, and I proclaimed that everyone who repeated the creed and became a muslim should be exempt from "jizya" ...... Great numbers of Hindus presented themselves and were admitted to the honor of Islam. [cite book|author=Schimmel, Annemarie |year= 1980|publisher=Brill| isbn=9004061177|title=Islam in the Indian Subcontinent|page=22 ]

Akbar's apparent measures of tolerance such as abolition of pilgrimage tax and jizya on Hindus were episodic and had no real benefit for Hindus. [cite book|author=Khan, Iqtidar Alam|year= 1968|title=Journal of Royal Asiatic Society 1968 No.1|page=29-36 ]

Impression of Hindus about Akbar

Akbar forced many Hindus to convert to Islam against their will [harvnb|Habib|1997|p= 84] and also changed the name of some of their holy places to Islamic ones, an example being, the changing of Prayag to Allahabad [cite book|author= Conder, Josiah|page=282|title=The Modern Traveller: a popular description|year= 1828|publisher=R.H.Tims ] in 1583. [cite book|author= Deefholts, Margaret; Deefholts, Glenn; Acharya, Quentine|page=87|title=The Way We Were: Anglo-Indian Cronicles|year= 2006|publisher=Calcutta TiljallahRelief Inc|isbn=0975463934 ]

During Akbar's reign Hindus in Lahore were forced to wear patches of different colours on their shoulders or sleeves so that they could be identified. [cite book|author= Nijjar, Bakhshish Singh |page=128|title=Panjāb Under the Great Mughals, 1526-1707|year= 1968|publisher=Thacker ]

Consequently Hindus did not hold Akbar or his Hindu generals in high regard. Akbar's general Man Singh built Vishwanath temple with the emperor's permission. Hindus boycotted this temple because Man Singh's family had marital relations with the Mughal's. [cite book|author= Udayakumar, S. P.|page=99|title=Presenting the Past: Anxious History and Ancient Future in Hindutva India|year= 2005|publisher=Greenwood Publishing Group|isbn= 0275972097 ] Akbar's Hindu generals could not construct temples without emperor's permission. In Bengal, Man Singh started the construction of a temple in 1595 but Akbar ordered him to convert it into a mosque [cite book|author= Forbes, Geraldine; Tomlinson, B.R. |page=73|title=The new Cambridge history of India|year= 2005|publisher=Cambridge University Press|isbn=0521267285 ] ’s mausoleum and carried away the precious articles of gold and silver, carpets, lamps etc. and destroyed what he could not carry.

According to Niccolao Manucci Rajaram and his men dragged out the bones of Akbar, threw them angrily into fire and burnt them. [cite book|author= Manucci, Niccolao; |publisher=John Murray|title=Mogor, Storia|year= 1907|page=319 ]

Not getting a proper burial and especially cremation is considered very bad treatment for a departed Muslim.

Relation With Other Muslims

In 1567 Akbar had the grave of Mir Murtaza Sharifi Shirazi exhumed because of its proximity to the grave of Amir Khusrau in Delhi on the argument that a 'heretic' (since Mir was a Shia) could not be buried so close to the grave of a Sunni saint.harvnb|Habib|1997|p=86] Akbar sent a farman in 1572 to Abdu's Samad, the "muhtasib" of "pargana" Bilgram directing him to 'help in eradicating heresy and deviationism from the "pargana". This indicates that Akbar had a persecutory attitude towards Shi'ism. harvnb|Habib|1997|p=86]

Akbar suppressed Mahdavi's quite brutally in 1573 during his campaign in Gujarat. Leading Mahdavi divine Miyan Mustafa Bandagi was arrested and brought in chains to the court and was later executed.

Relation with Ottoman Empire

Akbar sent Hajj caravan to holy city of Mecca and Medina in October 1576 from the port city of Surat. Ladies of Imperial Harem also went on this journey and reached the holy city in time for the pilgrimage of year 1577. Four more caravans were sent from 1577 to 1580 laden with gifts and "sadaqat" for the authorities of Mecca and Medina. The pilgrims in these caravans were poor and they overstayed which put lot of strain on the resources of these cities. [cite book|author=Ottoman court chroniclers |title=Muhimme Defterleri, Vol. 32 f 292 firman 740, Shaban 986 |year= 1578 ] This was not liked by Ottoman authorities and they forced pilgrims to return home. Ladies of the royal harem did not want to leave "Hijaj" but Khwaja Yahya on Ottoman emperor's wish forced them to return. Later the ladies of royal harem of Akbar were insulted by the Governor of Aden on their way back to India in 1580. This treatment of Akbar's caravans and of ladies of the harem forced him to stop sending Hajj caravans and "sadaqat" to Mecca and Medina. [cite book|author=Ottoman court chroniclers |title=Muhimme Defterleri, Vol. 32 f 292 firman 830, Shaban 988 |year= 1580 ]

Akbar from 1584 onwards seriously thought of attacking the ottoman port of Yemen with the help of Portugese. To forge an alliance a Mughal envoy was in Goa permanently since October 1584. In 1587 the Portugese fleet which had sailed to attack Yemen and Habash was defeated and the captain, Dokondo Pirino, was captured. Mughal-Portugese alliance also fell through. [cite book|author=Ottoman court chroniclers |title=Muhimme Defterleri, Vol. 62 f 205 firman 457, Avail Rabiulavval 996|year= 1588 ]

In media

* In 2008, director Ashutosh Gowariker released a film telling the story of Akbar and his wife Hira Kunwari (known more popularly as Jodha Bai), titled "Jodhaa Akbar". Akbar was played by Hrithik Roshan and Jodhaa was played by Aishwarya Rai. The film came into controversy because of alleged misinterpretation of historical facts. One of the major controversy is with the relationship between Jodha and Akbar. Jodha is said to be the Jehangir’s aka Salim's wife and not Akbar’s as shown in K Asif’s "Mughal-E-Azam" earlier and now in "Jodha Akbar". Some historians claim that Akbar did forge an alliance with the Rajput family, when he married the daughter of Raja Bharmal of Amber. They maintain that Jodha Bai was not the daughter of Raja Bharmal of Amber near Jaipur; her father was Motaraja Udai Singh of Marwar and she was married to Akbar’s son Salim alias Jehangir. However, there is no evidence to suggest that she was called Jodhabai. Rather, she was later titled ‘Maryam Rahmani’ or ‘Mother of Rulers of the Universe’. Gowariker has himself claimed that there is some confusion regarding the name of the Rajput wife of Akbar. Nonetheless, he claims to have taken permission from the Royal Family of Jaipur to use the name Jodha Bai. Although Maharani of Jaipur Rani Padmini, a direct descendant of Jodha Bai, has showered praises on Gowariker for maintaining historical accuracy, the Karni Sena, a Rajput community organisation, is accusing him of distorting facts.
* Akbar was portrayed in the award-winning 1960 Hindi movie "Mughal-e-Azam" (The great Mughal), in which his character was played by Prithviraj Kapoor.
* Akbar and Birbal were portrayed in the Hindi series "Akbar-Birbal" aired on Zee TV in late 1990s where Akbar's role was essayed by Vikram Gokhale. Currently, Akbar-Birbal airs on Zee Gujarati, but dubbed in Gujarati.
* A television series, called Akbar the Great, directed by Sanjay Khan was aired on DD National in the 1990s.
* A fictionalized Akbar plays an important supporting role in Kim Stanley Robinson's 2002 novel, "The Years of Rice and Salt".
* Akbar is also a major character in Salman Rushdie's 2008 novel "The Enchantress of Florence".
* Amartya Sen uses Akbar as a prime example in his books "The Argumentative Indian" and "Violence and Identity".
* Bertrice Small is known for incorporating historical figures as primary characters in her romance novels, and Akbar is no exception. He is a prominent figure in two of her novels, and mentioned several times in a third, which takes place after his death. In "This Heart of Mine" the heroine becomes Akbar's fortieth "wife" for a time, while "Wild Jasmine" and "Darling Jasmine" centre around the life of his half-British daughter. His end was an unfortunate luck to both Persian and Indian.
* Akbar is also the AI Personality of India in the renowned game . Unfortunately, the game developers didn't do their research - the taunts he uses indicate he is Hindu, not Muslim.
* In Kunal Basu's "The Miniaturist", the story revolves around a young painter during Akbar's time who paints his own version of the "Akbarnama".

ee also

* Mughal Emperor
* List of people known as The Great
* The Akbarnama
* Tutinama
* Touch Pieces




Further reading

* Abu al-Fazl ibn Mubarak "Akbar-namah" Edited with commentary by Muhammad Sadiq Ali (Kanpur-Lucknow: Nawal Kishore) 1881–3 Three Vols. (Persian)
* Abu al-Fazl ibn Mubarak "Akbarnamah" Edited by Maulavi Abd al-Rahim. Bibliotheca Indica Series (Calcutta: Asiatic Society of Bengal) 1877–1887 Three Vols. (Persian)
* Henry Beveridge (Trans.) "The Akbarnama of Ab-ul-Fazl" Bibliotheca Indica Series (Calcutta: Asiatic Society of Bengal) 1897 Three Vols.
* Haji Muhammad 'Arif Qandahari "Tarikh-i-Akbari (Better known as Tarikh-i-Qandahari)" edited & Annotated by Haji Mu'in'd-Din Nadwi, Dr. Azhar 'Ali Dihlawi & Imtiyaz 'Ali 'Arshi (Rampur Raza Library) 1962 (Persian)

External links

* [http://www.i3pep.org/archives/2004/11/12/akbar/ Akbar]
* [http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~dee/MUGHAL/AKBAR.HTM The Mughals: Akbar]
* [http://www.worldofbiography.com/9001%2DAkbar/ The Mughal Emperor Akbar: World of Biography]
* [http://www.panoramio.com/user/116638/tags/Akbar Photos of Akbar The Great's Final resting place]
* [http://flipbook.indialabs.net/ Akbar and Birbal Digital Flipbook]

ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Akbar, Jalaluddin Muhammad (full name); Akbar, Jellaladin Muhammad (alternate form); Akbar, Celalettin Muhammad (alternate form); Akbar the Great (honorific); جلال الدین محمد اکب (Persian)
DATE OF BIRTH=birth date|1542|10|15|mf=y
PLACE OF BIRTH=Sindh, Pakistan
DATE OF DEATH=death date|1605|10|27|mf=y
PLACE OF DEATH=Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India

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