Akbar

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Jalauddin Akbar
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Jalauddin Akbar

Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbr, (alternative spellings include Jellaladin) also known as Akbar the Great (Akbar-e-Azam) (October_15, 15421605) was the ruler of the Mughal Empire from the time of his accession in 1556 until 1605. He is considered the greatest of the Mughal emperors.

Contents

Political career

Akbar was born at Umarkot in Sind on October 15, 1543. His father, Humayun, was driven from the throne of India in a series of decisive battles by the Afghan Sher Shah Suri. After more than twelve years' exile, Humayun regained his sovereignty, though he held it for only a few months before his death in 1556. Akbar succeeded his father the same year under the regency of Bairam Khan, a Turkoman noble whose zeal in repelling pretenders to the throne and severity in maintaining the discipline of the army helped greatly in the consolidation of the newly recovered empire. When order was somewhat restored, Akbar took the reins of government into his own hands with a proclamation issued in March 1560.

On November 5, 1556, fifty miles north of Delhi, a Mughal army defeated Hindu forces of General Hemu at the Second battle of Panipat, granting the throne of India to Akbar.

When Akbar ascended the throne, only a small portion of what had formerly comprised the Mughal empire was still under his control, and he devoted himself to the recovery of the remaining provinces. He expanded 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 proved untenable, he set up a roaming camp that let him keep a close eye on what was happening throughout the empire. He tried to develop and encourage commerce, and had the land accurately surveyed for the purpose of correctly evaluating taxation and he gave strict instructions to prevent extortion on the part of the tax gatherers.

Religion

At the time of Akbar's rule, the Mughal Empire included both Hindus and Muslims. Profound differences separate the Islamic and Hindu faith; Muslims are allowed to eat beef, while for those of the Hindu religion it is forbidden to harm cows because they are worshipped as sacred. Hindus are allowed to drink alcoholic beverages (e.g., wine), a practice which is forbidden by Islam. During the period of the Mughal Empire, the majority of the Indian population was Hindu, but the rulers of the empire were almost exclusively Muslim. It was in this polarized religious arena that Akbar commenced his rule.

Despite all of this, Akbar fostered tolerance for all religions. He tried to reconcile the differences of both religions by creating a new faith called the Din-i-Ilahi, which incorporated both Islam and Hinduism. He also repealed the jizya tax that had been levied on non-Muslims in the empire. Akbar also married several Hindu princesses, though many consider that to be politically motivated rather than a genuine attempt at religious reconciliation.

Patron of the Arts

Although Akbar was illiterate, he had a great love for knowledge, inviting men from all different religions to come to discuss matters of the world with him. He was a patron to many men of literary talent, among whom may be mentioned the brothers Feizi and Abul Fazl. The former was commissioned by Akbar to translate a number of Sanskrit scientific works into Persian; and the latter produced the Akbar-Nameh, an enduring record of the emperor's reign. It is also said that Akbar employed Jerome Xavier, a Jesuit missionary, to translate the four Gospels of the New Testament into Persian.

Nine Famous Courtiers Of Akbar

Main article: Nine courtiers of king Akbar

As a great administrator and patron of the arts, Akbar attracted the many of the best contemporary minds to his court. Nine such extraordinary talents, who shone brightly in their respective fields, were known as Akbar’s nau-rathan, or nine gems. They are:

  • Abul Fazl (1551-1602), the chronicler of Akbar’s rule. He authored the biographical Akbarnama, which was the result of seven years of painstaking work. He documented the history meticulously, giving a full and accurate picture of the prosperous life during the monarch’s reign. His account also shed light on the brilliant administrative capacity of the Emperor.
  • Faizi (1547-1595), Abul Fazl’s brother. He was a poet who composed verse in Persian. Akbar had enormous respect for this genius and appointed him as a tutor for his son. His most famous work is Lilabati, a treatise on mathematics.
  • Tansen (often "Miyan Tansen"), a classical singer of unparalleled fame. He was born a Hindu in 1520 near Gwalior to Mukund Mishra, who was a poet himself. He was instructed in music by Swami Haridas and later from Hazrat Mohammad Ghaus. He was a court musician with the prince of Mewar and later recruited by Akbar as his court musician. The prince of Mewar was said to have been heartbroken to part with him. Tansen became a legendary name in India and was the composer of many classical ragas. His raga Deepak and raga Megh Malhar are famous. When he sang these ragas, Tansen was said to have lit the lamp and caused rain showers. He is also credited with creating the raga Darbari Kanada and originating the Drupad style of singing. Even today the classical gharanas try to align themselves with the work of Mian Tansen. He was buried in Gwaliar, where a tomb was constructed for him. There is a tamarind tree next to the tomb, which is reputed to be as old as the tomb itself. It is believed that one who chews a leaf from this tree in earnest faith will be bestowed with musical talents. It is unclear if Tansen converted to Islam. Akbar who was very fond of him gave him the title Miyan. Tansen’s son, Bilas Khan, composed the raga Bilaskhani Todi and his daughter, Saraswati Devi, was a well-known Drupad singer.
  • Birbal (1528-1583) was a poor Brahmin who was appointed to the court of Akbar for his wit as well as wisdom. Born by the name Maheshdas, he was conferred the name Raja Birbal by the Emperor. A man of tireless wit and charm, he enjoyed the Emperor’s favor in administration as his trusted minister, and for his entertainment as his court jester. There are many witty stories of exchanges and interactions between the monarch and his minister that are popular even today. The stories are thought-provoking and intelligent, as well as educational. Birbal was also a poet and his collections under the pen name 'Brahma' are preserved in the Bharatpur Museum. Raja Birbal died in battle, attempting to quell unrest amongst the Afghani tribes in northwestern India. Akbar is said to have mourned for a long time on hearing the news of Birbal's death.
  • Raja Todar Mal was Akbar’s finance minister, who was instructed by Sher Shah. From 1560 onwards, he overhauled the revenue system in the kingdom. He introduced standard weights and measures, revenue districts, and officers. His systematic approach to revenue collection became a model for the future Mughals as well as the British Raj. Raja Todar Mal was also a warrior who assisted Akbar in controlling the Afghan rebels in Bengal. In 1582, Akbar bestowed on the raja the title Diwan-I-Ashraf.
  • Raja Man Singh, the Kacchwaha rajput raja of Amber. (Later Kacchwahas built Jaipur, close to Amber). This trusted lieutenant of Akbar was the grandson of Akbar’s father-in-law. His family had been inducted into the Mughal hierarchy as emirs (nobles). Raja Man Singh assisted Akbar on many fronts, including holding off the advance of Hakim (Akbar’s half-brother, a governor of Kabul) in Lahore. He also led campaigns in Orissa.
  • Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khan, a poet, was the son of Akbar’s trusted protector and caretaker when he was a teenager, Bairam Khan.

Other names are also mentioned as gems of Akbar’s court. Daswant, the painter and Abud us-Samad, a brilliant calligrapher, have also been named by some sources. Mir Fathullah Shiraz, who was a financier, philosopher, astrologer and an astute physician, has also been mentioned. Nevertheless, it is apparent that Akbar’s court was filled with brilliant minds in the fields of art, administration, and warfare.

Final years

Akbar's grave
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Akbar's grave

The closing years of Akbar's reign were were troubled by the misconduct of his sons. Two of them died in their youth, the victims of intemperance; and the third, Salim, later known as emperor Jahangir, was frequently in rebellion against his father. Asirgarh, a fort in the Deccan proved to be the last conquest of Akbar, taken in 1599 as proceeded north to face his son's rebellion. Reportedly, Akbar keenly felt these calamities, and they may even have affected his health and hastened his death, which occurred in Agra on October 15th, 1605. His body was deposited in a magnificent mausoleum at Sikandra, near Agra.


Preceded by:
Humayun
Mughal Emperor
1556–1605
Succeeded by:
Jahangir

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See also

External link

es:Akbar eo:Akbar fr:Akbar id:Akbar yang Agung ms:Akbar Agong nl:Akbar nds:Akbar ja:アクバル pl:Akbar pt:Akbar simple:Akbar the Great fi:Akbar Suuri sv:Akbar den store zh:阿克巴

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