Akbar is generally recognized as the greatest and most capable of the Mughal rulers. Under him Mughal polity and statecraft reached maturity; and under his guidance the Mughals changed from a petty power to a major dynastic state. From his time to the end of the Mughal period, artistic production on both an imperial and sub-imperial level was closely linked to notions of state polity, religion and kingship. Humayun died in 1556, only one year after his return to Hindustan. Upon hearing the call to prayers, he slipped on the steep stone steps of the library in his Din-Panah citadel in Delhi. Humayun's only surviving son and heirapparent, Akbar, then just fourteen years of age, ascended the throne and ruled until 1605 the expanding Mughal empire. Until about 1561, Akbar was under the control of powerful court factions, first his guardian, Bhairam Khan, and then the scheming Maham Anga, a former imperial wet-nurse. Between about 1560 and 1580, Akbar devoted his energies to the conquest and then the consolidation of territory in north India. This he achieved through battle, marriage, treaty and, most significantly, administrative reform. Concurrent with these activities, Akbar developed an interest in religion that, while initially a personal concern, ultimately transformed his concept of state. Many of the policies he adopted, such as the renunciation of the poll-tax (jiziya) for non-Muslims, had a solid political basis as well as a personal one, for Akbar, much more than his Mughal predecessors, saw every advantage in maintaining good relations with the Hindu majority. Humayun died in 1556, only one year after his return to Hindustan. Upon hearing the call to prayers, he slipped on the steep stone steps of the library

in his Din-Panah citadel in Delhi. Humayun's only surviving son and heirapparent, Akbar, then just fourteen years of age, ascended the throne and ruled until 1605 the expanding Mughal empire. Until about 1561, Akbar was under the control of powerful court factions, first his guardian, Bhairam Khan, and then the scheming Maham Anga, a former imperial wet-nurse. Between about 1560 and 1580, Akbar devoted his energies to the conquest and then the consolidation of territory in north India. This he achieved through battle, marriage, treaty and, most significantly, administrative reform. Concurrent with these activities, Akbar developed an interest in religion that, while initially a personal concern, ultimately transformed his concept of state. Many of the policies he adopted, such as the renunciation of the poll-tax (jiziya) for non-Muslims, had a solid political basis as well as a personal one, for Akbar, much more than his Mughal predecessors, saw every advantage in maintaining good relations with the Hindu majority.


The 8th century began with a long, bloody clash between Hindus and Muslims in this fragmented land. For almost 300 years, the Muslims were able to advance only as far as the Indus River valley. Starting around the year 1000, however, well-trained Turkish armies swept into India. Led by Sultan Mahmud (muh MOOD) of Ghazni, they devastated Indian cities and temples in 17 brutal campaigns. These attacks left the region weakened and vulnerable to other conquerors. Delhi eventually became the capital of a loose empire of Turkish warlords called the Delhi Sultanate. These sultans treated the Hindus as conquered people. Delhi Sultanate Between the 13th and 16th centuries, 33 different sultans ruled this divided territory from their seat in Delhi. In 1398, Timur the Lame destroyed Delhi. The city was so completely devastated that according to one witness, for months, not a bird moved in the city. Delhi eventually was rebuilt. But it was not until the 16th century that a leader arose who would unify the empire. Babur Founds an Empire In 1494, an 11-year-old boy named Babur inherited a kingdom in the area that is now Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. It was only a tiny kingdom, and his elders soon took it away and drove him south. But Babur built up an army. In the years that followed, he swept down into India and laid the foundation for the vast Mughal Empire. Babur was a brilliant general. In 1526, for example, he led 12,000 troops to victory against an army of 100,000 commanded by a sultan of Delhi. A year later, Babur also defeated a massive rajput army. After Babur's death, his incompetent son, Humayun, lost most of the territory Babur had gained. Babur's 13-year-old grandson took over the throne after Humayun's death.

AKBAR'S GOLDEN AGE Babur's grandson was called Akbar, which means Greatest One. Akbar certainly lived up to his name, ruling India with wisdom and tolerance from 1556 to 1605. Early Life The conditions of Akbar's birth in Umarkot, Sindh, India on October 15, 1542, gave no indication that he would be a great leader. Though Akbar was a direct descendent of Ghengis Khan, and his grandfather Babur was the first emperor of the Mughal dynasty, his father, Humayun, had been driven from the throne by Sher Shah Suri. He was impoverished and in exile when Akbar was born. Humayun managed to regain power in 1555, but ruled only a few months before he died, leaving Akbar to succeed him at just 14 years old. The kingdom Akbar inherited was little more than a collection of frail fiefs. Under the regency of Bairam Khan, however, Akbar achieved relative stability in the region. Most notably, Khan won control of northern India from the Afghans and successfully led the army against the Hindu king Hemu at the Second Battle of Panipat. In spite of this loyal service, when Akbar came of age in March of 1560, he dismissed Bairam Khan and took full control of the government


In 1556 Mughal rule had still not taken a firm hold in Hindustan. All around them other kings and sultans were trying to drive the Mughals away. It was at this critical time that Akbar became the emperor. Since Akbar was very young, Amir Bairam Khan acted as the regent, running the administration on behalf of the ruler. (In those times, high officials were called amirs.) Bairam Khan also arranged to have Akbar educated in the duties of an emperor. When Akbar turned 17 he took the reins of the empire into his own hands. He made great efforts to expand the Mughal empire by fighting other kings, and he was very successful.

The Conquest of Malwa and Garha Katanga

In those days there were two major kingdoms in the area that we now call Madhya Pradesh. One was the kingdom of the Sultan of Malwa, Baaz Bahadur, with its capital at Mandu. Mandu is near the city of Indore. The other kingdom was Garha Katanga. Its capital was Chauragarh, which was near what is now Jabalpur. Garha Katanga was under Gond rulers, and during Akbar’s time it was ruled by Rani Durgavati . In 1561 Akbar sent his foster brother, Aadham Khan, to capture Malwa. Aadham Khan defeated Baaz Bahadur, the Sultan of Malwa. Though Baaz Bahadur fled Mandu, he kept trying to win back his kingdom for many years. In the end, however, he was unsuccessful and had to accept a position in the service of the Mughals. He was made a Mughal official. Aadham Khan acquired many valuable treasures from Malwa. But he did not hand over all these spoils to Akbar. Instead, he tried to keep as much as possible for himself. When Akbar came

to know of this he was furious. He forced Aadham Akbar hunting wild animals Khan to part with what he had withheld.

Aadham Khan was not the only official to try to cheat the emperor. At around the same time another amir, Aasaf Khan, attacked the kingdom of Garha Katanga and defeated Rani Durgavati. Though wounded in battle, the queen fought with great valour. But upon seeing her army losing, she killed herself. Aasaf Khan looted diamonds, other gems, priceless objects of gold and silver and many other things from Garha Katanga. But out of these vast treasures he sent only 200 elephants to Akbar. Once again Akbar took harsh steps against the disloyalty and dishonesty of an amir. He forced Aasaf Khan to yield the entire treasure.

Akbar realised that such actions by his amirs might some day become a big problem for him. He did not want to give them free rein. He thought that if he allowed the amirs to do as they pleased he would not be able to make the Mughal empire as strong as he wanted it to be.

Conflicts between Akbar and the Turani Amirs

When Akbar became the emperor in 1556 he had 51 high officials, or amirs, in his court. These amirs were very wealthy. Akbar had divided responsibility for different parts of his empire among them. Each amir kept an army with him, which had to be presented before the emperor whenever it was ordered. In return for all this the emperor granted each amir several villages and towns. This was called their jagir. The amirs kept the revenue

that was collected from the villages and towns of their jagirs. The revenue was for their own use as well as for running the administration of the jagirs. Among Akbar’s amirs, some were from Iran and were known as Irani amirs. But the majority of the amirs had come from an area known as Turan, which is in Turkestan. The ancestors of the Mughal emperors had also come from Turan. Many Turani amirs were in fact related to Akbar. For this reason the Turani amirs considered themselves to be equals of Akbar and had no desire to be under his control. They wanted the freedom to administer their jagirs as they pleased. In fact they even wanted to be able to tell the emperor what to do. But Akbar did not approve of this at all. He did not want anyone else in the empire to be equal to the emperor. He wanted everyone to be under his control. He wanted to be the one to decide who would become an amir and he wanted to make all the appointments to both high and low posts. He wanted all the amirs to follow his rules and to carry out his orders without any questions. The Turani amirs could not tolerate these policies of Akbar. From 1562 to 1567 many Turani amirs rebelled against Akbar and they ordered their armies to attack his. What was

Akbar Attempts to Recruit Indian Muslims (Sheikhzadas) as Amirs

A major obstacle in strengthening the empire was that the amirs looked upon themselves as equal to the emperor and did not want to be under his control. In addition to this, Akbar faced another problem that had slowly become very serious. He himself had come from Kabul, and his amirs were from Iran and Turan. Those who had come from outside had difficulty establishing a strong rule in new places because the powerful local people would oppose

them. Akbar realised that so long as the powerful Hindustanis did not accept his authority, Mughal rule would never be secure. In those days two kinds of people were very powerful in Hindustan: Rajput kings, and Muslim families who had been staying in India for centuries and had acquired land and wealth. These Muslims were known as Sheikhzadas. Akbar wanted both of these kinds of powerful Hindustani families to be on his side. To win them over he gave many Sheikhzadas positions in his court and made them his amirs. He also showed great respect towards their religious practices.

Attempts to Make the Rajputs Amirs

As for the Rajputs, Akbar found that they had no great desire to be his amirs. What they wanted was to remain free and rule their own kingdoms. Akbar thought that if he wanted to bring over Rajput kings to his court he would have to show that he did not discriminate against Hindus and that he really wanted to carry all the different kinds of people of Hindustan along with him. In those days Hindus had to pay two special kinds of taxes that Muslims did not have to pay – the jeziya tax and a tax on pilgrimages to holy places. Only those Hindus who were employees of the king or who were orphans did not have to pay the jeziya. In 1562 Akbar abolished the pilgrimage tax and in 1564 he stopped collecting jeziya from Hindus.

Some Rajput kings were swayed by these acts and came into the service of Akbar. One of them was Raja Bharmal. He was the king of Amer, which is a place near Jaipur. Akbar made Raja Bharmal his amir. (Later on Bharmal’s son Bhagwandas and grandson Mansingh were also made amirs of the Mughal empire.) In return for Bharmal’s support, Akbar granted him many

concessions. He returned the kingdom of Amer to Bharmal and declared that Amer would never be taken away from him or his descendants. Akbar made a proposal to the Rajput kings: if they agreed to serve under him, he would restore their kingdoms to them. They would be made amirs of the Mughal Empire. They would also be sent to conquer distant lands and to rule them on behalf of the Mughal emperor. In return for all this they would be given jagirs in other parts of the empire as well. Akbar hoped that the Rajput kings would find these offers so attractive that they would stop opposing him, and they might even agree to serve under him. To show his intention of running his empire in co-operation with the powerful people of Hindustan, Akbar took a few more important steps. He married Manibai, the daughter of Raja Bharmal

After the wedding, he allowed her to continue openly practicing Hinduism. Usually the bride has to accept the traditions of her husband’s family. Before Akbar’s time, whenever a Hindu bride married a sultan, she was not given the freedom to follow her original religion. But Akbar was more willing to accept the religious freedom of his Hindu queens. In addition to Manibai, Akbar married several other Rajput women.

AKBAR’S ADMINISTRATION POLICIES DURING THE MUGHAL RULE As the real founder of the Mughal empire, Akbar immensely improved the organization of the government. There was no curtailment of the abs power or autocracy of the absolute padshah and it was the character of the supreme ruler on which the merits of the administration mainly depended. The power of the wazir was reduced, and his duties were divided among the heads of departments. Akbar "chose, transferred, dismissed his great officials without respect for rank, race or creed. He created regular departments with written regulations within which officials could freely work without dependence upon the royal whim. He developed an improved system for the assessment and collection of the revenue, with the help of Raja Todar Mai, whole was on the w the ablest and most upright of imperial officers" (V.A. Smith, The Oxford History of India). The administration, formed on military lines, invested the governor of a province (subahdar/ sipahsalar) with practically full powers so long as he retained office and allowed him to maintain a court like his sovereign. All officials, civil and military ( the roles were interchangeable) were called mansabdars as in Persia, the word meaning officeholder. They were divided into thirty-three categories, and member of each category was required to supply a certain number of troops to the royal army. The highest mansabs ranging from 7,000 to 10,000 were meant for the princes while the rest varying from 5,000 to 10 were given to others. The standing

army was very small; the contingents furnished by the rajas and the mansabdars (each under its own chief) formed the bulk of the imperial forces. All officers of some importance exercised administrative and judicial powers and dealt with criminal cases. Qazis dispensed civil justice according to Quranic laws. The Mughal government was called a Kaghzi Raj or paper government, as a large number of books had to be maintained. The emperor was the fountain head of all honours, source of all administrative power and the dispenser of supreme justice, implying that the Mughal emperors did not regard the Khalifa as their formal overlord. But they were not despots as they kept the interest of the people uppermost in their mind. The Mughal nobility was a heterogeneous body, composed of diverse elements like Turks, Tartars, Persians, and Indians and therefore it could not organise itself as a powerful baronial class. It was further not hereditary but purely official in character. The entire kingdom was divided into suba or pranta, suba into sarkar, sarkar into pargana and the pargana into villages. The wazir was the prime minister. All matters concerning revenue were settled by the diwan. He had two assistants known as diwan-i-am or diwan of salaries and the diwan-i-khas (or Khalisa) or diwan of crown-lands. The mir bakshi was the paymaster. He was entrusted with the task of recruiting the army and maintaining the troops in good order.

The khan- i-saman was the lord high steward and was thus in charge of the emperor's department of manufactures, stores and supply. The sadr-us-sudur, also known as sadr-i-kul and sadr-i-jahan, was the link between the king and the people. He acted as the guardian of Islamic law and the spokesman of the ulema. The muhtasib was the censor of public morals. Sometimes, he was asked to fix the prices of the goods and enforce the use of correct weights and measures. The qazi-ul-quzflt was the chief qazi, that is, the highest judicial officer. The qazis were helped by the muftis. The title of diwan-i-buyutat was given to the officer who registered the wealth and property of the deceased. He also fixed the price of articles, and made provision for the royal karkhanas. The administrative agency in the provinces (subah) was an exact miniature of that of the central government. The number of provinces varied from time to time. It was 12 during Akbar's time (and 21 during Aurangazeb's). The provincial administration developed by Akbar was based on the principles of 'uniformity' and 'check and balance'. Rights and duties of the provincial officials were distributed in a way which prevented the misuse of offices and promoted interdependence among various officials.

The officials appointed at the provincial level were as follows. (i) Subahdar or nizam. He was the head of the provincial administration. He was also known as prantapati or sipahsalara or sahib-i-suba. Appointed by the king, subahdar maintained law and order and security of the people and property throughout his province. His other responsibilities included implementation of royal orders and collection of taxes from landlords and subordinate rulers. (ii) Diwan-i-suba. Appointed by the king on the recommendation of diwani-ala, he was responsible for revenue collection in his province. Though he was under the subahdar for the administrative purposes, diwan-i-ala had a direct control over him. (iii) Provincial bakshi. Appointed by the king on the recommendation of the central mir bakshi, his responsibilities included maintenance of mansabdars and fixing of recruitment pay of soldiers. He sent reports to the king from time to time about the working of the mansabdars. As a wakiya nigara, he sent reports to the king on the incidents of the province. (iv) Sadr. At the provincial level, sadr also worked as qazi. Appointed by the king on the recommendation of sadr-us-sadr, he, as a sadr, watched the religious activities of Muslims. As a qazi, he performed judicial functions. Besides these officials, kotwal, wakiya navis, muhtasib, mir-fahr, etc. were appointed at the provincial level.

The Mughal sarkars were equivalent to modern- day districts. Many officials were appointed at this level of administration. Important among them were the following. (i) Fauzdar. He was responsible for maintaining law and order. (ii) Amalgtijar Amalgujars. were appointed for collecting revenue and looking after other financial matters. (iii) Kotwal. Appointed by the king on the recommendation of the MirAtish, his main function was to punish the criminals. He also informed the centre about all the happenings within a sarkar. Following officers were appointed at the pargana level. (i) Shiqdar. Shiqdar was responsible for maintaining law and order at the pargana level and informing the state government about the same. He helped the amil in revenue collection. He was also entitled to punish criminals. (ii) Amil. Also known as munsif, amil determined revenue at the pargana level. He established direct contact with the peasants for collecting revenue. (iii) Kanungo. He was responsible for surveying land in pargana. (iv) Qazi Qazis. were appointed at the pargana level to perform judicial function. They were under the provincial qazi. Each village had a pradhan, who was also known as muqqudam, khot, choudhury, etc. The pradhan was assisted by a patwari. His main works

included maintaining law and order at the village level and assisting amalgujars in collection of revenue from the peasants. The Mughal judicial system was based on the principle of the Arab jurisprudence. Defending upon their nature, the cases were heard at different levels. The qazi-ul-quzftt, the chief judicial officer, was assisted by mufti, who would be a scholar of the Arab jurisprudence. In the Mughal period, judicial cases were classified into the following four categories: (i) religious cases, (ii) diwani cases, (iii) fauzdari, and (iv) goods-related cases. Religious cases were dealt with by the office of the qazi and were related with the interpretation of Shariat. Diwani cases were also neard by the qazi. Criminal cases were dealt with by the subahdar, fauzdar and shiqdar. These officials had their own courts. Cases related to goods were heard in the courts of amil. It is clear that the qazi heard only diwani and religious cases.

NINE FAMOUS COURTIERS OF 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 naurathan, or nine gems. They were:

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 the Persian language. Akbar had enormous respect for this genius and appointed him as a tutor for his son. His most famous work is a translation into Farsi of a twelfth-century treatise on mathematics called ―Lilavati.‖

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 Miyan 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, or diwan, 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 Moghuls 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 rajput raja of Amber. This trusted lieutenant of Akbar was the grandson of Akbar’s father-in-law. His family had been inducted into the Moghul 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.

Fagir Aziao Din and Mullan Do Piaza were two advisors belonging to Akbar’s inner circle.

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.

RELIGION At the time of Akbar's rule, the Moghul 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 worshiped as sacred. Hindus are allowed to drink alcoholic beverages (such as wine), a practice which is forbidden by Islam. Nonetheless, Hindus were regarded as ―people of the book‖ since they possessed scriptures and, while worship of the many deities could be regarded as both idolatry and polytheism, they were given the benefit of the doubt on both accounts. That is, on the issue of idolatry they were said to venerate not the representation, or image, but the deity that it represented while the many deities were taken to be different names for the same, single reality. In fact, some Hindu mystical teachers attracted Muslim devotees while such Muslim Sufi saints as Chisti and Kabir were popular with Hindus. Sufis taught unity of all beings (wahdat-al-wujud), and Akbar was a disciple of Chisti, who prophesied the birth of his first son. Akbar incorporated Chisti's shrine into Fatehpur Sikri (1670). During the period of the Moghul 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. Akbar himself fostered tolerance for all religions, which was known as his policy of sulh-i-kull (universal tolerance) (Davies, 317). Clearly interested in religious issues, he started to invite scholars to court to discuss theological topics. Initially, only Muslims took part, but later Akbar invited Jews, Parsees (Zoroastrians), Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Christians,

including Jesuits from Goa. At his new capital, he built the 'ibadat-khana (house of worship) to accommodate scholarly exchanges. Akbar was ―genuinely interested in the study of Comparative Religion,‖ according to Davies, as he became convinced of ―good in all religions.‖ Some assume that Akbar's interest was mainly political, to retain the loyalty of non-Muslim subjects. Thus, his cross-cultural marriages to several Hindu princesses have been dismissed as politically motivated, rather than a genuine attempt at religious reconciliation. On the other hand, he also married Christians and at the time no Christian power was strong enough to justify a strategic alliance. Therefore, he appears to have seen his marriages as a way of cementing interreligious friendship. Akbar tried to reconcile the differences of both religions by creating a new faith called the Din-i-Ilahi, or tawhid-i-Ilahi, which incorporated both Islam and Hinduism. This stressed unity (tawhid) of all beings and a pure theism that in his view represented the ―common element of all the creeds he sought into‖ (Gibb and Kramers, 27). Some believe that, in any formal sense, few people subscribed to this religion. However, it was his successors' ―departure from the main principles of his rule that led to the decline of the Moghul empire‖ (Davies: 317). In reaction, harsh measures were enacted against Muslims (and also Sikhs). His immediate successors, Jehangir (1569 – 1627) and Shah Jahan (1627 – 1658) (builder of the Taj Mahal) more or less continued his policy of toleration but Aurangzeb (1618 – 1707; emperor from 1658 until 1707), influenced by traditional or conservative Muslim scholars, pursued an iconoclastic policy of destroying Hindu images, banning music, closing non-

Muslim schools, and even destroying temples. The jizya was re-introduced. He also disapproved of Sufi Islam. Much of this anticipated the type of Islam that Shah Waliullah (1702 – 1767) would advocate. Akbar and Orthodox Islam Akbar's policies were also aimed at attracting the support of non-Sunni Muslims. He is said to have been disgusted with the internal disagreement between different Muslims. He appears to have disliked the immense authority exercised by the traditional Muslim scholars, the ulama, and wanted to curb this. Advocating something similar to King Charles I of England's doctrine of the ―divine right of kings,‖ he believed that the monarch exercises authority under God, which contravened the orthodox Muslim understanding that the shariah (divine law) is above the caliph, or sultan. Technically, when Akbar became emperor it was the chief qadi (judge) who legalized his accession by reading a proclamation during Friday prayer. This official exercised ―extraordinary powers‖ (Davies, 316). In 1579, Akbar issued a decree, known as the ―Infallibility Decree,‖ that required the ulama to recognize him as the supreme authority in religious matters. They also had to declare that he was a just ruler, imam-i-'adil (Qureshi, 62). However, in practice Akbar was not qualified to act as an Islamic judge, since this involves adjudicating between the opinions of different scholars, so as a matter of fact (although the subject of considerable controversy) the decree was never implemented. Instead, Akbar ―relied upon the political device of appointing to high religious and legal offices his own nominees‖ (Davies, 62).

His successors saw him as an apostate and infidel who compromised Islam but ―the charge that he denounced Islam and ceased consciously to be a Muslim is not proved,‖ concluded Qureshi (63). According to Shaikh Nur alHakk, Akbar ―tried to take the good from all differing opinions‖ with the ―sole object‖ of ―ascertaining [the] truth‖ (Gibb and Kramers, 27). This represents a classic struggle between the two spheres of authority in Islam, that of siyasah, or politics, and of fiqh, or jurisprudence. As sultan, Akbar wanted to control both and to recruit support for his interpretation of Islam. The tactic of appointing nominees to high office who are sympathetic to one’s views is almost universally used by heads of state and of government. Akbar clearly wanted to curb the power of the traditional ulama, whose version of Islam he considered narrow and intolerant. Following the ―Infallability Decree,‖ Akbar's half-brother, Hakim (governor of Kabul) tried to ferment a revolt with the aid of a fatwa in support of his cause. Aided by his loyal Hindu soldiers, Akbar took Kabul in 1581, defeating Hakim. PATRON OF THE ARTS Although Akbar was illiterate, surprising because his family had a reputation for learning and two of the most important women in his life, his wife Salima Sultan and his aunt, Gulbadan, were ―accomplished in letters,‖ he had a great love for knowledge (Gibb and Kramers: 27). 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. He also built schools for Muslims and for Hindus. MILITARY ACHIEVEMENTS 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. The Hindu king Hemu, however, commanding the Afghan forces, defeated the Mughal Army and captured Delhi on 6 October 1556. Urged by Bairam Khan, who remarshalled the Mughal army before Hemu could consolidate his position, Akbar marched on Delhi to reclaim it. Akbar's army, led by Bairam Khan, met the larger forces of Hemu on November 5, 1556 at the Second Battle of Panipat, 50 miles (80 km) north of Delhi. The battle was going in Hemu's favour when an arrow pierced Hemu's eye, rendering him unconscious. The leaderless army soon capitulated and Hemu was captured and executed. 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, along with several local chieftains who were assisting him, surrendered and so was spared death. With this, the whole of Punjab was annexed to the Mughal empire. Before returning to Agra, Akbar sent a detachment of his army to Jammu, which defeated the ruler Raja Kapur Chand and captured the

kingdom. Between 1558 and 1560, Akbar further expanded the empire by capturing and annexing the kingdoms of Gwalior, northern Rajputana and Jaunpur. After a dispute at court, Akbar dismissed Bairam Khan in the spring of 1560 and ordered him to leave on Hajj to Mecca. Bairam left for Mecca, but on his way was goaded by his opponents to rebel. He was defeated by the Mughal army in the Punjab and forced to submit. Akbar, however forgave him and gave him the option of either continuing in his court or resuming his pilgrimage, of which Bairam chose the latter.


Mughal empire under Akbar

After dealing with the rebellion of Bairam Khan and establishing his authority. Akbar went on to expand the Mughal empire by subjugating local chiefs and annexing neighbouring kingdoms. The first major conquest was of Malwa in 1561, an expedition that was led by Adham Khan and carried

out with such savage cruelty that it resulted in a backlash from the kingdom enabling its ruler Baz Bahadur to recover the territory while Akbar was dealing with the rebellion of Bairam Khan. Subsequently, Akbar sent another detachment which captured Malwa in 1562, and Baz Bahadur eventually surrendered to the Mughals and was made an administrator. Around the same time, the Mughal army also conquered the kingdom of the Gonds, after a fierce battle between the Asaf Khan, the Mughal governor of Allahabad, and Rani Durgavati, the queen of the Gonds. However, Asaf Khan misappropriated most of the wealth plundered from the kingdom, which Akbar subsequently forced him to restore, apart from installing Durgavati's son as the administrator of the region. Over the course of the decade following his conquest of Malwa, Akbar brought most of present-day Rajasthan, Gujarat and Bengal under his control. A major victory in this campaign was the siege of Chittor. The fortress at Chittor, ruled by Maharana Udai Singh, was of great strategic importance as it lay on the shortest route from Agra to Gujarat and was also considered a key to central Rajasthan. On the advice of his nobles, Udai Singh retired to the hills, leaving two warriors Jaimal and Patta in charge of the fort. The Mughal army surrounded the fortress in October 1567 and it fell in February 1568 after a siege of six months. The fort was then stormed by the Mughal forces, and a fierce resistance was offered by members of the garrison stationed inside, as well as local peasants who came to their assistance.

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 (Janeu or the sacred thread) collected from the fallen rajput soldiers and other civilians of Chittor, which amounted to seventy four and half man (a unit of weight in India equalling 40 kg) 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. In commemoration of the gallantry of Jaimal and Patta, he ordered that stone statues of them seated on elephants be carved and erected at the chief gate of the Agra Fort. The fortress was completely destroyed and its gates were carried off to Agra, while the brass candlesticks taken from the Kalika temple after its destruction were given to the shrine of Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer. Akbar celebrated the victory over Chittor and Ranthambore by laying the foundation of a new city, 23 miles (37 km) W.S.W of Agra in 1569. It was called Fatehpur Sikri (city of victory). Buland Darwaza at Fatehpur Sikri 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".

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. After Akbar's conquest of Chittor, two major Rajput clans remained opposed to him - the Sisodiyas of Mewar and Hadas of Ranthambore. The latter, reputed to be the most powerful fortress in Rajasthan, was conquered by the Mughal army in 1569, making Akbar the master of almost the whole of Rajputana. As a result, most of the Rajput kings, including those of Bikaner, Bundelkhand and Jaisalmer submitted to Akbar. Only the clans of Mewar continued to resist Mughal conquest and Akbar had to fight with them from time to time for the greater part of his reign. Among the most prominent of them was Maharana Pratap who declined to accept Akbar's suzerainty and also opposed the marriage etiquette of Rajputs who had been giving their daughters to Mughals. He renounced all matrimonial alliances with Rajput rulers who had married into the Mughal dynasty, refusing such alliances even with the princes of Marwar and Amer until they agreed to sever ties with the Mughals.

Consolidation Having conquered Rajputana, Akbar turned to Gujarat, whose government was in a state of disarray after the death of its previous ruler, Bahadur Shah. The province was a tempting target as it was a center of world trade, it possessed fertile soil and had highly developed crafts. The province had been occupied by Humayun for a brief period, and prior to that was ruled by the Delhi Sultanate. In 1572, Akbar marched to Ahmedabad, which capitulated without offering resistance. He took Surat by siege, and then crossed the Mahi river and defeated his estranged cousins, the Mirzas, in a hard-fought battle at Sarnal. During the campaign, Akbar met a group of Portuguese merchants for the first time at Cambay. Having established his authority over Gujarat, Akbar returned to Agra, but Mirza-led rebellions soon broke out. Akbar returned, crossing Rajasthan at great speed on camels and horses, and reached Ahmedabad in eleven days - a journey that normally took six weeks. Akbar's army of 3000 horsemen then defeated the enemy forces numbering 20000 in a decisive victory on 2 September 1573. The conquest of Gujarat marked a significant event of Akbar's reign as it gave the Mughal empire free access to the sea and control over the rich commerce that passed through its ports. The territory and income of the empire were vastly increased. The following year, Akbar marched on Patna, capturing it on 7 August 1574,[ and subsequently, after a series of battles, defeated the ruler of Bengal, Daud Khan Karrani, at the Battle of Tukaroi on 3 March 1575, thereby annexing the province to the Mughal empire. However, Daud, who had fled to Orissa, regrouped his forces the following year and recaptured Bengal. Akbar then sent in reinforcements and Daud was finally defeated, captured and killed in the Battle of Rajmahal in July

1576. The Mughal army also conquered Kabul (1581), Kashmir (1586), and Kandesh (1601), among others. Akbar installed a governor over each of the conquered provinces. Military organization Akbar organized his army as well as the nobility by means of a system called the mansabdari. Under this system, each officer in the army was assigned a rank (a mansab), and assigned a number of cavalry that he had to supply to the imperial army. The mansabdars were divided into 33 classes. The top three commanding ranks, ranging from 7000 to 10000 troops, were normally reserved for princes. Other ranks between 10 and 5000 were assigned to other members of the nobility. The empire's permanent standing army was quite small and the imperial forces mostly consisted of contingents maintained by the mansabdars. Persons were normally appointed to a low mansab and then promoted, based on their merit as well as the favour of the emperor. Each mansabdar was required to maintain a certain number of cavalrymen and twice that number of horses. The number of horses was greater because they had to be rested and rapidly replaced 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 only Arabian horses were normally employed. The mansabdars were remunerated well for their services and constituted the highest paid military service in the world at the time.

Capital of the empire Diwan-i-Khas – Hall of Private Audience, Fatehpur Sikri is a city and a municipal board in Agra district in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. Built near the much older Sikri, the historical city of Fatehabad, as it was first named, was constructed by Akbar beginning in 1570, in honour of Sufi saint Shaikh Salim Chisti Akbar was a follower of Salim Chishti, a holy man who lived in the region of Sikri near Agra. Believing the area to be a lucky one for himself, he had a mosque constructed there for the use of the saint. Subsequently, he celebrated the victories over Chittor and Ranthambore by laying the foundation of a new walled capital, 23 miles (37 km) west of Agra in 1569, which was named Fatehpur ("town of victory") after the conquest of Gujarat in 1573 and subsequently came to be known as Fatehpur Sikri in order to distinguish it from other similarly named towns.[ 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. Other sources indicate Akbar simply lost interest in the city[ or realised it was not militarily defensible. In 1599, Akbar shifted his capital back to Agra from where he reigned until his death.

DIPLOMACY Matrimonial alliances The practice of giving Hindu princesses to Muslim kings in marriage was known much before Akbar's time, but in most cases these marriages did not lead to any stable relations between the families involved, and the women were lost to their families and did not return after marriage. However, Akbar's policy of matrimonial alliances marked a departure from previous practice in that the marriage itself marked the beginning of a new order of relations, wherein the Hindu Rajputs who married their daughters or sisters to him would be treated on par with his Muslim fathers and brothers in-law in all respects except being able to dine and pray with him or take Muslim wives. These Rajputs were made members of his court and their daughters' or sisters' marriage to a Muslim ceased to be a sign of degradation, except for certain orthodox elements who still considered it a sign of humiliation. Other Rajput kingdoms also established matrimonial alliances with Akbar, but matrimony was not insisted on as a precondition for forming alliances. Two major Rajput clans remained aloof – the Sisodiyas of Mewar and Hadas 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 accepted an alliance on the condition that Akbar did not marry any of his daughters. Consequently, no matrimonial alliance was entered into, yet Surjan was made a noble and placed in charge of GarhKatanga. Certain other Rajput nobles did not like the idea of their kings marrying their daughters to Mughals. Rathore Kalyandas threatened to kill both Mota Raja Rao Udaisingh and Jahangir because Udai Singh had

decided to marry his daughter to Jahangir. Akbar on hearing this ordered imperial forces to attack Kalyandas at Siwana. Kalyandas died fighting along with his men and the women of Siwana committed Jauhar. The political effect of these alliances was significant. While some Rajput women who entered Akbar's harem converted to Islam, they were generally provided full religious freedom, and their relatives, who continued to remain Hindu, formed a significant part of the nobility and served to articulate the opinions of the majority of the common populace in the imperial court. The interaction between Hindu and Muslim nobles in the imperial court resulted in exchange of thoughts and blending of the two cultures. Further, newer generations of the Mughal line represented a merger of Mughal and Rajput blood, thereby strengthening ties between the two. As a result, the Rajputs 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 irrespective of creed, and this led to an increase in the strength of the administrative services of the empire. Relations with the Portuguese At the time of Akbar's ascension in 1556, the Portuguese had established several fortresses and factories on the western coast of the subcontinent, and largely controlled navigation and sea-trade in that region. As a consequence of this colonialism, all other trading entities were subject to the terms and conditions of the Portuguese, and this was resented by the rulers and traders of the time. The Mughal empire acquired its first access to the sea after

Akbar's conquest of Gujarat in 1572, and for the first few years, conscious of the threat posed by the presence of the Portuguese, remained content with obtaining a cartaz from them for sailing in the Persian Gulf region. At the initial meeting of the Mughals and the Portuguese during the siege of Surat in 1572, the Portuguese, recognising the superior strength of the Mughal army, chose to adopt diplomacy instead of war, and the Portuguese Governor, upon the request of Akbar, sent him an ambassador to establish friendly relations. Akbar accepted the offer of diplomacy, in order to facilitate the safe passage of the members of his harem on their projected pilgrimage to Mecca. In 1573, he issued a firman directing his

administrative officials in Gujarat not to disturb the Portuguese in their adjoining territory of Daman. The Portuguese, in turn, issued passes for the members of Akbar's family to go on Hajj to Mecca. The cartaz thus issued made mention of the extraordinary status of the vessel and the special status to be accorded to its occupants. Historical Relations with the Ottoman Empire When Akbar was still a child the Ottoman Admiral Seydi Ali Reis visited the Mughal Emperor Humayun; during the later years of Akbar's rule another Ottoman Admiral Kurtoğlu Hızır Reis arrived on the shores of the Mughal Empire. These Ottoman Admirals sought to end the growing threats of the Portuguese Empire during their Indian Ocean campaigns. In 1576 Akbar sent a very large contingent of pilgrims led by Yahya Saleh, including members of his harem, on Hajj by two ships from Surat, which reached the port of Jeddah in 1577 and then proceeded towards Mecca and Medina. Four more caravans were sent from 1577 to 1580, with gifts and

Sadaqah for the authorities of Mecca and Medina. The pilgrims in these caravans were poor, however, and their stay strained the resources of these cities. The Ottoman authorities requested that the pilgrims return home, but the ladies of the harem did not want to leave Hejaz. At length they were forced to return. These events persuaded Akbar to stop sending Hajj caravans and Sadaqat to Mecca and Medina. In 1586, Akbar expressed a desire to form an alliance with the Portuguese in order to attack the Ottoman Turks. In 1587 a Portuguese fleet sent to attack Yemen was routed and defeated by the Ottoman Navy. The Mughal-Portuguese alliance fell through because of the continuing pressure by the Mughal vassals at Janjira. Relations with the Safavid Empire The Safavids and the Mughals had a long history of diplomatic relationship, with the Safavid ruler Tahmasp I having provided refuge to Humayun when he had to flee the Indian subcontinent following his defeat by Sher Shah Suri. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the two empires, along with the Ottoman Empire to the west, were the site of major power struggles in Asia. However, the Safavids differed from the Mughals and the Ottomans in following the Shiite sect of Islam as opposed to the Sunni sect practised by the other two. One of the longest standing disputes between the Safavids and the Mughals pertained to the control of the city of Qandahar in the Hindukush region, forming the border between the two empires. The Hindukush region was militarily very significant owing to its geography, and this was well-recognised by strategists of the times. 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. Subsequent to this, Bairam Khan sent an

envoy to Tamahsp I's court, 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 Tamahsp 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, and were restored only in 1587 following the accession of Shah Abbas to the Safavid throne. Shortly afterwards, Akbar's army completed its annexation of Kabul, and in order to further secure the north-western boundaries of his empire, it proceeded to Qandahar. The city capitulated without resistance on April 18, 1595, and the ruler Muzaffar Hussain moved into Akbar's court. Qandahar continued to remain in Mughal possession, and the Hindukush the empire's western frontier, for several decades until Shah Jahan's expedition into 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 medieveal kingdoms Vincent Arthur Smith observes that the merchant Mildenhall was employed in 1600 while the establishment of the Company was under adjustment to bear a letter from Queen Elizabeth to Akbar requesting liberty to trade in his dominions on terms as good as those enjoyed by the Portugese.

RELIGIOUS POLICY Akbar was a highly respected figure among various communities due to his inclusive personality. Akbar, as well as his mother and other members of his family, are believed to have been Sunni Hanafi Muslims. His early days were spent in the backdrop of an atmosphere in which liberal sentiments were encouraged and religious narrow-mindednness was frowned upon. From the 15th century, a number of 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 further encouraged by the teachings of popular saints like Guru Nanak, Kabir and Chaitanya,[84] the verses of the Persian poet Hafez which advocated human sympathy and a liberal outlook, as well as the Timurid ethos of religious tolerance that persisted in the polity right from the times of Timur to Humayun, and influenced Akbar's policy of tolerance in matters of religion. Further, his childhood tutors, who included two Irani Shias, were largely above sectarian prejudices, and made a significant contribution to Akbar's later inclination towards religious tolerance. One of Akbar's first actions after gaining actual control of the administration was the abolition of jizya, a tax which all non-Muslims were required to pay, in 1562. The tax was reinstated in 1575, a move which has been viewed as being symbolic of vigorous Islamic policy, but was again repealed in 1580. Akbar adopted the Sulh-e-Kul concept of Sufism as official policy, integrated many Hindus into high positions in the administration, and

removed restrictions on non-Muslims, thereby bringing about a composite and diverse character to the nobility.[91][92] As a mark of his respect for all religions, he ordered the observance of all religious festivals of different communities in the imperial court. Relation with Hindus Akbar's attitudes towards his Hindu subjects were an amalgam of Timurid, Persian and Indian ideas of sovereignty. The liberal principles of the empire were strengthened by incorporating Hindus into the nobility. However, historian Dasharatha Sharma states that court histories like the Akbarnama idealize Akbar's religious tolerance, and give Akbar more credit than he is due. Akbar in his early years was not only a practising Muslim but is also reported to have had an intolerant attitude towards Hindus. In 1579, towards the middle of his reign, he boasted of being a great conqueror of Islam in a letter to the ruler of Turan, Abdullah Khan[ and was also looked upon by orthodox Muslim elements as a devout believer committed to defending the religion against infidels. His attitude towards the Hindu religion and its practices did not have appreciable impact after his marriage alliances with Rajput princesses which all took place in early 1560s though he was also perceived as not being averse to performing Hindu rituals despite his Islamic beliefs. Akbar's Hindu generals could not construct temples without the emperor's permission. In Bengal, after Man Singh started the construction of a temple in 1595, Akbar ordered him to convert it into a mosque. He gave two

villages for the upkeep of a mosque and a Madrasa which was setup by destroying a Hindu temple. During the early part of Akbar's reign, his army was responsible for the demolition of rich Hindu temples which had gold deities in the Doab region. However, he subsequently made amends for the same by donating a golden umbrella to cover the deity at a temple which had been demolished, and allowing the conversion of a mosque into Hindu temple at Kurukshetra. Relation with Jains Akbar regularly hold discussions with Jain scholars and was also greatly impacted by some of their teachings. His first encounter with Jain rituals was when he saw a Jain shravika named Champa's procession after a six month long fast. Impressed by her power and devotion, he invited her guru or spiritual teacher AcharyaHiravijaya Suri to Fatehpur Sikri. Acharya accepted the invitation and began his march towards the Mughal capital from Gujarat. Akbar was greatly impressed by the scholastic qualities and character of the Acharya. He held several debates and discussions on religion and philosophy in his courts. Arguing with Jains, Akbar remained sceptical of their rituals, and yet became convinced by their arguments for vegetarianism and end up deploring the eating of all flesh. The Indian Supreme Court too has cited examples of co-existence of Jain and Mughal architecture. Terming Mughal emperor Akbar as "the architect of modern India", a bench said that Akbar, who had great respect for Jainism, had declared "Amari Ghosana" banning the killing of animals during Paryushan and Mahavir Jayanti. He rolled back the Jazia tax from

Jain pilgrim places like Palitana. These farmans were also issued in 1592, 1584 and 1598. Relations with Shias and Islamic clergy During the early part of his reign, Akbar adopted an attitude of suppression towards Muslim sects that were condemned by the orthodoxy as heretical.[11] In 1567, on the advice of Shaikh Abdu'n Nabi, he ordered the exhumation of Mir Murtaza Sharifi Shirazi - a Shia buried in Delhi - because of the grave's proximity to that of Amir Khusrau, arguing that a "heretic" could not be buried so close to the grave of a Sunni saint, reflecting a restrictive attitude towards the Shia, which continued to persist till the early 1570s. He suppressed Mahdavism in 1573 during his campaign in Gujarat, in the course of which the Mahdavi leader Bandagi Miyan Shiek Mustafa was arrested and brought in chains to the court for debate and released after eighteen months. However, as Akbar increasingly came under the influence of pantheistic Sufi mysticism from the early 1570s, it caused a great shift in his outlook and culminated in his shift from orthodox Islam as traditionally professed, in favor of a new concept of Islam transcending the limits of religion. Consequently, during the latter half of his reign, he adopted a policy of tolerance towards the Shias and declared a prohibition on ShiaSunni conflict, and the empire remained neutral in matters of internal religious conflict within Islam. Silver coin of Akbar with inscriptions of the Islamic declaration of faith In 1580, a rebellion broke out in the eastern part of Akbar's empire, and a number of fatwas, declaring Akbar to be a heretic, were issued by Qazis.

Akbar suppressed the rebellion and handed out severe punishments to the Qazis. In order to further strengthen his position in dealing with the Qazis, Akbar issued a mazhar or declaration that was signed by all major ulemas in 1579. The mahzar asserted that Akbar was the Khalifa of the age, the rank of the Khalifa was higher than that of a Mujtahid, in case of a difference of opinion among the Mujtahids, Akbar could select any one opinion and could also issue decrees which did not go against the nass. Given the prevailing Islamic sectarian conflicts in various parts of the country at that time, it is believed that the Mazhar helped in stabilizing the religious situation in the empire. It made Akbar very powerful due to the complete supremacy accorded 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 complete loyalty to him. Relation with Christians Akbar met Portuguese Jesuit priests and sent an ambassador to Goa, requesting them to send two missionaries to his court so that he could understand Christian doctrines better. In response, the Portuguese sent Monserrate and Acquaviva who remained at Akbar's court for three years and left accounts of their visit. In 1603 a written firman was granted at the request of the Christian priests allowing them to make willing converts. Even armed with the firman, however, the missionaries found it extremely difficult to carry out their work: the Viceroy of Lahore, Qulij Khan, a staunch Muslim official, employed tactics of harassment that caused many Christians to flee from Lahore and Father Pinheiro went in fear of death.

DIN-I-ILAHI Akbar holds a religious assembly of different faiths in the Ibadat Khana in Fatehpur Sikri. Akbar was deeply interested in religious and philosophical matters. An orthodox Muslim at the outset, he later came to be influenced by Sufi mysticism that was being preached in the country at that 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 the Ibadat Khana ("House of Worship") at Fatehpur Sikri, to which he invited theologians, mystics and selected courtiers renowned for their intellectual achievements and discussed matters of spirituality with them. These discussions, initially restricted to Muslims, were acrimonious and resulted in the participants shouting at and abusing each other. Upset by this, Akbar opened the Ibadat Khana to people of all religions as well as atheists, resulting in the scope of the discussions broadening and extending even into areas such as the validity of the Quran and the nature of God. This shocked the orthodox theologians, who sought to discredit Akbar by circulating rumours of his desire to forsake Islam. Akbar's efforts to evolve a meeting point among the representatives of various religions was not very successful, as each of them attempted to assert the superiority of their respective religions by denouncing other religions. Meanwhile, the debates at the Ibadat Khana grew more acrimonious and, contrary to their purpose of leading to a better understanding among religions, instead led to greater bitterness among them, resulting to the discontinuance of the debates by Akbar in 1582. However,

his interaction with various religious theologians had convinced him that despite their differences, all religions had several good practices, which he sought to combine into a new religious movement known as Din-i-Ilahi. However, some modern scholars claim that Akbar did not initiate a new religion and did not use the word Din-i-Ilahi. At about this time, he began to indicate that he had lost faith in the creed of the prophet of Mecca. The purported Din-i-Ilahi was more of an ethical system and is said to have prohibited lust, sensuality, slander and pride, considering them sins. Piety, prudence, abstinence and kindness are the core virtues. The soul is encouraged to purify itself through yearning of God. Celibacy was respected, chastity enforced, the slaughter of animals was forbidden and there were no sacred scriptures or a priestly hierarchy. However, a leading Noble of Akbar's court, Aziz Koka, wrote a letter to him from Mecca in 1594 arguing that the Din-i-Ilahi promoted by Akbar amounted to nothing more than a desire on Akbar's part to portray himself as "a new prophet".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 which arose due to erroneous translations 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 merely for religious purposes, but as a part of general imperial administrative policy. This also formed the basis for Akbar's policy of religious toleration. At the time of Akbar's death in 1605 there were no signs of discontent amongst his Muslim subjects and the impression of even a theologian like Abdu'l Haq was that Akbar remained a Muslim.

HAGIOGRAPHY During Akbar's reign, the ongoing process of inter-religious discourse and syncretism resulted in a series of religious attributions to him in terms of positions of assimilation, doubt or uncertainty, which he either assisted himself or left unchallenged. Such hagiographical accounts of Akbar traversed a wide range of denominational and sectarian spaces, including several accounts by Parsis, Jains and Jesuit missionaries, apart from contemporary accounts by Brahminical and Muslim orthodoxy. Existing sects and denominations, as well as various religious figures who represented popular worship felt they had a claim to him. The diversity of these accounts is attributed to the fact that his reign resulted in the formation of a flexible centralised state accompanied by personal authority and cultural heterogeneity. AKBARNĀMA, THE BOOK OF AKBAR The Akbarnāma which literally means Book of Akbar, is a official biographical account of Akbar, the third Mughal Emperor (r. 1556–1605), 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. It is stated that the book took seven years to be completed and the original manuscripts contained a number of paintings supporting the texts, and all the paintings represented the Mughal school of painting, and work of masters of the

imperial workshop, including Basawan, whose use of portraiture in its illustrations was an innovation in Indian art. DEATH AND LEGACY On 3 October 1605, Akbar fell ill with an attack of dysentery, from which he never recovered. He is believed to have died on or about 26 October 1605, after which his body was buried at a mausoleum in Sikandra, Agra. Akbar left behind a rich legacy both for the Mughal Empire as well as the Indian subcontinent in general. He firmly entrenched the authority of the Mughal empire in India and beyond, after it had been threatened by the Afghans during his father's reign,


A Flowering of Culture As Akbar extended the Mughal Empire, he welcomed influences from the many cultures in the empire. This cultural blending affected art, education, politics, and language. Persian was the language of Akbar's court and of high culture. The common people, however, spoke Hindi, a mixture of Persian and a local language. Hindi remains one of the most widely spoken languages in India today. Out of the Mughal armies, where soldiers of many backgrounds rubbed shoulders, came yet another new language. This language was Urdu, which means from the soldier's camp. A blend of Arabic, Persian, and Hindi, Urdu is today the official language of Pakistan. The Arts and Literature The arts flourished at the Mughal court, especially in the form of book illustrations. These small, highly detailed, and colorful paintings were called miniatures. They were brought to a peak of perfection in the Safavid Empire. Babur's son, Humayun, brought two masters of this art to his court to teach it to the Mughals. Some of the most famous Mughal miniatures adorned the Akbarnamah ( Book of Akbar ), the story of the great emperor's campaigns and deeds. Indian art drew from Western traditions as well. Hindu literature also enjoyed a revival in Akbar's time. The poet Tulsi Das, for example, was a contemporary of Akbar's. He retold the epic love story of Rama and Sita from the fourth century B.C. Indian poem the Ramayana (rah MAH yuh nuh) in Hindi. This retelling, the Ramcaritmanas, is now even more popular than the original. Architecture Akbar devoted himself to architecture, too. The style developed under his reign is still known as Akbar period architecture. Its massive but graceful structures are decorated with intricate

stonework that portrays Hindu themes. The capital city of Fatehpur Sikri is one of the most important examples of this type of architecture. Akbar had this red-sandstone city built to thank a holy man who had predicted the birth of his first son.