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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. EARLY HISTORY OF THE MUGHALS

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. After Babur's death, his incompetent son, Humayun, lost most of the territory Babur had gained. Babur's 13-yearold 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 Akbars 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. 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.

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.

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.

AKBARS 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. .


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 Akbars naurathan, or nine gems. They were:

Abul Fazl (1551 1602), the chronicler of Akbars 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 monarchs reign. His account also shed light on the brilliant administrative capacity of the emperor.

Faizi (1547 1595), Abul Fazls 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. lamp and caused rain showers.


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 emperors favor in administration as his trusted minister, and for his entertainment as his court jester. Raja Todar Mal was Akbars 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 Man Singh, the rajput raja of Amber. This trusted lieutenant of Akbar was the grandson of Akbars father-in-law. His family had been inducted into the Moghul hierarchy as emirs (nobles). Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khan, a poet, was the son of Akbars trusted protector and caretaker when he was a teenager, Bairam Khan.

Fagir Aziao Din and Mullan Do Piaza were two advisors belonging to Akbars inner circle.


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. 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). 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.


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.


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.


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. 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.


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, 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. AKBARNMA, THE BOOK OF AKBAR The Akbarnma which literally means Book of Akbar, is a official biographical account of Akbar, the third Mughal Emperor (r. 15561605), 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 Akbars 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.


Medieval India : K. L. Khurana, MA, Ph.D, ( Author of ancient India, modern India, World History History of Medieval India: J. L. Mehta, MA, Ph.D,