Akbar – the Great

Akbar was one of the greatest Mughal rulers in India. He ascended the throne at the age of thirteen years. He was guided by his tutor, Bairam Khan.

  • Akbar conquered several Indian states. He captured Malwa, Gondwana, Gujarat, Kashmir, and Kabul. He then annexed various states in the Deccan.
  • At the time of Akbar’s death, his empire extended from Kabul and Kandhar in the west to Assam in the east. His empire encompassed Ahmednagar, Khandesh, and Berar in the Deccan. He also subdued many Rajput princes except Mewar.
  • The Battle of Haldighati was fought between Akbar and Maharana Pratap in 1576. The latter fled the battlefield because he was inflicted with heavy wounds.

Rajput Policy of Akbar

  • Akbar realized that the Rajputs were a powerful force in India and that it was difficult to rule the empire without their help and cooperation. He thus valued their friendship. To further strengthen their friendship, he entered matrimonial alliances with the Rajputs.
  • The Rajputs were given an important position in the imperial court, and many Rajput princes were made mansabdars.
  • By taking these steps, he was able to reduce and end the centuries-old animosities which existed between the Muslims and the Rajputs.
  • Because the Rajputs were made equal partners in the Mughal government, it greatly helped in the growth of composite culture in India.

Organization of the Government

Parganas and Sarkar continued as before. Chief officers of the Sarkar were Fauzdar and Amalguzar, the former being in charge of law and order and the latter responsible for the assessment and collection of the land revenue. The empire was divided into Jagir, Khalisa, and Inam. Akbar reorganized the central machinery of the administration on the basis of division of power between the various departments.

  • Wazir – Head of the revenue department
  • Mir Bakshi – Head of the military department
  • Barids – Intelligence Officers
  • Waqia Navis – Reporters
  • Mir saman – In charge of imperial household
  • Qazi – Head of the judicial department

Akbar divided the empire into 12 subas in 1580. These were Bengal, Bihar, Allahabad, Awadh, Agra, Delhi, Lahore, Multan, Kabul, Ajmer, Malwa, & Gujarat. A Subbahdar, diwan, bakshi, sadr, qazi, and a waqia- navis were appointed in each of the provinces.

Akbar’s Religious Policies

Akbar is known for his policies of religious toleration. His policies created a spirit of religious tolerance as he took numerous steps to promote social and religious harmony among the people.

Measures of Akbar’s Religious Policy

  • Akbar abolished the poll tax or jaziya which was levied on non-Muslims. He also abolished the practice of forcibly converting prisoners to Islam.
  • Akbar included many Hindus in the nobility. Many Rajput princes and Hindus were given high mansabs.
  • Akbar built a Hall of Prayer called Ibadat Khana at Fatehpur Sikri in 1575. Theologians belonging to various religions were invited to this Hall of Prayer, and Akbar discussed various religious and spiritual matters with them.
  • A declaration or Mazhar was issued by Akbar which declared him as the final arbitrator in religious matters.
  • Akbar founded the religious order called Din-i-Ilahi. It was based on the principles of the oneness of God. It stressed courage, loyalty, and justice. Akbar believed in the policy of sulh-i-kul or peaceful coexistence.
  • Akbar set up a translation department for translating Sanskrit, Arabic and Greek work into Persian. Thus, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Gita, and other texts were translated into Persian.

Social Reforms of Akbar

  • He prohibited the practice of sati and legalised the remarriages of widows.
  • He did not encourage child marriages. The minimum age for the marriage of girls was raised to 14 years, while the age of marriage of boys was raised to 16 years. Consent of both bride and bridegroom was necessary before marriage.

Educational Reforms of Akbar

  • Akbar emphasised on the study of secular subjects such as mathematics, logic, history and astronomy apart from the study of religious scriptures.
  • He set up a translation department to translate Sanskrit, Arabic and Greek works into Persian.
  • Female education existed during the Mughal period. While girls from rich families generally received education through private tuitions, girls belonging to the middle class were able to attend the same schools as boys.

Navaratna i.e. nine jewels of Akbar :

  1. Birbal (administrator)
  2. Abul Fazl (scholar and statesman)
  3. Faizi (scholar and statesman, brother of Abul Fazl)
  4. Todarmal (Finance Minister, Dahsala Bandobast/ Jabti)
  5. Bhagwandas (Mansabdar, son of Bharmal)
  6. Man Singh (Mansabdar, Grandson of Bharmal)
  7. Tansen (Musician)
  8. Abdur Rahim Khanekhana (Statesman, Hindi poet)
  9. Mulla Do Pyaja.
  • Tulsidas (“Ramcharitamanas’) also lived during Akbar’s period. When Akbar died, he was buried at Sikandara near Agra.
  • Akbar is considered ‘the real founder of the Mughal empire’ in India. He was the first Mughal ruler who divorced religion from politics.
  • Birbal was killed in the battle with Yusufzai Tribe (1586).
  • Abul Fazl was murdered by Bir Singh Bundela (1601).
  • Akbar gave Mughal India one official language (Persian).


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