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South Asian Memories
the-south-asian.com December 2000
Full name - Jalal ud din Mohammad Akbar Ghazi
Born – 15 Oct 1542 in the fort of Umarkot, Sindh
Died – Akbar died 27 Oct 1605 – of stomach ailment.
Accession to power – 1556. Only 13 when proclaimed Padshah. Inherited the throne with no other claimants.
Length of rule in India – 1556 – 1605 [forty years].
Father – Humayun
Mother – Hamida
Siblings – Half brother Hakim
Married – Married a Hindu Rajput princess of Amber [now Jaipur] in 1562. She was the mother of Jahangir. Also married daughter of Raja of Jaisalmer and also the niece of Raja of Bikaner – both Hindu Rajput princesses. More than 33 wives – one of whom from Tibet. Allowed wives to practice their belief.
Children –Three sons. Jahangir born Aug 30 1569, Murad born 1570, Daniyal born 1572 – all from different mothers. Both Murad and Daniyal died of alcoholism – Murad died in 1599 at the age of 29 and Daniyal died 1603 aged 31.
Strengths – A great statesman and a brilliant administrator. Politics of reconciliation. Encouraged intermarriages between Mughal and Rajput aristocracy.
Interests – Enjoyed elephant fights, hunts, initiating and introducing fashion and styles [according to Abul Fazal]. Set up an art department at Sikri – large number of hindu painters and 2 Persian painters – Mir Sayyid Ali and Abdu Samad – art of his court a combination of Persian and Indian. Main work of painters to illustrate manuscripts. Interested in comparative religion. Built Ibadat khana in Sikri for theologians and priests of different religions.
Noted Officers – Appointed 2 Rajput princes as Generals. Akbar’s diwan – Raja Todar Mal. His most loyal officials and friends were Hindus. Two wee lnown courtiers – Abul Fazal and Birbal. Abul Fazal’s 2 works – Akbar-nama and Ain-I-Akbari are accounts of Akbar’s court.
Habits – A workaholic, an insomniac [seldom slept more than 3 hours a night]. Liked only one meal a day. Only drank Ganges water.
As a ruler – His reign a period of exceptional harmony between Hindus and Muslims. Allowed new temples to be built –participated in Hindu festivals. Introduced new year festival of Nauroz at court. Introduced the concept of Din Ilahi – the divine faith. Principle of acceptance of all religions and sects. Did not attempt to become the head of a new religion.
Reforms - Abolished Jaziya. Encouraged widow remarriage, discouraged child marriage, outlawed practice of sati, persuaded Delhi merchants to set up special market days for women. Lifted ban on building of temples. Abolished Islam as the state religion.
Extent of Kingdom at death – Gujarat, Bengal, Qandhar, Orissa, Sindh, Baluchistan, and parts of Deccan. Consolidated Mughal power.
Capital city - Built a walled capital Fatehpur Sikri starting 1571. In honour of Shaikh Salim Chishti. While Sikri being constructed Akbar built a temporary city 7 miles south of agra called Nagarcin – no remains of that city. Fatehpur Sikri also a short-lived city because of water problems. In 1585 moved capital to Lahore and in 1599 to Agra.
Above information is compiled from various sources, prominent among them ‘India – a Country Study’, ‘Delhi’ by Khushwant Singh, ‘The Great Mughals’ by Bamber Gascoigne, ‘The Mughals – Splendours of the Peacock Throne’, and ‘The City of Djinns’
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