Navigation

Akbar

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

By Krishna Maheshwari

Akbar was a ruler of what is now northern India from 1556 to 1605. He was the son of Nasiruddin Humayan, whom he succeeded as the ruler of the Mughal Empire. He is often extolled as the greatest of the Mughuls under whom the arts flourished.

Akbar inherited the Mughul Empire in the year 1556 at the age of 13, after the sudden death of his father, King Humayan but took over its active management from the regent Bairam Khan in 1560.

Of the Muslim kings/emperors in India, he is considered to be the least violent and the most compassionate, earning him the title of "Akbar the Great".

He expanded the Mughal Empire to include Malwa (1562), Gujarat (1572), Bengal (1574), Kabul (1581), Kashmir (1586) and Kandesh (1601), among others. Akbar installed a governor over each of the conquered provinces, under his authority.

Contents

Akbar's Court

Navaratna was a term applied to a group of nine extraordinary people in a king's court in India. Akbar's court's fame lies in the navaratna that were present. They were:

Abul-Fazel 
Akbar's chief advisor and author of Akbarnama.[1]
Faizi 
poet laureate of Akbar's Court.
Miyan Tansen 
Legendary Musician, well known for his voice and music. Tansen was born as Ramnatu Pandey, a Hindu and learned under the tutilage of Saint Haridas. While it is not clear as to why Ramnatu Pande converted to Islam, it is suspected that Akbar was the prime motivator. In fact, Akbar gave Ramnatu the name of Miyan Tansen. Akbar is known to have converted a noted veena player, Raja Misar Singh and for giving him the name of Naubat Khan[2]
Birbal 
Akbar's Prime Minister who was well known for his intelligence and wit.
Raja Todar Mal 
Akbar’s finance minister.
Raja Man Singh 
The Kacchwaha Rajput Raja of Amber (Jaipur), Akbar's trusted general and Commander-in-chief.
Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khana 
was a poet and son of Akbar’s trusted protector and caretaker, Bairam Khan.
Fakir Aziao-Din 
Advisor to Akbar, the Fakir and also a mystic.
Mullah Do Piaza 
one of Akbar's advisors.

Akbar's Harem

Unlike many others, Akbar used political marriages to cement ties with other kingdoms. These marriages came about when kingdoms submitted before him, either peacefully or after defeat in war[3]. Virgin daughters of these Kings were converted to Islam prior to their marriage. By the end of his life, his harem had over 6000 women[4]. In fact, one of the greatest shames endured by the Rajput nobility of what is now Rajasthan was having their daughters being forced to enter Akbar's harem.

Taxation

Akbar had a fairly liberal view of taxing non-Muslims. He repealed the pilgrimage tax on Hindus in 1563. This tax under his earlier rule and under other rulers raised funds through taxing Hindu pilgrims as they entered pilgrimage sites.

In 1564, he repealed Jizya, which is a tax levied on all non-Muslims. However, this was never implemented by his governers. Furthermore, Hindus in and near Lahore were ordered to wear a patch (Tukra) near the shoulder by Akbar's governer at Lahore, Husayn Khan[5].

Wars

Akbar's reign saw constant warfare, both for expansion of the Mogul empire as well as to stop rebellions and to maintain its integrity.

Decration & Destruction of Temples

Just like during other Muslim rulers, Akbar's rule also saw the destruction of many temples and the killing of their inhabitants and cows and the looting of their wealth. Temples were converted into mosques and madrasas or simply destroyed. Often times, these activities were not done under direct command by Akbar but by his commanders and officers[6].

Second Battle of Panipat

On November 5,1556 Akbar's army defeated the more numerous forces of Hemu Vikramaditya at the Second Battle of Panipat, 50 miles north of Delhi, thanks to a chance arrow into Hemu's eye.

In the middle of the battle, a stray arrow hit Hemu (Raja Vikramaditya) in the eye, pierced the cerebral cavity, and made him unconscious. The sight of Hemu slumped in the howdah of his famous elephant Hawai was enough to make his army give up the battle and run away. Shah Quli Khan captured Hawai (the elephant) with Hemu still unconscious on it, and took it directly to Akbar. Hemu was brought unconscious before Akbar and Bairam. Bairam pleaded Akbar to perform the holy duty of slaying the infidel and earn the Islamic holy title of 'Ghazi'. Akbar then severed the head of unconscious hemu with his sword[7][8][9]. After the battle Hemu's head was sent to Kabul as a sign of victory to the ladies of Humayun's harem, and Hemu's torso was sent to Delhi for exposure on a gibbet. Iskandar Khan chased the Hemu's fleeing army and captured 1500 elephants and a large contingent of soldiers. The captured soldiers were all slaughtered and victory pillars built with their heads. Hemu's aged father was captured and on refusing to accept Islam, was executed[10].

The Battles for Chittor

According to chronicles in Akbar’s time[11], there was just one attack on Chittor by Mughal forces. But in his Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan[12], James Tod mentions two, the first in which the Imperial army was driven back, and a second in which it was successful and Chittor fell.

Udai Singh's wife led infiltrations into the Mughal camp during the first attack, and in one such foray the Rajputs reached the heart of the camp and forced the Mughal Imperial army to retreat.

The second siege of Chittor by Akbar was successful. When the northern walls were breached and it became inevitable that Chittor would fall, jouhar was prepared and 13,000 kshatriya women leapt into the raging flames. Jouhar was committed by the women when it was certain that they would be dishonored by Akbar's army after the fall of Chittor. The Rajputs of Chittor committed saka, in which they rode out in saffron robes to meet Akbar in a final battle. In the end, 32,000 Rajputs were killed. In the sacking of Chittor, the Mughal army had incurred large losses and Akbar was furious that the siege had taken so long (October 20, 1567-Februrary 23, 1568). Upon victory, Akbar issued Fathnama-i-Chitor[13]. He began this letter with praise for Allah, and quoted several verses of the Quran leaving no doubt that he derived his inspiration from the Quran and that he viewed himself as a jihadi annihilating the infidel Rajputs. He declared that

in conformity with the happy injunction of the Quran (27:40)...[he was busy] in subjugating the localities, habitations, forts and towns which are under the possession of the infidels...may God 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. The praise be to Allah, who hath guided us to this, and we would not have found the way had it not been that Allah had guided us.... in accordance with the imperative Command - and kill the idolaters all together (Quran 9:36), those defiant ones who were still offering resistance having formed themselves into knots of two to three hundred persons, were put to death and their women and children taken prisoners.

According to the various contemporary accounts of Abul Fazl, Badauni, etc, there were between 22,000 and 40,000 women, children, and the old and infirm still alive inside the fort as Akbar’s victorious army entered it[14]. Akbar, according to his own fathnama, ordered the butchering of the defenseless civilians. Akbar confirms what he did with those women and children:

According to the promise - Allah promised you many acquisitions which you will take (Quran 48:20), immense booty and spoils in cash and kind were acquired.
He also ordered his troops to collect the necklaces from the necks of the fallen Rajputs for the royal treasure. This bounty weighed approximately 800 pounds.

Akbar had the gates of Chittor removed and taken to Delhi along with two massive nagaras (drums) used to announce the departure and arrival of Chittor princes. A huge candelabra from the Kallika Mata temple was also removed and taken to Agra. Chittor was then razed to the ground and the rest of its inhabitants (Brahmins and lower castes) killed. Chittor was razed so thoroughly, that it was still barren and lifeless two centuries later.

Titles

  • Akbar the Great
  • Ghazi, slayer of the infidels (Hindus)

References and Notes

  1. biography of Akbar
  2. The Seni Gharana
  3. Jerath, Ashok and Jeratha, "Asoka Forts and Palaces of the Western Himalaya"
  4. Anwar Shaikh, "Islam: Sex and Violence", Chapter 2 - 'Manipulation of Womanhood
  5. Blochmann H., "Ain-i-Akbari" edited by D.C Phillot, Calcutta, 1927
  6. Mukhia, Harbans, "The Mughals of India"
  7. The Great Moghuls, By B.Gascoigne, Harper Row Publishers, New York, 1972, P 68-75
  8. The Cambridge History of India, Vol. IV, Mughal India, ed. Lt. Col. Sir W.Haig, Sir R.Burn, S,Chand & Co., Delhi, 1963, pp. 71-73
  9. The Builders of The Mogul Empire, By M.Prawdin, Barnes & Noble Inc, New York, 1965, pp. 127-128
  10. The Cambridge History of India, Vol. IV, Mughal India, ed. Lt. Col. Sir W.Haig, Sir R.Burn, S,Chand & Co., Delhi, 1963, pp. 71-73
  11. The Akbarnama, part II, chapter 65, "H.M.'s Siege of the Fortress of Citur"
  12. Todd, James.,"Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan," 2 volumes, Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd., London, 1957.
  13. Letter of victory from Chitor
  14. Blochmann, H., "Ain-e-Akbari," translation of Abul Fazal's Persian text, 2nd Edition, Bibliotheca Indica Series, published by the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal