Joined: 15 January 2005
Akbar is one of my favourite people from history, since 7th standard. i always felt that he was way too cool to be in 1560s!....So, here's more on him.Quite lengthy but very interesting...Jodhaa aunty follows....
|Birth name:||Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar|
|Title:||Emperor of Mughal Empire|
|Birth:||August 15 or November 23, 1542|
|Place of birth:||Umerkot|
|Death:||October 12, 1605 (aged 62)|
Shahzada Nuruddin Muhammad Salim (Jahangir), son
Joined: 15 January 2005
Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar (???? ????? ???? ???? Jalal ud-Din Mohammad Akbar), also known as Akbar the Great (Akbar-e-Azam) (October 15, 1542 – October 17 or October 27, 1605) was the son of Nasiruddin Humayun whom he succeeded as ruler of the Mughal Empire from 1556 to 1605.
Akbar, widely considered the greatest of the Mughal emperors, was only 13 when he became emperor, due to the death of his father Humayun During his reign, he eliminated external military threats from the Afghan descendants of Sher Shah (an Afghan who was able to temporarily oust Humayun from 1540-1555), and at the Second Battle of Panipat defeated the Hindu king Samrat Hem Chander Vikramaditya , also called Hemu. In addition to his military gains, the emperor solidified his rule by repealing the jizya tax on non-Muslims and courting the favour of the powerful Rajput caste, to the extent of marrying Rajput princesses.
Akbar was a polymath: an architect, artisan, artist, armorer, blacksmith, carpenter, construction worker, emperor, engineer, general, inventor, animal trainer (reputedly keeping thousands of hunting cheetahs during his reign and training many himself), lacemaker, ruler, technologist, theologian, and writer. His most lasting contributions were to the arts. He initiated a large collection of literature, including the Akbar-nama and the Ain-i-Akbari, and incorporated art from around the world into the Mughal collections. He also commissioned the building of widely admired buildings, and invented the first prefabricated homes and movable structures. Having a greatly tolerant attitude toward religion, Akbar preserved Hindu temples. He also began a series of religious debates where Muslim scholars would debate religious matters with Sikhs, Hindus, Carvaka atheists and even Jesuits from Portugal. He founded his own religious cult, the Din-i-Ilahi or the "Divine Faith"; however, it amounted only to a form of personality cult for Akbar, and quickly dissolved after his death.
Akbar was born on October 15,1542, at the Rajput Fortress of Umarkot in Sind where the Mughal Emperor Humayun and his recently wedded wife, Hamida Banu Begum were taking refuge. Soon they were transferred to State of Rewa (in present day Madhya Pradesh) where Akbar grew up in village of Mukundpur. Akbar and prince Ram Singh who later became Maharaja of Rewa grew up together and stayed close friends forever. In 1540, Humayun had been driven into exile, following decisive battles, by the Afghan leader Sher Shah. Akbar did not go to Persia with his parents, and was raised for a time instead by his uncle Askari and his wife in the rugged country of Afghanistan rather than in the splendor of the Persian court. He spent his youth learning to hunt, run and fight, but he never learned to read or write, the sole exception in Babur's line. Nonetheless, Akbar matured into a well-informed ruler, with refined tastes in the arts, architecture and music, a love for literature, and a breadth of vision that tolerated other opinions.
Following the chaos over the succession of Islam Shah (Sher Shah's son), Humayun reconquered Delhi in 1555, leading an army partly provided by his Persian ally Shah Tahmasp. Only a few months later, Humayun died from an accident falling down the stairs of his library (probably Feb 9, one of the ascension dates for Akbar; Gregorian date Feb 19). Bairam Khan cleverly concealed the report of Humayun's death in order to prepare for the unopposed succession of Akbar to the throne. Akbar succeeded his father on February 14, 1556 Gregorian Feb 24, while in the midst of a war against Sikandar Shah for the reclamation of the Mughal throne. Here, in Kalanaur(Gurdaspur, Punjab) the 13 year old Akbar donned a golden robe and Dark Tiara and sat on a newly constructed platform, which still stands, and was proclaimed "Shahanshah" (Persian for "King of Kings").The mosque built at the time of Akbar can still be seen and the place where he prayed can be visited.
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 the city of Delhi under the regency of Tardi Beg Khan.
Sikandar Shah Suri presented no major concern for Akbar, and often withdrew from territory as Akbar approached; However, back in Delhi Hemu, a Hindu warrior, also known as Hemu Vikramaditya, captured Agra and then Delhi on 6th October, 1556 and declared himself as Emperor of India. Tardi Beg Khan promptly fled the city. Hemu, who had launched the attack on behalf of Adil Shah Suri, one of Sikandar's brothers, had won 22 successive battles and appointed himself ruler, or Raja Vikramaditya, instead of Adil Shah.
Word of the capitulation of Delhi spread quickly to the new Mughal ruler, and he was advised to withdraw to Kabul, which was relatively secure. However, Bairam Khan differed and urged Akbar to fight the invaders and reclaim the capital. Akbar sided with Bairam, and began to march on Delhi. In order to bolster troop morale, Akbar took the curious step of ordering that someone "prepare fireworks as a treat for the soldiers" and that one should "make an image of Hemu, fill it with gunpowder, and set it on fire". On the march forward, he was joined by Tardi Beg and his retreating troops, who also urged him to retreat to Kabul, but Akbar refused again. Later, Bairam Khan had the former regent executed for cowardice, though Abul Fazl and Jahangir both record that they believed that Bairam Khan was merely using the retreat from Delhi as an excuse to eliminate a rival.
On November 5,1556 Akbar's army defeated the numerically superior forces of Hemu Vikramaditya at the Second Battle of Panipat, fifty miles north of Delhi, thanks to a chance arrow into Hemu's eye. Hemu was brought before Akbar unconscious, and was beheaded. Some sources say that it was actually Bairam Khan who killed Hemu Vikramaditya, but Akbar certainly did use the term Ghazi, warrior for the faith, a term used by both Babur, his grandfather, and Timur when fighting Hindus in India. Hemu's head was sent to Kabul and hung outside Delhi Darwaza, while his torso was hung outside Purana Qila, opposite present day Pragati Maidan in Delhi to create terror amongst the Hindus. Acting out as a Ghazi (meaning Victorious) he constructed a victory pillar made from the heads of the dead rebellious soldiers, just like Babur did. Pictures of such towers are displayed in National Museum, New Delhi and Panipat Museum in Haryana.
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 surrendered and so was spared death, and lived the last remaining two years of his life on a large estate granted to him by Akbar. In 1557 the only other threat to Akbar's rule, Adil Shah, brother of Sikandar, died during a battle in Bengal. Thus, by the time Akbar was 15 his rule over Hindustan was secured.
Joined: 15 January 2005
Akbar was only 13 years old when he became emperor, and so his general ruled on his behalf until he came of age. The regency belonged to Bairam Khan, a Shia Afghan noble born in Badakhshan who successfully dealt with pretenders to the throne and improved the discipline of the Mughal armies. He ensured power was centralised and was able to expand the empires boundaries with orders from the capital. These moves helped to consolidate Mughal power in the newly recovered empire.
Respect for Bairam's regency was not, however, universal. There were many people plotting his demise in order to assume the apparent absolute rule they saw in him. Much was written, critically, of his religion. The majority of the early court were Sunni Muslims, and Bairam's Shia'ism was disliked. Bairam knew about this, and perhaps even to spite that, appointed a Shia Sheikh, Gadai to become the Administrator General, one of the more important roles in the empire. Further Bairam lived a rather opulent lifestyle, which appeared to be even more excessive than that of Akbar.
The most serious of those opposed to Bairam was Maham Anga, Akbar's aunt, chief nurse and mother of his foster brother, Adham Khan. Maham was both shrewd and manipulative and hoped to rule herself by proxy through her son. In March 1560 the pair of them urged Akbar to visit them in Delhi, leaving Bairam in the capital, Agra. While in Delhi Akbar was bombarded by people who told him he was now ready to take full control of the empire and to dismiss Bairam. He was persuaded to fund an excursion for Bairam to go on Hajj to Mecca, which was to act, essentially, as a form of ostracism. Bairam was shocked at the news from Delhi, but was loyal to Akbar, and despite Akbar's refusal to even meet with the General, refused the suggestions by some of his commanders to march on Delhi and "rescue" Akbar.
Bairam left for Mecca, but was quickly met by an army sent by Adham Khan, but approved by Akbar, which was sent to "escort" him from the Mughal territories. Bairam saw this as the last straw, and led an attack on the army, but was captured and sent as a rebel back to Akbar to be sentenced. Bairam Khan, whose military genius had seen the Mughals regain their lands in India, who had served both Humayun and Akbar loyally, and laid the foundation for a strong empire, was now before the emperor as a prisoner. Maham Anga urged Akbar to execute Bairam, but Akbar refused. Instead, in defiance of Anga, he laid down full honours to the General, and gave him robes of honour, and agreed to fund him a proper Hajj excursion. However, shortly after Bairam Khan's Hajj journey got underway, just before he reached the port city of Khambhat he was killed by an Afghan assassin whose father had been killed five years ago in a battle led by Bairam. Bairam died on January 31, 1561.
With the demise of Bairam Khan, Maham Anga saw an opportunity for herself, and attempted to wrest the control that Bairam had. Her attempts had something to do with the Harem. When Akbar found out about this, Maham Anga killed the women, fearing they might reveal her plans for herself and Adham to Akbar.
These events left Akbar with no option but to begin assuming absolute control for himself. The conflict came to a head when in 1562, Atkah Khan, an Afghan appointed by Akbar to be the equivalent of the Prime Minister, was attacked one day by Adham Khan, who stabbed him and then tried to storm the Harem of Akbar. The Eunuch who guarded the section went in, closed the door and locked it from the inside. Akbar became aware of the disturbance and entered the room. Here Adham laid his hand on his foster brother's arm, a sign of apparent disrespect, to which Akbar responded by punching him in the face, possibly knocking him unconscious. Seeing his Prime Minister stabbed, Akbar thought he had had enough of Adham and ordered that Adham be thrown from a height, over a parapet. When this failed to kill him, Akbar ensured that the second attempt succeed by ordering that he be dropped head first. Akbar later went straight to Maham Anga and informed her that her son was dead. With this act, the 19-year-old Akbar assumed complete control over the Mughal empire..
Joined: 15 January 2005
While previous Muslim rulers, in particular the Mughal founder Babur, did not allow freedom of worship for Hindus and other religious groups under their direct domain, Akbar engaged in a policy of actively encouraging members of the varying religious groups to enter his government. In the most critical instance, he persuaded the Kacchwaha Rajput Raja of Amber(modern day Jaipur) into a matrimonial alliance, Amber and Delhi being immediate neighbours, this merger proved to be a pivotal turning point in the history of the Mughal empire.
The other Rajput kingdoms soon established their matrimonial alliances with the Emperor of Delhi (although these was by no means the first instance of royal matrimony between Hindu and Islamic monarchs in India). The law of Hindu succession has always been patrimonial thus, the ancient linage of the Hindus were not loss in the process of marrying their princesses for political gains. Two major Rajput clans remained against him, the Sisodiyas of Mewar and Hadas (Chauhans) of Ranthambore. The Rajputs were of the Hindu warrior caste, the Kshatriyas, who, like the Afghans took opium prior to battle to invoke the god of war and vanquish the fear of death. Entering into an alliance with these kingdoms enabled Akbar to extend the border of his Empire to far off regions, and the Rajputs then became the strongest allies of the Mughals. For the next 130 years Rajput soldiers fought on behalf of the Mughal empire, until the Rajput rebellion during the reign of Aurangzab in which major hostilities arose between the Emperor of Delhi and the Rajputs of Rajputana, an imperative turning point which lead to the decline and eventual collapse of the Mughal empire following the death of Aurangzab.
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 grudgingly accepted an alliance on the condition that Akbar did not marry any of his daughters. Surjan later moved his residence to Banaras.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.
Akbar did not want to have his court tied too closely to the city of Delhi. He ordered the court moved to Fatehpur Sikri, near Agra, but when this site proved untenable, he set up a roaming camp that let him keep a close eye on what was happening throughout the empire. He developed and encouraged commerce, in part by abolishing religious restrictions on the conduct of business between Muslims and Hindus.
Akbar's tax reforms were an especially noteworthy achievement, and formed the basis of the Mughal Empire's immense wealth in succeeding generations. His officials prepared a detailed and accurate cadaster (land register) noting each land parcel's soil quality, water access, etc., and then converted those characteristics to money, taking account of the different prevailing prices for various crops in each region of the Empire. This was a distinct improvement on earlier land tax systems, including the Egyptian and Roman ones, which had levied land taxes as an in-kind share of the harvest. By making land tax payments more accurately reflect the economic rent of the land in money rather than the actual harvest, Akbar's innovations had the effect of stimulating both investment in improvements and more productive use of the land. He also abolished the jizyah (a form of tax paid by non-muslims for their protection against any invading forces) and gave strict orders to prevent extortion by tax collectors. The salutary economic effect of these reforms was such that the revered Qing emperor Kang Xi adopted similar measures a century later in China, with similar success....
Akbar is said to have been a benevolent and wise ruler, a man of new ideas, and a sound judge of character.
To defend his stance that speech arose from hearing, he carried out a Language deprivation experiment, and had children raised in isolation, not allowed to be spoken to, and pointed out that as they grew older, they remained mute.
Abul Fazal, and even the hostile critic Badayuni, described him as having a commanding personality. He was fearless in the chase as well as in the field of battle, and, "like Alexander of Macedon, was always ready to risk his life, regardless of political consequences". He often plunged his horse into the full-flooded river during the rainy seasons and safely crossed over to the other side. Though a mighty conqueror, he did not usually indulge in cruelty. He is said to have been affectionate towards his relatives. He pardoned his brother Hakim, who was a repented rebel. However, on some rare occasions, he dealt cruelly with the offenders, as is shown by his behavior towards his maternal uncle, Muazzam, and his foster-brother, Adham Khan.
He is said to have been extremely moderate in his diet. According to records, he was fond of fruits and had little liking for meat, which he ceased to eat altogether in his later years.
He is also considered as the most tolerant of the Mughal emperors as he repealed the jizya tax levied on Hindus. He was also much more religiously tolerant, compared to the other Muslim rulers that succeeded him.
At the time of Akbar's rule, the Mughal Empire included both Hindus and Muslims. Profound differences separate the Islamic and Hindu faith. When Akbar commenced his rule, a majority of the subjects in the Mughal Empire were Hindu. However, the rulers of the empire were almost exclusively Muslim. In this highly polarized society, Akbar fostered tolerance for all religions. He not only appointed Hindus to high posts, but also tried to remove all distinctions between the Muslims and non-Muslims. He abolished the pilgrim tax in the eighth year and the jizya in the ninth year of his reign, and inaugurated a policy of universal toleration. He also enjoyed a good relationship with the Roman Catholic Church, who routinely sent Jesuit priests to debate in his court.
Akbar built a building called the Ibdat Khna (House of Worship), where he encouraged religious debate. Originally, this debating house was open only to Sunnis, but following a series of petty squabbles which turned ugly, Akbar encouraged Hindus, Roman Catholics and even atheists to participate. He tried to reconcile the differences of both religions by creating a new faith called the Din-i-Ilahi ("Faith of the Divine"), which incorporated both 'pantheistic' versions of Islamic Sufism (most notably the Ibn Arabi's doctrine of 'Wahdat al Wajood' or Unity of existence) and 'bhakti' or devotional cults of Hinduism. Even some elements of Christianity - like crosses, Zoroastrianism - fire worship and Jainism were amalgamated in the new religion. Akbar the Great was particularly famed for this. Akbar was greatly influenced by the teachings of Jain Acharya Hir Vijay Suri and Jin Chandra Suri. Akbar gave up non-vegetarian food by their influence. Akbar declared "Amari" or non-killing of animals in the holy days of Jains like Paryushan and Mahavir Jayanti. He rolled back Jazia Tax from Jain Pilgrim places like Palitana. This faith, however, was not for the masses. In fact, the only "converts" to this new religion were the upper nobility of Akbar's court. Historians have so far been able to identify only 18 members of this new religion.
He also married several Hindu princesses, though many consider that to be politically motivated rather than a genuine attempt at religious reconciliation. However, he never allowed his female Muslim kin to be married to a Hindu prince. According to the Islamic ethos of the time, that would have been the only way to show tolerance or equality.
Akbar's court had Navaratnas ("Nine Jewels"), a term denoting a group of nine extraordinary people who have since become a part of Akbar's legend. Akbar's Navratnas were:
The last few years of Akbar's reign were troubled by the misconduct of his sons. Two of them died in their youth, the victims of intemperance. The third, Salim, later known as Emperor Jahangir, was frequently in rebellion against his father, as some stories go, for his love of a courtesan named Anarkali. Asirgarh, a fort in the Deccan, proved to be the last conquest of Akbar, taken in 1599 as he proceeded north to face his son's rebellion. Reportedly, Akbar keenly felt these calamities, and they may even have affected his health and hastened his death, which occurred in Agra. His body was interred in a magnificent mausoleum at Sikandra, near Agra.
He wanted his sons to show their emergence of power, and whoever won the battle would be the king.
Akbar was a famous king of India. He was a kind and good king and respected the Sikh Gurus for their sensible practises and their fair and just teachings. In the year 1569, Akbar came to the Punjab and wanted to see the Guru.
So he sent a message to Guru Amar Das ji that he was coming to visit him. The Sikhs were very happy at the news. Some Sikhs thought that special arrangements should be made to welcome the king. But the Guru said, "Akbar is as much a human being as others are. The Guru's place is open to all. The king and his subjects, the Hindus and the Muslims, the rich and the poor are all equal here. So Akbar will be welcomed like all other visitors to the Guru's place and special arrangements need not be made."
"Caste has no power in the next world; Only the humble are exalted there. It is only the good who are honoured for good acts." ( Guru Amar Das in GGS ji – 469 ) The king, along with the Rajah of Haripur, arrived in Goindwal where the Guru lived. The Guru and a few Sikhs received them warmly. They were shown round the place. Akbar was interested to know how the Guru's Langar was run. Simple food was served to all in the Guru's Langar. It remained open day and night.
Travellers, beggars, and strangers, as well as the followers of the Guru, were all served with food. Whatever was left was thrown to the cattle and birds so that nothing was wasted. The Guru had given an order that all persons coming to visit his place must have their food in the Langar (when hungry). There they were to sit in rows (Pangat) as equals and were to be served simple food in turn. Akbar and the Rajah of Haripur took their meals in the Guru's Langar. They sat among the common people in a row and the Sikhs served them food. They enjoyed the simple food and were very happy. Akbar liked the working of the Guru's Langar very much.
Before leaving, Akbar said to the Guru,
"Dear Akbar, I am very glad you like the path of Baba Nanak. I am also grateful to you for your offer of a grant of land for the Langar, but I am sorry I cannot accept it because the Guru likes all to work hard to earn (Kirt Karni) and to share their honest earnings (Wand Chakna) with others, by giving something to the Langar from their honest earnings to help others. As such, the Guru's langar is the people's (Sangat's) Langar and it must be run on people's free gifts and not on a royal grant. That is why all share equally in the Guru's Langar and no one is looked upon as an outsider. In the Guru's Langar, each gives as much as we can spare and takes as much as he/she needs. Here, there is no difference between kings and beggars. All sit together; and eat simple food served with loving care." Akbar liked the Guru's idea very much.
Joined: 15 January 2005
It is true that, Hira Kunwar, Akbar's first Rajput wife was the eldest daughter of Raja Bhar Mal of Amer, India|Amer]]. She was also the sister of Bhagwandas, and the aunt of Man Singh I of Amber, who later on became one the nine jewels (Navaratnas) in the court of Akbar.
Hira Kunwari (her maiden name) married Akbar on January 20, 1562 at Sambhar near Jaipur. She was Akbar's third wife and one of his three chief queens. She was 22 days elder than Akbar. Akbar's first queen was the childless Ruqaiyya Begum, and his second wife was Salima Sultan, the widow of his most trusted general, Bairam Khan. After her marriage, Hira Kunwari was given the title Mariam-ul-Zamani ("Mary of the Age").
She is said to have been politically involved in the court until Nur Jahan became empress. According to Thomas Roe, she was involved in active sea trade and owned a ship named Ramiti which carried pilgrims to Mecca. Her quarters of the palace was decorated with pictures of Lord Krishna. She also kept cheese or paneer to offer to the lords in her room.
Hira Kunwari died in 1611. As per her last wishes, a vav or step well was constructed by Jahangir. Her tomb, built in 1611, is on the Delhi-Agra National Highway, near Fatehpur Sikri. She was buried according to Islamic custom and was not cremated according to Hindu religion.
There is popular perception that Rajput wife of Akbar, mother of Jahangir, was known as "Jodha Bai". However, Akbar's Rajput wife was never known as "Jodha Bai" during her lifetime.
The name of Akbar's wife was kept out of the Mughal records deliberately because the Islamic clergy and the Mughal populace could not come to terms with the future Mughal emperor being the son of a Hindu woman. In Tuzuk-e-Jahangiri she is clearly referred as Mariam Zamani. During the Mughal period, Akbar's Rajput wife was never known as "Jodha Bai". Neither the Akbarnama (a biography of Akbar commissioned by Akbar himself), nor any historical text from the period refer to her as Jodha Bai. Tuzuk-e-Jahangiri, the autobiography of Jahangir, doesn't mention Jodha Bai either.
According to Professor Shirin Moosvi, a historian of Aligarh Muslim University, the name "Jodha Bai" was first used to refer to Akbar's wife in the 18th and 19th centuries in historical writings. According to the historian Imtiaz Ahmad, the director of the Khuda Baksh Oriental Public Library in Patna, the name "Jodha" was used for Akbar's wife for the first time by Lieutenant-Colonel James Tod, in his book Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan. According to Ahmad, Tod was not a professional historian and depended on folk literature of Rajputs. According to the historian Lifaq Ali Khan, the name Jodha Bai seems to have become popular after the film Mughal-e-Azam.
According to N R Farooqi, Jodha Bai was not the name of Akbar's Rajput queen; it was the name of Jahangir's Rajput wife, whose real name was Jagat Gosain. Jagat Gosain was referred to as "Jodha Bai" or "Jodhi Bibi", since she belonged to the royal family of Jodhpur. Jodhi Bibi was the daughter of Udai Singh of Jodhpur, and a wife of Jahangir. She was the mother of Prince Khurram (later Shah Jahan).
The controversy over the name "Jodha Bai" is a matter of historical debate in Rajasthan, with various Rajput organisations taking the field against the the director of the movie, Ashutosh Gowariker, for not portraying history correctly.
In 2008, a section of the Rajput community in Rajasthan protested against the Hindi film, Jodha Akbar, released on 15th of February 2008, which is about Akbar and his wife Hira Kunwari/Mariam-uz-Zamani. The wife of Akbar has been referred to as "Jodha Bai" in the movie, which has led to much controversy as a similar sounding name "Jodh Bai" is addressed to Princess Manmati of Jodhpur, the wife of Akbar and Mariam-uz-Zamani's son Jahangir and mother of emperor Shahjahan. It is to be noted that Mariam-uz-Zamani was mentioned by the same name "Jodha Bai" in the 1960 classic movie Mughal-e-Azam.
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