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Akbar the Great

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The Great Akbar

 The Great Akbar

Map of Akbar Kingdom

The third emperor of the Mughal Empire after the Humayun was Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar, also known as Akbar the Great. He became emperor after the death of his father  Nasiruddin Humayun in 1556 when he was just 13 years old. He built a vast realm via military victories, but he was famous for his religious tolerance politics. He was born on 15 October 1542 while his father was in exile at Umerkot and died on 25 October 1605. Akbar had 13 wives, his first wife was his cousin Ruqaiya Sultan Begum. His successor  Jahangir ( Prince Salim)was from Mariam-uz-Zamani. 

Origin

The circumstances under which he was born on the 15th Oct. 1542, in Umarkot, Sindh, Pakistan, was very difficult. After Humayun’s loss at the battle of Kanauj (in May 1540) from the hands of Sher Shah Suri, Humayun was on the run. Since Humayun was in exile, Akbar was educated by Kamran Mirza and Askari Mirza (his father’s brother). As he grew older, he learned to pursue and battle with different weapons and formed the great warrior. Humayun regained power, but only reigned a few months before his death, leaving his son at the age of 13.

Ascend the Throne/Rise to Power

After the death of Humayun Akbar ascended the throne and declared “Shahanshah” on 14 February 1556 in Kalanaur (Punjab). In the early days, Bairam Khan governed the Mughal Empire because Akbar was young. Under the Akbar- the Mughal empire gradually expanded to cover nearly the whole Indian subcontinent. Due to his military, political, cultural, and economic domination, he expanded his authority and influence across the whole country. 

He set up a central management structure and pursued a marriage alliance and diplomatic agenda. His support extended to art and culture. He was a brilliant emperor of the Mughal dynasty. As a lover of books, he supported literature in many languages. He established the groundwork throughout his reign for a cosmopolitan empire.

The Second Battle of Panipat

The Second Battle of Panipat was fought between the Suri army commander Hemu and the Mughal emperor Akbar. The Second Battle of Panipat was fought on 5 November 1556. When Sher Shah Suri died in 1545, he was succeeded by his son Islam Shah Suri. Islam Shah was also a good ruler but he died in 1554. After him, Sikandar Shah took the throne who was defeated by Humayun and lost  Delhi and Agra.  But when  Humayun died in 1556, the military commander of the Suri Empire Hemu defeated the Mughal governor of Delhi (Tardi Beg) and took control over Delhi again.  

When this news came to Akbar and Bairam Khan, they decided to march towards Delhi in 1556.  In November 1556 the two armies fought with each other. The Mughal army defeated the Suri army brutally in the battleground of Panipat. Hemu was caught and then beheaded by the Bairam khan.

In the second battle of Panipat the same year, Akbar killed Muhammed Adil, another member of the Suri family who was a candidate to the throne.  Others members of the Suri family ran from  Delhi to take asylum in other states and neighboring areas.

Akbar-Mughal Era (1560-1585)

 His first ten years of his leadership were spent on the expansion of his kingdom. Bairam Khan annexed Ajmer, Malwa, and Garha Katanga to the Mughal Empire. After that, he seized the important towns of Punjab, Lahore, and Multan. In 1560, Akbar sent the Bairam khan for pilgrimage and controlled the Kingdom fully.

After that, he turned his focus to Rajputana, who posed a tremendous challenge to his sovereignty. His dominion over Ajmer and Nagor had already been established. From 1561, he began trying to conqueror Rajputana. He used both strength and diplomacy to bring the Rajput kings to his authority. 

In 1567, he conquered the fort of Chittorgarh in Mewar, an important strategy town for the dominance of Rajputana. Chittorgarh was a very important site because it was between Gujarat and Agra and had great strategic importance. Chiefs Jaimal was the commander in Chittorgarh. Initially, he defended effectively but the Mughal army conquered Chittorgarh after a seizure of four months. After capturing Akbar remained there for three days in Chittorgarh and then came back to Agra

Other Rajput territories such as Ranthambore also fell in Mughal hands, but the son of Rana Prapat,  Udai Singh resisted Akbar’s power expansion tremendously. He was the final defender of Rajput. But he was also defeated by the Mughal Army at the battle of Haldighati in 1576. 

Between 1561 and 1576 Akbar recaptured the kingdoms of Rajput, Gujarat, Bihar, and Bengal. In this phase, the first phase of conquering efforts is concluded here.  After this successful campaign, Akbar came into Fathepur Sikri ( Mughal capital from 1571-1585) and built the Buland Darwaza there to commemorate the victory.

Until 1585 he remained on the Northside and didn’t give attention to the west from where many threats were on the door from Central Asia and Afghanistan.  

Akbar Era 1585-1600

In 1585 Akbar moved his capital from Fathepur Sikri to Lahore from where he could control and campaign the west side of the kingdom. In 1589 Mughal army defeated the army of yaqoob and captured Kashmir, Baltistan, and Tibet region. Then in 1593, Akbar defeated the Mirza Jani baig who was the ruler of Sindh. When Akbar came to Lahore, many local chiefs of Baluchistan came to Lahore to pay tribute to him and accepted his dominance. But there were some areas in Baluchistan which were not in the Mughal empire. In 1595 Heordered the conquest of Baluchistan. The Mughal army captured the areas till Makran.

  At that time, Akbar constructed Attock Fort on the site of crossing the Indus. Akbar also introduced the Jagir system to collect the tax on land. Multan kept its prominence as a religious center, whilst Sehwan remained a business city buzzing with commerce and business under his regime. 

He ruled from Lahore to Mughal Empire from 1585-1598, which remained both a business and a government center. 

Akbar Din-I-Ilahi

 In 1582, he created his own religion, the Akbar Din-I-Ilahi based on the concept of Sulh-i-kul which means “Universal peace“.  The Akbar Din-I-Ilahi effectively advocated tolerance amongst peoples and religions of different faiths. There were aspects of Islam and Hinduism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism in the new religion.  The teachings of  Akbar Din-I-Ilahi were as follows.

  • God is great ( Allah-o-Akbar) –Islam
  • The slaughter of animals was forbidden. – Jainism
  • The worship of fire is divine. – Zoroastrianism
  • The cow should not be killed. – Hinduism 
  • Initiations would be performed on Sunday. – Christianity 

Imam Rabbani Hazrat Mujadid Alf Sani, a prominent member of the Naqshbandi Sufi order opposed the Akbar Din-I-Ilahi. He wrote isbat-ul-Nabuwat. Akbar Din-I-Ilahi was opposed by Naqshbandi Sufi.

Capitals

He constructed Red Fort (Agra)in 1560, and he shifted his capital from Delhi to Red fort Agra in 1570. After the successful campaign in 1576, he developed Fatehpur Sikri and shifted his capital there for controlling his empire till 1585.  

After this Lahore became the capital city of the Mughal empire in 1585 for keeping close vigil and watch at the frontier for 13 years. He erected a new mint for the royalty and built a red brick wall around Lahore. There are still 12 original doors. In 1599 he shifted back the capital to Agra till his death. 

Akbar Victories in his Mughal Empire

After his triumph against the Rajputana, the Mughal realm was included in his entry into the 

  • Mughal region of Gujarat in 1584
  • Kabul in 1585
  • Kashmir in  1586-87, 
  • Sindh in 1591
  • The conquest of Deccan lands in 1593
  • Quetta and Makran around 1595

In Ahmednagar, he was opposed to his power and attacked the state of Deccan in 1595. The regent queen, Chand Bibi resisted strongly but finally had to surrender. By 1600 he took Burhanpur, Khandesh, and Asirgarh Fort.

Mansabdari Administration System (1571) 

In 1571, the Mansabdari system was introduced by  Mughal ruler Akbar. The term Mansab means rank or status in Arabic. Therefore, Mansabdar implies the rank holder or an officer.

Akbar the Great

  Fatehpur town

There were all 66 Mansabdar categories and 3 main branches to run the Empire. The appointment for Mansabdars was based on the decimal system, which he attempted to merge into a common administrative pool. It had three main functionaries: 

  • the aristocracy, 
  • the army, 
  • and the bureaucracy.

Akbar Architecture

akbar architecture

        Allahabad Fort

During Akbar’s reign, he commissioned the construction of many forts and mausoleums and created a different architectural style known as the Mughal or Akbar architecture. He developed the 

  • Agra Fort in 1565–1574, 
  • the town of Fatehpur in 1569–1574,
  • the tomb of Humayun in 1565–1572, 
  • Shahi Qila in  Lahore in 1586–1618 and
  • Allahabad Fort in 1565–1573.

All these above-mentioned forts and architectures are among architectural wonders commissioned by his regime.

Akbar Mausoleum

Akbar Mausoleum

    Tomb of Akbar

He became ill with a severe attack of dysentery in 1605, at the age of 63. He never recovered from it and died in Fatehpur Sikri on 27 October 1605 after three weeks of agony.  He was buried at Sikandra-Agra. After his death, he was succeeded by his son Jahangir. Akbar Mausoleum is the final resting place of the third Mughal Emperor.

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