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(Ruling period:-1556-1605)

Political career

Akbar was born at Umarkot in Sind on October 15, 1543. His father, Humayun, was driven from the throne of India in a series of decisive battles by the Afghan Sher Shah Suri. After more than twelve years' exile, Humayun regained his sovereignty, which, however, he held for only a few months before he died. Akbar succeeded his father in 1556 under the regency of Bairam Khan, a Turkoman noble, whose energy in repelling pretenders to the throne, and severity in maintaining the discipline of the army, helped greatly in the consolidation of the newly recovered empire. Bairam, however, was naturally despotic and cruel. When order was somewhat restored, Akbar took the reins of government into his own hands by a proclamation issued in March 1560. On November 5, 1556, fifty miles north of Delhi, a Mughal Army defeated Hindu forces of General Hemu to give Akbar the throne of India at the Second battle of Panipat. When Akbar ascended the throne, only a small portion of what had formerly comprised the Mughal empire was still under his control, and he devoted himself to the recovery of the remaining provinces. He expanded the Mughal empire to include Malwa (1562), Gujarat (1572), Bengal (1574), Kabul (1581), Kashmir (1586) and Kandesh (1601) among others. In each of these, as power was restored, he placed a governor, over whom he superintended. Akbar did not want to have his court tied too closely to Delhi. He ordered the court moved to Fatehpur Sikri, near Agra, but When this proved untenable, he set up a roaming camp that let him keep a close eye on what was happening throughout the empire. He tried to develop and encourage commerce; he had the land accurately measured for the purpose of correctly evaluating taxation and he gave strict instructions to prevent extortion on the part of the tax gatherers.


At the time of Akbar's rule, he had both Hindus and Muslims in his empire. Profound differences separate the Islamic and Hindu faith. Muslims ate beef, while in the Hindu Religion it is forbidden to eat any meat, and the Hindus drank fermented beverages (wine), which the Muslim faith rejected. During the Mughal Empire, the majority of the Indian population was Hindu, but the rulers of the Empire were almost exclusively Muslim. It was in this polarized religious arena that Akbar commenced his rule. Despite all of this, Akbar fostered tolerance for all religions. He tried to reconcile the differences of both religions by creating a new faith called the Din-i-Ilahi, which incorporated both Islam and Hinduism. He also repealed the tax that had been levied on non-Muslims in the empire. Akbar also married a Hindu princess in an attempt to reconcile the two faiths.

Lover of Arts

Although he was illiterate (and possibly dyslexic), he had a Great love for knowledge, inviting men from all different religions to come to discuss matters of the world with him. He was a patron to many men of literary talent, among whom may be mentioned the brothers Feizi and Abul Fazl. The former was commissioned by Akbar to translate a number of Sanskrit scientific works into Persian; and the latter has left, in the Akbar-Nameh, an enduring record of the emperor's reign. It is also said that Akbar employed Jerome Xavier, a Jesuit missionary, to translate the four Gospels into Persian.

Nine Famous Courtiers Of Akbar

As a Great administrator and aficionado of the arts, Akbar attracted the best contemporary minds to his court. Nine such extraordinary talents, who shone brightly in their respective fields, were known as Akbar’s nau-rathan, or Nine gems. Akbar gathered a large number of worthy people in his court, the brightest gems of the land, so to speak, and these are just the Nine most remembered by history. Abul Fazl (1551-1602) was the chronicler of Akbar’s rule. He authored the biographical Akbarnama, which was the result of seven years of painstaking work. He documented the history meticulously, giving a full and accurate picture of the prosperous life during the monarch’s reign. His account also shed light on the brilliant administrative capacity of the Emperor. Faizi (1547-1595) was Abul Fazl’s brother. He was a poet writing verses in Persian. Akbar had enormous respect for this genius and appointed him as a tutor for his son. His famous work is called Lilabati, on mathematics. Mian Tansen was a classical singer of unparalleled fame. He was born a Hindu in 1520 near Gwalior to Mukund Mishra, who was a poet himself. He learnt music from Swami Haridas and later from Hazrat Mohammad Ghaus. He was a court musician with the prince of Mewar and later recruited by Akbar as his court musician. The prince of Mewar was said to have been heartbroken to part with him. Tansen became a legendary name in India and was the composer of many classical ragas. His raga Deepak and raga Megh Malhar are famous. When he sang these ragas, Tansen was said to have lit the lamp and caused rain showers. He is also credited with creating raga Darbari Kanada and originating Drupad style of singing. Even today the classical gharanas try to align themselves with Mian Tansen. He was buried in Gwaliar, where a tomb has been constructed for him. There is a tamarind tree next to the tomb, which is reputed to be as old as the tomb itself. It is believed that one who chews a leaf from this tree in earnest faith will be bestowed with musical talents. It is unclear if Tansen converted to Islam. Akbar who was very fond of him gave him the title Mian. Tansen’s son Bilas Khan composed raga Bilaskhani Todi and his daughter Saraswati Devi was a well-known Drupad singer. Birbal (1528-1583) was a poor Brahmin who was appointed to the court of Akbar for his wit as well as wisdom. Born by the name Maheshdas, he was conferred the name Raja Birbal by the Emperor. A man of tireless wit and charm, he enjoyed the Emperor’s favor in administration as his trusted minister, and for his entertainment as his court jester. There are many witty stories of exchanges and interactions between the monarch and his minister that are popular Even today. The stories are thought provoking, intelligent as well as educational. Birbal was also a poet and his collections under the pen name Brahma are preserved in Bharatpur Museum. Raja Birbal died in battle, attempting to quell unrest amongst Afghani tribes in Northwest India. Akbar was said to have mourned for a long time on hearing the news. Raja Todar Mal was Akbar’s finance minister, who from 1560 onwards overhauled the revenue system in the kingdom. He introduced standard weights and measurements, revenue districts and officers. His systematic approach to revenue collection became a model for the future Mughals as well as the British. Raja Todar Mal was also a warrior who assisted Akbar in controlling the Afghan rebels in Bengal. Raja Todar Mal had learnt his craft from another able administrator Sher Shah. In 1582, Akbar bestowed on the Raja the title Diwan-I-Ashraf. Raja Man Singh, the Kacchwaha rajput Raja of Amber. (Later Kacchwahas built Jaipur, close to Amber). This trusted lieutenant of Akbar was the grandson of Akbar’s father-in-law. His family had been inducted into Mughal hierarchy as amirs (nobles). Raja Man Singh assisted Akbar in many fronts including holding off advancing Hakim (Akbar’s half-brother, a governor of Kabyul) in Lahore. He also led campaigns in Orissa. Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khan, a poet, was the son of Akbar’s trusted protector and caretaker When he was a teenager, Bairam Khan. After Bairam Khan was murdered by treachery, his wife became the second wife of Akbar. Fagir Aziao Din and Mullan Do Piaza were two advisors belonging to Akbar’s inner circle. Other names are also mentioned as gems of Akbar’s court. Daswant, the painter and Abud us-Samad, a brilliant calligrapher, have also been named in some articles. Mir Fathullah Shiraz, who was a financier, philosopher, astrologer and an astute physician, has also been mentioned. Nevertheless, it is apparent that Akbar’s court was filled with brilliant minds in the fields of art, administration and warfare. Akbar's grave

Final years

The closing years of Akbar's reign were rendered very unhappy by the misconduct of his sons. Two of them died in youth, the victims of intemperance; and the third, Salim, later known as emperor Jahangir, was frequently in rebellion against his father. Asirgarh, a fort in the deccan proved to be the last conquest of Akbar, in 1599 as he had to proceed to north to face his son's rebellion. Akbar keenly felt these calamities, and they may Even have tended to hasten his death, which occurred at Agra on the 15th of October 1605. His body was deposited in a magnificent mausoleum at Sikandra, near Agra.