Akbar, the Great, personified renaissance for the Mughal Empire. He was the greatest of all the Mughal emperors and was responsible for the Muslim stronghold on India. He inherited the throne from his father Humayun when he was barely fourteen years old. What made him a great ruler in the pages of the medieval Indian history were his liberal policies of ruling, his religious tolerance and visionary administrative skills. The life of Akbar from his dawn to dusk is an intriguing story.
Prince Akbar was born on October the 14th in 1542, in a Rajput fortress of Umerkot in the Sindh province, where Emperor Humayun and his wife Hamida Banu Begum were taking refuge. He was named Badruddin at birth as he was born on the night of Badr (full moon). He was renamed as Jalal-ud-din Muhammad after his circumcision ceremony. Akbar grew up in a small village called Mukundpur in Rewa until he attained youth. He then moved to the eastern parts of the Safavid Empire (modern day Afghanistan), where he was raised by his uncle Mirza Askari. He spent his youth in learning hunting and fighting. This had a great influence on his personality, the lifestyle made him a bold and powerful warrior not leaving any time to read and write.
Humayun re-conquered Delhi in 1555 but after a few months he died. His death was concealed by Akbar’s guardian Bairam Khan in order. On 14th of February 1556, Akbar was enthroned by Bairam Khan in Kalanaur, Punjab. This was the beginning of the most dynamic period of the Mughal dynasty.
Persian literature largely flourished under Akbar’s reign and so did Indian music. According to the Ain-I-Akbari, a complimentary work by Abul Fazl, Akbar’s court had 59 great Persian poets and 36 highly accomplished musicians. Tansen was the most extra ordinary singer of that age. Religious tolerance was another great quality that made Akbar an exceptional ruler. He held meetings with people of different faiths and discussed and appreciated their religious beliefs. Taking into account the positives of every religious faith, he introduced a new religion Din-i-Ilahi and tried to propagate it. However it is a debatable topic as many historians believe Din-i-Ilahi was just an ethical propaganda which Akbar introduced to bring into control the wrongs happening in the kingdom.
Many architectural wonders were built under Akbar’s rule and stand mostly unharmed even today. The entire city of Fatehpur Sikri was constructed and made the capital of the Mughal Empire by Akbar. He took keen interest in the architecture of the city, giving it his own touches. Most of the buildings were made from red stone that was found in the nearby areas. The city was built in the honor of a Sufi saint, Salim Chisti who stayed in a cavern in Fatehpur because his prediction that Akbar would have a son came true. The Jama Masjid of Fatehpur Sikri has the Tomb of Salim Chisti and the Buland Darwaza, a gate built to commemorate Akbar’s victory in Gujrat. Akbar’s style of architecture had mixed influences, that of Persian, Indian and Mughal architecture.
According to Montserrat, a Spanish Jesuit traveler who visited Akbar’s court has described Akbar as a royal personality, such that one could already guess in a glance that he was a King. He was broad shouldered and had a light brown complexion. He was very active and had bright, shiny eyes. Abul Fazal, who was Akbar’s court historian, has written extensively about him in the books Akbarnama and Ain-i-Akbari.
Many an Indian films and T.V series have been made portraying Akbar as a pivotal character and he is considered as the most remarkable Indian ruler. His vivid personality and tolerance in terms of religious beliefs made him stand out from his successors and predecessors. What he did to create history was that, he ruled India in a poignant way and set standards for the Mughal Empire.