Akbar – The Great

Born on October 15, 1542, Akbar became the Emperor of India by the age of 14, following the untimely death of his father, Emperor Humayan. Akbar is remembered for having expanded the Mughal Empire across India and being blessed with an inclusive leadership style.

Akbar, or Abu’l-Fath Jalal-ud-Din Muhammad Akbar, or Shahanshah Akbar-e-Azam was the third Mughal King who was admired for his liberal faith and excellent administration. It is only during Akbar’s rule that art and culture were at their peak. Also, it was during his reign, the Mughal Empire extended to Afghanistan, Sindh, Bengal  and the River Godavari.

Respect for Every Religion
Akbar was very liberal in his thoughts and respected every religion and even supported the growth of the same. His aim was to have a unified religion. To achieve this he created something known as “Din-e-ilahi”, i.e. one faith of different religions. It was based on the principles of varied religions, such as Islam, Hinduism and Zoroastrianism. But this concept was abolished because of its impractical nature. Akbar never forced non- Muslims to adopt his religion and  also abolished poll tax, which was levied on non Muslims.

Akbar was the only king to have Navratnas (Nine Gems) in his court. These were nine extremely intelligent people with an extraordinary knowledge in their field of expertise. The Navratnas helped the King to expand his kingdom. Birbal was the most intelligent among the Navratnas and was known for his acumen and quick replies. Everyone is familiar with the tales of Akbar- Birbal. The king also had one of the greatest singers in history, Tansen in his court. The other Navratnas were, Abul Fazel (author of Akbarnama), Faizi (poet), Raja Todar Mal (finance minister), Raja Man Singh (trusted general of Akbar), Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khana, Fakir Aziao-Din and Mullah Do Piaza.

Part of his strategic growth, Akbar married over 30 women during his lifetime belonging to different religions. One of the most notable wives of Akbar was Jodha Bai, who was a Rajput princess and a Hindu by birth. She helped Akbar in his administrative work. Akbar also married  princesses of Bikaner and Jaisalmer. Their respective brothers and fathers were then made members of his court.

Tax System
Akbar was a great administrator and in 1574 he revised the tax system. In this Akbar divided the revenue collection from military administration. There were separate tax collectors to collect property taxes; this tax was then sent to the capital. He created the property tax collection method on the basis of measurement which is more or less like the present day income tax. To achieve this, cultivable land of farmers was first measured and then tax was levied on the basis of that measurement. Rates were lowered to a great extent in case there was a lower produce.

Centralized rule
The centralized rule created by Akbar was the backbone of his able administration. Under this administration, all the kings whom he had conquered were allowed to rule their respective territories, but under the guidance of his government. Akbar integrated them in his administration, but never asked for heavy taxes. This created the required stability in his empire, as it was based on loyalty.

Coins and Currency
Many coins, along with coinage system were invented by Akbar. Coins,both square and circular were in circulation, which were manufactured in gold and silver.

Art and Culture
Akbar was not a poet like Humayun or Babur, but he had great appreciation for art and culture. The Mughal style of architecture was greatly emphasized during his reign, which had the collective elements of Hindu, Islamic and Persian design. Fatehpur Sikri, Buland Darwazaa, Agra Fort, Lahore Fort and the Fort of Ajmer are few of the buildings built during his rule. Massive enclosure walls of the fortress palace of Agra, Diwan-i-Khas (the hall of private audience), the palace of Jodha Bai, Birbal’s residence depict the architectural style of that period. The Jami Masjid, the Great Mosque at Fatehpur Sikri and the town itself are one of the most impressive buildings created during Akbar’s reign.

Akbar had an attack of dysentery on 3rd October 1605, from which he never recovered. He died of the same near about 27th October 1605.