On June 22nd 1555, Emperor Humayun declared his son Akbar as his heir apparent.
The Mughals remain India’s most famous ruling dynasty and ruled India from 1526 to 1857 AD. The first Mughal was Babur, a conqueror from Central Asia who founded the Mughal Empire in India and made a way for future Mughal emperors in the country.
Babur’s son was Humayun who first ruled from 1530 AD to 1540 AD and then from 1555 AD to 1556 AD. Humayun’s rule was disturbed by the Suri dynasty. Humayun was young when he inherited his father’s throne and his brother, who was his sworn enemy, had doubled up against him along with the Suri Dynasty. The Suris ruled India for fifteen years after which with Persian help Humayun regained the control of Hindustan (as India was known then). Both the Suri rulers and their sons, along with Humayun’s traitor brother had perished in this war and Humayun took over the throne of Hindustan and began to reunite the country through his military campaigns. But unfortunately, this was not to last for long.
On March 4th 1556, Humayun fell down the stairs of his library to his premature death. The Emperor was climbing down the stairs, his arms full of books when he heard the call for prayer. As was his habit upon hearing the call for prayer, he bowed his knee in reverence and his robes got entangled in his foot and he came tumbling down the stairs and his head on the edge of a stone. Humayun died three days later and his son Akbar, only thirteen at that time inherited his throne and became Emperor of India.
Abu'l-Fath Jalal ud-din Muhammad Akbar, also known as Akbar the Great, remains one of the most famous Mughals till today. Only thirteen when he ascended his father’s throne, Akbar displayed exceptional understanding and skill. Akbar’s greatest enemies at the time he came to power were his Suri rivals and Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya (also known as Hemu), who was the then Prime Minister of Muhammad Ali Shah and was resolute on expelling the Mughals from India. Akbar’s army of 20,000 led by his regent Bairam Khan defeated Hemu’s army of 100,000 and went on to expand the Mughal rule from Malwa to Gujarat, Bengal to Kabul and Kashmir to Kandesh. Akbar tripled his grandfather Babur’s empire and doubled his father’s empire, which was an extraordinary achievement for a ruler so young.
Akbar is best remembered for his reforms in matters related to tax and human freedom. He abolished the sectarian tax imposed on non-Muslims and was tolerant of all religions, he married Hindu Rajput princesses, who were allowed complete religious freedom. Akbar also displayed interest in educating himself about other religions and invited Jain and Hindu scholars, Zoroastrian priests and Portuguese missionaries to his court for discussions. The reason behind this was that Akbar was born to a Sunni Muslim father and a Shia Muslim from Persia and was raised in a very liberal environment. Two of Akbar’s most famous courtiers, with whom he was very close, namely Birbal and Tansen were also Hindu.
Akbar died on October 3rd 1605, following an attack of dysentery and was buried at Sikandra, near Agra. Akbar will always be remembered for his liberal nature and allowing reforms related to widow remarriage, sati and the legal age of marriage.
Also On This Day:
1555: Humayun crosses the Indus and captures Lahore to oust Sikandar Suri of Delhi.
1897: The Chafekar brothers, Damodar and Balkrishna, shoot a British officer in Pune.
1940: Netaji Subhashchandra Bose establishes the 'Forward Block' after differences with Congress leaders.
1948: The title of Emperor of India is deleted from His Majesty, the King of United Kingdom's titles.