Akbar’s legacy as a visionary ruler, his expansion of the empire, promotion of religious tolerance, and patronage of arts and culture continue to influence Indian history and culture to this day.
Who Is Mughal Emperor Akbar?
Abu’l-Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar, popularly known as Akbar the Great, was the third Mughal emperor who reigned from 1556 to 1605.
He was born on October 15, 1542, in the Rajput Fortress of Amarkot, Rajputana, to Mughal Emperor Humayun and Hamida Banu Begum. Akbar spent his youth in Kabul with his paternal uncles and aunts.
Akbar’s early education centred mostly on physical training, teaching him to hunt, run, and battle. Although he never learned to read or write, he would have someone read to him in the evenings.
Akbar was appointed governor of Ghazni at the age of nine and married his first wife, Ruqaiya Sultan Begum, Hindal Mirza’s daughter.
Humayun reconquered Delhi with the help of his Persian friend Tahmasp I in 1555, following the instability surrounding the succession of Sher Shah Suri’s son, Islam Shah.
Humayun died a few months later, and Akbar’s guardian, Bairam Khan, covered his death to prepare for Akbar’s succession. Akbar was crowned Mughal emperor in Kalanaur, Punjab, on 14 February 1556, at the age of 14. Bairam Khan ruled on his behalf till Akbar achieved adulthood.
Through military victories and diplomatic initiatives, Akbar progressively enlarged the Mughal Empire to include much of the Indian subcontinent throughout his reign.
He used marriage and diplomacy to appease conquered monarchs in order to construct a centralised authority.
His inclusive policies attempted to garner the support of his non-Muslim subjects as well. He abolished the sectarian tax and put non-Muslims to positions of power in his religiously and culturally diverse empire, maintaining peace and stability.
The Mughal Empire enjoyed substantial economic growth and became an affluent empire under Akbar’s reign. The empire’s economy tripled in size and richness, resulting in increased economic activity and patronage of Indo-Persian culture.
Akbar’s courts at Delhi, Agra, and Fatehpur Sikri drew holy men from all faiths, painters, poets, architects, and thinkers, transforming them into centres of study, arts, and literature.
Mughal arts, like painting and architecture, incorporated indigenous Indian aspects as well as Timurid and Perso-Islamic influences.
Seeking religious unity within his kingdom, Akbar became disillusioned with orthodox Islam and instituted Din-i Ilahi, a syncretic ideology.
Its origins can be traced back to Islam, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, and Christianity. This creed was an attempt to promote religious harmony and bring together disparate populations.
On October 27, 1605, Akbar’s reign came to an end, and he was succeeded by his son, Prince Salim, who became Emperor Jahangir.
Who Is Mughal Emperor Akbar’s First Wife?
Mughal Emperor Akbar’s first wife is known as Ruqaiya Sultan Begum. She was a first cousin of her husband and was a Mughal princess by birth.