Akbar is known as the greatest ruler and most powerful as well. He is popularly known among the people as Akbar the great. When he was in power, he had a large empire which covered almost the entire Indian subcontinent.
At a very young age, he started to take over the Mughal Empire. Even though he was a Muslim ruler, his non-Muslim subjects gave him a lot of respect because of his good deeds.
Life of Akbar
In the year 1542 on 14th October, Akbar was born to the Mughal Emperor Humayun and his wife Hamida Banu Begum. When he was born, his full name was Abu’l-Fath Jalal ud-din Muhammad Akbar. When Akbar was small, his father Humayun was in exile.
Then his paternal uncles in Kabul took care of him and raised him up. He used spend time in hunting, playing with the sword, running, riding horse. Due to these activities, he became skilled and trained as a warrior. He never studied because he did not learn reading and writing. Instead someone else read him out on the history, science, religion, philosophy and many other topics.
In the year 1551, he got married to his first cousin. Her name was Ruqaiya Sultan Begum. He married many other women from other religious backgrounds. It is said that he had another twelve wives too. One of his main queens was Heer Kunwari. Her other name was Jodha Bai and Harka Bai.
He got married to her in the year 1562 because he had formed a political union with the Rajputs which resulted in their marriage. A son was born to them whose name was Salim. Later he was called Jahangir In the year 1895, Akbar died due because of dysentery.
His body was buried in a tomb at Sikandra in Agra. People have written many novels and made television shows and movies based on Akbar’s life. Some of the novels are: “the years of Rice and Salt (2002)”, “The Solitude of Emperors (2007)” and “The Enchantress of Florence (2008)”.
A few television shows which have showed the life of Akbar are: “Akbar and Birbal (1990s)”and “Jodha Akbar (2013)”. While the movies made on him are “Mughal-e-Azam (1960)” and “Jodhaa Akbar (2008)”.
Akbar won many battles during his rule but some of the major battles were three. In the year 1556 during the month of November, his army won the Second Battle of Panipat by defeating Hemu and the Sur army. In this battle, Hemu was first captured and then executed after he was shot in his eyes. In the year 1564 his army, that is, the Mughal forces were led by Asaf Khan.
He raided the Gondwana kingdom and defeated their ruler Rani Durgavati. This was the Battle of Damoh. Rani Durgavati killed her own son Raja Vir Narayan. He was very small but still she killed him. After this in order to save her honour she committed suicide.
The Afghan rule in the country continued for very long. In the year 1575, Akbar won against Daud Khan. He was the ruler of the only Afghan asylum in India. This was the Battle of Tukaroi.
The Mughal army captured him again in another battle and finally killed him. After killing this Afghan ruler, Bengal and parts of Bihar were annexed by the Mughals.
Achievements of Akbar
Akbar’s greatest achievement was that the Mughal Empire was extended almost in all the parts of the Indian subcontinent during his rule. The areas were from the Himalayas in the north to Vindhyas in the south and Hindukush in the north-west to the river Brahmaputra in the east.
He never discriminated among his subjects who belong to different religions. The Hindus had to pay some special tax in order to go for a pilgrimage. Akbar cancelled that special tax in 1563.
The next year he even abolished the annual tax or jizya which the Non-Muslims had to pay. In the year 1569 Akbar took over Chittorgarh and Ranthambore. In order to celebrate this, he made a new capital in the west of Agra. Later in the year it was called Fathepur Sikri (‘City of Victory’} after he took over Gujarat.
Importance of Akbar
Akbar was considered not only a powerful ruler but also one of the greatest Mughal ruler. People give him the first place by respecting him for his greatness. He was an intelligent person. This is why he had a very clear idea when the public had issues.
He would easily solve the issues and other public affairs in a right way and at the right time. He had a farsighted vision which helped to handle the events during the further time. He also had practical wisdom. This helped him to make changes in the policies he had. He also judged his officers in the right way.
Akbar was never impartial to anyone. He had the power of understanding human nature. This made him easily recognize the motives of other people. He always had a good behaviour and sympathy for the people. But this did not affect the high status and dignity he had maintained.
He never discriminated his subjects and soldiers. He gave the chance to all of them to show their talent. He chose them based on their capability despite of different class and creed. He did this so that his men could give their best to provide services for the people and land.
Akbar was confident, courageous, physically strong and energetic. This kept him popular among his followers and lieutenants and no one could challenge because of this. Many times he would fight against powerful enemies but still he would win against them and become heroic.
It was rare that he undertook something which he could not achieve. His passions and emotions could never test his limit. Instead he used these passions and emotions taking them as a positive factor and mastered over them. This further helped him because of this people could not recognize his intentions and then he acted the way it was need in that moment.
Akbar’s these many qualities gave him success abundantly. This gave rise to another empire called the Timurid Empire. He was versatile in many areas as he could sometimes become a general, administrator, spiritual guide, diplomat and art-critic.
The most important one was empire builder which do not follow any division among the subjects and soldiers despite of their caste, class, creed, religion etc. Everyone was treated equally.
He abolished the practice of child marriage. Cousins were not allowed to marry and age of marriage was increased for both girls and boys.
For girls it was fourteen and for boys it was made sixteen. During Akbar’s rule the daughters also got equal rights on the father’s property like the son.
Akbar made many changes in the government. He first thought to set up a national monarchy and then work for all the sections of the Indian society so that they could progress in life and stay happy. He employed foreigners also for himself but still his people were more important for him than the foreigners.
He came to know that many Vakil were damaging to the security of the public. This is why their powers were cut down and the office was kept vacant for many years.
Akbar became a person of great importance because he did many things for the people. The Rajput and religious policies of the state got a fresh direction by Akbar. The land revenue policy was improved and the army was reorganized. The provincial diwan was made responsible to the central Wazir directly.
He increased the Dak-chaukis so that the provinces were controlled and supervised properly. Then he appointed some secret staff so that the centre could get reports from them periodically. Even the control and supervision of the state factories royal stores and treasuries were improved.
He showed great interest and sympathy for the work which was done by different artists and craftsmen. This made them confident and they started to improve in their own art and craft.
He tried his best to maintain harmony between the Hindus and Muslims and to unite them. He always wanted that people from different classes had mutual understanding and toleration with each other.
He also worked towards this mutual aspect. He made many religious and social changes during that period of time even though there were many hurdles on his way.