During the Mughal era, Abu'l-Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar was one of the most powerful emperors. Akbar, who had a powerful personality and was a successful general, gradually expanded the Mughal Empire to include a large portion of the Indian subcontinent. However, as a result of the Mughal empire's dominance in the military, political, cultural, and economic arenas, his power and influence extended to the entire subcontinent.
This article provides all pertinent information about Emperor Akbar's (1556–1605) reign, including his religious policies, relationships with other Indian kingdoms, and more.
One of the Mughal dynasty's greatest monarchs was Akbar. He was born in Amarkot around 1542 CE, the son of Humayun and Hamida Banu Begum. Young Akbar was kidnapped by his uncle Kamran when Humayun fled to Iran, but he treated him well. After the capture of Qandahar, Akbar saw his parents again. Akbar was in command of operations against the Afghan rebels in Kalanaur, Punjab, when Humayun died. He was just 13 years, 4 months old when he was crowned at Kalanaur around 1556 CE.
Mughal Empire (1605-1707) Between the years 1556 and 1560 CE, Bairam Khan served as Akbar's regent for the first few years of his reign. As Humayun's confidant, Bairam Khan was given the title of Khan-i-Khanan.
With Hemu Vikramaditya, the wazir of Adil Shah of Bengal, leading the Afghan forces, Bairam Khan represented Akbar in the Second Battle of Panipat, which took place around 1556 CE. Hemu was on the verge of victory when an arrow hit his eye and knocked him out. The Mughals were favored by fortune as his army fled.
Mughal lands were expanded from Kabul to Jaunpur in the east and Ajmer in the west during Bairam Khan's regency. Also taken was Gwalior.
As the most powerful noble, Bairam Khan began to appoint his own supporters to key positions while ignoring the older nobles. Other nobles felt resentment as a result, and they were able to influence Akbar as well. The issue was also made worse by Bairam Khan's growing arrogance. He was removed by Akbar, who gave him the option of retiring to Mecca or serving at the court or somewhere else. While on his way to Mecca, Bairam Khan was killed by an Afghan at Patan, which is close to Ahmedabad. At Agra, Bairam brought his wife and young child to Akbar. Akbar married his widow and raised Bairam's child as his own. Later, he became known as Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan, a well-known Hindi poet and powerful noble.
Numerous nobility groups and individuals rebelled against Akbar. This included Maham Anaga, his foster mother, and her relatives, most notably her son Adham Khan. At Malwa, around 1561 CE, Adham Khan prevailed over Baz Bahadur. Following his victory at Malwa, Adham Khan almost slaughtered the defending army, women, and even children, sending Akbar only a portion of the spoils. He claimed the position of wazir after being removed from command, and when he was denied, he stabbed the acting wazir in his office. He was thrown from the Agra Fort by angry Akbar.
Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Malwa were dominated by Central Asian nobles known as Uzbeks. They repeatedly broke out in rebellion from about 1561 to 1567 CE. In the meantime, a rebellion led by the Timurids known as the Mirzas turned against the emperor as well. After gaining control of Kabul, Akbar's half-brother Mirza Hakim moved into Punjab and besieged Lahore, inspired by these rebellions. Mirza Hakim was named Hindustan's emperor by the rebel nobles of Uzbekistan. However, Akbar overcame these rebellions through sheer grit, determination, and luck. The rebellion of the Mirzas was crushed when Mirza Hakim was forced to flee to Kabul, and the Uzbeks were completely wiped out by 1567 CE.
Between the years 1560 and 1576 CE, Akbar conquered northern India from Agra to Gujarat and then Bengal. He improved the western frontier in the north. He went to the Deccan later.
Conquest of Gwalior, Malwa, and Gondwana In the period between 1559 and 1560 CE, the initial expedition set out to capture Gwalior before moving on to Malwa.
In the year 1561 CE, Adham Khan, the foster son of Akbar, defeated Baz Bahadur, the ruler of Malwa. Baz Bahadur was able to reclaim Malwa after a rebellion against the Mughals was sparked by Adham Khan and his successor's senseless cruelty. Akbar sent a second expedition to Malwa after putting an end to a number of rebellions with success. Baz Bahadur took refuge under the Rana of Mewar when he was forced to flee. Later, he changed places and finally gave in at Akbar's court, where he was made a Mughal mansabdar. As a result, Malwa was ruled by the Mughals.
The Narmada Valley and northern Madhya Pradesh were part of the kingdom of Garh-Katanga (Gondwana). A number of Gond and Rajput principalities made up the kingdom. Durgavati, a Chandella princess from Mahoba who was married to Dalpat Shah, the son of Sangram Shah, was in charge of it. She led the kingdom with a lot of energy and bravery. In the meantime, tales of Rani Durgavati's magnificent wealth and beauty piqued the interest of Mughal governor Asaf Khan. He attacked Gondwana in 1564 CE; Despite her bravery, Rani Durgavati lost the battle. Gondwana was taken into Asaf Khan's custody after she stabbed herself to death. After constructing ten forts to encircle the kingdom of Malwa, Akbar later handed over the kingdom of Garh-Katanga to Chandra Shah, Sangram Shah's younger son.
Conquest of Rajasthan Akbar knew how important the Rajput kingdoms were and wanted to build a big empire with them as allies. Akbar's Rajput policy was notable. He tied the knot with Jodha Bai, a Rajput princess and the daughter of Raja Bharamal of Amber. He made Rajputs members of the Mughal service, and many of them went on to become military generals. Raja Bharamal's son Bhagwant Das was made joint governor of Lahore, and Man Singh was made governor of Bihar and Bengal.
Akbar's military conquests of Rajasthan: Merta and Jodhpur, two Rajput kingdoms, were taken without much resistance.
The siege of Chittor, which was regarded as a key to central Rajasthan, was a significant step in his campaign against the Rajput states. Chittor fell around 1568 CE after a valiant six-month siege. Rana Udai Singh took the advice of his nobles and went to the hills, leaving the fort to the famous warriors Jaimal and Patta. Approximately 30,000 Rajput warriors were killed when the Mughals stormed the fort.
Despite numerous defeats, the Ranas of Mewar maintained their defiance. In 1576, the Mughal army led by Man Singh severely defeated Rana Pratap Singh, ruler of Mewar, in the well-known Battle of Haldighati.
Kalinjar and Ranthambhore, Rajasthan's most formidable fortress, were conquered following Chittor's fall. The majority of Rajput Rajas, including those from Bikaner and Jaisalmer, gave in to Akbar after these successful conquests. Nearly all of Rajasthan had been conquered by Akbar by around 1570 CE.
Even though the entire state of Rajasthan was taken over by the Mughals, there was no animosity between the Rajputs and the Mughals. Religious toleration was widespread in Akbar's Rajput policy. He ended the practice of forcibly converting prisoners of war and the pilgrim tax. He abolished the jizya, which was frequently regarded as a sign of Muslim dominance and superiority, around 1564 CE. Both the Rajputs and the Mughal empire benefited from Akbar's Rajput policy. The alliance provided the Mughal empire with the services of India's most gallant warriors. The Rajputs' unwavering loyalty played a significant role in the empire's consolidation and expansion.
Conquest of Gujarat, Bihar, and Bengal Following Bahadur Shah's death, Gujarat was in disarray. Additionally, Gujarat was where the Mirzas, who had rebelled against Mughal rule, had sought safety. Akbar did not wish for Gujarat, a prosperous province, to become a rival power center. In the year 1572 CE, Akbar made his way through Ajmer to attack Ahmedabad and defeated Muzaffar Shah, the ruler of Gujarat, without much difficulty. Akbar constructed the Buland Darwaza at Fatehpur Sikri to commemorate Gujarat's victory. After that, Akbar focused on the Mirzas who controlled Surat, Baroda, and Broach. The majority of Gujarat's principalities came under Mughal rule relatively quickly. Akbar returned to the capital after organizing Gujarat into a province and putting it under Mirza Aziz Koka. However, within just six months, rebellions spread throughout Gujarat. When he heard the news, Akbar quickly fled Agra and made it to Ahmedabad in ten days. In the year 1573 CE, he overcame the adversary and put an end to the rebellion. Following this, Akbar focused on Bengal.
The Afghans controlled Bengal and Bihar. Additionally, they had taken Orissa and killed its ruler. Akbar obtained the justification he desired from Afghan internal conflicts and the new ruler, Daud Khan,'s declaration of independence. Khan-i-Khanan Munaim Khan was given command of the campaign after Akbar took Patna and then returned to Agra. Daud Khan was forced to file a peace lawsuit when Mughal forces invaded Bengal. However, he soon revolted, and Daud Khan was defeated and executed on the spot in a fierce battle in Bihar around 1576. The final Afghan kingdom in Northern India was overrun by this. Additionally, it ended the initial phase of Akbar's empire expansion.
Between 1580 and 1581 CE, Akbar had to deal with a series of rebellions, particularly in Bengal, Bihar, Gujarat, and the northwest. These rebellions also led to the expansion of the Mughal Empire. The strict implementation of the dagh system, also known as branding the jagirdars' horses and accounting for their income, was the primary factor that led to the rebellion. Some religious gurus, dissatisfied with Akbar's liberal views and his policy of resuming large, revenue-free grants of land that they had sometimes obtained illegally, exacerbated the discontent. Between 1580 and 1581 CE, the rebellions diverted the Mughal empire for almost two years.
Bengal and nearly all of Bihar fell into the hands of the rebels, who proclaimed Mirza Hakim, who was in Kabul at the time, as their ruler. Local officials had handled the situation badly. Under Raja Todar Mal and Shaikh Farid Bakshi, Akbar sent a large force and managed to control the situation in the east. In response to Mirza Hakim's assault on Lahore, Raja Man Singh and Bhagwan Das put up a strong defense. In the year 1581 CE, Akbar marched to Kabul to celebrate his victory. After Akbar gave Bakhtunissa Begum, his sister, control of Kabul, Raja Man Singh was made governor and it was given to him as jagir.
In Central Asia, Abdullah Khan Uzbek, the Mughals' ancestor, was steadily gaining strength. He conquered Badakhshan, which had been ruled by the Timurids, around 1584 CE, and then he set his sights on Kabul. Now, Mirza Hakim and the Timurid princes who had been driven out of Badakhshan pleaded with Akbar for assistance. Man Singh was sent to Kabul by Akbar, who then relocated to Attok on the Indus River. Akbar sent expeditions to Balochistan and Kashmir in the year 1586 CE in order to obstruct all routes to the Uzbeks. The Mughals took control of Kashmir as a whole, as well as Ladakh and Baltistan (also known as Tibet Khurd and Tibet Buzurg).
Additionally, expeditions were sent to clear the Khyber pass, which had been blocked by Roshanai's rebel tribesmen. Jalala, a soldier by the name of Pir Roshanai, founded the sect, which was led by his son. Raja Birbal, Akbar's favorite, perished in this expedition. However, the tribespeople were gradually coerced into submission.
The conquest of Sindh in the year 1590 CE made it possible for Punjab to trade down the Indus River. Mughal dominance over the northwest was established around 1595 CE. After Abdullah Uzbek's death in 1598 CE, Akbar remained in Lahore until the Uzbeks no longer posed a threat. Akbar made two significant contributions: he established a frontier for the empire and consolidated the northwest.
Akbar turned his attention to the affairs of eastern and western India, as well as the Deccan, following the consolidation of the northwest region.
Raja Man Singh, the Mughal governor of Bengal, conquered Orissa around 1592 CE, when Afghan chiefs were in charge.
Additionally, he conquered Dacca and a portion of East Bengal.
The foster brother of Akbar, Mirza Aziz Koka, brought Kathiawar in the west under the Mughal empire's control.
Akbar sent an expedition to the Deccan under the command of Prince Murad, the governor of Gujarat, and Abdul Rahim Khan Khanan around 1591 CE as part of his policy of aggression toward the Deccan.
Chand Bibi, the sister of the deceased Sultan Burhan, was defeated when Mughal forces invaded Ahmednagar around 1595 CE.
After suffering significant losses, an agreement was reached, and Chand Bibi gave the Mughals Berar. With the assistance of Adil Shahi and Qutab Shahi, Chand Bibi attempted to regain control of Berar after some time had passed.
Despite significant losses, the Mughals were able to maintain their position.
In the meantime, the Mughal position was weakened as differences between Prince Murad and Abdul Rahim Khan Khanan grew.
Akbar sent Abu Fazl to the Deccan and recalled Khan Khanan.
Prince Daniyal, the eldest son of Akbar, and Khan Khanan were sent to the Deccan after Prince Murad's death around 1598 CE, and Ahmednagar was once more captured.
Asirgarh and the surrounding areas were soon captured by the Mughals, putting them in direct conflict with the Marathas.
In around 1605 CE, Akbar died of dysentery and was buried at Sikandra (near Agra).
Architecture and art During Akbar's reign, many indigenous art forms were encouraged, which led to the widespread use of sandstone. The red sandstone fort at Agra is the most well-known of Akbar's numerous forts. Lahore and Allahabad are two more of his forts.
Near Agra, Akbar constructed the "city of victory," Fatehpur Sikri. This complex contains numerous Gujarati and Bengali-style buildings. The Jama Masjid, whose gateway is called Buland Darwaza and is 176 feet tall, is the most magnificent structure in it. It was built in 1572 CE to commemorate Akbar's victory over Gujarat. Jodha Bai's palace and the five-story Panch Mahal at Fatehpur Sikri are two additional significant structures.
Jahangir finished his own tomb he built at Sikandra, close to Agra.
At Vrindavan, Akbar constructed a Govindadeva temple.
Jahangir Mahal in Agra Fort was also built by him.
Several religious and literary works were illustrated for Akbar. He invited a lot of artists from all over the country to paint in his court. Muslims and Hindus collaborated on this project. As Akbar's court artists, Baswan, Miskina, and Daswant rose to great heights.
Miniature versions of the Persian versions of the Mahabharata and Ramayana were created.
In Akbar's art studio, a great number of other Indian fairy tales were turned into miniature paintings.
The main themes of Mughal paintings remained historical works like Akbarnama.
Hamzanama, a collection of 1200 paintings, is regarded as the most significant work. The use of Indian hues like peacock blue and Indian red began.
Tansen of Gwalior, who wrote numerous ragas, was favored by Akbar. Singing the ragas Megh Malhar and Deepak, he is thought to have the power to bring rain and fire.
By Akbar's time, the Persian language had spread throughout the Mughal empire. Abul Fazl was a great historian and scholar during his time. He established a writing style for prose that was followed for many generations. During this time, many historical works were written. Ain-i-Akbari and Akbarnama by Abul Fazl are two examples. Abul Faizi, the brother of Abul Fazl, was in charge of overseeing the Persian translation of the Mahabharata. The other two prominent Persian poets were Naziri and Utbi. Hindi poets were associated with the Mughal court from Akbar's time. Tulsidas was the most well-known Hindi poet. He wrote the Ramacharitmanas, which is the Hindi version of the Ramayana.
Organization of the Government Under Akbar Akbar paid a lot of attention to the way the central and provincial governments were set up. His central government system was based on the structure of government that had developed during the Delhi Sultanate. However, the functions of various departments were meticulously reorganized, and strict rules and regulations were set for how things should be done. The empire's territories were divided into three groups: Jagir, Inam, and Khalisa. The religious and knowledgeable men were granted the Inam lands. Jagirs were given to nobles and royal family members, including queens. The royal coffers received all income from the Khalisa villages.
The Emperor of Central Administration The Emperor was in charge of all administrative functions, including the judicial and military. At his discretion, he could appoint, advance, and fire officials.
Wazir There was a Central Asian and Timurid custom of having a wazir who was all-powerful and oversaw the work of various department heads. He was the primary link between the administration and the ruler. In his capacity as wakil, Bairam Khan exercised the might of an all-powerful wazir.
The central administration machinery was reorganized by Akbar based on checks and balances and power distribution among various departments. The Wazir's financial authority was taken away by Akbar. Although the position of wakil remained, it was stripped of all authority. Important nobles occasionally held this position, but they had little influence over administration. Wazir continued to be in charge of the revenue department, but he no longer served as the ruler's primary advisor. The wazir, who went by the name diwan or diwan-i-aala, was an authority on financial matters. The diwan was in charge of all expenditures and income, as well as the lands of Khalisa, Inam, and Jagir.
Mir Bakshi was both the head of the nobility and the head of the military department. suggestions for appointments to mansabs or promotions, among other things were delivered to the emperor by him. The recommendations were sent to the diwan for confirmation and the granting of a jagir to the appointed person after the emperor had accepted them.
He also headed the empire's intelligence and information agencies. News reporters (waqia-navis) and intelligence officers (Barids) were assigned to every region of the empire. The intelligence reports were presented to the emperor by Mir Bakshi.
Mir Saman was a high-ranking officer in charge of the royal workshops known as karkhanas and the royal household. He was in charge of making all kinds of purchases, creating various items for use, and storing them for the royal family.
Frequently Asked Questions About Akbar: What was the significance of Emperor Akbar's reign?
The course of Indian history was significantly influenced by Akbar's rule. The Mughal Empire tripled in size and wealth under his leadership. He implemented effective political and social reforms in addition to establishing a powerful military system. He was the first Mughal ruler to win the trust and loyalty of the native subjects by eliminating the sectarian tax on non-Muslims and appointing them to high civil and military positions.
What cultural aspects existed during the reign of Emperor Akbar?
Akbar is known for introducing the Mughal style of architecture, which combined elements of Islamic, Persian, and Hindu design. He also sponsored some of the best and brightest minds of the time in his courts in Delhi, Agra, and Fatehpur Sikri, including poets, musicians, artists, philosophers, and engineers.