Akbar was a Mughal Emperor who ruled India from 1556 to 1605. He was born in 1542 in Umarkot, a small town in present-day Pakistan. Akbar was known for his politics, which sought to integrate the diverse religious and regional groups in his empire into a more cohesive unit.

Some of his notable achievements include the construction of several impressive architectural structures, including the Red Fort in Agra and the Fatehpur Sikri complex near Agra. Akbar also supported the arts and was a patron of literature, painting, and the performing arts. He died in 1605 and was succeeded by his son, Jahangir.

He succeeded to the throne after his father Humayun’s death. In 1556, in the second battle of Panipat, he defeated Hemu (Sur’s wazir). Between 1556-60, Akbar ruled under Bairam Khan’s regency. Bairam became the Wakil of the kingdom with the title of Khan-i-Khanam. Akbar gradually enlarged the Mughal Empire to include much of the Indian subcontinent
Battle of Haldighati (1576)- Akbar defeated Rana Pratap following most of the Rajput rulers accepted Akbar’s suzerainty. The Mughal army was led by Man Singh.

Mughal Empire - Akbar (1556 - 1605)
1556Akbar ascended the throne when he was 14
15562nd Battle of Panipat between Hemu and Bairam Khan (khan-i-khannan). Hemu gets defeated in the battle
1560Akbar becomes independent at the age of 18 and dismisses Bairam Khan
1564Abolition of Jizyah tax
1571The Foundation of Fatehpur Sikri, near Agra, was laid
1574Mansabdari System introduced
1575Ibadatkhana was built
1576The battle of Haldighati was fought between Rana Pratap and the Mughal army led by Raja Man Singh
1580Dahsala Bandobast System introduced
1582Din-i-illahi a new religion was propounded by Akbar and was a synthesis of values taken from several religions like Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, etc. It was a move against religious orthodoxy and bigotry. He followed the policy of Sulh-kul or peace to all.

Akbar, despite himself being an illiterate person, was a great patron of men of eminence. He maintained a Scholastic Assembly (Navratnas) in his court.

  • Notable personalities in his court were:
    • Abul Fazal: He was Akbar’s court historian. He is credited for writing Ain-i-Akbari and Akbar Namah, Akbar’s biographical works.
    • Abul Faizi: He was a Persian poet. Abul Fazal was his brother. He is credited with translating Mahabharata into Persian named ‘Razam Namah’. He also translated Bhaskaracharya’s mathematical work, Leelavati into Persian.
    • Birbal: His real name was Mahesh Das. He was the court jester of Akbar.
    • Raja Todarmal: He was the finance or revenue minister in Akbar’s court. Revenue system Zabti and Dashala were his brainchild. He also translated Bhagavatapurana into Persian.
    • Mian Tansen: His real name was Ram Thanu Pande. He composed a Raga, Rajdarbari in honor of Akbar. He was the court Musician of Akbar.
    • Maharaja Man Singh: Akbar’s military commander.
    • Bhagawandas: Son of Bharmal
    • Abdur Rahim Khankhana: Hindi Poet
    • Mulla Do Pyaja

Administration of Akbar

Empire was divided into subas (provinces), governed by a subadar who carried out both political and military functions.
Each subha had officials – diwan, Bakshi, Sadr, Qazi etc.
There was another division of the empire – Jagir (allotted to nobles & members of the royal family), Khalisa (tract reserved for the royal exchequer), and Inam (given to religious leaders, half of it was uncultivated).
Pargana & Sarkar were subdivisions of provinces.
Fauzdar – In charge of law & order & Amalguzar – land assessment and revenue collection were chief officers of Sarkar.

Land Revenue System of Akbar

With the help of Raja Todar Mal, Akbar experimented on the land revenue administration; it was Zabti or Bandobast system.
Dahsala System – The revenue was fixed on the average yield of land measured on the basis of the previous ten years. It was an improved version of Zabti.
Battai/Gholla-Bakshi system – Produce divided between the state & peasants in a fixed proportion. Peasants were given choice between Battai & Dahsala.
Nasaq/kankut – a rough calculation of Peasant’s payments over the past years was calculated and the empire’s share was fixed.

  • Categorization of land –
    • Polaj (cultivated every year),
    • Parati (once in two years),
    • Chachar (once in three or four years) and
    • Banjar (once in five or more years).

Payment of revenue was made generally in cash.
Qanungos were hereditary holders of land and Karoris were officers appointed all over North India. they had responsibility of collecting the dam (rupees).

  • Taccavi – loans to the peasants
  • Land divisions for the purpose of revenue
    • Khalisa – lands kept separately to meet the expenses of the emperorJagir – land was given to nobles or mansabdars to meet their expenses
    • Inam – land was given to religious persons

Mansabdari system

This was introduced to maintain a huge army. Ranks (Mansabs) were awarded to nobles. They were divided into Zat (Personal status) and Sawar (Cavalryman required to maintain). Along with this, the Dagh and Chehra systems were also followed. Mansabdars were assigned Jagirs which they used to pay the salary of soldiers.

The word “Mansabdar” was used for all but it had 3 scale gradation –

  1. Mansabdar – (500 zat / below it)
  2. Amir (between – 500-2500 zat)
  3. Amir-i-Umda – (above 2500 zat)

The ranks were divided into two – zat and sawar.
Zat fixed the personal status & salary of a person.
Sawar rank indicated the number of sawars that had to be maintained by a person. Every sawar had to maintain at least two horses.
The mansab rank was not hereditary & mansabdar was paid by assigning jagir.

  • Important Posts:
    • Wazir/Diwan – Head of Revenue Department
    • Subedar – Governor of a Province
    • Mir Bakshi – Head of the Military who was also the Head of the Nobility
    • Barids – Intelligence Officers
    • Waqia-navis – News Reporters
    • Mir Saman – In Charge of Imperial Households and Royal Workshops (Karkhanas)
    • Chief Qazi – Head of Judicial Departments
    • Chief Sadr – Responsible for Charitable and Religious Endowments
    • Diwan-i-am – Open Durbar
    • Ghusal Khana – private consultation chamber

Religious Policy of Akbar

  • Abolished jizya, pilgrimage, and forcible conversion of prisoners of war.
  • He built ibadat khana (House of Worship) at Fatehpur Sikri for religious discussion.
  • Akbar was convinced that religious bigots emphasize ritual and dogma.
  • thus, he advocated the idea of sulh-i kul or “universal peace’’ idea of tolerance which did not discriminate between the people of different religions.
  • Abul Fazl helped Akbar in framing a vision of governance around this idea of sulh-i kul. This principle of governance was followed by Jahangir and Shah Jahan as well.
  • In 1582, he promulgated a new religion called “Din-e-Ilahi” or Divine Faith. It believes in one God. It contained good points about all religions. It had only fifteen followers including Birbal. Akbar did not compel anyone to his new faith.
  • Jharoka Darshan was introduced by Akbar with the objective of broadening the acceptance of the imperial authority as part of popular faith.
  • Muhammad Hussain was Akbar’s favorite Calligrapher. He was proficient in Nastaliq – the fluid style with long horizontal strokes.
  • Akbar honored him with Zarin-i-Kalam (golden pen).

Art and Architecture during Akbar Period

  • Haznama consisted of 1200 paintings, belonging to his reign.
  • The European style of painting was introduced by Portuguese priests in his court.
  • Jaswant & Daswan were famous painters in his court.
  • Persian poets in his court: Abu Fazl and his brother Abul Faizi, Tarikh Alfi, Utbi, and Nazir.
  • Hindi poets in his court: Tulsidas- wrote “Ramcharitmanas”.
  • Akbar commissioned the translation of many Sanskrit works into Persian. A Maktab Khana or translation bureau was also established at Fatehpur Sikri for this purpose.
  • The Razmnamah is the Persian translation of the Mahabharata.
  • The Akbar period was popularly known as ‘the renaissance of Persian literature’.
  • Palace-cum-fort complex at Fatehpur Sikri 1601 (City of Victory): Many buildings in Gujarati and Bengali styles are found in this complex. Gujarathi style was probably built for his Rajput wives.
  • Akbar built Diwan-i-am (hall of public audience), and Diwan-i-Khas (private hall).
  • The most magnificent building in it is the Jama Masjid and the gateway to it is called Buland Darwaza or the Lofty Gate, Shaik Saleem Chisti dargah.
  • Other important buildings at Fatehpur Sikri are Jodha Bai’s palace and Panch Mahal with five stories.
  • During Akbar’s reign, the Humayun’s tomb was built in Delhi and it had a massive dome of marble. It may be considered the precursor of the Taj Mahal.
  • Akbar’s tomb at Sikandara near Agra was completed by Jahangir.
  • He built Agra Fort in red sandstone and also Jahangiri Mahal in it according to Hindu design.


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