Emperor Akbar’s 480 th birthday : Why does Akbar stand out as ‘THE GREAT’

Emperor Akbar’s 480 th birthday : Why does Akbar stand out as ‘THE GREAT’


Milind Dharmasena

New Delhi: On October 15, Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar, also known as Akbar the Great, 480th birth anniversary was observed and on October 27 it will be his 416th death anniversary. Akbar succeeded Humayun and ruled the Mughal empire from 1556 to 1605.

Though he was only 13 years old, when he ascended the throne, Akbar is widely considered the greatest of the Mughal emperors. Akbar’s greatest contributions were to the arts and to Indian religion. He initiated a large collection of literature, including the Akbar-Nama and the Ain-i-Akbari, and incorporated art from around the world into the Mughal collections. Having a greatly tolerant attitude toward religion, Akbar preserved Hindu temples. He founded his own religion, the “Din-i-Elahi” or the “Divine Faith.”

Here is why Akbar stood apart from other Mughal emperors who ruled India:

*Akbar established separation of state and religion and opened government positions to members of all religions.
*Abolished poll tax (jizya)) for non-Muslims and stopped forced conversion of prisoners of war to Islam.
*Converted meetings of Muslim clerics into open discussions between Islam, Hindu, Parsi and Christian scholars and in 1579 issued an edict that made him the highest authority in religious matters.

  • In the civil courts abolished laws that discriminate non-Muslims and gave an official status to the Hindu court system
    *In 1580, Akbar analysed the state revenue statistics of the last 10 years, which contained information on price fluctuations, land productivity, average crop yield and prices for different regions of his empire. He then established a regional taxation schedule based on the ability of the farmers to pay, which ranged from one third to one half of the total crop value which had to be paid in cash.
    *He started a department for translation of works: Mahabharata, the Ramayana, the Atharva –Veda, the Bhagavad Gita and the Panchatantra were translated from Sanskrit to the Persian language.Because of this Hindu religious texts were read across the world
    *He punished and imprisoned those , including his own relatives who forcibly converted non -Muslims
    *He was tolerant towards all religions and commissioned constructions of
    Hindu temples in large scale.

While as all these reforms brought prosperity to mediavel India, they are still relevant for the present times.

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