Other names: Akbar Shah the Great, 'Abd al-Fath Jalal al-Din Muhammad, Arsh-Ashyani
The eldest son of the emperor Humayun, Akbar was born at a time when his father, after being defeated by Sher Shah, had taken refuge with Rana Prashad. At the time of his father's death, Akbar was at Kalanur, where he had been deputed by his father with a considerable force to expel the ex-king Sikandar Shah Sur from the Siwalik mountains. When information reached the prince of this mournful event, Bairam Khan, who became his regent, and other officers who were present, raised him to the throne on Friday, the 14th of February 1556, Akbar being then only 13 years and 9 months old. Bairam was a Turkoman noble, whose energy in repelling pretenders to the throne, and severity in maintaining the discipline of the army, tended greatly to the consolidation of the newly recovered empire. Bairam, however, was naturally despotic and cruel; and when order was somewhat restored, Akbar found it necessary to take the reins of government into his own hands, which he did by a proclamation issued in March 1560. The discarded regent lived for some time in rebellion, endeavouring to establish an independent principality in Malwa, but at last he was forced to cast himself on Akbar’s mercy. The emperor not only freely pardoned him, but magnanimously offered him the choice of a high place in the army or a suitable escort for a pilgrimage to Mecca, and Bairam preferred the latter alternative.
When Akbar ascended the throne, only a small portion of what had formerly been comprised within the Mogul empire owned his authority, and he devoted himself with great determination and success to the recovery of the revolted provinces. He enlarged his dominions by the conquest of Gujarat, Bengal, Kashmir, and Sindh. Besides the forts of Atak, Agra, and Allahabad, many military works were erected by him. He also built and fortified the town of Fathpur Sikri, which was his principal residence, and which, though now deserted, is one of the most splendid remains of former grandeur of India. In order to keep his turbulent Umaras, Turks, and Afghans, in check, Hindu chiefs were encouraged by Akbar, and entrusted with the highest powers, both military and civil, as was the case with Raja Maldeo of Marwar, Bhagwan Das of Amber, Man Singh, his son, and Raja Todar Mal. He also connected himself and his sons with them by marriage. Both Akbar and his successor, Jahangir, had amongst their wives several of Hindu origin.
Towards the middle of his reign, Akbar became dissatisfied with the Muhammadan religion, and invited to his court teachers of the Christian, Hindu, and Parsi religions, and took an interest in their discussions. He adopted, however, none of them, but attempted to found a new system of belief, called 'Din-i-Ilahi', which acknowledged one God, and the king as his vice-regent. The closing years of Akbar’s reign were rendered very unhappy by the misconduct of his sons. Two of them died in youth, the victims of intemperance; and the third, Salim, afterwards the emperor Jahangir, was frequently in rebellion against his father. These calamities were keenly felt by Akbar, and may even have tended to hasten his death. Akbar died after a prosperous reign of 64 lunar years and 9 month, aged 64 lunar years and 11 months. The words 'Faut-i-Akbar Shah' (the death of Akbar Shah), is the chronogram of his death. A splendid mausoleum was built in Sikandra over his remains by his son Jahangir, which is still in a high state of preservation. He received after his death the title of 'Arsh-Ashyani'.
Place of birth: Amarkot, Sindh
Place of third marriage: Sanbbar
Place of burial: Sikanrda, near Agra
1. H.G. Keene. An Oriental Biographical Dictionary Founded on Materials Collected by Thomas William Beale. London: W. H. Allen & Co., Limited, 1894.
2. Encyclopaedia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information, 11th edn, vol. 1. New York: Encyclopaedia Britannica Co., 1911.
3. A.F. Allami. The Ain i Akbari, vol. 1 (H. Blochmann. Trans.). Calcutta: Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1873.
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