Akbar was crowned at Kalanauar in 1556 AD. at very young age. Akbar was under the tutelage of Bairam Khan a favourite officer of Humayun. During this time the Afghans beyond Agra were still a force with Sikandar Sur still smarting in Punjab in the Shivalik hills and with Hemu as master of Agra and Delhi, thus Akbar’s position was very precarious. Bengal, Bihar, Malwa and Gujarat had reasserted their independence.

Second Battle of Panipat (5 November, 1556):

The battle between the Mughals and the Afghan forces led by Hemu took place at the field of Panipat.  Afghan forces were defeated and Hemu was killed. This battle made Mughals the master of Agra and Delhi. In Punjab, Sikandar Sur was compelled to surrender Mankot. On hearing the Akbar's success of Panipat. Sulaiman Mirza (Akbar's brother) who was besieging Kabul withdrew to Badakhshan. Thus in the short span of four years, Akbar‘s supremacy was established from Kabul to Jaunpur and from northern Punjab to Ajmer.

Fall of Bairam Khan: Bairam Khan’s success made him ambitious and vain and he tried to perpetuate his dominance by removing his rivals and opponents from the field.  In A D. 1560 Akbar dismissed Bairam Khan. He was permitted to leave for Mecca, but on the way at Patan (near Ahmadabad) he was murdered by an Afghan fanatic. Akbar married his widow and brought up the child as his son, who became famous as Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan.

Influence of Herem: But after Bairam, for two more years (1560-62) Akbar remained under the influence of the court ladies, particularly his foster mother Maham Anaga and her son Adham Khan. Adham Khan effected the conquest of Malwa (1561) and rebelled against Akbar, Akbar put him to death (1562). Meanwhile Maham Anaga also passed away. Thus in 1562, Akbar was able to emancipate himself from Herem influence.

Conquests and annexations of Akbar:

Between 1556-60, apart from Ajmer. the two most important conquests were Malwa and Garh-Katanga. Malwa had been taken from Baz Bahadur and the kingdom of Garh-Katanga from Aman Das. The Kingdom of Garh-Katanga included a number of Gond and Rajput principalities. As of Khan subduded Bundelkhand and conquered Gondwana, then ruled by the gallant Rani Durgawati. She died fighting, leaving behind a sacred memory.

During the next 10 years Akbar brought the major part of Rajasthan under his control and also conquered Gujarat and Bengal.  ln Rajasthan it was Mewar with its capital at Chittor which proved to be a big challenge to Akbar’s imperial ambitions. Kashmir was conquered, Kabul, Sind, Orissa and Qandhar were also taken into control.

Akbar and South: In Deccan, Akbar turned his arms first against Ahmadnagar. The imperial army led by prince Murad and Khan Kharian beseized it in 1593. Though Chand Bibi gave a stiff fight to the Mughals, but at long last she was compelled to cede Berar. But a dispute regarding the boundaries of Berar and Ahmadnagar finally led to the capture and annexation of the Iatter in 1600. The caputre of the strong fortress of Asirgarh in Khandesh was the last conquest of Akbar in  Deccan. He organized the newly conquered territories in the three subas of Ahmadnagar, Berar  and Khandesh with prince Daniel as its viceroy.

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A Rajput ruler of Mewar, he belonged to the Sisodia clan of Suryavanshi Rajputs. He was a son of Udai Singh ll. In 1568, during the reign of Udai Singh ll, Mewar was conquered by Akbar. Battle of Haldighati was fought on June 18, 1576 in which Maharana Pratap was defeated by Akbar’s army, led by Raja Maan Singh. Maharana had to flee the field on his trusted horse Chetak. Thereafter. Pratap had to retreat into the Aravallis from where he continued his struggle through the tactics of guerilla warfare. Using the hills as his base, Pratap harassed the large mughal forces in their encampments. Rana Pratap died of injuries sustained in a hunting accident.

Facts about Akbar:

  • Akbar’s beloved friend and poet Faizi passed away in 1595.
  • Two of his sons Murad and Daniel died of over drinking.
  • In an eagerness to seize the throne Salim setup himself as an independent king at Allahabad. In 1602 he further wounded his father’s feeling by causing Abdul Fazi to be put to death.
  • In spite of his lust for territory and imperialistic ambitions, Akbar was deeply devoted to the maxim of 'Sulh-i-kul’ or peace to all.
  • He abolished pilgrim tax (1563) and Jizyah (1564)
  • He prohibited sati and permitted widow remarriage.
  • He was deeply influenced by the Sufi ideas of Shekh Mubarak and his two sons Faizi and Abul Fazal.
  • He constructed a building called‘ lbadat Khana’ to discuss philosophies and theological questions of all major religions at Fatehpur Sikri in 1575.
  • He issued the so called ‘lnfallibility Decree’ in A.D. 1579, which gave a rebuff to the yiemas (Muslim theologians) and made him supreme arbitrator in matters of religion.
  • In 1582, promulgated a new sect known as Din-i-Ilahi’. It had aroused great controversy.
  • It was like Ashoka’s Dhamma, similar in content but different in form.
  • Dini-llahi had only small followings, including a Single Hindu, Birbal and was symbolic of the spiritual and ethical liberation of the emperor.
  • Todar Mal, Abul Fazal, Faizi, Birbal, Tansen, Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan, Man Singh etc. were of his court. 

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The best elements of the religions of Akbar's empire was merged to reconcile the differences between divided subjects. This was called as Din-i Ilahi meaning "Religion of God". Akbar promoted debate on religious and philosophical issues which led to the formation of Ibadat Khana meaning "House of Worship" at Fatepur Sikiri in 1575. He removed Jizya tax on non-Muslims in 1568.

Akbar's Navratnas

Abu’l-Fazl the wazir of Akbar and author of Akbar nama, an account on Akbar’s reign. He also led the Mughal imperial army in its wars in Deccan. He was assassinated by Akbar’s son Salim.

Faizl was a historian Abu Fazl’s brother in Akbar’s court. He was a poet composing in Persian and an an all round genius. Akbar recognized the genius. His famous work was Lilabati in Mathematics.

Tansen, believed to be one of the greatest musician of all times was born in a Hindu family in Gwalior. He served as the court musician to king Ramachandra of Mewar and later to Akbar. Tansen accepted Islam at the hands of the great Sufi mystic and saint –Shaykh Muhammad Ghaus of Gwalior. It was believed that Tansen made miracles such as bringing rain and fire through singing the ragas Megh Malhar and Deepak respectively.

Raja Birbal, alias Mahesh Das, was a courtier in the administration of Akbar. Birbal. was referred to as a courr wit as a result witty and humorous exchanges with Akbar. He was a poet and author whose wit and wisdom led the Emperor Akbar to invite him to be a part of the royal court and to bestow upon him a new name Birbal. Akbal .’ also conferred on him the title of “Raja”.

Raja Todar Mal was Akbar’s finance minister, who overhauled the revenue system in the kingdom. He introduced standard weights and measurements, revenue districts and officers. His systematic approach to revenue collection became a model for the future Mughals as well as the British. He had developed his expertise while working under Sher Shah. In 1582 Akbar bestowed on the raja the title Diwan-i-Ashraf.

Raja Man Singh was the Kacchwaha raja of Amber. He was a mansabdar and a trusted general ol Akbar. He was the grandson of Akbar’s father-in-law, Bharmal and the adopted son of Raja Bhagwan Das. He assisted Akbar in many battles including the well-known battle of Haldighati, among others. He also led campaigns in Orissa and Bengal.

Abdul Rahim Khan-e-Khana was a poet and the son of Akbar’s trusted caretaker. Bairam Khan. After Bairam Khan was murdered, Bairan Khan‘s wife became second wife of Akbar, which made Abdul Rahim Khan-e-Khan his stepson. He had a high place among Akbar‘s Navratnas. Althogh muslim by birth he was a devotee of Lord Krishna.

Faqir Aziao Din was one of Akbar’s chief advisers.

 Mullah Do Plaza was among the Mughal emperor Akbar’s chief advisors Akbar regarded his advice in high esteem.

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