Bharat Ek Khoj


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Akbar Part-l
(Episode 32)

As Nehru noted, Babur died within four years of his coming to India and much of his time was spent in fighting and laying out a splendid capital in Agra. Hanking for Central Asia, Humanyun lost the whole empire in India. Humayun encountered Sher Shah Suri, a well-prepared Afghan contender for sovereignty and, in the ensuing tussle in 1540 near Kunauj, he barely escaped with his life, but the Mughaltroops were decimated. Humayun became a fugitive. The enthroned sher Shah Suri had a short reign, installing energetic administrative reforms with excellent roads, horse-backed postal system and stylized monuments. His remarkable reign came to an end in 1545 with his death.

By 1555, Humayun reclaimed Delhi, but stumbled to his death next year. His son Akbar, barely 13, came out of the seraglio where he was under protection of uncle Bayram Khan, as regent, and reigned from 1556-1605. drawing from Abul-Fazal's imperial memoir Akbar-Nama, we see scenes of market prices beign controlled (with Akbar intervening incognito). The young king proceeds to marry jodhabai, the Rajput princess of Amber, and abolishes the discriminating Jaziya tax on the Hindus. As Nehru observes, Akbar surrounds himself with a group of brilliant men devoted to him and his ideals among whom are famous brothers Abul-Fazal and Fyzee, humorist birbal, the trusted Rajput Raja Man Singh and the valiant general Abdul Rahim Khankhana.

But the quarrel continues with the orthodox Ulemma, to whom the Sufi saint Sheikh Mubarak is hauled up. Whilw most Rajput chiefs are amalgamated in the imperial system of broad-based Omrah (nobility), Rana Udai Singh of Mrwar, and his valorous son Pratap Singh, prove recalcitrant, notwithstanding Man Singh honest persuasions. Akbar lays a punitive siege of Chittor, but despite the defeat at Haldighat, and flight of Udai Singh and Pratap Singh to sancutuary in the hills Chittor is never re-occupied.

As Nehru states, his royal court became a meeting place, almost an lbadatkhana (prayer-hall), every Friday, for men of all faiths and those who had new ideas or inventions. His tolerance of views and his encouragement of all kinds of beliefs and opinions, including Sufism, angered some of the more orthodox Muslims like the Sayyads. Included in Akbar's theological forays are, as we find, Pprtuguese priests. In 1580 the padres hasted from Goa confident of the most sensational conversion of all times! In the veent, they are disappointed as were all other disputants.

Akbar's quest for spiritual enlightenment was to seek a faith that would satisfy the needs of his realm as well as his conscience. As a result, he came up with a new religious order Din- E-Ilahi. The cultural amalgamation of Hindu and Muslim in north India took a giant step forward, with Akbar as popular with the Hindus as with the Muslims.