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Akbar Rajput Policy & Mansabdari System

Rajput Policy

  • Akbar took earnest efforts to win the goodwill of the Hindus.
  • He abolished the jizya (poll tax) on non-Muslims and the tax on Hindu pilgrims.
  • The practice of sati by Hindu widows was also abolished.
  • The practice of making slaves of war prisoners was also discontinued.
  • His conciliatory Rajput policy included matrimonial alliances with Rajput princely families, and according Rajput nobles high positions in the Mughal court.
  • A tolerant religious policy ensured the cultural and emotional integration of the people.
  • Even before Akbar, many Muslim kings had married Rajput princesses.
  • But Akbar with his broadminded nature was instrumental in these matrimonial alliances becoming a synthesising force between two different cultures as he maintained close relations with the families.
  • Akbar had married Harkha Bhai (also referred to as Jodha in popular accounts), the daughter of Raja Bhar Mal (also known as Bihari Mal) of Amber.
  • He also married the Rajput princesses of Bikaner and Jaisalmer.
  • Prince Salim who was born of Harkha Bhai married the daughter of Raja Bhagwan Das.
  • Raja Man Singh, son of Bhagwan Das, became the trusted general of Akbar.
  • Even the Rajputs who chose not to have any matrimonial alliances were bestowed great honours in Akbar’s court.
  • His Rajput policy secured the services of great warriors and administrators for the empire.
  • Raja Todar Mal, an expert in revenue affairs, rose to the position of Diwan.
  • Birbal was a favourite companion of Akbar.
  • Mewar and Marwar were the two Rajput kingdoms that defied the Mughal Empire.
  • After the death of Rana Udai Singh, his son Rana Pratap Singh refused to acknowledge Akbar’s suzerainty and continued to fight the Mughals till his death in 1597.
  • The Battle of Haldighati in 1576 was the last pitched battle between the Mughal forces and Rana Pratap Singh. In Marwar (Jodhpur), the ruler Chandra Sen, son of Maldeo Rathore, resisted the Mughals till his death in 1581, though his brothers fought on the side of the Mughals.
  • Udai Singh, the brother of Chandra Sen was made the ruler of Jodhpur by Akbar.
  • Akbar’s capital was at Agra in the beginning.
  • Later he built a new city at Fatehpur Sikri.
  • Though a deserted city now, it still stands with its beautiful mosque and great Buland Darwaza and many other buildings.

Mansabdari System

  • Akbar provided a systematic and centralised system of administration which contributed to the success of the empire.
  • He introduced the Mansabdari system.
  • The nobles, civil and military officials combined into one single service with each officer receiving the title of Mansabdar.
  • Mansabdar rank was divided into Zat and Sawar.
  • The former determined the number of soldiers each Mansabdar received ranging from 10 to 10,000.
  • The latter determined the number of horses under a Mansabdar.
  • Each officer could rise from the lowest to the highest ranks.
  • Promotions and demotions were made through additions or reductions of Mansabs.
  • The Mansabdari system diversified the ethnic base of his nobility.
  • During Akbar’s early years the nobles were drawn exclusively from Central Asians or Persians.
  • But after the introduction of the Mansabdari system, the nobility encompassed Rajputs and Shaikhzadas (Indian Muslims).
  • The salary of a Mansabdar was fixed in cash but was paid by assigning him a jagir (an estate from which he could collect money in lieu of his salary), which was subjected to regular transfers.
  • The rank of Mansabdar was not hereditary and immediately after the death of a Mansabdar, the jagir was resumed by the state.

Akbar’s Religious Policy

  • Akbar began his life as an orthodox Muslim but adopted an accommodative approach under the influence of Sufism.
  • Akbar was interested to learn about the doctrines of all religions, and propagated a philosophy of Sulh-i-Kul (peace to all).
  • Badauni, a contemporary author, who did not like Akbar’s inter-religious interests, accused him of forsaking Islam.
  • Akbar had established an Ibadat Khana (1575), a hall of worship in which initially Muslim clerics gathered to discuss spiritual issues.
  • Later he invited Christians, Zoroastrians, Hindus, Jains and even atheists to discussions.
  • In 1582, he discontinued the debates in the Ibadat Khana as it led to bitterness among different religions.
  • However, he did not give up his attempt to know the Truth.
  • Akbar discussed personally with the leading lights of different religions like Purushotam and Devi (Hinduism), Meherji Rana (Zorastrianism), the Portugese Aquaviva and Monserrate (Christianity) and Hira Vijaya Suri (Jainism) Malik Ambar
    to ascertain the Truth.
  • Because of the discussions he felt that behind the multiplicity of names there was but one God.
  • The exact word used by Akbar and Badauni to illustrate the philosophy of Akbar is Tauhid-i-Ilahi namely Din Ilahi.
  • Tauhid-i-Ilahi literally meant divine monotheism.
  • It can be considered a sufistic order but not a new religion.
  • He had become a Pir (Sufi Guru) who enrolled Murids (Sufi disciples) who would follow a set pattern of rules ascribed by the Guru.
  • Thousands of disciples enrolled as his disciples.
  • Akbar’s intention was to establish a state based on the concept of secular principles, equal toleration, and respect to all sections irrespective of their religious beliefs.
  • He set up a big translation department for translating works in Sanskrit, Arabic, Greek, etc, into Persian.
  • The Ramayana, Mahabharata, the Atharva Veda, the Bible and the Quran were translated into Persian.
  • The Din Ilahi ceased to exist after Akbar.

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