Some facts about Akbar
Here are some lesser known facts about Akbar.
Jallaluddin Muhammad Akbar as he came to be known was in reality his second name. The original name after birth was Badruddin Muhammad, ‘Badruddin’ meaning full moon of the religion as he was born in a full moon night. The Mughals generally kept names with the suffix “uddin” which means of religion. Following this tradition the names of the top six Mughal Emperors from Babur to Aurangzeb were Zahiruddin, Nasiruddin, Jallaluddin, Nurruddin, Shahabuddin, and Muinuddin. When Akbar was born Nasiruddin Muhamad Humayun his father was a fugitive temporarily in the shelter of Rana Parshad, the lord of the small fortress town of Umarkot. Hamida Banu Begum Akbar’s mother was only 14 when she gave birth, on a full moon night in November 23rd in 1542. The happy father named his first born ‘Badruddin’, coupled with Muhammad and Akbar.’ Muhammad’ his middle name being after the Prophet, ‘Akbar’ after Hamida’s father Ali Akbar. Later during the circumcision ceremony Humayun’s relations and friends being grossly superstitious suggested changing the name of the child to Jallaluddin. The logic was to save the child from the activities of hostile astrologers who might tamper with his fate had they any information about his time of birth and location. Hence the child’s name was changed to Jallaluddin and his date of birth was moved back to October 15. The true story of his original name and real date of birth obliterated from the pages of history until Jauhar the personal attendant of Humayun published the information some forty years later.
- Marriage to Rajput Princess:
In the middle of January 1562 Akbar started for Ajmer with a small contingent. At Deosa a place midway between Agra and Ajmer Akbar meet Raja Bharmal the chief of Amer where he was offered the latter’s daughter as wife. Eventually the Rajput princess became mother of Salim (later Jahangir) her official title being Mariyam-Zamani. She is often confused with Mariyam Makani, Akbar’s mother. Mariyam Makani is not a posthumous title since even when she was alive Jahangir referred to her as Mariyam Makani!
- Education of children:
The Jesuit priest Monserrate wrote that although Akbar had three hundred wives, he had only three sons and a daughter. His second son Murad was given to the Jesuit priests for education. Murad along with children from other elite families were taught Christianity among other subjects. The Prince was a devoted student and he learnt to read and write quite soon. Akbar strictly observed the education of his children and everyday Murad had to recite to him all that he had learnt. Murad tried his best to please the Emperor and for that he had to work very hard. Although Akbar loved his children dearly he used to give them orders a bit roughly whenever he wanted something done. He even use to discipline them whenever they committed any mistake, there was no room for blind affection.
- Tax Relief:
Akbar sacrificed two big tax sources, one was the exemption of taxes on the Hindu pilgrims and the other was the Jiziya, the tax on non-Muslims. Akbar expressed the opinion that it was wrong to tax people just because they worship the Creator in various forms. Akbar was just twenty one or twenty two when he abolished these taxes it may have been a loss of two million Rupees. There was another interesting tax relief during war, when the Emperor with the Imperial army marched out of his capital; all those who provided the army with cheap grain and resources were given immediate tax relief!
- Akbar Military Discipline:
Akbar had great foresightedness and this often won the day for the troops. He was very particular about following orders, and whenever any officer failed to comply he inflicted severe punishments. Once while marching with the Imperial war the army came to place where there was a wide river. The Emperor ordered a young officer to find out if the river was fordable for the infantry, horses, elephants and baggage train to cross. He mentioned him a certain place some miles upstream and check whether the cavalry could for the river from that point. The young man rode upstream and after going few miles he inquired from the villagers about the existence of such a place. The villagers answered that there were no such place and the officer came back without result. When he informed Akbar that there was no such place, the Emperor asked whether he had gone to the place where he had directed. On finding that the young man did not go to the place he pointed, the furious Emperor asked him to be tied down upon an inflated ox hide and thrown into the river. The poor fellow was launched into the river thousands gathered around the bank to see this amazing spectacle as the officer, shouted, yelled and cried in utter desperation. After the Emperor had crossed the river he asked for the unfortunate man to be rescued and he was finally brought again in front of His Majesty. Akbar judged that he was now a royal property and his name to be included the inventory, ready to sale in the bazaar as a slave. A friend of this young officer immediately came to the rescue and purchased him by paying 80 pieces of gold which was paid to the royal treasury. Thus Akbar made an example why anyone should not disobey royal order.
- Diversity in Imperial Army
Akbar had in his army fighting men from all parts of the continent, there were Mongols, Persians, Turkish, Chagatai, Uzbegs, Kandahari, Balochi, Gujaratis and so on. The Chagatais shared common ancestry with Akbar, they belonged to the land beyond the Oxus which was ruled by Chagatai, Genghis Khan’s second son. The Mongols, Chagatai and Turks were excellent riders they could throw javelins at the enemy with remarkable accuracy. The Rajputs were also a part of Akbar’s army although the others did not have great opinion for them. The elephants were mostly under the control of the natives, and they were Akbar’s most dreadful war machines, protected with full armour they were medieval tanks who could tear the enemy formation in no time.
- Akbar’s food:
Akbar in his early years was very fond of food; he generally had forty dishes served. The dishes were brought into the royal dining hall covered in linen cloth and carefully sealed by the cook for fear of poison. From the royal kitchen youths carry the food to the royal dining hall accompanied by servants and master chef following. The food after reaching the main hall was delivered to the palace eunuchs who in turn would hand it over to the serving girls who finally arrange the Emperor’s table. Akbar generally took the food alone except when there is a public banquet.
- Akbar’s pigeons :
Akbar was a great pigeon lover he had more than 20000 pigeons divided into 10 groups in his palace. The pigeons were cared by eunuchs and servant maids. Their flights were controlled by eunuchs and servant maids like soldiers at a drill. The pigeons could somersault, dance and fly in order, and could return to the base all at once at the blow of whistles.
- Akbar’s fondness of art:
Akbar was very fond of building, often he engaged himself with other builders, and masons in stone cutting and carpentry. Often he would watch the workmen do their job, and took deep interest in these activities. He had various workshops of fine arts like, paintings, gold smithy, tapestry making, carpet and curtain making, and of course the manufacture of arms. He had varied interest and participated in all kinds of activities. Akbar had his labourers and construction workers told that they were to cut stones, and other jobs which produced noise to be done outside the palace, and only after the product was ready it was brought to place of construction where those were only fitted, and this way sound pollution inside palace was prevented.
- Akbar decision making:
Akbar was a keen learner; although illiterate he kept himself in the company of learned persons from whom he learnt many things. He had excellent decision making skill supplemented with good memory. Therefore while conversing with him anyone outside his circle would never feel that he was basically illiterate. While making a decision he would consult his chiefs individually and then come to a conclusion. The Jesuit priests who were in his palace say that even though the Emperor consulted his officers even when he had made up his mind on a particular subject, yet he took his decision on his own. Akbar had great sense of humour as well, once in campaign against the ruler of Kabul twelve soldiers were convicted of joining the enemy. Akbar imprisoned some of the prisoners for further interrogation and ordered the execution of the rest. While the prisoners were carried off by the executioner’s one of the prisoner shouted to the Emperor that he possessed a remarkable talent. Akbar asked him about the nature of talent, the prisoner said that he could sing very well. Akbar had him relieved and ordered him to sing in front of his commanders. The poor fellow sang in harsh tone, his voice was so unbearable that Akbar’s temper gave away to an outburst of laughter. Akbar then rereleased him saying his entertainment value was greater than his professional value and such persons should be at all times carefully preserved!