Akbar the great was a reformist emperor. Although in his initial days as emperor he was known to be a conqueror and ruthless warrior but as the days went by he matured and turned into a benevolent emperor.
Akbar is called great because of the great social and religious reforms he introduced in the medieval times although he faced great resistance to many of them
- In the year 1562, emperor Akbar prohibited the custom of enslaving prisoners of war and selling their wives and children to highest bidders in open bazaars. Although this practice still continued for a few more centuries(as bonded labour it still exists in many parts of asia even in 21st century) but still many prisoners and their family benefited and were set free by their owners after Akbar’s new law came into existence.
- The second reform he introduced was to remove jaziya tax and pilgrimage tax. The pilgrimage tax was imposed on all citizens of empire(except mughals) who went to places of worship. This was abolished by Akbar in 1563 and all citizens could travel freely across the empire to visit places of worship. The second tax jaziya was introduced in 11th century muslim rulers on majority hindu’s to go to any place of worship. This was done to force them to convert to Islam. But Akbar abolished this tax too in the year 1564. This tax was being collected arbitrarily and based on how rich and how many people wanted to travel from one place to another. So all people irrespective of their religion could travel freely without paying any extra tax to visit their place of worship. There is a story that Akbar came to know of these taxes while hunting in mathura forest.
- Akbar was the first ruler to appoint Hindus in high positions in court in large numbers. Out of this 9 Navrathna’s(9 Jewels) Raja Birbal, Raja Man Singh, Raja Todramal were from the majority Hindu community. Many officers in state level were also hindu’s. Abdul Rahim Khan e Khanan another Navratna’s mother was from Lord Krishna’s family. So many hindus got an opportunity to participate in decision making and given high ranks.
- Akbar banned practice of child marriage in his empire. The marriage age was increased to 14 years for girls and 16 years for boys. Cousins were prohibited from marrying.
- Akbar introduced marriage registration policy in his empire. Any couple who married had to register their marriage in local kotwali(police station).
- Marriage tax was introduced to prevent multiple marriages.
- Akbar promoted widow remarriage and even provided grants to widows
- Akbar banned forcible sati practice. All kotwalis(police station) were instructed to allow sati only and only if the woman was willing to burn on the pyre. Humayun had introduced sati ban during his regime too but it was strictly followed only after Akbar’s accession
- Akbar introduced mansabdari system and divided his empire into 15 subhas(Organized Group) and each sabha had a subedhar(Governor). These subhas were divided into Sarkars(State) and they were under Faryadar. The sarkars were futher divided into Parganas(District) and they were under Choudary’s. Big Towns were kept under Kotwals(Police Commissioners)
- Raja Todarmal introduced scientific taxation system that reduced tax burden on poor people. The land was divided into Pulaj, Parouti, Chachar and Bhanjar. The tenants paid tax directly to the governor and no middle man or landlord could force them to give any additional tax.
- Akbar cancelled the state policy of ullema(muslim religious leader) supremacy in decision making and ensured that state and religion policy was kept seperate.
- Akbar started the Ibadat Khana or religious debate in 1565 in Fatehpur Sikri and jains, buddist, hindu, christians etc were invited to debate on various aspects of religion
- Akbar separated criminal law from religion and a single criminal law was introduced for the entire empire
- Akbar introduced civil laws as per religion and all religions could decide civil disputes as per their holy book and past customs
- He introduced Sul I Khul(Peace for all) policy in politics
- In 1581 a census was made of the population of the entire empire
- In 1582 Akbar brought an order banning slavery and keeping slaves as a punishable offence
- In 1582 the judges(Qazis) and Subedhars(Governors) of Mughal empire could not give capital punishment to anyone without Akbars approval
- The killing on small birds and reptiles for any activities was banned
- Public hospitals were introduced in many cities on the orders of the emperor where people could get free treatment
- Akbar banned eating non vegetarian food on his accession day(Thursday)
- Akbar banned killing of animals on first day of the week as the day is sacred to Sun. Animals could not be killed on important festival days of hindus and jains and Buddhists etc
- Akbar banned cow slaughter completely
- Akbar opened the schools(meant for rich and powerful) and muslims to other children and for first time hindu and muslim kids studied together. Apart from religious teachings maths, accounts, astronomy, history etc were introduced in their curriculum. Many private schools too flourished. Makthab was the elementary school that was attached to every mosque where kids were taught basic reading, writing and arthemetic. Madrasas were the higher secondary and colleges. Akbar started them at agra, delhi, fatekhpur, lahore and other courtiers started them at other places.
- Akbar wanted wine to be sold only on doctor prescription as he could not ban wine consumption completely.
- Akbar set up places for beggars and destitutes were they could have free meals. Dormotories for muslim beggarswere called Khairpura, for Hindus Dharampura and for jogis as Jogipura. These meals were sponsored at state cost.
- Akbar tried banning gambling but it was impossible to do so. So he levied a fine on them and even introduced loans from state exchequer to gamblers who had ruined all their wealth so they could start afresh.
- Akbar not only allowed his sons to learn about Quran but his second son Murad was taught Bible- the Christian Holy Book and Daniyal his third son was appointed a priest from Kashi to learn about Hindu religious teachings.
- Many hindu religious texts were translated to Persian, Arabic and Chatagi language. Abul Rahim Khan e Khana translated Ramayana to Persian, Abdul Fazal was incharge of translating Mahabharat to Persian(which took 5 years) and Bhagvad Gita was translated to Persian and Urdu.
- Akbar introduced equal property rights to all daughters in fathers property.
2 thoughts on “Why is Akbar called the Great”
hello, this is very awesome information bus could you please make footnotes and references as to what your sources for this information are. This would be greatly appreciated.
It may be tough now to update bibliography for every data as i will have to go and read books again and give references. I have given reference for important posts like Akbar children etc
This post data is taken majorly from
Ain-I-akbari by ABU FAZL
Akbar nama by ABU FAZL
Muntakhab-ut-tawarikh by Abdul quadir badauni