Why did Salim rise in revolt against Akbar in 1599?
There are few reasons for Salim’s revolt
Salim was adviced by his close associates that since Akbar was in Deccan during 1599, he should loot the agra treasury and prove himself independently
Salim wanted to be emperor early on because Salim was a big alcoholic and was scared that he may die young before becoming an emperor and Akbar was in good health at that time.
The below three reasons made Salim revolt to prove himself
Salim was angry at Akbar giving more preference to Daniyal over him – like the red tent that only emperor could display, Daniyal had Akbars permission to display it during battle
Salim was vary of Akbar favouring his son Khursau and giving him more commands and jagirs as this was a first indication of Akbar thinking to make Khusrau his heir instead of Salim
Man Singh, Khan e Khana Rahim(Bairam Khans son), Aziz Koka(Milk brother of Akbar) all were powerful ministers in Akbars court and wanted Khusrau to be declared next heir over Prince Salim
Apart from those immediate reasons here are a few more that caused rift between father and son
When Salim was hardly 24-25 years old once Akbar fell very ill with severe stomach infection. Abul Fazl his friend suggested that Prince Salim may have poisoned Akbar. Akbar in pain called out to Salim and said “Sheiku baba, this entire empire is yours why did you poison me?” in front of all the present individuals. Salim felt shocked as he had not really poisoned Akbar and walked out of the room. Later on it was discovered that Akbar had eaten some cooked stale meat and hence had fallen unwell. But by then Salim was too hurt and angry to forgive either Akbar and especially Abul Fazl. This build up of anger and hatred led him to finally killing Abul Fazl as he felt Fazl was filling Akbars ears against him.
Salim once was ordered by Akbar to bring entire entourage of Akbar’s harem(Akbars wives and women) to Kashmir by Akbar(where he was camping). On the way there was a snow strom and land slide so Salim left the women safely in the plains and travelled to Akbar’s camp to inform him of this matter. Akbar turned to Abul Fazl for advice and he informed Akbar that it was not Prince Salim’s authority to decide what to do but follow Akbars orders which he had failed. An enraged Akbar himself rode to the Harem and got them to his camp. This left Salim red faced and he refused to come out of his tent or eat anything for a full day.
Salim’s alleged love affair with Meherunissa (future Nur Jahan) is said to be another thorn in father-son relation although no historical evidence exists of this love affair before marriage. Akbar was not in favour of his son marrying a Iranian refugee’s daughter whose father was only a clerk but rose to Prime Minister position in later years as he was not a nobel or royal family. Already anarkali(not definite) affair must have created enough rift in them and add to that a few more love affairs by Salim would have only angered Akbar further.
Salim ordering Abul Fazls death who was Akbars chronicler and best friend really agitated Akbar. He had Salim imprisoned for few days after Salim returned to Agra after revolt.
The exact reason of why Salim ordered his death cannot be truly known
But Jehangir states in Jehangirnama that with Abul Fazls death he can now go and meet Akbar without any fear(quote below). But right from a young age Salim had issues with Abul Fazl.
One was the Akbar’s illness incidence where Abul Fazl wrongly suggested Salim of trying to kill Akbar.
Second incident was the Kashmir incident where Akbar admonished Salim for leaving harem behind because of snow storm and coming alone to his camp.
Third incident was when Prince Daniyal fell in love with a hindu widow whom he had saved during sati and wanted to marry her which Akbar did not approve of it was Salim who helped Daniyal to marry this young widow.
Quote from Jehangirnama by Emperor Jehangir on Abul Fazl death
At that time, because of the corruption of mischief-makers, my exalted father’s mind was quite turned against me, and it was certain that if [Abu’l- Fazl] succeeded in reaching him he would create more discord and prevent [me] from rejoining [my father]. It was therefore absolutely necessary that he be prevented from reaching him. Since Bir Singh Deo’s territory lay in his path, and at that time [Bir Singh] was in the circle of insurgents,I sent him a message that he should waylay the miscreant and dispatch him to nonexistence, in return for which he could expect great rewards from me. Success smiled on the endeavor, and as [Abu’1-Fazl] was passing through [Bir Singh Deo’s] territory, [Bir Singh] blocked his path, scattered his men in a skirmish, and killed him, sending his head to me in Allahabad. Although this caused distress to His Majesty Arsh-Ashyani [Akbar], in the end it resulted in my being able toproceed to kiss the threshold of my exalted father’s court without fear, and little by little the bad blood between us subsided.
Right from childhood there is lot of difference in Salim and Akbars characteristic. Salim’s forgiving Shakti Singh for saving brother Pratap by killing three mughal soldiers in battle of haldighatti must have infuriated Akbar. Akbar and Salim’s friends and advisors never missed a single opportunity to widen the rift between father and son. The father son were never on great talking terms to resolve their issues among themselves because of ego clashes and allowed others to take advantage of this. Salims love affairs with commoners and girls not of Akbars liking also added to the deep fissures between them.
One incident that stands out is that Akbar sent one of his senior minister to admonish Salim and Salim complained to his father that the minister was very rude while speaking to him. Akbar had that ministers tounge cut off. Although that minister was just carrying out Akbars orders. Now a question arises why Akbar himself cannot go and admonish his son or call him to his presence and admonish him? Why he requires a minister and admonish Salim? This and such incidents show that there was a great deep fissure in Salim-Akbar relation from long before Salim actually revolted.
Reference: Akbarnama, Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh,