Born 1542; died 1605. Ruler of the Mogul empire in India from 1556.
Akbar strengthened the power of the Mogul dynasty and through conquest extended the state boundaries to include the territories from Balkh in the north to the Godavari River in the south, including Kashmir and present-day Afghanistan, and the territories from the east coast to the west coast. In combating the separatism of the feudal lords, he introduced a number of measures limiting the autonomy of the big jagirdars. In 1574 he attempted to liquidate the jagir system, to pay prominent military leaders from the state treasury instead of with land, and to entrust tax collection to the government officials. These policies provoked the opposition of the Muslim jagirdar feudal lords. With the aim of broadening the social base of Mogul rule in India and of winning over the leaders of Hindu society, Akbar, in contrast to previous Muslim rulers, began to promote Hindus to important government positions. He strengthened ties with the Rajput principalities through dynastic marriages, and the Rajput cavalry became the core of Akbar’s army. He introduced a new religion, Din-i-Ilani (Divine Faith), which was an eclectic blend of beliefs and rituals borrowed mainly from Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, and Parsiism. Akbar was recognized as leader of the new religion, embodying in his person both earthly and religious authority. An outstanding statesman and a daring and able military leader, he had a great thirst for knowledge although he was illiterate.
REFERENCESAntonova, K. A. Ocherki obshchestvennykh otnoshenii i politicheskogo stroia Mogol’skoi Indii vremen Akbara (1556–1605). Moscow, 1952.
Smith, V. A. Akbar, the Great Mogul. Oxford, 1917.
K. A. ANTONOVA