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The reality of Akbar that our history textbooks don’t teach!

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Jalaluddin Mohammed Akbar Moghal is often credited by history textbooks as a “great” and “tolerant” figure; in an attempt to show a non-existent “bright side” of the Mughal rule, which ruthlessly slaughtered Hindus and demolished some of the strongest pillars of Indian culture- our temples!

Jalaluddin Mohammed Akbar took the reins of the Mughal empire after his father, Humayun Moghal, accidently fell while climbing down the stairs of his royal library and died of severe brain trauma. At the age of 13, young Akbar took over the throne of his father in the garden of his palace in Kalanaur on 14th February, 1556. Due to his young age, the empire’s chief minister Bairam Khan was made the chief executive of Akbar till he could take over the affairs of the Mughal Sultanate. 


Eyeing over the throne, several Afghan rulers began plotting against the Mughal empire. One of these conspirators was Adil Shah, an Afghan prince who wanted to take over the throne of the Mughal empire. Hemu, the Chief Minister of Adil Shah, was tasked to overthrow the Mughal Sultanate and capture the territory surrounding Delhi. 

In the October of 1556, Hemu lead a surprise attack on the Mughal Empire which he decisively won after the Mughal generals escaped from the veteran war strategist’s wrath. After the sweeping victory, Hemu proclaimed himself as an independent ruler of Delhi and was crowned as Raja Vikramaditya ‘Hemu’ Chandra. 

Thirsty for revenge, Bairam Khan and Akbar rounded up their troops and battled the forces of Raja Vikramaditya in November 1556 at Panipat. During the battle, an arrow pierced into the skull of Raja Vikramaditya, making him fall unconscious on top of his elephant, Hawai. Bairam Khan’s soldiers got hold of the unconscious Raja Vikramaditya and presented him to the emperor. On the persistence of Bairam Khan, Akbar slayed the Raja in front of all his troops by a swift slash of his sword. 


Ideally, this should have been the end of the battle, since the Vedic practises say that the battle has ceased once the commander is dead. Wrongly thinking that Akbar would respect their practise, the soldiers of Raja Vikramaditya began returning to their bases. Akbar then ordered his troops to chase each soldier of his opponent and behead them, bringing back the skulls as trophies. After the gory incident, Akbar dispatched the head of the slayed Raja to Humayun’s harem in Kabul; and paraded the torso in Delhi as a sign of victory. After returning to Delhi, Akbar ordered his soldiers to build a tower of skulls belonging to Vikramaditya’s soldiers in the centre of the Mughal capital- giving him the title of Ghazi (slayer of non-believers).


In 1567, Akbar had adopted a policy of “marry-or-die”, where he began a process of marrying the women of the Rajput royal family. The Rana of Mewar, Uday Singh refused to give his daughter’s hand to marry Akbar. Outraged, Akbar waged a war against the kingdom of Mewar and attacked the fort of Chitod (Chitorgad) where 8,000 brave Rajputs were posted to guard the fortress. The Mughals used musket shots to attack the fort, which killed the commander of the Rajputs, Jai Mal. 

When the news of Jai Mal’s death spread amongst the inhabitants of the fort, utter panic and chaos ensued. Akbar was infamously known for taking the women of captured forts as sex slaves in his harems, but the brave Rajput women were not ready to lose their honour to a Mughal ruler. On the morning of 24th February 1567, Rajput women of Chitod jumped onto pyres to avoid being taken away as “pleasure women” in the harems of the Mughal rulers. 

(Depiction of the second battle of Panipat)

Patta Singh was made the leader of the remaining Rajput troops; the soldiers donned the colour saffron and were prepared for their last battle. A fight till death ensued, and every soldier who took part in the battle got martyred. The fort of Chitor was home to 30,000 Hindu peasants who got massacred on the orders of the Mughal Emperor. 

This battle proved to be a turning point in the life of Maharana Pratap Singh, who later tried to bring back the glory of Chitorgad. 

This would start a new episode in the History of Mediaeval India.


Mughal Emperor Akbar started the faith “Din-e-Illahi” which placed himself as a “prophet”, who should be worshipped by the adherents of his new “faith”. Neither was this faith adopted by those outside of his court, nor did his own children adopt his new religion. Infact, his son Jahangir slaughtered a Hindu “infidel” in public and received the title of “Ghazi”. 

Akbar had over 5,000 wives in his harems, and was regularly asked by his Sunni court officials to limit the number of his wives to 4, due to it being prescribed by the Quran. Miffed with the regular criticism of him violating the Quran, he founded the religion Din-e-illahi to moralise him having thousands of wives, which also included teenage girls from Russia and other countries. 

This served as a propaganda tool for the Mughal emperor to fool the public and make him gain a “tolerant” image amongst his people. 

1. The Great Moghuls, By B.Gascoigne, Harper Row Publishers, New York, 1972, p.15 
2. Same as ref. 1, pp. 68-75 
3. The Cambridge History of India, Vol. IV, Mughal India, ed. Lt. Col. Sir W.Haig, Sir R.Burn, S,Chand & Co., Delhi, 1963, pp. 71-73 
4. The Builders of The Mogul Empire, By M.Prawdin, Barnes & Noble Inc, New York, 1965, pp. 127-28
5. Same as ref. 1, pp. 88-93 
6. Same as ref. 3. pp. 97-99
7. Same as ref. 4, pp. 137-38 
8. An Advanced History of India, by R.C.Majumdar, H.C.Raychoudhury, K.Datta, MacMillen & Co., London, 2nd Ed, 1965, pp. 448-450 
9. Encyclopedia Britannica, 15 th Ed, Vol.21, 1967, p.65 10. Same as ref. 1, p. 85 
11.  The Cambridge History of India, Encyclopedia Britannica and other works based on Akbar-nama by Abul Fazl. 

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