AKBAR, JALĀL UD-DĪN MUHAMMAD (1542-1605), third in the line of Mughal emperors of India, was born on 23 November 1542 at Amarkoṭ, in Sindh, while his father, Humāyūṅ, was escaping to Persia after he had been ousted by Sher Khān Sūr. Akbar was crowned king at Kalānaur, in the Punjab, on 14 February 1556. At that time, the only territory he claimed was a small part of the Punjab, Delhi and Āgrā having been taken by Hemū. He was then fourteen years old, but he proved himself a great general and conqueror. Upon his death in 1605, he left to his son and successor, Jahāṅgīr, a stable kingdom comprising the whole of Upper India, Kābul, Kashmīr, Bihār, Bengal, Oṛīssā and a great part of the Deccan.
Great soldier as he was, it is as an administrator that he gained the highest fame. His revenue reforms and his liberal religious policy won him popular acclaim. He abolished jizyah, capitation tax on non- Muslims, and the pilgrimage tax Hindus had to pay. He curbed the power of the 'ulamā. Although illiterate himself, he was genuinely interested in the study of comparative religion and built an 'ibādat-khānā (house of worship) where learned men of all religions assembled to discourse on theological issues. These discussions convinced Akbar that there were good and positive elements in all religions and prompted him to promulgate a new eclectic faith called Dīn-i-Ilāhī (Divine Faith), which he vainly hoped would prove acceptable to all of his subjects.
The Sikh chronicles refer to Akbar's amicable relations with Gurū Amar Dās, Nānak III. They also allude to Akbar's visit to Goindvāl where he had to eat in the Sikh community refectory like any other pilgrim before he could see the Gurū. As the Mahimā Prakāsh records, the Emperor refused to step on the silks spread out for him by his servants when going to call on Gurū Amar Dās. He turned aside the lining with his own hands and walked to the Gurū's place barefoot. As recorded in Abul Fazl's, Akbar- nāmā, a contemporary source, Akbar also visited Gurū Arjan at Goindvāl on 24 November 1598. At the Gurū's instance, he remitted the annual revenue of the peasants of the district, who had been hit hard by the failure of the monsoon. According to another account, complaints were made to Akbar that the Holy Book of the Sikhs, Granth Sāhib, contained references derogatory to Islam and other religions. Akbar, who was then encamped at Baṭālā in the Punjab, sent for Gurū Arjan. The Gurū despatched Bhāī Buḍḍhā and Bhāī Gurdās with the Holy Volume. The book was opened at random and read from a spot pointed out by Akbar. The hymn was in praise of God. So were the others read out subsequently. Akbar was highly pleased and made an offering of fifty-one gold mohars to the Granth Sāhib. He presented Bhāī Buḍḍhā and Bhāī Gurdās with robes of honour and gave a third one for the Gurū.
Akbar died at Āgrā on 16 October 1605 and was succeeded by his son, Jahāṅgīr.
Srī Rām Sharma