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Episodes in The Life of Akbar Contemporary Records and Reminiscences

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Item Code: HAQ196
Author: Shireen Moosvi
Publisher: National Book Trust, India
Language: English
Edition: 2015
ISBN: 9788123709376
Pages: 148
Other Details 8.5x5.5 inch
Weight 200 gm
Book Description

Akbar has a lasting place in our history as empire-builder, upholder of religious tolerance, creator of an innovative cultural tradition and a man who recognised India not only as his own but as a country with a distinct political and cultural personality. It happens too that, largely owing to his own interest in history as well as his accessibility to so many people, he remains the person in India most intimately described by contemporaries before modern times.

As part of the national celebrations of the 450th anniversary of his birth, it was decided to make a selection of the numerous contemporary pen portraits of Akbar and reports of episodes of his career. In this selection that is now presented to the reader, eye-witness accounts are generally preferred. It is hoped that he will be able to see at close quarters not only what Akbar was like, but what the times were like.

The passages are taken mainly from Persian texts, published and in manuscript. A bibliographical note on these sources and the mode of translation is provided at the end, where a short list for further reading will also be found.

Full references are also furnished in the notes preceding the excerpts.

Now for acknowledgements: I am grateful to Professor Irfan Habib who made many suggestions for improvement throughout. Professor Iqtidar Alam Khan gave me references to some passages. Professor S.P. Verma and Mr S. Ali Nadeem Rezavi have helped me in locating reproductions of contemporary miniatures.

Introducing Akbar- A Brief Biography

It may be helpful to the reader to have some basic facts about Akbar's career before he begins his reading of the contemporary narratives presented in this book Akbar's grandfather Babur, the fugitive prince from.

Ferghana and founder of the Mughal dynasty in India, has his own place in history as the author of his wonderful memoirs. His empire was lost within ten years of his death (1530) by his son Humayun, and it was when Humayun was in flight that he married Hamida Banu (1541), and Akbar was born (1542). The infant Akbar was separated from his parents who fled to Iran, he passed into the custody of his uncles, first at Qandahar, and then from 1545 at Kabul. His uncles' hostility to Humayun meant that he was little better than a captive, but he was himself well-treated, even pampered. Humayun recovered his son along with the Kabul fort at the end of 1545, and, henceforth, but for a short interval when Humayun lost Kabul again to his brother Kamran (1545-46), Akbar remained with his parents. They tried to give him the best education, but the boy remained wayward and little inclined to conventional learning. His later claims to 'illiteracy' were, however, only true to the extent that he never wrote himself. Later in life he loved to have books read out to him and was an excellent judge of Calligraphy. Humayun's dogged persistence at last paid off, and he was able to return to India (1555), though death soon overtook him at his capital Delhi (1556). Akbar, a boy of fourteen, was now crowned at Kalanaur in the Gurdaspur district of the Punjab. The Mughal empire extended from Kabul to just Delhi, and it was threatened by a reorganised Afghan opposition under Hemu. The task of saving it was largely performed by Akbar's guardian' Bairam Khan. He controlled the administration during the first four years of the reign (1556-60), but then Akbar carried out a coup and dismissed him. From now on Akbar was his own master, a fact which took many people some time to recognise. He overcame serious difficulties, such as the tumult upon the murder of Shamsuddin Atka Khan (1563), the Uzbek revolt (1564-65), and the revolt of the Mirzas (1566-67). He imaginatively began to enlarge the ranks of his nobility by bringing in the Rajputs (beginning with the famous settlement with Amber, 1562) and Indian Muslims, and promoting Iranian immigrants. His first measures of religious tolerance (abolition of pilgrim tax, 1563, and of jizya or poll-tax on Hindus, 1564) indicated that he was also prepared to give a new turn to Mughal.

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