You are on page 1of 7

What were the difficulties faced by Akbar during the period

1556-1564? How did he overcome them?

"His majesty [Akbar] plans splendid edifices ... Thus
mighty fortresses have been raised, which protect
the timid, frighten the rebellious, and please the
- Abul Fazl, Ain-i-Akbari (Regulations of Akbar), c. 1590

Miracles occur in the temples of every creed.
Humayun’s death had been a blow to the Mughals and it was totally
unexpected. It had only been a year since he had recaptured Delhi and
the kingdom was still young. His son Jalal-ad-din Akbar was then formally
seated on the throne of the Mughal Empire. In the course of the next ten
years of young Akbar’s reign he faced several crises both from internal
threats and from external ones. In this essay we shall look at what some
of those problems were that Akbar had to deal with in the initial years of
his reign.
The major sources which throw light on Akbar’s period are divided into
three categories; official, personal and foreign accounts. Abul Fazl’s
akbarnama and ain-i-akbari which are the official accounts of the official
court chronicler. In these works Akbar is presented as an exalted monarch.
Another official account was that of Nizamuddin Ahmad. Abdul Qadir
Badauni’s account muntakhab-ut-tawarikh is a personal account which is
highly critical of Akbar. Badauni’s work is important as it provides a
different perspective from that of the other historians and provides details
that are either missing or avoided in the other accounts. There are also
accounts by foreign travellers and Jesuit missionaries which however
suffer from personal prejudices.
Since Akbar was very young at the time of him becoming the emperor,
Behram Khan who was very close to Humayun and had been a favourite
official of Humayun was appointed the khan-i-khana and the vakil of the
empire. He was one of the most powerful nobles of the camp and initially
the nobles agreed to support this decision since the empire facing many
difficulties and a powerful leader was needed to ensure the safety of the

he would share it with them too. So Akbar decided to tactfully deal with the situation and so on the pretext of going for a hunting expedition. The fourth phase is from 1559-1560 when Akbar begins to assert his authority and reclaims power from Behram Khan. In 1556. soon after the coronation of the young emperor. but his views were not always taken into account by the now very powerful Behram khan. Behram khan sent the army to meet him under Tardi Beg but the Mughal army was defeated. But when he sent them off to different parts of the empire on various tasks. Many of the Mughal army officials had fled from the battle when they realised that they could not resist the attacks of Hemu and Tardi Beg was one among them. when Behram khan rose to prominence and suppressed the other nobles by sending them away to parts of the empire. She resents the rise of Behram khan and with the support of the other nobles tries to curtail his powers. This incident caused much confusion and resentment in the court and Beharam khan used this as a pretext to rise to power. the realised that he had different intentions. Within the court Behram khan faced much opposition from Akbar’s foster parents and mainly from the Turkish nobles. Delhi came under attack by the Afghans from Bihar which was led on the led by Hemu. The first phase was up to the period of 1566 when he was Akbar’s tutor and the other nobles had sanctioned his rise to power based on his promise to keep the Afghans at bay. Iqtadar Alam Khan divides the period of Behram Khan into 4 phases. During the four years of Behram khan’s reign the Mughal Empire faced many dangers and threats but also showed considerable progress. The second phase was from 1556-57. Behram khan could not entirely understand the . She states that Akbar needs to consulted on important decision and they should be presented before him such as in the case of the decision to execute Tardi Beg. The senior nobles had hoped that once he came to power. The dominant Sunni nobility felt that Behram khan being a Shia Muslim. The third phase was from 1557-59 when the harem arrives from Kabul. had undermined their powers and was creating a nobility that favoured the men of his own creed or men who were entirely subservient to his will. Akbar fled from Agra to Delhi and there he rallied the nobles and his troops. The execution of Tardi Beg who was a Turk was considered by these nobles as an act of hostility towards them. By 1560. Akbar knew he had to confront his tutor but at the same time was wise enough to realise that an open conflict might jeopardise his position. Behram khan then had him executed as punishment for it.empire. The Afghans were still powerful and remained powerful in many areas within the Indian subcontinent such as Hemu in Bihar and Bahadur Shah in Gujarat. Akbar wanted to assert his position.

Winston Smith calls the phase when Akbar was dominated by his foster family as a petticoat government. But this resulted in his defeat which was then followed by Akbar giving him two options. the Uzbeks. Akbar had Adham khan killed. Maham Anagam. The Turnai nobility consisted of 4 main groups. The wet nurses of the emperor were incorporated into the foster family which was a practice of central Asian tradition. Adham khan was recalled from Malwa and when he killed Shamsuddin who was believed to be the jure vakil . Behram khan chose the latter and decided to go to Mecca. These nobles resented the centralising policies of Akbar and many of them began to revolt. but on his way . to either remain in the court as a subordinate to Akbar and not as a regent or to go to Mecca on holy pilgrimage. Akbar then confronted him. This is clearly reflected through the actions of Adham khan. The Atka Khayl was the foster family and the Chagatai’s were also part of the Uzbeks. the foster family and the nobles who had supported Akbar against Behram khan hoped for a higher share in power. had the 2 concubines killed so that it would not cause further problems. When Akbar tried to centralise his empire and assert his authority. When Akbar came to know of this. he refused to send the war booty to Akbar. The first rebellion was that of Abdullah . This swift action helped prevent further bloodshed as Shamsuddin’s eldest son was preparing to take revenge. the Mirza's and the Atka Khayl. He decided to then take up arms to punish his enemies. at which Adham khan offered up everything to Akbar except for 2 concubines which he kept for himself. the son of Maham Anagam when after the conquest of Malwa. he was killed by Mubarak Khan Nohani. However Akbar had many of them sent to different parts of the empire in order to better control them and limit their powers. The Uzbek revolts and rebellions were a problem which was actually the beginning of the opposition of the Chagatai’s being presented. She along with the other Turkish nobles had tried to curtail the powers of Behram Khan. A second major problem that Akbar faced was from his foster family. Now that Behram khan was removed. it led to conflicts with the foster family. They resented the centralising policies of Akbar which prevented them from retaining the war booty and other tributes. All of them revolted at some point or the other. came to Delhi in 1557 from Kabul. the Chagatai. Maham Anagam the harem.situation and he felt that the emperor was acting under the influence of the nobles. The Uzbek nobles began asserting regional autonomy and there were several rebellions in the period between 156162. while passing through Gujarat. The opposition of the Chagatai’s eventually manifested itself in the form of the Uzbek rebellions. There was growing resentment among them as they believed in the Chengizi tradition of sharing power among the elites.

In 1565 Akbar was informed of the rebellion being planned by Iskandar Khan Uzbek. . to pay homage and also to seek protection as his brother Askaran was trying to build an alliance with the Afghans and claim the throne of Amer. It was these rebellions that led Akbar to broaden the base of the nobility and look for new alliances. Akbar however did not consider this too much and considered an alliance with them as the way into dealing with the rest of the Rajputs. The Kachwahas were a very minor group among the Rajputs but this did not concern Akbar much as he saw this alliance as an inroad to other Rajput relations. The Kachwaha land was very near to Agra and Delhi and also their lands were flat plains which left them open to attacks from these different areas. there is no clear evidence regarding this. Although popular legend refers to this princess as Jodha Bhai. They were given jagirs in the Sambal region. There were also other Uzbeks who refused to send the tribute such as Ibrahim khan Uzbek.khan Uzbek of Malwa who refused to send Akbar the tribute. the raja Bara Mal came to meet Akbar on his way back from Ajmer. Even during the time of Babur. in which he faced defeat. The first Mirza rebellion was in 1560 under Mohammed sultan Mirza who was related to Akbar. they were pardoned and given back their jagirs. He had earlier recaptured Malwa for the Mughal Empire and had become the governor of the province. They attempted marching to Delhi to capture power but there were repressed by the local Mughal governor. The other Uzbek officials also joined hands in this rebellion but they were ultimately defeated by Akbar. Sikander Khan Uzbek and Khan-i-Zaman Uzbek. In 1562. All these rebellions led Akbar to bring about many reforms within the nobility itself in order to prevent such rebellions. The Mirza's were a small faction in Akbar’s court and were a part of the Chagatai nobility and aspired for greater share in power. So the Kachwaha family was sinking into ruin. Besides the Kachwahas were very good warriors. They were yet again defeated by Akbar and this time too they were pardoned. Akbar was constantly on the move suppressing these rebellions mainly through the use of force. There was a need to transform those chieftains who saw themselves as autonomous or semi-autonomous. The Mirzas were a minor threat when compared to the Uzbeks. The Rajput policy of Akbar can be traced to 1562 when Akbar marries the daughter of raja Bara Mal of Amer. we see his conflict with Rana Sangha of Sissodiya. Some of them managed to escape and fled to Gujarat. It eventually led to an a conflict between Akbar and Abdullah khan and the latter was defeated in this in 1564. However. The final rebellion was in 1567 when these Uzbek nobles pledged their loyalty to Mirza Muhammad Hakim who Akbar had driven back to Kabul. Babur was also advised by the Safavid ruler to ally with the Rajputs.

Rajputana was very strategically located and provided the shortest route to the Deccan. According to A.In 1563. But this act did not really help to improve the relations with them as only the Kachwahas were willing to enter into alliance with the Mughals. C. The siege of Chittor lasted for over four months from October 1567-february1568. Also the Rajputs were known for their bravery and valour in battle and Akbar realised that they would be a good addition to his forces. In addition they provided access to the rich mercantile ports of Gujarat and Malwa. Akbar attacks chittor and lays siege to it. So in 1568.P. In the following years most Rajput houses accepted Mughal alliance and were inducted into Mughal nobility. Akbar soon realised that his liberal policy with the Rajputs had not helped in creating new alliances and so he decides to shift to a more harsher policy involving military force. So we see that during the first phase of Akbar’s reign as emperor of the Mughal Empire. He had to initially shake off all the power and other ties which . Abul Fazl claims that it was the arrogant nature of the Rana of Sissodiya that led to the attack. Akbar was the only Muslim ruler who dreamt of Indian unity and the alliance formed an integral part of his religious policy of building a state that was not based and supported by Muslims alone. I. Badauni blames the Rajput relations as the reason for the change in the ideological outlook of Akbar.A. Triparti. Akbar faced much criticism from his nobility and the ulema for his attempts to include new members in the nobility as they felt that he was not taking up the cause of Islam as a true Muslim ruler should. Akbar hoped that its conquest would lead to the Rajputs accepting Mughal sovereignty. Bayly and I. Khan talk about neo-liberalism and talk of Akbar’s attempt to create a composite culture and a cohesive empire.A. he had to face several difficulties which he had to overcome. Since chittor was the capital of the Sissodiyas. But despite this Akbar continued to try and build up his relations with the Rajputs and there were some advantages that were offered with an alliance with them. There was a lot of bloodshed and after the Mughals had captured it.A. the fathnama(declaration of victory) was read in the name of the Mughal rulers.Srivastav.Khan says that these alliances were an attempt on the part of Akbar to create a heterogeneous nobility as the Uzbek and Mirza rebellions led him to believe that they could not be entirely depended on.L. R. Akbar abolished the jaziya in order to better the relations with the Rajputs even though this tax had existed only in paper and was not really implemented.

Aligarh Muslim University. The Formation of the Mughal Empire. Oxford University Press. Streusand.were trying hard to control him and gain access to power such as his regent and his foster family. 1497-1575. Orient Longman for the Department of History. He also then had to deal with the external threats that he faced from the different parts of the empire. > Irfan Habib. . 1973. Oxford University Press. BIBLIOGRAPHY > Iqtidar Alam Khan . 2003. we also see that he often pardoned the rebels and those who went against him. And finally. both through his liberal policy and also through military force. Akbar had to deal with the Rajputs and relations with them. 1997. In addition to all this he had to face the several rebellions and revolts from the various nobles who were always trying to carve out independent spheres of power for themselves. 1989.The Political Biography of a Mughal Noble: Munim Khan Khan-i Khanan. Akbar and his India. Oxford University Press. Essays on medieval Indian history. While Akbar had to use force in many instances. > Douglas E. In these ways Akbar managed to deal with the several problems that he faced mainly during the initial phase of his reign from 1556-1564. > Satish Chandra.

2003. Arpith Isaac III History . > Satish Chandra. > Khaliq Ahmad Nizami. 1995. 1989. Richards. Cambridge University Press. Akbar and his Religion. Oxford University Press. Essays on medieval Indian history. The Mughal Empire.> John F.