Evaluate the Religious Policy of Akbar
The religious policy of Akbar the Great was the most liberal exponent of the policy of toleration among all Muslim ruler in India. However, his religious views went through a process of slow evolution. From his childhood Akbar had come in contact with Sujim. His Rajput wives and his contact with Hinduism made an impression on his imaginative mind. Meanwhile the Bhakti movement had created a new atmosphere in India.
Akbar observed the external forms of Sunni faith until 1575. He then came into contact with the liberal views of Shaikh Mubarak and his two sons Faizi and Abul Fazal. Akbar now caused a building to be constructed at Fatepur Sikri, called Ibadat Khana or the House of Worship. Here, selected men representing various schools of religious thought used to take part in religions discussions. After listening to all of them Akbar came to the conclusion the essence of all religions is one and the same.
Determined to challenge the excessive influence of the. Akbar proceeded step by step. He established himself as the supreme head in matters religion. In 1579, he issued the Infallibility Decree, and became the supreme arbitrator in matter of religion. He soon evolved a new religion of his own described as Din-i-Ilahi. This simple faith was based on certain rights and rules. It was confined to a selected few. In fact, Akbar never denied the authority of the Koran. His ideal was a grand synthesis of all that he considered to be the best in different religions.
Akbar was, by conviction, an annexationist. But he also believed in the efficiency of diplomacy. He was enough of a diplomat to realize that the Rajputs were a great and courageous people and that it would be difficult to overcome them in battles. At the same time he knew that he would not be able to consolidate his authority in India or extend his rule beyond the Vindhyas if Rajputana was to remain unsubdued. If, on the other hand, he could be a friend of the Rajputs, he would be able to extend his rule with the aid of the Rajputs who were well-known for their-fighting qualities.
Babur had won the battle of Khanua. He had merely scotched the power of the Rajputs, he could not kill it. Even alter that they continued to be powerful and were in no mood to submit to the Mughals. Akbar proceeded with caution. Instead of incurring their enmity he wanted to win them over by friendly gesture and conciliatory tactics. His policy soon began to bear fruit. In 1562, Raja Bahari Mall of Ambar submitted to Akbar’s authority and even entered into marriage relation with the great Mughal Emperor Akbar. Bihari Mall’s son and grandson, Bhagwan Das and Man Singh, rose in the Emperor’s favour and were admitted to very high ranks in the army. Several other Rajput princes accepted Akbar’s offer and reconciled themselves to imperial authority.
The Rajput policy of Akbar was wise and statesman like. He succeeded in bringing the majority of the Rajput kingdoms under his authority. What is more important, Akbar was able to enlist the support of the Rajputs in fighting his wars. It has been justly observed that “the Empire of Akbar was, in fact, the outcome of the co-ordination of Mughal powers and diplomacy and Rajput valor and service”. But it would be a mistake to suppose that Akbar’s Rajput policy was wholly successful. It was not. He was unable to break the power and pride of Mewar. It was not till Jahangir’s time that Mewar concluded terms with the Mughals. Even then the Mughal Emperor had to concede to the ruler of Mewar, a status of special honour and privilege.