Religious Policy of Akbar
Th Religious Policy of Akbar was liberal. Akbar was born and brought up in comparatively liberal surrounding. Bairam Khan, who subsequently became Akbar’s guardian and protector, was a Shia Muslim. Bairam Khan is responsible for molding his conduct and shaping his early policy. Akbar’s most notable tutor, Abdul Latif, taught him the principle of universal peace which Akbar never forgot. Thus, the early environment influenced the Akbar’s religious views in the direction of liberalism.
He never really gave evidence of narrow religious bigotry.
Even before Akbar was twenty he abolished the pernicious practice of enslaving the prisoners of war and converting them to Islam. Profoundly religious in the correct sense of the term, he often pondered over the problems of life and death, and on completing his twentieth year he was seized with remorse caused by the difficulty of reconciling religion with politics. “On the completion of my twentieth year,” said Akbar, “I experienced an internal bitterness and from the lack of spiritual provision for my last journey, my soul was seized with exceeding sorrow.”
The spiritual awakening became responsible for radical changes in the religious policy of Akbar. He first of all abolished the pilgrimage tax (1563) on Hindu Pilgrims visiting their holy shrines, in all parts of his empire. Next, he abolished the hated jiziya in 1564, and thus created a common citizenship for all his subjects. After this he gradually removed all other restrictions relating to public worship of non-Muslims, including the building of temples and churches. He allowed his Hindu queens to install and worship images in his own palace.
Mughal Emperor Akbar placed all the faiths in his empire on a footing of equality. In order to show respect to the religious sentiments of the Hindus who formed a vast majority of the country’s population, Akbar forbade the use of beef in the royal kitchen and prohibited animal slaughter for many days in the year. He personally almost gave up meat eating.
The emperor adopted many Hindu beliefs and practices, such as, the transmigration of Soul and the doctrine of Karma. He began to celebrate many Hindu festivals, such as Raksha Bandhan, Dushera, Diwali, Shivratri and Vasant. Sometimes he would put the Hindu paint-mark (Tilak) on his forehead. He opened the highest services to non- Muslims. Thus, he inaugurated an era of complete religious toleration.
Akbar, in his personal life, continued to be a good and tolerant, Muslim. Akbar say his daily five prayers and go through other observances of his religion. He sought the company of Muslim religious men and every year devoutly performed the pilgrimage to the mausoleum of Sheikh Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer.
Akbar held discussions with the Brahmin scholars, Purushottam and Devi, and reputed theologians of other faiths in the balcony of his bedroom during the night. He had respect for all the faiths including Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity.
Mughal Emperor Akbar was highly influenced by Hinduism. Akbar was acquainted with many Hindu beliefs and practices. But as Akbar was anxious to acquire first-hand knowledge of the principles and doctrines, of that religion as given in the Shrutis and Smritis, he associated himself with prominent Hindu scholars, notable among them being Purushottam and Devi. They were drawn to the balcony of the private apartments of the royal palace during the night in order to explain to the emperor the mysteries of Hindu religion.
The Hindus but their scholars and chiefs looked upon the great emperor Akbar as one of themselves. The religious policy of Akbar served the interests of all the religion and culture.
Akbar ardently desired religious unity India, and, therefore, he founded a religion of his own, named Din-i-Ilahi. Din-i-Ilahi was founded with the laudable object of bringing to an end religious bitterness and conflict. It is no wonder that Akbar failed to realize that both the Hindus and Muslims were so orthodox in that age that it was unthinkable for them to give up their hereditary beliefs and practices.