Akbar’s Tolerant Religious Policy:
Akbar was very broadminded. He wanted to work out a synthesis of all religions. His treatment with the Hindus was very tolerant.
In fact he was so liberal in his religious outlook that he attempted to find a new religion on the basis of good points of all religions.
Of course he made no effort to force his religion on his subjects.
Four pillars of Akbar’s religious policy:
Akbar’s religious policy was based on the following four pillars:
1. Pillar of amity,
2. Pillar of equity,
3. Pillar of kindness,
4. Pillar of tolerance.
Factors influencing Akbar’s Hindu Policy:
1. Influence of Bhakti movement:
The 16th century when Akbar was born, brought up and lived was marked by a new awakening of broad- mindedness. The Bhakti Saints and Sufi ‘Peers’ had already been stressing upon religious toleration. So it was natural for Akbar to be influenced by contemporary ideas and values.
2. Broadmindedness by nature:
Akbar by nature was broadminded,
3. Liberal influence of Hindu mother and tutors:
Liberal views of his mother Hamlda Banu, his regent Bairam Khan, and his tutor Abdul Latif greatly influenced his mind to become broad minded.
4. Influence of Scholars:
Three great scholars and liberal minded Sufis i.e. Shaikh Mubark and his sons Faizl and Abdul Faizl exercised tremendous influence on the religious outlook of Akbar.
5. Influence of Hindu wives:
Akbar’s Hindu wives also contributed to the change of his outlook.
6. Akbar’s contact with Rajput’s:
Akbar’s contact with the Rajput’s made him liberal.
7. Akbar’s desire to work independently:
Akbar wanted to free himself from the orthodoxy of the Muslim priestly class.
8. Pragmatic approach:
Akbar was an imperialist. He was convinced that he could not establish a strong empire without the cooperation of the Hindus who formed the majority of his subjects.
9. Desire to know truth:
It is said that Akbar would sit for hours together on a huge flat stone and think of the mysteries of God and religion.
10. Akbar’s desire to experiment:
Akbar experimented in all departments from religion to metallurgy.
Measures adopted by Akbar to establish friendly relations with the Hindus:
1. Freedom of worship:
Akbar allowed freedom of worship to people of all religions.
2. Abolition of Jizya:
Akbar quashed the Jizya tax on the Hindus.
3. Matrimonial alliances with the Hindus:
He established matrimonial relations with the Hindus. Akbar married Jodha Bai, daughter of Bihari Mai of Amber. He also married Mani Bai, daughter of the Kachwaha Raja Bhan Mai. He also married a princess from Jodhpur and one from Bikaner. He married his son Jahangir to the daughter of Raja Bhagwan Dass, son of Raja Bihari Lai.
4. High civil and military positions to Hindus:
He provided high positions to the Hindus. For example, Todar Mai was his Finance Minister. Raja Bhagwan Das and Raja Man Singh were other important ministers. Out of 12 Diwans, 8 were Hindus.
5. No religious conversion:
He put an end to religious conversions.
6. Abolition of pilgrim tax:
He abolished the pilgrim taxes on the Hindus.
7. Translation of Hindu scriptures:
He got translated the Vedas, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and the Gita from Sanskrit to Persian.
8. Establishment of Ibadat Khana. (House of Lordship)
He established Ibadat Khana (place of worship) where he used to have religious discussions.
9. Issue of Infallibility Decree:
He issued the ‘Infallibility Decree’ which freed him from following the authority of the Muslim Mullahs.
10. Founding a new religion:
He started a new religion called Din-i- Ilahi which included the good points of all religions.
11. Reforms in Hindu Society:
Akbar tried to remove the evil practices like Sati prevalent in the Hindu Society.
12. Freedom to construct temples:
Hindus were given full freedom to construct new temples and repair old ones.
13. Land grants:
Akbar gave land grants to Hindu, Jain and Persian institutions.
14. Consideration for Hindu sentiments:
He banned the killing of cow.
Significance of Akbar’s Hindu Policy:
1. Extension and strengthening of Akbar’s empire:
The cooperation of the Hindus who formed the majority of Akbar’s subjects helped him in the extension and strengthening of his empire.
2. Cultural unity:
Cultural unity between the Hindus and the Muslims was strengthened. Culturally, The Hindus and Muslims came closer.
3. Promotion of scriptures:
Akbar established a Translation Bureau with the aim of translating Sanskrit works into Persian.
4. Secular feelings:
Akbar’s religious policy encouraged a broad religious outlook.
5. Social reforms:
Akbar’s interest in the Hindu Society led to some awakening regarding the evils of the Sati practice etc. Widow re-marriage was encouraged.
Akbar’s religious policy and his treatment towards the Hindus healed strife and bitterness and produced an environment of harmony and goodwill where there had been racial and religious antagonism of a most distressing character.