Emperor Akbar – Administration, Rajput and Religious Policies, Akbar UPSC Notes

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Emperor Akbar ‘the Great’ was a Mughal emperor who was known for his religious tolerance, imperial power, and support of the arts during the 16th century. Akbar is remembered and eulogised as one of the finest rulers.

Akbar was the child of Nasiruddin Humayun and ascended as Emperor in 1556 when he was only 13 years old. He gradually expanded the Mughal Empire to encompass practically the whole Indian subcontinent. This article provides essential information about Emperor Akbar. The aspirants preparing for UPSC must possess comprehensive knowledge of Emperor Akbar’s life and reign.

Who was Akbar?

Emperor Akbar is often acknowledged as the greatest Mughal Emperor. He instituted numerous policies in favour of the native citizens. He expanded the empire to almost thrice the size of what he inherited from his ancestors.

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Akbar defeated Maharana Pratap in the Battle of Haldighati and conquered major portions of Rajasthan. He instituted numerous policies in the administration such as the land revenue administration, mansabdari system, and jagirdari system. He had a great interest in art and architecture.

Akbar History

In October 1542, in Umarkot, Pakistan, Emperor Humayun’s wife Hamida Banu Begam gave birth to Akbar. Despite having forefathers such as Genghis Khan and Timur, his family had been in flight relinquishing Babur‘s freshly founded realm.

  • Young Akbar was nurtured by an uncle in Afghanistan, while his parents were in exile in Persia.
  • He honed important talents such as hunting, but he never learned how to read. Nonetheless, Akbar had studied history, philosophy, science and religion, as well as other disciplines, read to him throughout his life, and he could repeat entire passages from memory.
  • Humayan died in 1556, only a few months after taking back Delhi. At the age of 13, Akbar assumed the Mughal throne and then became Shahanshah (King of Kings).

Consolidation of Mughal Empire Under Akbar

For geostrategic considerations and to keep bothersome warriors away from the capital, the new emperor embarked on an aggressive military expansion campaign. The Mughal army would go on to capture much of north India, encompassing what is now Pakistan, and Afghanistan in the years to come.

  • After numerous fights and revolts, Akbar acquired the territories of Gwalior, Gondwana, and Malwa.
  • Akbar had conquered and fought a series of battles in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Bihar, and Bengal.
  • The prime reason for the revolt in Bengal was due to the implementation of the ‘dagh’ system.
  • Akbar captured major parts of Rajasthan, but he also established a Rajput policy.
  • The jizya policy was scrapped.

Administration of Akbar

Akbar established a very effective bureaucracy to administer his huge empire. He assigned mansabdars, or military governors, in charge of several areas, who reported directly to him. As an outcome, he unified India’s several fiefdoms into a single empire that lasted until 1868.

  • The central administration of Emperor Akbar was in accordance with the administration of the Delhi Sultanate.
  • The central administration comprised the Emperor, Wazir, Mir Bakshi, Mir Saman, Chief Qazi, Sadrus Sudur, and Mutasibs.
  • In the provincial administration, the subas or provinces were segregated and segmented into 12 subas. There is further division of the land into sarkar, pargana and the village.

Land Revenue System of Akbar

Akbar established the system of a land revenue system that was renowned as Zabti or Bandobast. The system was based on the land revenue system established by Sher Shah. Raja Todar Mal is accredited for modifying the administration of land revenue. It was renowned as the Dahshala system.

  • The land was segregated into four namely, Polaj, Parauti, Chachar, and Banjar.
  • The fixed revenue was based on the last ten years’ revenue. It was specified and fixed.
  • Akbar focused on major improvements in the land revenue system.

Mansabdari System

The Mansabdari system was established by Akbar during his administration. All the officials were assigned ranks. The highest ranked Mansab had a rank of 10000 while 10 was the lowest rank.

  • Royal blood was allocated a higher rank.
  • The ranks were stratified into two types that were Zat and Sawar.
    • Zat – This indicated the Rank in the administration as well as the salary of the Mansabdar.
    • Sawar – This represented the Cavalry Rank. It denoted the number of horses and cavalrymen maintained by the Sawar.
  • The appointments and promotions were guided by the Emperor.

Jagirdari System of Emperor Akbar

The main features of the Jagirdari system focused on allocating a piece of land to an official called the Jagirdar. He collected taxes on the land assigned to him, which paid his salary as well, while the rest of the revenue went to the Mughal treadury. This was an altered version of the Iqta of the Delhi Sultanate. The Jagirdars possessed and inherited the rights over the lands. The zamindars also assisted in military services.

Rajput Policy of Akbar

The jizya policy that established the dominance of Muslims in the territory was scrapped by Akbar. He married many Rajput princesses. Rajput prices were made officials and also given military positions for several generations.

  • Raja Man Singh and Raja Bhagwan Das had high responsibilities in Akbar’s administration.
  • The majority of the states of Rajasthan conceded to Akbar to rule their territories. The Ranas of Mewar continued their aversion and led revolts despite getting conquered numerous times. Maharana Pratap Singh was conquered in the Battle of Haldighati.

Religious Policy of Akbar

Akbar followed a policy of religious tolerance. There were many Hindus in his administration and court, for example, Todar Mal and Birbal.

  • He held a keen interest in philosophy and religion. His shift in mindset from orthodox to liberal made him establish the firm doctrines of equality. In Fatehpur Sikri, he conducted religious discussions to which scholars of various religions were invited.
  • Din-i-ilahi was formulated which contained the noteworthy aspects of all the religions. He presented the “Infallibility Decree” to declare his possession of religious rights. A temple for his wife Jodha was built at his own palace despite facing aversions for his action.

Art and Architecture During Akbar’s Reign

Many remarkable specimens of art and architecture developed in the reign of Akbar such as the Fatehpur Sikri and Buland Darwaza of Jama Masjid. The Tomb of Sikanadara was established by Akbar and was later completed by his son Jahangir. The Persian translation of Ramayana and Mahabharata was also conducted during the reign of Akbar. Here is the list of establishments commissioned by Akbar-

  • Govindadeva Temple at Vrindavan (built with Akbar’s imperial support by Raja Maan Singh)
  • Jahangir Mahal
  • Allahabad Fort
  • Agra Fort
  • Tomb of Sikanadara
  • Red Fort

Navratnas of Akbar

Nine of the courtiers of Akbar’s court were renowned to be the nine jewels or Navaratnas of Akbar. They were allocated numerous responsibilities and governed the administration of different departments. The table illustrates the list of the Navratnas of Akbar.

Navratnas of Akbar Work
Abul Fazl Author of Akbarnama, Guided the army in the Deccan
Faizi Persian Poet
Tansen Great musician, he was given the title of Mian.
Raja Birbal Religious advisor, part of the military
Raja Todar Mal Handled revenue system
Raja Man Singh General who was highly trusted by Akbar
Fakir Aziao Din Advisor, Sufi Mystic
Abdul Rahim Khan-i-Khanan Great poet
Mirza Aziz Koka Subedar of Gujarat

Emperor Akbar – Death

Emperor Akbar, who was 63 years old at the time, was diagnosed with dysentery in October 1605. He died at the end of the month after suffering from the illness. He was buried in a magnificent mausoleum in the imperial capital city of Agra.

Emperor Akbar UPSC

Akbar and his policies form an essential part of the history segment of the UPSC syllabus. Emperor Akbar and his life hold immense significance in terms of questions asked in the exam. Understanding and gaining knowledge of the subject will assist the candidates in clearing the exam.

The candidates must also be in touch with the questions asked in previous years around this topic. The complete elaboration of the topics and subjects will lead them in accomplishing their dreams.

UPSC Questions on Akbar

Practising the questions related to the topic will help the candidates in enhancing the core concepts. Check here the list of questions, and assess your level of preparation. The questions on Akbar have been listed here for the convenience of the candidates.

Question: Who introduced the Zabti system? [A] Sher Shah [B] Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq [C] Akbar [D] Sikander Lodi

Answer: (Option C) Akbar

Question: Who introduced the Mansabdari system? [A] Akbar [B] Aurangzeb [C] Jahangir [D] Babur

Answer: (Option A) Akbar

Question: Who built the Buland Darwaza? [A] Babur [B] Humayun [C] Aurangzeb [D] Akbar

Answer: (Option D) Akbar

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