Categories Selfstudyhistory.com

AKBAR: CONQUEST AND CONSOLIDATION OF THE EMPIRE

CONQUEST AND CONSOLIDATION OF THE EMPIRE

Conflicts with the Afghans—Second Battle of Panipat

  • The return of the Mughals to Delhi in 1555 had not ended the Afghan danger, and the Mughals came within an ace of being thrown out of India again, following the death of Humayun at Delhi (1556).Even in the disruption of the Afghan empire, there were ample resources, both in men and leaders, to have made the reconquest of India by the Mughals a virtual impossibility.
  • The Mughals had defeated a much larger force than theirs headed by Sikandar Sur at Sirhind in 1554, but Sikandar still had powerful forces at his disposal in the north-east corner of Punjab. Adali, another claimant to the Sur throne, dominated Bihar and east U.P. from his capital at Chunar. Bengal was under the control of Muhammad Khan Sur. 50,000 Afghans had assembled near Jaunpur under the son of Jalal Khan Sur. Hearing of the death of Humayun, the Afghans had thrown off the demoralization.
  • The resurgent Afghans drove the Mughals out of Bayana, Etawah, Sambhal, Kalpi, Narnaul and Agra, and Hemu, a general of Adali, ” having swept before him the Amirs from the frontiers of Hindustan (i.e. north-west India),” according to Badayuni, advanced upon Delhi with a huge force.
  • The rise of Hemu who has been called a baqqal (trader) has been a subject of much historical speculation.All traders were called baqqal in medieval India. Castewise, Hemu was a Dhusar or Bhargava, who claim to be Gaur Brahmans. He is said to have started life as a seller of saltpeter at Rewari, and was then shuhna (superintendent) of the market at Delhi under Islam Shah, and had also done the work of soldiering.
  • The stages by which he rose to be the Chief Commander of the forces of Adali, and the position of wazir are not known, although he had the confidence of Adali from the beginning. He is reputed to have won twenty-two battles against the opponents of Adali or Sultan Adil Shah. However, it would be wrong to project Hemu as the leader of some kind of a Hindu resurgence.
  • According to Abdul Fazl, after his victory at Delhi against Tardi Beg, ” the ambition of sovereignty” was stirring in Hemu’s mind. Badayuni says that he assumed the title of Bikramjit like a great Raja in Hindustan from whom the people of Hind take their era, and that he ” had done his best there to subvert the ordinances of Islam”.
  • But Badayuni refrains from giving any details. Nizamuddin Ahmad merely says that Hemu had assumed the title of Raja Bikramjit. However, the assumption of the title of ” Vikramjit” does not imply that Hemu had proclaimed himself as an independent king, and none of the authors we have quoted above say so.
  • In fact, the military force at the disposal of Hemu consisted almost entirely of Afghans. At the second battle of Panipat fought with Bairam Khan on November 5, 1556, Hemu’s left wing was commanded by Ramaiyya, the son of his sister, but there is no reference to his army consisting of Rajputs. In this situation, it would have been disastrous for Hemu to declare himself an independent king.
  • As it was, we are told that there was some murmuring against Hemu among the Afghans who were, according to Badayuni, ” sick of his usurpation.. prayed for his downfall” . This was no doubt on account of jealousy at his rapid rise, and the confidence placed in him by Adali who had provided him with the military forces and abundant treasures. The rise of Hemu was really an index of the relatively more open society which had developed under the Afghans, and the growing accord of the Afghans with the Hindu rajas. This continued in the time of Babur, as we have seen, and was reflected in the subsequent Afghan support to Rana Pratap.
  • The defeat of Hemu at the battle field of Panipat was due in part to the disaffection of some of Afghan sardars against him, Hemu’s disregard of artillery which he had earlier carelessly allowed the Mughals to capture, and his excessive reliance on his well-armed and trained elephants. Even then, the outcome of the battle was uncertain: both the Mughal left and the right wings having been thrown into disarray, and Hemu advancing towards the centre till, by chance, an arrow pierced his eye, and he fainted. Not seeing him, the army panicked, and dispersed. Hemu was brought to Bairam Khan who killed him after the young Akbar had been persuaded to touch his neck lightly with his sword.
  • A minaret was made of the heads of the slain. We are told that immense treasures and stores were captured. Although Hemu’s wife escaped with elephants laden with gold, the gold she left behind was so great that it was given away on shields. Subsequently, Hemu’s home was attacked and his father killed.
  • The historian, Abul Fazl, praises Hemu for his lofty spirit, courage and enterprise, and wishes that if Akbar had come out of his veil, or there had been some far-sighted master of wisdom in his court, they would have kept Hemu as a prisoner, and if he had been persuaded to join royal service, he would have rendered distinguished service.
  • The Afghan danger did not disappear even after Hemu’s defeat. It took more than six months military operations and siege of Sikandar Sur at Mankot before he surrendered. Adali had been killed earlier in a battle with the king of Bengal. But the Afghans of Jaunpur continued to be active. According to Abul Fazl, ” The Afghans still carried in their brains the vapours of sedition.” Ali Quli Khan Zaman chased away the Afghans at Sambhal who had collected a force of 20,000 sawars. He then advanced on Jaunpur which he gained without opposition.
  • Afghan sardars continued to hold the powerful forts of Chunar and Rohtas, and made repeated efforts to establish a separate principality of Jaunpur. Thus, after the downfall of Bairam Khan (1560), the Afghans proclaimed Sher Khan, a son of Adali who was the commandant of Chunar, as their king, and advanced on Jaunpur. Ali Quli Khan Zaman who was governor of Jaunpur, was fortunate in defeating them with the help of local jagirdars. The Afghans made a third attempt on Jaunpur in 1564 when they set up Awaz Khan, son of Salim Sur, as the king, and besieged the city. After an initial victory the Afghans dispersed for loot, enabling Ali Quli Khan Zaman to gain a complete victory over them.
  • Even afterwards, the eastern areas continued to pose a problem. After defeating the Afghans, Ali Quli Khan Zaman himself began to dream of independence in the region. He established an active alliance with the Afghans of Bihar, and maintained good relations with the Afghan ruler of Bengal.
  • Thus, the situation facing the Mughal empire in the east during the early years of Akbar’s reign was remarkably similar to the one facing Humayun at the time of his ascending the throne. We shall see how precisely Akbar tackled it.

STRUGGLE WITH THE NOBILITY

Bairam Khan’s Regency

  • Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar, who had been born at Amarkot on 15 October 1542 when Humayun was in flight from Bikaner, had an adventurous life. When he was only one year old, Humayun had to abandon him and flee to Iran in the face of an attempt by Kamran to capture him. Akbar remained in the custody of Kamran for two years, and was well treated. It was only when Humayun had captured Qandahar with the help of Iranian forces, recovered Kabul and then lost it to Kamran that the latter had shown the meanness of exposing young Akbar on the battlements to the artillery fire of Humayun.
  • Akbar had escaped unhurt. Thereafter, a number of tutors were appointed to impart to Akbar the training considered necessary for a young prince. But Akbar was more interested in hunting, riding, animal sports and other past-time such as pigeon-flying, so that he neglected his studies to the extent that he never learnt to write.
  • When Akbar was at Kalanaur campaigning against Sikandar Sur, news was received of Humayun’s death at Delhi after a fall from his library. The_assembled nobles raised Akbar to the throne (1556), and Bairam Khan, who had been appointed his tutor (ataliq) by Humayun, and was the chief man on the spot, was appointed the wakil mutlaq, or in charge of all matters, political and financial. Since the Mughal position was still very insecure, and there was a lot of factionalism and demoralization in the nobility, many nobles having fled in panic at the advance of the Afghans, no one objected to the high position accorded to Bairam. Bairam showed firmness in executing Tardi Beg for his cowardice in evacuating Delhi, and punished others also.
  • Earlier, another noble, Abul Muali, who had been close to Humayun, was apprehended while attending a feast held in honour of Akbar’s coronation, and put in jail. While these actions may have been necessary, it is clear that Bairam used the situation for removing from the scene two of his potential rivals. That Tardi Beg’s execution was kept concealed for three months lends credence to this charge. It is also underlined by the decision of Munim Khan, another potential rival of Bairam Khan, who was governor of Kabul and was a close confidant of Humayun, to postpone his departure from Kabul to India on learning of these developments. This provides the background to what has been called Bairam Khan’s regency which lasted for four years, from 1556 to 1560.
  • During his regency, Bairam Khan had many achievements to his credit. The threat to Kabul from MirzaSulaiman, the ruler of Badakhshan, was averted, and the kingdom extended from Kabul to Jaunpur in the east, and upto Ajmer in the west. The powerful fort of Gwaliyar was captured. An expedition was sent to conquer Malwa. An effort was made to capture Ranthambhor, but had to be given up following Bairam’s downfall.
  • Bairam had to face many problems in his dealing with the nobility while holding the highest office. As we have seen, the firm action taken by Bairam Khan to curb any potential rivals cowed down the nobility, and they were outwardly docile and obedient, as long as Bairam Khan enjoyed the confidence and support of the young king. But Maham Anaga, Akbar’s foster-mother, who had nursed Akbar right from the beginning, her relations, and the relations of other foster-mothers, such as the Atka Khail, were inwardly extremely jealous of Bairam’s preeminence, and tried to create a rift between Akbar and Bairam Khan.
  • Their efforts were strengthened when Akbar’s mother, Hamid Banu Begum, and other women relations of the young Emperor who had remained at Kabul during this period due to political uncertainty, joined him at Agra, They tried to poison Akbar’s mind by using minor incidents, such as when some elephants ran towards Bairam’s tent and Bairam thought that the incident had been planned to remove him, and gave drastic punishments, or his redistribution of the royal elephants to some of his followers, taking some elephants away from Akbar. Akbar instinctively supported Bairam.
  • However, the nobles began to be restive at Bairam’s domination, and his effort to keep all power in his hands and in the hands of a coterie dependent on him or raised by him. Since Bairam Khan was not a sovereign, he could not raise a new nobility dependent on him, but could only push forward comparatively junior and low ranking officers loyal to him. This, in turn, alienated a large section of the nobles. Matters were made worse when some of these officers lacked efficiency or behaved in an arrogant manner.
  • The case of Shaikh Gadai, the sadr, and a favourite of Bairam Khan is a case in point. The revenue aspects of the empire were being earlier looked after by Pir Muhammad Khan, an old noble, as Bairam’s agent (wakil). He was removed and dismissed from service by Bairam Khan due to an unintended personal affront—Bairam Khan had gone to see Pir Muhammad since he was ill, but his servant, not recognising Bairam Khan, refused to admit him! Shaikh Gadai who was sadr, and close to Bairam Khan, now began to interfere in revenue affairs.
  • He was very arrogant and niggardly in giving madadd-i-maash (revenue-free lands), and that, too, only after a personal appearance by the applicant. Shaikh Gadai was not low-born, nor was be a Shia, as has been alleged by some modern historians. Nor was he a new appointee, having been appointed sadr in the first year of Bairam’s regency. He has been praised by the orthodox Badayuni for his scholarly attainments. Thus, according to Badayuni, for several years, he was resorted to as an authority on religious questions by the sages and principal men of Hindustan, Khurasan, Transoxiana and Iraq. This precludes his being a Shia.
  • Bairam was opposed by the Turkish nobles since he was a Turkman, i.e. an Iranized Turk, and was considered a Shia. But Bairam was a liberal, and associated with people from all sects. Badayuni praises him for his wisdom, generosity, sincerity, goodness of disposition, and humility, and that the second conquest of Hindustan, and the building up of the empire was due to his valour.
  • He also says that Bairam was ” a great friend to religion”, and did not miss his regular prayers. Since Badayuni was an orthodox Sunni, this must be considered praise indeed. The dominant group of the nobles at the court were Chughtai Turks. Bairam worked with them and made no effort to displace them. In fact, he had cordial relations with the powerful group of Turkish nobles represented by the Uzbeks, such as Ali Quli Khan Zaman, his brother Bahadur Khan, etc.
  • The Turkish nobles were prepared to work with Bairam Khan, but they were extremely envious, and always tried to poison Akbar’s ears against Bairam Khan. They found an opportunity to malign Bairam Khan when Shaikh Gadai, who was considered only a pen-pusher or cleric, began to interfere in high revenue and administrative affairs. His arrogance also caused offence all round.
  • But neither the envy or jealousy of those who themselves wanted to exercise all powers and authority, and their resentment at the rise of comparatively low-ranking officers would have had much effect if Akbar who was growing up, had not wanted to exercise power himself.
  • It was here that the role of the ladies close to him became important. Maham Anaga explained to Akbar that ” as long as Bairam Khan would remain, he would not allow His Majesty any authority in the affairs of the empire; and that in reality the imperial power was in his hands” (Nizamuddin). Some mistakes on the part of Bairam made these remarks more pertinent.
  • It was felt strongly that while the servants of the emperor had poor jagirs, and were kept in the depth of poverty, those serving Khan-i-Khanan Bairam Khan were in ease and luxury. Worse, the emperor had virtually no privy purse at all so that on one occasion, his request for seventeen rupees was about to be turned down when Maham Anaga intervened, and made the payment from her own funds.
  • We need hardly concern ourselves with the conspiracy which led to Bairam Khan’s downfall, following Akbar’s move from Agra to Delhi on the pretext of a hunting expedition. Once Akbar issued the farman calling all the nobles to come to him, even those close to Bairam deserted him. Bairam submitted, but was goaded into rebellion by those who wanted to ruin him.
  • Bairam turned back from Bikaner on his way to Mecca and entered the Punjab as a rebel. Akbar soon triumphed over him, and Bairam submitted once again. Akbar gave Bairam the option of a handsome jagir in the sarkar of Kalpi and Chanderi, the post of the emperor’s confidential advisor, and a journey to Mecca. Bairam chose the last, but while on his way, he was assassinated by an Afghan out of personal spite at Patan in Gujarat. Since Bairam’s wife, Salima, was a cousin of Akbar, Akbar married her and brought up her son, Abdur Rahim who became a great noble in course of time.
  • The downfall of Bairam Khan cannot be seen as a reaction against Khurasani (eastern Iran) nobles. There was no diminution of the position of the Turkish nobles during his time. His downfall has been seen by some modern historians as a reaction by the nobles against a centralizing tendency. Such a policy could succeed only if implemented by a ruler who had the necessary military skill and political sagacity. Hence, Bairam Khan’s success in centralizing all powers and authority in his hands could only be ephemeral.
  • Bairam did not try to curb the financial and administrative powers of the nobles in their jagirs so that the revenues of the khalisa had virtually dried up. The all round increase of the jama, or assessed income by him led to a widening of the gap between the paper income and the real income. This led to increased opportunities of favouritism and became another factor which made Bairam Khan and his favourites the target of attack by the nobles who felt that they had not received their due share in the allotment of productive jagirs.

Struggle for Wikalat, Revolt of Uzbek Nobles and Others

  • The downfall of Bairam Khan led to increased factionalism in the nobility and efforts of powerful noblest to act independently, in disregard of imperial wishes and interests. In this situation, the post of wakil, which was the most prestigious post, combining financial, military and administrative powers became a point of struggle between different factions. The two immediate contenders for the post were Maham Anaga who wanted the post for her son, Adham Khan, and Shamsuddin Khan, the foster-father of Akbar who had played an important role in the downfall of Bairam Khan.
  • After some experiments, Akbar gave the post to Munim Khan, a close associate of Humayun, who had been governor of Kabula and whom Akbar called ” Khan Baba” or ” Baba-am” (My baba or father), as he had called Bairam Khan.
  • Munim Khan chose to work in close association with Maham Anaga, doubtless because she wasi influential and enjoyed the confidence of the young emperor. In consequence, her power grew, and many followers of her were given high posts. Some historians consider the period from the downfall of Bairam (March 1560) to the first wikalat of Munim Khan, (Sept. 1560-Nov. 1561) to be the period when Maham Anaga’s influence was at its height. According to Abul Fazl, this was the period when Maham Anaga considered herself as the ” the substantive wakil, and sat on the masnad as such.”
  • However, event this period cannot be called a period of ” petticoat government” because Akbar’s wishes had to be taken into account and his orders obtained before any matter was settled. Although, in the words of Abul Fazl,”  Akbar was still behind a veil” , i.e., he did not take interest in day to day administration, he asserted himself on several occasions. Thus, in early 1561, when Akbar learnt that Maham’s son, Adham Khan, who had been sent to conquer Malwa, had kept with him the choicest spoils of war,  he made a forced march and made Adham Khan yield the elephants and other booty.
  • Again, Akbar proceeded to Kara (near modern Allahabad) against Ali Quli Khan Zaman to make him disgorge the treasures he had accumulated in the wars against the Afghans in Jaunpur. Ali Quli Khan Zaman had enjoyed the patronage and support of Munim Khan. Munim Khan’s removal, in November, 1561, and appointment of Atka Khan as wakil sharpened the party conflict, and led to a diminution of Maham Anaga’s influence. This led to the murder of Atka Khan in his public diwan by Adham Khan (June 1562).
  • Akbar was very angry and punished Adhan Khan by having him thrown from’ the staircase of the fort till he died. This marked the end of Maham Anaga’s surviving influence, and she died soon afterwards. Not to be vindictive, Akbar erected a fine mausoleum for Adham Khan which has survived.
  • After the murder of Atka Khan, Munim Khan was made the wakil once more! But Akbar now decided to take steps to strengthen central, control over the nobility. The first step taken in 1561 was to order an enquiry into the revenue arrears of different sarkar and subahs (called vilayats) administered by different commanders. The background to this was that many nobles had encroached on the income of the khalisa areas, especially if they were the commandants (hakims) in the area in which their jagirs were located. It was due to this that the imperial treasury was almost empty. This also explains Akbar’s insistence on getting a proper share of the spoils of war gained by various nobles.
  • Another step taken at this time was to separate the executive and revenue responsibilities of jagirdars, there by reducing the size of a jagir, and even breaking it up. This was first implemented in the jagirs held by the wakil, Munim Khan in the sarkar of Hissar-Hruza. ” However, it is difficult to say to what extent this policy could be applied to the large jagirs held in adjacent areas by some of the powerful nobles and their clansmen. Thus the Atka Khail had their jagirs in the Punjab; the Uzbeks east UP and Malwa; the Qaqshals in Kara-Manikpur, and the Mirzas around Sambhal. It was only after defeating the powerful group of Uzbek nobles that Akbar was able to break up these large clan headings.
  • The leading Uzbek nobles, Ali Quli Khan Zaman, Bahadur Khan, Sikandar Khan, Iskandar Khan and Abdullah Khan were closely related to each other and had held important posts and commands from the timeof Humayun. Bahadur Khan had taken active part in the battle of Panipat against Hemu, and had been akil for a short period after the downfall of Bairam Khan; Ali Quli Khan Zaman had distinguished himself in fighting against the Afghans of east U.P. and was governor of Jaunpur.
  • The first to show an inclination towards independence was Abdullah Khan Uzbek, the governor of Malwa. He started behaving independently, and when Akbar reached near Sarangpur, which was then the capital of Malwa, in order to pull him up, Abdullah Khan fled to Gujarat (1564). The sins of Abdullah Khan had been manyb buthe was forgiven at the instance of Munim Khan. However, this rebellion strengthened Akbar’s prejudices against the Uzbeks about whom, according to Nizamuddin, he had a bad opinion.
  • Akbar also had a poor opinion of Khan-i-Zaman at his conduct in falling in love with a camel driver’s son whom hew would call ” My Padshah,” stand before him and bow down and do ” kornish” . At the time, Ali Quli Khan Zamanand his clansmen controlled Awadh, Jaunpur and Banaras, i.e. areas which had once been parts of the kingdom of Jaunpur. Taking advantage of the strong sentiment of regional independence which had been reflected in successive Afghan rebellions, Ali Quli Khan Zaman had developed close friendship with Sulaiman Karrani, the Afghan ruler of Bengal.
  • He had also tried to befriend some of the Afghans sardars of Bihar, and recruited soldiers from all groups in Jaunpur — Hindustanis, Afghans and Uzbeks sot that he collected a force of 30,000. It may be argued that these were only defensive measures on the part of the Uzbeks nobles who felt that they had not received due rewards for their services, and feared that Akbar was prejudiced against them and wanted to destroy them.,
  • However not to take any chance, in 1565 Akbar planned a hunt in the area, and sent a messenger asking Iskandar Khan, governor of Awadh, to come to his court.
  • Alarmed, the Uzbeks nobles met at Jaunpur, and decided upon an open revolt.  One group under Iskandar Khan attacked Kannauj by way of Lucknow, and another group attacked Kara Manikpur (near Allahabad).
  • In facing the Uzbeks in east U.P., Akbar had to take into account that the Bengal ruler was keen to bring Bihar under his control, and had invested fort Rohtas. At the same time, the Bengal ruler tried to prop up the Uzbeks rebels of Jaunpur as a barrier between the Mughals and Bihar. For the purpose, he sent an army under two well known Afghan generals, Sulaiman Mankali and Kalapahar, to aid Ali Quli Khan Zaman.
  • Akbar took vigorous diplomatic and military measures to meet this threat. He dispatched an envoy tot the powerful ruler of Orissa, an old rival of the Bengal ruler, who agreed to take active steps against the latter if he did not desist from aiding Khan Zaman. A messenger was also sent to the commandant off fort Rohtas to offer help against the Bengal ruler. Akbar was able to isolate the Uzbeks diplomatically  and soon put them militarily on the run. He made Jaunpur his head-quarter and advised his nobles to build houses there till the Uzbeks had been crushed completely. The operations against the Uzbeks lasted two years. Akbar would have been able to destroy them earlier if Munim Khan, on account of his old friendship with the Uzbeks and because he wanted to preserve a balance, had not wanted to protect the Uzbeks and not halted operations against them at a critical time.
  • Despite his reservations, Akbar agreed at Munim Khan’s instance, to pardon the Uzbek leaders and also to restore their jagirs (1566).
  • Meanwhile, Akbar had to face a new danger. His half-brother, Mirza Hakim, had been ousted from Kabul by Mirza Sulaiman of Badakhshan and sought refuge in the Punjab, a step to which Akbar agreed.
  • However, while on the way, some evil-doers suggested to Mirza Hakim that he could easily capture Lahore since Akbar was busy in the east with the Uzbeks. Mirza Hakim agreed, and after sacking Bhera laid siege to the fort of Lahore. Hearing of these news, Akbar started from Agra with a force of 50,000.
  • Mirza Hakim, who had failed to win over the nobles of Punjab by bribery and promises of reward, retreated when Akbar reached near Lahore in early 1567. Akbar did not pursue Mirza Hakim beyond the Indus Mirza Hakim was able to patch up a peace with Mirza Sulaiman who left Kabul and returned to Badakhshan.
  • In Akbar’s absence, the Uzbek nobles rose in rebellion again, siezed the country upto Kannauj and besieged the town. Further, in the hope of creating disaffection in Akbar’s camp, and in order toe emphasized that their break with Akbar was complete, they proclaimed Mirza Hakim as the king, and issued the sikka and had the khutba read in his name. But they failed completely in their objectives.
  • Mirza Hakim had already left the Punjab. He had been a failure at Kabul and was seen as a broken reed. Nor did the Uzbek nobles enjoy the prestige and power they had earlier.
  • Hence, the danger faced by Akbar by the rebellion of the Uzbeks in the east, and of Mirza Hakim’s advent into the Punjab in the west in 1566 should not be unduly exaggerated. Akbar’s domestic situation was now so firm that when the sons of Sultan Hussain Mirza found that their jagir of Sambhal wastoo small for their growing family, and rose in rebellion, they were easily quelled by the local  officials and had to flee to Malwa, and then to Gujarat.
  • Returning from Lahore, Akbar vigorously pursued the Uzbeks. In a desperate battle near Karra in June 1567, Khan-i-Zaman was killed and Bahadur Khan was captured and executed. To make clear his new position of power, Akbar removed the various nobles of the Atka clan from the Punjab, and, ” like stars dispersed them, giving to each one of them a jagir in various corners in Hindustan” (Bayazid Byat, Akbar’s earliest biographer).
  • The defeat of Uzbek nobles and of the rebellion of the Mirzas virtually ended the challenge of a section of the old nobles which looked askance at the process of centralization of authority in the hands of the king and wanted a more decentralized set up in which the power and privileges of the nobles could be  preserved.
  • However centralization of power created the danger of dissidence among the nobility as also reassertion of regional sentiments in areas such as the old Jaunpur kingdom, Malwa etc.
  • Except Asaf Khan who was an Irani, and rose in rebellion in order to keep the gains of his war in Garh Katanga, most of the rebellions during this period were led by Turani nobles. This was a definite factor in the induction of a large number of Iranis into the nobility at this time, as also of Indian Muslims, such as the Barha Saiyids.

Early Expansion of the Empire (1560-76)

  • During a brief period of about fifteen years, the Mughal empire expanded from the upper Ganga valley to cover Malwa, Gondwana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bihar and Bengal. A major credit for these conquests goes undoubtedly to Akbar for his unbounded energy, initiative, perseverance and personal leadership qualities, and his uncanny ability to Be personally present at critical junctures, often by making almost incredibly long marches. However, his success was also in no small measure due to the rise of competent and dedicated men. Akbar’s ability to spot talent and his willingness to advance men who were sometimes of a humble social background made the government much more open to talent than at any time earlier.

Malwa

  • The process of expansion virtually began with the conquest of Malwa in 1561, and gained momentum with the defeat of the Uzbek rebellion in 1567. Akbar sought justification of the conquest of Malwa on the ground that it had once belonged to Humayun. At the moment, it was being ruled over by Baz Bahadur, a son of Shujaat Khan, who had been governor of Malwa under Sher Shah, but had rebelled with the rise of Adali. Baz Bahadur had been a noted warrior. He had established himself by defeating and killing all his brothers.
  • However, he had been defeated by the redoubtable Rani Durgavati in his attempts to extend his rule over Gondawana. Like Adali, he was a reputed musician, and his love of music and poetry — the latter addressed to the beautiful Rupmati who was his companion, had become a household word in Malwa.
  • Nizamuddin Ahmad, Akbar’s bakhshi, tries to provide further justification of the Mughal attack on Malwa by saying that Baz Bahadur occupied himself with ” unlawful and vicious practices” . These are, however, not specified. Nizamuddin goes on to say that Baz Bahadur ” had no care of his kingdom, For this reason the arms of tyrants and oppressors had become long on faqirs and on the poor; and most of the raiyat and the greater part of the people were stricken almost to death by the hand of his tyranny.”
  • Thus, Akbar’s conquest is sought to be portrayed as one based on liberating the people from tyranny and unjust rule. Whatever may have been the nature of Mughal rule later on, the invasion of Malwa under Adham Khan and Pir Muhammad Khan, (1561) far from providing relief to the people, resulted in unspeakable cruelties. After being defeated, Baz Bahadur fled, leaving behind all his effects and women and dependents, including Rupmati. Adham Khan mercilessly killed all the prisoners, not sparing Shaikhs and Saiyyids, and dragged many of the beauties to his haram.
  • But Rupmati preferred death to such dishonour. Akbar intervened, and marched to Malwa, not so much to punish the perpetrators of such cruelties, but to get his share of the loot! Later, when Adham Khan was recalled to the court, Pir Muhammad invaded Burhanpur in Khandesh where Baz Bahadur had taken shelter, and repeated the cruelties perpetrated in Malwa. Although, Baz Bahadur recovered Malwa for a brief time, he had to flee a second time, and after taking shelter with Rana Udai Singh for some time, repaired to Akbar who enrolled him as a mansabdar of 1000, which was soon raised to 2000 because of his knowledge of music.

Garh-Katanga

  • While the empire had been expanded to include Malwa, similar attempts were made by Asaf Khan, the governor of Kara (Allahabad) to gain both treasure and territory at the expense of Garh-Katanga, or modern Gondwana. The state had been gradually built up during the 15th century by over-running and subordinating many rajas in the region. At the moment, it comprised territory of about 48,000 square miles, comprising many forts, popular cities and towns, and about 70,000 inhabited villages.
  • Named after two town, Garh and Katangi in the modern district of Jabalpur, its population consisted mostly of Gonds. Hence, the tract was also called Gondwana. For the past sixteen years, the kingdom was being ruled by Rani Durgavati who was both beautiful and talented. Daughter of Raja Shalivahan of Mahoba, her husband had died leaving behind a son who was three or four years old at the time. Since then the Rani had run the affairs of state with the help of competent advisors. She was skilful both in the use of bow and a gun, and it is said that when she heard of a tiger, she would not rest till she had killed it.
  • Although comparatively remote, the kingdom had to wage a series of wars both in Bhata (erstwhile state of Rewa in Bundelkhand), and with the rulers of Malwa. The recent Mughal conquest of Malwa, and forcing Bhata to accept Mughal suzerainty, had made the kingdom vulnerable to Mughal pressure from both the sides.
  • The Rani does not seemed to have realized it fully, although she had sent her minister, Adhar Kayastha, to Akbar for peace. The negotiations had failed, probably because Akbar demanded her submission, and cession of some territories. Asaf Khan, the governor of Kara, who had learnt of the Rani’s fabulous wealth and the state of her affairs through spies, had been itching for an attack on her kingdom, and had been ravaging her borders.
  • Possibly, his attack with 10,000 troops in 1564 was at first regarded as another such frontier raid because the Rani who was supposed to have a force of 20,000 cavalry, numerous infantry and 1000 elephants was able to raise only a small force of about 2000 to oppose Asaf Khan. Her minister, Adhar Kayasth, advised the Rani not to fight Asaf Khan with such slender resources, but retreat into her kingdom to augment her forces. But in the usual Rajput fashion, she considered retreat to be dishonourable.
  • She advanced, and gained some advantage in a fight with the Mughal advance guard, but was defeated near Damoh by Asaf Khan’s main forces, which by the time had swelled to 50,000. These included the forces of some of the subordinate rajas of the Rani who had defected from her. Wounded, the Rani preferred to stab herself to death in place of capture and dishonour. Thus died one of most gallant woman-warrior and ruler of the country.
  • Asaf Khan now advanced to the capital Chauragarh which was gallantly defended to his death by the Rani’s son, Bir Narayan, after the women had performed jauhar. Asaf Khan got immense wealth, an uncalculated amount of gold and silver, jewels and 1000 elephants. Kamla Devi, a younger sister of Durgavati, who had remained unhurt, was sent to the Imperial haram.
  • Although the conquest of Gondwana added immensely to the royal territories, its immediate effect was to turn the head of Asaf Khan. Like Adham Khan in Malwa, he kept most of the treasures, and sent only 200 elephants to Akbar. Akbar was incensed, but kept quiet on account of the Uzbek rebellion. Even then, hearing that he was to be asked to give accounts, Asaf Khan fled. He went first to the Uzbeks, then returned to Gondwana where he was persued.
  • Finally, he submitted and Akbar restored him to his previous position. He was to do good service later. According to Abul Fazl, though a Tajik and belonging to the writing class (ahl-i-qalam), ” he did deeds which made Turks humble” . This was the way Akbar reared and promoted men of all classes on the basis of their merit. As for Carh-Katanga, Akbar saw no use holding on to it. Asaf Khan was recalled in 1567, and Garh-Katanga restored to Chandra Shah, a brother of Rani’s deceased husband, after taking ten forts to round off the subah of Malwa.

Rajasthan

  • Unlike Malwa and Garh-Katanga, the Mughal occupation of Rajasthan was neither based on desire for territory nor lure for wealth. No empire based on the upper Ganga basin could feel secure if a powerful rival centre of power existed on its flank in Rajasthan. That is what had led to the conflict of Babur with Rana Sanga, and of Sher Shah with Rao Maldeo.
  • The domination of Rajasthan was also the means of an end. Routes both to Gujarat and its sea-ports and to Malwa ran through it, and control over either of them could not be secure without a minimum control over the states of Rajasthan. The Mughals had established their rule over parts of Mewat in 1556, followed by Ajmer and Nagor. In 1562, when Akbar made his first visit to the tomb of Muinuddin Chishti at Ajmer, Raja Bhara Mal, the ruler of Amber, had submitted.
  • This was followed by the Mughal occupation of the powerful fort of Merta, and for some time of Jodhpur when there was a disputed succession following the death of Maldeo. Maldeo had nominated Chandrasen as his successor whereupon his elder brother, Ram Chandra, had repaired to the Mughal court for help, and been reinstated. But Chandrasen had recovered Jodhpur soon after.
  • This was the situation when, following the crushing of the Uzbek rebellion, Akbar decided to turn his attention towards Rajasthan. The most powerful and prestigious kingdom in Rajasthan at the time was undoubtedly Mewar. The fact that the Rana’s son, Sakat, had been in the Imperial camp at Dholpur when Akbar asked him what service he would do if he attacked the Rana suggests that some negotiations between the Rana and Akbar had been in progress though we have no idea of the nature of these negotiations. Abul Fazl says that the Rana, proud of his steep mountains and strong castles, his possessing abundant land and wealth, and number of devoted Rajputs, was not prepared to lower his head of obedience before anyone, for ” none of his ancestors had bowed down and kissed the ground.”
  • It is obvious that what Abul Fazl is referring to is personal submission, something on which Akbar had insisted even when, during the siege of Chittor, the Rajputs had offered to accept Mughal suzerainty and to pay peshkash. The Rana, Udai Singh, had also offended Akbar by giving refuge to Baz Bahadur, the ousted ruler of Malwa, and to the Mirzas after their flight from Sambhal.
  • The strength of the fort of Chittor was such that trying to starve the defenders by a long siege, and sapping under the walls after making sabats or covered passages upto the walls were the only two methods available to the besiegers. We are told that for the making of sabats and digging of mines, about five thousand experts builders and carpenters and stone-masons were collected, but due to the continual firing by the Rajputs, one or two hundred of them died everyday. This may explain in part Akbar’s bitterness when he ordered a general massacre following the conquest of the fort after four months of close siege when the Rajputs, after warding off many Mughal attacks, and the death of their redoubtable warrior, Jaimal, had in desperation done jauhar and died fighting.
  • In addition to those who had sallied out, there were 8000 Rajputs inside the fort who died fighting, partly in defence of their temple. There were also 40,000 peasants inside the fort who had been aiding them. There was a general order of massacre and in all about 30,000 people were killed, though the skilled marksmen who had been one of Akbar’s objects of revenge, escaped by a ruse. This was the last time Akbar ordered such a slaughter.
  • However, it cannot be justified, and only means that Akbar had not yet shaken off the Central Asian tradition of barbarity to one’s defeated opponents. The fall of Chittor (March 1568) was followed by the capture of Ranthambhor, as also of Kalinjar in Bundelkhand. But more important, when Akbar was at Nagor (1570), rulers of important states in Rajasthan—Marwar, Bikaner and jaisalmer accepted Mughal suzerainty and, in return, were allowed to continue to rule over their states. They were granted mansabs and jagirs. Thus, Mewar was left alone to uphold the flag of regional independence.

Gujarat

  • Akbar was now free to turn his attention to Gujarat. Since the death of Bahadur Shah, Gujarat had been racked by succession disputes and efforts of nobles to put up their own nominees, real or fake, on the throne. There had been growing dissidence which was made worse by the Mirzas who had seized Broach, Baroda and Surat. The Portuguese were also on the look-out for expanding their control over Gujarat and its ports. In this situation it was not possible for Akbar to allow a strategically import area which was also rich in its handicrafts and agriculture producti on to go to rack and ruin.
  • According to Nizamuddin, it had been brought to the notice of Akbar that in Gujarat ” which was arranged like a paradise,” the tyranny of the rulers of that country, and the refractoriness of the group of men who had become rulers were giving rise to the desolation of the country and the ruin of the people. However, before Akbar acted on his own, he was invited by Itimad Khan Habshi, then the ruler at Ahmadabad, to intervene in order to put down anarchy in the country.
  • Towards the end of 1572, Akbar marched on Gujarat at the head of a large army by way of Ajmer, Merta and Sirohi. On account of the support of the Habshi and Gujarati nobles, Akbar met no opposition in occupying Ahmadabad. But he had to take action to expel the Mirzas from south Gujarat. In this campaign, Akbar displayed great personal daring and energy. Learning that Ibrahim Hussain Mirza was trying to escape, he attacked his strong detachment at Sarnal with merely forty men. Although he won a victory, he could not prevent the Mirza from escaping. He then laid siege to the strong fort of Surat early in 1573, and compelled it to surrender. This induced many of the local rajas to submit.
  • The Portuguese also came and made presents to the Emperor. Earlier, at Khambayat, Akbar had for the first time seen the sea, the Sea of Oman (Arabian Sea), and sailed on it. According to a contemporary, Arif Qandhari, on 17 Shaban / 23rd December 1572, ” His Majesty boarded a fast moving boat and ordered that an assembly of pleasure and enjoyment may be arranged, and he gave himself to a drinking bout there.”
  • After his success at Surat, Akbar appointed Khan-i-Azam Aziz Koka, a favourite who was his milk-brother, as governor of Gujarat, and placed nobles in charge of the sarkars of Patan, Dholka, Broach and Baroda. He then returned to Agra since the situation in the east demanded his attention.
  • Akbar’s administrative arrangements were remarkably similar to those adopted by Humayun during his conquest of Gujarat. The situation following the departure of the emperor from the scene was also remarkably similar—the various elements, the Abyssinian (Habshi) and Gujarati nobles, the Mirzas and the Hindu rajas rose everywhere and joined hands to expel the Mughals. However, instead of retreating as Askari had done, Aziz Koka entrenchment himself at Ahmadabad. Akbar put off his plans for an eastern expedition, and undertook another of his fantastic personal interventions. He left Fatehpur Sikri and reached Ahmadabad in eleven days at the head of about 3000 troops.
  • The Emperor’s presence demoralized the opponents, and ensured a great victory. This broke the back of the opposition to the Mughal rule over Gujarat, (1573), though sporadic resistance continued off and on for some time.

Bengal

  • The conquest of Gujarat cleared the way for Akbar turning his attention to the affairs of the east. After the death of Islam Shah, Bengal had become independent. After a confused struggle, Sulaiman Karrani had come to power. The Karranis had large jagirs in Bihar and under them, the influence of the Bengal king over Bihar had become strong once again. Thus, the city of Patna founded by Sher Shah, and Hajipur on the other side of the Ganges were under the rule of the Afghan ruler of Bengal.
  • Even the powerful fort of Rohtas was held by the Bengal king. Hence, Akbar’s campaign to the east was aimed not only at the conquest of Bang and Lakhnauti (north Bengal), but also, as Nizamuddin Ahmad says, ” the country of Bihar” . The immediate cause of Akbar’s decision to send an expedition to the east was the fact that unlike the earlier Bengal ruler who had kept a semblance of loyalty to the Mughal king by not insisting on a separate khutba and sikka, Daud Khan, proud of his army of 40,000 well’ mounted cavalry, 1,40,000 infantry, 3,600 elephants, and a park of artillery said to consist of 20,000 guns and thousands of war-boats, declared himself independent and had the khutba and sikka issued in his own name.
  • It is clear that under proper leadership, the Afghans of Bengal and Bihar could have faced Akbar with a serious challenge. At first, Munim Khan, the governor of Jaunpur, was asked to take urgent steps to deal with the situation. Munim Khan advanced on Patna and besieged it, but could make no impact on the strongly entrenched Afghans. As soon as Akbar was freed from the Gujarat affairs, he advanced with a large army and flotilla of boats. After the conquest of Hajipur and Patna, Akbar pursued Daud Khan into Bengal.
  • However the command was soon entrusted to Munim Khan, who was made governor of Bengal, and Akbar returned to Agra. Here again, while like Humayun, Akbar considered the campaign against Bengal and Bihar the be a combined operation, his management of the operation was in stark contrast to Humayun’ s—he first consolidated his position in Gujarat, and did not involve himself personally in the campaigning in Bengal.
  • Although Munim Khan had concluded a treaty with Daud in March 1675 after defeating him in a well contested battle at Tukaroi (district Balasore), Munim Khan’s death soon after at Gaur led to a renewed outbreak of hostilities in which Daud reoccupied his old capital, Tanda. The Mughals made a shameful retreat to Bihar. Akbar now appointed Hussain Quli Khan-i-Jahan as the new governor of Bengal, and in another well contested battle, Daud Khan was defeated and killed (1576).
  • The Mughal victory over Daud Khan may be considered virtually the final act in the struggle against the Afghans although struggle with the Afghan rulers of Orissa, and with the powerfully entrenched Afghan zamindars in the southern and eastern areas of Bengal continued sporadically till the reign of Jahangir.

Emergence of a Composite Ruling Class

  • The induction of the Rajputs and other Hindus into the Imperial service, and according them a status of equality with the others was a big step in the creation of a composite ruling class. An analysis of the list of nobles holding ranks of 500 and above given in the Ain-i-Akbari shows that between 1575 and 1595, the Hindus numbered 30 out of a total of 184, or about one-sixth of the total. Out of the 30 Hindus, the Rajputs numbered 27. However, these figures are not a true index of the significance of the Rajputs and other Hindus in the Imperial service.
  • Badayuni who was one of those who was unhappy at this development and harps on the role of Akbar’s Rajput wives in shaping his liberal religious policy, says: “… of Hindu infidels who are indispensable, and of whom half the army, and country, will soon consist, and of whom there is not among the Mughals and Hindustanis a quam so powerful, he (Akbar) could not have enough.
  • As has been noted, Akbar did not give service only to powerful rajas and zamindars. He opened the service to talent and in consequence many gifted and capable men, both Hindu and Muslim, drawn from an ordinary background, were taken into service, and some of them rose to high positions. Thus, among the Rajputs there were many who were subordinate sardars of the various rajas, but who attracted Akbar’s eye and were taken into Imperial service. Among these may be mentioned Raisal Darbari, Rai Manohar, Bedi Chand, Lunkaran Kachawaha etc. An even more significant section consisted of the revenue-experts many of whom belonged to the Khatri and Kayastha castes among the Hindus. These sections had for long worked at the lower level in the revenue affairs of the state, and also acted as financial advisors (peshkars) in the houses of a large number of nobles. Their induction into the higher echelons of the revenue-department was a recent phenomenon. Among these may be mentioned Todar Mal who had worked in the revenue-department under Sher Shah Sur. Under Akbar, he not only took part in many military campaigns against the Uzbek nobles and in Gujarat, he played a leading role in the Bengal expedition. He rose to the position of wazir and carried out important reforms in the revenue system. Another was Rai Patr Das, also a khatri, who was diwan of Bihar and Kabul subahs, was given the title of Raja Bikramajit, and rose to the mansab of 5000. The case of Birbal, a close associate of Akbar, is well known. Another was Rai Purushottam, a brahman, who was appointed as the bakhshi.
  • When the subahs were organized, of the diwans in the twelve subahs, eight were khatris and kayasthas. Thus, apart from including Rajput and other Hindu rajas or zamindars, into the service, a second channel of promotion, the administrative channel was opened up. This also benefited a section of Indian Muslims.
  • During the times of Babur, Hindustanis, mainly Afghans had been inducted into the Imperial service. Many of the Afghans dropped out, particularly after the conflict with Humayun. After their return to India, the Mughals inducted into the service two sections of Hindustanis or Indian Muslims. These were, first, the Saiyads of Barha, famed for their military valour, who are supposed to have come to India from Arabia during the Sultanat period. On account of their reckless bravery, the Barhas earned under Akbar the right to serve in the vanguard of the army. But none of them rose to high positions. A second section of the Hindustanis were the Shaikhzadas. These included those who belonged to learned families or Shaikhs who had been settled in India for long. Shaikh Gadai, a favourite of Bairam Khan, was one of these. Badayuni, himself a mullah, held an unfavourable view of these sections, calling them time servers and hypocrites. Most of these lives on madadd-i-maash or revenue-free grants. A few were zamindars. The Shaikhzadas were an influential section in society, and after his break with the Uzbek nobles, Akbar seems to have made special efforts to conciliate them, and induct them into Imperial service.
  • Another section of the Hindustanis were the Kambohs. These, apparently, were a clan or tribe, members of which are also found among the Hindus and Sikhs of Punjab. The most prominent person among the Kambohs who were famous for their sagacity and quickness of apprehension was Shahbaz Khan who played a prominent role in many expeditions, especially against Rana Pratap, and in Bengal. As Mir Bakhshi he applied the dagh system very rigidly. He was known for his piety and his wealth.
  • From the time of jahangir the Afghans began to forge ahead. Their numbers grew as the Mughals expanded their control over the Deccan. The Marathas also began to be recruited into the service from that time. The development of a composite nobility implied a diminution in the domination of the Turani nobles in the service. As we have seen, after the rebellion of the Uzbeks, more Iranis, especially from Khurasan, i.e. eastern Iran begin to be induced into the nobility. They were considered more suitable for administrative posts than the Turanis.
  • A recent study shows that between 1575 and 1595, out of a total 184 nobles holding ranks of 500 zat and above, the Turanis numbered 64 (34.78%), the Iranis 47 (25.54%), the Hindustanis 34 (18.48%), and the Rajputs and other Hindus 30 (16.30%). The background of the remaining 9 is not known.
  • From the time of Akbar an attempt was also made to break clan-tribal ties. Thus, in the army, a rule was made that the military contingents of the nobles should be mixed ones, consisting of Mughals, Hindustanis and Rajputs. However, in view of exigencies, Mughal and Rajput nobles were allowed to have contingents consisting exclusively of Mughals and Rajputs. Thus, under Akbar, a nobility in which there was a balance between ethnic and religious groups, and an army which was relatively free of narrow clan-tribal loyalties came into being. The basis of this was the concept which prevailed from the time of Nizamul Mulk’s Siyasat Nama (10th century), that no ethnic group should constitute a preponderant section in the nobility or army so that the ruler was not dependent on any one of them. At that time, the ruling sections consisted of Muslims only. Akbar developed this concept further by including the Hindus, especially the Rajputs in the nobility and the army so that they could act as a counter-weight to the others. A balanced nobility including different ethnic and religious groups could have paved the way for an integrated ruling class. But for that an integrated religious, cultural and political outlook was necessary.
  • There were problems  of the emergence of such an integrated outlook within the framework of an ethnically balanced, composite ruling class.

Last Phase of Akbar’s Reign—Rebellions and further Expansion of the Empire

  • We have seen how the empire grew rapidly upto 1576. Thereafter there was a phase of consolidation. However, the phase from 1580 onwards saw a serious rebellion in the east; strife in Bengal, Bihar, Rajasthan and the North-west; and expansion of the empire in the east, west and the Deccan. Finally, there was the rebellion of Salim, the favourite son and future successor of Akbar.
  • Early in 1580, there was a serious rebellion by the nobles posted in Bengal. This rebellion may be considered the last attempt of the nobles to stop and, if possible, reverse the process of centralization of power in hands of the monarchy and, by implication, of the officials of the central government whose power and influence had grown apace after the crushing of the Uzbek rebellion in 1567. Thus, the system of branding of horses (dagh) and other animals introduced in 1574, and the insistence of the periodic review of the dagh and of the quality of the horses employed by the nobles had caused deep resentment. On account of the Bengal campaign against the Afghans, these regulations had not been strictly enforced. After the end of the rebellion, Rai Purushottam and Mulla Muhammad Yazdi were sent to set things in order. They behaved in a harsh and untactful manner, demanding to see old accounts. This was compounded by the intrigues of some agents of Mirza Hakim who tried to incite the nobles.
  • The mullahs were also discontented because many of them had lost their revenue-free lands or seen them reduced. The qazi of Jaunpur issued a ruling (fatwa) ” insisting on the duty of taking the field and rebellion against the Emperor” because ” the Emperor has in his dominions made encroachments on the grant lands belonging to us and to God.”
  • The final straw was when the allowance (bhatta) given for service in Bengal and Bihar was reduced to half or less. The rebellion engulfed both Bengal and Bihar where the rebels went so far as to read the khutba in the name of Mirza Hakim. Akbar took energetic steps to curb the rebellion, and also introduced some conciliatory measures. The rebellion had been largely brought under control by Mirza Aziz Koka and Todar Mal by the time Mirza Hakim invaded Punjab. Even at the height of the Bengal-Bihar rebellion, his invasion would have hardly made any difference. Akbar had remained in command at Agra with a large army, and Mirza Hakim, who was known to be a drunkard and a paltroon who had lost Kabul a number of times earlier, could hardly have stood up to Akbar. This, perhaps, was the reason why, after Mirza Hakim’s retreat from Lahore, and the advance of Mughal armies to Kabul, Akbar restored it to Mirza Hakim. Also, since the rebellion in the east had not yet ended, he had no desire to extend his commitments.
  • The next phase of the expansion of the empire in the north-west took place after the rise of Abdullah Uzbek who captured Badakhshan in 1584, ousting the Timurids. Afraid of an Uzbek attack on Kabul, Mirza Hakim and the ousted Timurid prince from Badakhshan, Mirza Sulaiman, appealed to Akbar for help. Before Akbar could do anything, Mirza Hakim died from excessive drinking (1585). Akbar instructed Man Singh who was in charge of the frontier regions, to advance to Kabul and occupy it. To coordinate the affairs, Akbar himself advanced upto the Indus and camped at Attack, and appointed Man Singh as governor of Kabul.
  • Simultaneously, energetic steps were taken to keep the Khybar pass open from the Afghan tribesmen who had risen in rebellion. This entailed a series of expeditions in an inhospitable region. It was in one of these operations that Akbar’s favourite, Birbal, who had rashly advanced too far into the mountain defiles, was surrounded and killed. Akbar was grief-stricken, but it made him even more determined to quell the Afghan tribesmen. This was done but the process was slow and painstaking.
  • In 1586, Akbar decided to conquer Kashmir, the local ruler, Yaqub Khan, who had s ubmitted to Akbar, having refused to come and pay personal homage. After an initial invasion by Raja Bhagwant Das had been repulsed, the task was completed by Qasim Khan (1587). Soon after, many hill rajas of Jammu, as well as Ladakh and Baltistan (called Tibet Khurd or small, and Tibet Buzarg or big), submitted. Akbar made his first visit to Kashmir in 1589.
  • Soon afterwards, in 1590, Akbar sent a force to capture lower Sindh, upper Sindh with its capital at Bhakkar being already under Mughal control. The conquest of lower Sindh was necessary for opening up the trade route from Qandahar to Multan and down the river Indus to the sea.
  • Meanwhile, some of the areas in North India, such as Baluchistan which had remained outside Imperial control were also subdued.
  • The final act was the capture of Qandahar. This gave to the Mughal a scientific, more defensible frontier. In the west, Kathiawar was conquered.
  • ]Man Singh was transferred from Kabul to Bihar in 1587. He adopted a forward policy and conquered Orissa, as also Dacca in East Bengal which was under Afghan control. Cooch Bihar was also forced to accept Mughal suzerainty. Having thus rounded off Mughal conquests in North India, Akbar turned towards the Deccan (Mughal relations with the Deccan is dealt in a separate chapter).
  • The last year of Akbar’s reign were clouded by the rebellion of his son and chosen successor, Salim. Though Akbar was too well settled to be shaken, it raised once again the problem of succession which progressively worsened as Mughal rule itself became firmer, and struck roots in the soil.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply