Mughal Empire was one of the greatest empires ever existed in sub continental India. It is considered one of the greatest due to the significant changes that occurred in India during the existence of the empire. Mughal Empire was brought by Akbar who was the third emperor of Mughal. He took the throne from his father and ruled from 1556 to 1605. Akbar was a successful person who expanded the Mughal emperor to ensure that most of the subcontinents north of the Godavari River became part of Mughal (Alam, 2013). The powers and influence of Akbar were recognized in the whole country. The reign of Akbar became the foundation of the history of India because, in his reign, India had a greater economic growth and creation of wealth. He also credited for implementing various polices that treated both minority and majority ethnic and religious groups thereby unifying the country more than ever experienced before. This was accomplished by allowing all groups of people in the empire to participate in day-to-day running of government, among other reforms. This paper explores political and religious characteristics of pre-Mughal India; provides a description of the legacy of Akbar, and political decline in Mughal Empire.
Political and religious Characteristics of Pre-Mughal India
In pre-Mughal India, there was a conflict between different religious groups such as Muslims, Hindus, and Christians (Robb, 2001). Indians were divided along religious lines and, therefore, Muslims could not unite with Hindus and Christians. Before 1526, Mughal was divided into religious regions namely Hindu and Muslim Kingdoms. There was little interactions occurred between these groups. Therefore, no loyalty and trust among people of different faiths (Pearson, 1976).
Muslims and Hindus were not loyal to each other because they had different cultural and religious inclinations. Empires such as Rajput was ruled by different rulers who had their own political power to command the region (Robb, 2001). Additionally, there was no centralized system of administration in pre-Mughal Empire and there were different rulers who were responsible for their governance in various regions of the sub-Indian continent. Moreover, the government of the day lacked inclusivity as few people who had the opportunity to occupy civil positions (Alam, 2013). As such, the various rulers of different units in the pre-Mughal India were ruling without corporation among themselves. It was also impossible to have intermarriages between people with different religious faiths. Muslims could not marry Hindus and Christians could also not marry Muslims (Robb, 2001).The lack of marital unions further heightened the divisions among the different independent administrative kingdoms in the region.
Description of the Legacy of Akbar the Great in Indian History
Akbar left a visible mark that will never be forgotten in the Indian history. The legacy spread across the entire sectors of the economy including culture, sports, arts and even education. Such legacy is the expansion of the Mughal Empire through the use of military power .He ensured that his control extended to Afghanistan in the north, reached Sindh in the west, Bengal in the East and Godavari River in the south(Robb, 2001). His legacy remains important to historians in the sense because he used his political influence to earn the loyalty of all the people he had conquered.
Akbar also formed an alliance with the rulers he had defeated such as Rajput instead of imposing high tribute tax on them and also giving them the power to command their own territories without much supervision (Pearson, 1976). In addition, Akbar used a centralized form of administration where everybody was included in his administration and this helped him unify all his subjects and the conquered territories (Wagle, 1995). Akbar can also not be forgotten for the role he played in developing sports and culture. He awarded talents, loyalty, and intellect without considering any ethnic group or even religious practice of the people (Mukhia, 1984). Although Akbar used military power to conquer other emperors, he ruled them in a spirit of corporation and tolerance. He did not require Hindus to become Muslims but he accepted them and allowed them to fill civil positions. Furthermore, he led in the formation of matrimonial alliances by marrying Hindu princess to promote religious intermarriages.
The legacy of Akbar is also recognized in his economic administration. Akbar revised the tax system of Mughal emperor in 1574 by ensuring that revenue collection was not part of the Military administration. He created different governorship positions called subah which was responsible for maintaining order. A different tax collector was given the authority to collect property tax and submit them to the capital (Wagle, 1995). In the process checks and balances emerged in every region led by the Governor as rich people could not get police and at the same time security officers were poor and, therefore, had to rely on central government for assistance. As a consequence, the central government was able to pay the military and the civilians workers based on rank and position (Mukhia, 1984). Akbar used a centralized system of administration to unify all the Mughal states. Akbar further sustained peace and order through the use of religious and cultural values by adopting policies that embraced non-Muslin subjects (Pearson, 1976). Through the creation and establishment of a stable economy, Akbar was able to influence commercial expansion and a greater patronage of norms and traditional practices in the empire.
Akbar left a religious legacy by participating in religious festivals of other faiths. He also designed a temple in Persian style where he could meet scholars of other religious faiths such as Hindu, Christians, and Muslims (Wagle, 1995). He also allowed for the construction of churches in different regions such as Agra and ensured that Hindus did not kill cattle in honor of Hindu Custom. He could also not be forgotten by creating interreligious and multicultural states and at the end of 1582; he developed a cult called Din-i-Ilahi which had different components of religions like Islam, and Hinduism, among others (Mukhia, 1984) .There are very many buildings designed and built during the reign of Akbar and remain part of the great monuments that are still recognized in India today.
Political Decline in Mughal Empire
The political decline in Mughal emperor started in the reign of Aurangzeb who became the last Mughal emperor. The political decline was associated with him because he was the last emperor. Aurangzeb did not follow the footsteps of his forefathers. For instance, he displayed intolerant attitudes to religious pluralism which he found in the empire (Pearson, 1976). Aurangzeb forced Islamic law on all the diverse peoples of the Mughal Empire and this caused a rift between his subjects. More specifically, he encouraged the enactment and enforcement of Sharia laws and other policies that did not favor the worship practices of Hindus .As a result, religious tension and animosity arose between Muslims and Hindus. During his reign, there was a law that forbade religious gatherings. He also destroyed Temples for Hindus and also conducted a general campaign that discriminated Hindus and empowered members of the Islamic Religion in the empire.
The laws aimed to discriminate Hindus resulted in various rebellions and act of violence which led to the decline of Mughal (Wagle, 1995). Aurangzeb also jailed Pontiff of the Sikhs for rejecting his bid to convert into Islam. The political decline for Mughal empire was mainly attributed to the policy that differentiated Mughal empire from other Muslim of the World which required the conversion of other people into Muslims by force (Mukhia, 1984). In addition, Aurangzeb provided favor to Muslims than non-Muslims in relation to economic issues. This resulted in religious violence that could not be stopped by Mughal Empire. The political campaign of Aurangzeb was also based on the marginalization of Hindus so that it could be dominated by Muslims and this led to the growth of hatred between different Indians. In 1773, there was a creation of British India which led to its colonization of India by Great Britain. The arrival of Great Britain contributed to re-fragmentation of Indians and also an increase in religious violence (Wagle, 1995). Although there was sometimes when the Hindus and Muslims were able to work together, British did not like such conditions because they could become unmanageable.
Akbar was a very successful leader of the Mughal Empire. He eliminated religious conflict between Muslims and Hindus in India between 1556 and 1605. He participated in the restructuring of the Mughal Empire and expanded its territory through the use of military force but afterword he used his wisdom to unite population. Akbar designed Mughal styles of buildings which can still be seen in India today. However, the Mughal Empire declined due to poor leadership of Aurangzeb. He discriminated against Hindus and also wanted people to be converted into Muslims by force. This caused religious conflict between Muslims and Hindus. The arrival of the British in the second half of the 18th century dealt a final blow to existence of Mughal Empire.
Alam, M. (2013). The Crisis of Empire in Mughal North India. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198077411.001.0001
Mukhia, H. (1984). Review symposium : II Chapters: III North India Under the Sultanate (sections 1-3) VII The State and the Economy: The Mughal Empire VIII The Systems of Agricultural Production: Mughal India IX Non-Agricultural Production: Mughal India. The Indian Economic & Social History Review, 21(1), 116-120. doi:10.1177/001946468402100107
Pearson, M. N. (1976). Shivaji and the Decline of the Mughal Empire. The Journal of Asian Studies, 35(2), 221. doi:10.2307/2053980
Wagle, N. (1995). The New Cambridge History of India: The Mughal Empire, by John F. RichardsThe New Cambridge History of India: The Mughal Empire, by John F. Richards. New York, Cambridge University Press, 1993. xvi, 320 pp. $44.95 U.S. Canadian Journal of History, 30(1), 162-165. doi:10.3138/cjh.30.1.162
Robb, P. (2001), A History of India, London: Palgrave, ISBN 978-0-333-69129-8
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