Mughal Emperor Akbar occupies the first place not only in point of time but also in respect of the measure of his greatness. He was a great genius endowed with such clear insight into public affairs that he could easily fix upon the right mode and psychological moment of doing a thing.
His farsighted vision unfolded to him the course events must take and his practical wisdom enabled him to mould his policy accordingly. He was such an excellent judge of men that his choice of his principal officers was invariably justified.
As a statesman, Akbar was brilliant and impartial and had such a keen insight into human nature that he could always discern other people’s motives and knew how to use them in the best interests of the land.
His exuberance of sympathy and goodwill in no way compromised his imperial dignity and high status. He threw careers open to talent and picked up men of ability from all classes and creeds and unhesitatingly adopted the means necessary for securing their best services to the land and people.
In bodily vigor, courage, physical prowess and self-confidence he was head and shoulders above his followers and lieutenants so that his pre-eminence among them was indubitable and unchallenged. Many a time, he hurled himself against powerful enemies at the head of a mere handful of men and when surrounded by enemy on all sides, extricated himself by deeds of unprecedented valor and heroism.
He rarely undertook a thing he could not achieve. He did not allow his passions or emotions to get the better of him. Instead, he exhibited them as he thought best with perfect mastery over them. It is on this ground that he has been described as a past master in dissimulation who did not let anybody discern his true intentions and acted as the exigency of the moment demanded.
It was because of these qualities that he secured such remarkable success in building up the Timurid Empire in India. His father was a Sunni while his mother was a Shia but both of them had certain sophistic learning. He was born under the roof of a Rajput and his early years were spent in the company of teachers whose views were as liberal as their learning was profound. His breadth of vision and latitudinarian tendencies were largely the gift of this peculiar environment that went to the making of Akbar.
As remarked by Abul Fazl, the Emperor had an inborn versatile genius which enabled him to play the diverse roles of a general, diplomat, administrator, art-critic, spiritual guide and empire-builder with equal distinction.
In the sphere of government, he introduced many far-reaching changes. He first placed before himself the ideal of setting up a national monarchy and intent of the progress and happiness of all sections of the Indian people. Wherever necessary, he drafted foreigners into his service but not at the cost of the people of the land.
He found the unlimited Vakil detrimental to public security and therefore drastically, though gradually, cut down his powers and kept the office vacant for a number of years.
He gave a
- fresh orientation to the Rajput and religious policies of the state,
- made great improvements in the land-revenue policy,
- reorganized the army on a new basis,
- cut down the powers of the Sadr-i-Jahan and appointed subordinate Sadrs in the provinces who in their turn were regrouped and reorganized on a scientific basis, and
- made the provincial diwan directly responsible to the central Wazir.
For proper supervision and control over provinces, he extended Sher Shah’s system of Dak-chaukis and appointed civil and secret staff for sending periodical reports to the centre at specified intervals.
He improved the agency of control and supervision over state factories, royal stores and treasuries and evinced such sympathy and interest in the work of artists and craftsmen of different grades and categories that they made great strides in their respective arts and crafts.
In the field of architecture, he evolved a new style while his patronage of painting led to the revival of an Indian School of Painting.
He created conditions for a harmonious blending of Hindu and Muslim cultures and sought to generate among all classes of people feelings of mutual toleration and cordiality.
He thus helped to build up a new environment, a progressive outlook and a comprehensive vision. He left his stamp on the entire government and life of the nation and the influences of his policy have survived even to the present day. For his descendants he left behind an ideal, adherence to which brought them success and popularity as surely as the neglect of it led to their failure and decline. That is why he has been called great and his name is remembered with respect and honor.