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Medieval History / Mughal Sultanate

Religious Policy of Akbar and Aurangzeb


    If we talk about religious policies of Akbar and Aurangzeb, they are somewhat conflicting in nature. Akbar was the most secular king and Aurangzeb was the most conservative king of the Mughal empire.

    Religious Policy of Akbar

    • Akbar developed religious policy based on a Sufi doctrine known as Sulh-e-Kul (meaning Peace with All), a policy of universal brotherhood and non-discrimination.
    • In 1562, he banned forcible conversions. Pilgrimage tax was abolished in 1563. In 1564, Jizya tax was abolished.
    • During his reign, cow slaughter was banned and many temples and churches were constructed.
    • He married many Rajput princesses and gave complete religious freedom to them.
      • Harkha Bai, a Kachwaha dynasty princess of Amber, was given the name Mariam-uz-Zamani (she is mother of Jahangir). She was also known as Jodha Bai and a worshipper of Krishna.
      • He also married the princesses of Jaisalmer and Bikaner.
      • He made Salim to marry Jagat Gosain (also called Jodh Bai according to one tradition), a Rathore princess of Marwar.
    • In 1575, at Fatehpur Sikri, he built Ibadat Khana (Worship House), where on every Thursday, a religious debate was being organized. By 1578, he became the most knowledgeable person in Islam. After that he came to know that Islam is not conservative. After that suppression of Ulemas started. Most of the Ulemas were asked to go to Mecca.
    • From 1578, the doors of Ibadat Khana were opened to other religions also. In Ibadat Khana, Hinduism was represented by Devi and Purushottam, Jainism was represented by Hira Vijaya Suri, Zoroastrian (Parsi) religion was represented by Dastur Meherji Rana and Christianity was represented by Portuguese missionaries named Antonio Monserrate and Rudolf Acquaviva.
    • Ibadat Khana was active up to 1582. By 1582, he had tremendous knowledge of all religions.
    • In 1582, he developed a new religion having principles of all religions. It is known as Tauhid-i-Ilahi and later it was renamed (after death of Akbar) as Din-i-Ilahi (Divine faith). Sunday was a holiday in this religion. At the height of this religion, it had only 18 followers of which only one Hindu, named Mahesh Das, followed it. Mahesh Das had titles as Raja Birbal and Kaviraj.
    • Principles of Din-i-Ilahi - Worship of Fire God and Sun God, No non-vegetarian food, No celebration of birthdays, No marriage to elder or minor, Greeting "Allahu Akbar" (Allah is great).

    Religious Policy of Aurangzeb

    • Aurangzeb was a god-fearing man. He abolished 20 kinds of taxes. In 1679, he reimposed Jizya tax. He destroyed many temples like Somnath temple, Keshava Rai temple in Mathura, Vishwanath temple in Kashi, etc. Navroz, Shab-e-Barat, Deepawali, Holi were banned.
    • He imposed more taxes on Hindu traders. He abolished Tulabhara (Jashn-e-Wazan) ceremony in the court. Jharokha Darshan was also banned. He removed the painters, musicians and dancers from the court as these are un-Islamic.
    • He stopped minting Kalima (sacred lines) on the coins as he thought that he was insulting Kalima by minting on coins as they may go to dustbin, etc.
    • Hindus occupied 33% of higher positions in Aurangzeb's administration. "Zinda Pir" (Living Saint) is the title of Aurangzeb.
    • He appointed officers called Muhtasib (to preach Morals) for the expansion of Islam. Naubat, a military band was not abolished.
    • According to a tradition, he never spent public money for luxuries.