History - Mughal Empire - 2
In 1577 Akbar undertook the reform of the currency and appointed Khwaja Abdus Samad Shirazi, a noted painter and calligraphist, to be the superintendent of the imperial mint at Delhi.
Besides Delhi, provinical mints were located at Lahore, Jaunpur, Ahmedabad, Patna and Tanda (in Bengal).
The silver coin issued during Akbar’s reign was round in shape, like its modern successor, and was known as rupee. It weighed 172 grains.
Akbar also introduced a square rupee called Jalali, but it was not as popular as the round rupee.
The chief copper coin was the dam or paisa or fulus. It weighed 323.5 grains or almost 21 grams.
The ratio between the dam and the rupee was 40 to 1. The lowest copper coin was jital. 25 jitals made one paisa.
The most common gold coin was the Ilahi, which was equal to 10 rupees in value.
The biggest gold coin was the shahanshah. It weighed a little over 101 tolas and was used mostly in high value business transactions.
The coins bore calligraphic inscriptions containing name and titles of the emperor and the place and year of mintage. Very few coins had figures inscribed on them.
The judicial system of Mughals was based on Islamic law. As it was not possible in practice to enforce Islamic law on Hindus, a compromise was effected. While criminal cases continued to be decided according to the Islamic law in all cases, Hindu law was administered in deciding civil and religious disputes in which the parties were Hindus.
Although Akbar had rejected the Islamic theory of kingship, he made no fundamental change in the judicial system. One important change introduced by Akbar in the judicial system was to restrict the scope of Islamic law and to extend that of general or customary law of the land so as to make it include as many causes as possible.
Akbar did not apply Islamic law of capital punishment for apostasy from Islam or for propagating Hinduism or Christianity.
Akbar appointed Hindu judges to decide the causes of Hindus.
The king was the highest judge in the Mughal empire. The next judicial authority was the qazi, who was appointed by the emperor and worked during his pleasure.
Originally, the chief qazi’s main qualifications used to be his knowledge of Islamic theology and his narrow sec-retarian views. Akbar, however, appointed to this post men of liberal religious outlook and broad sympathies towards all sections of the society.
Chief qazi was paid his salary in cash, as also was given an assignment of land entitled Madad-i-Mash or sub-sistence allowance.
Qazis were assisted by muftis, whose main duty was to interpret the law and issue a fatwa.
Akbar’s police administration was divided into three categories of urban, district and village police.
In all cities and towns kotwal headed the local police. His main duty was to see that the life of the city con-tinued undisturbed. Besides, he had to examine weights and measures, keep an eye on the currency and enforce Akbar’s social legislation.
Kotwal was personally held responsible for the value of property stolen in case he failed to discover the thief.
The kotwal was authorised to inflict punishment on offenders. However, he was not empowered to inflict capital punishment.
In the district the law and order was maintained by the faujdar. His main duties were the policing of the roads of the district and suppressing of disorders of all kinds.
The village headman was responsible for policing at the village level.
The imperial service during Akbar’s reign was organized on bureaucratic principles, but was military in organization and outlook.
The most flourishing towns during Akbar’s regime were Fatehpur Sikri, Agra, Delhi, Allahabad, Benaras, Lucknow, Lahore, Multan, Ujjain, Ahmedabad, Ajmer, Patna, Rajmahal and Dhaka.
The most important industry of the time was culti-vation of cotton and manufacture of cotton cloth. The prin-cipal centres of cotton manufacture were Jaunpur, Benaras, Patna, Burhanpur, Lucknow, Khairabad and Akbarpur.
Agra, Fatehpur Sikri and Lahore were important centres of silk-weaving.
The principal outlets for foreign sea-borne trade during Akbar’s regime were Cambay, Surat and Broach in Gujarat, Lahori Bandar in Sindh, Bassein, Chaul and Dabul (modern Bhabol) in the Ratnagiri district, Goa and Bhatkal, Calicut and Cochin in Malabar, and Negapatnam and Masulipatnam on the east coast, and Satgaon, Sripur, Chatgaon and Sonarghat in Bengal.
Two main land routes for exports were Lahore to Kabul and beyond, and from Multan to Kandhar and beyond.
Gold and silver were not allowed to be exported during the Akbar’s regime. Only imports were allowed.
Among the popular indoor games during Akbar’s reign were chaupar, phansa and pachisi. Akbar was particularly fond of chandalmandal and pachisi.
The Tajak, a well-known work of Astronomy, and the Tazuk-i-Baburi, or the memoirs of Babur, were translat-ed into Persian during Akbar’s reign.
The Mahabharat was rendered into Persian by Naqib Khan, Abdul Qadir Badayuni and Shaikh Sultan of Thanesar and was named Razm-nama, the book of wars.
The Lilawati, a Sanskrit treatise on Mathematics, was rendered into Persian by Faizi.
Among the notable works of literature during Akbar’s regime were: Abul Fazal’s Akbar-Nama and Ain-i-Akbari, Nizamud-Din Ahmad’s Tabqat-i-Akbari, Gula-badan Begam’s Humayun-Nama and Jauhar’s Tazkirat-ul-Waqayat. Abbas Sarwani produced the Tohfa-i-Akbar Shahi alias Tarikh-i-Sher Shahi.
Akbar ordered the compilation of the history of 1000 years of Islam, and Naqib Khan Mullah Mohammad of Thatta and Jaffer Beg were commissioned to write out the work. The book, with an introduction by Abul Fazi, became known as the Tarikh-i-Alfi.
The reign of Akbar was golden age of Hindi poet-ry. The most notable luminaries of Hindi were Tulsi Das, Sur Das, Abdur Rahim Khan Khana, Ras Khan and Birbal.
Among the famous works of Tulsi Das were Ram-charitmanas and Vinaya Patrika.
Akbar created a separate department of painting and Khwaja Abdus Samad, one of the best painters of his court, was placed at its head.
Abdus Samad was a Persian who had come from Shiraz. He was given the title of Shirin-qalam or ‘sweet pen’.
Daswanth, Basawan, Kesu, Lal, Mukand, Madhu, Jagan, Mahesh, Tara, Khem Karan, Sanwla, Haribansh and Ram were some well-known Hindu painters during Akbar’s reign. They were experts in portrait painting.
According to Abul Fazal eight modes of calligra-phy were in vogue at Akbar’s court, of which the eighth kind, named Nastaliq, was specially favoured by Akbar.
The most important calligraphist at Akbar’s court was Mohammed Hussain Kashmiri, who was given the title of Zarin Qalam. Some of the other famous cal-ligraphists were Maulana Baqir, Mohammed Amin of Mashad, and Mir Hussein Ralanki.
The Ain-i-Akbari gives names of 36 first-rate musi-cians in Akbar’s court. They were arranged in seven divisions. Each division was required to entertain Akbar for one fixed day in the week.
Akbar himself was a skilled musician and was an expert performer on Naqqara (kettle drum).
Tansen was the most notable musician of the age. He had been trained in a school established at Gwalior by Raja Man Singh Tomar.
Baba Ram Das was another famous musician of Akbar’s court and was ranked next only to Tansen.
Sur Das, besides being a great poet, was also a musician of Akbar’s court.
The gigantic forts at Agra, Lahore and Allahabad were built by Akbar.
The Agra fort resembles that of Gwalior. It has two main gateways, namely, the Delhi gate and the Amar Singh gate. Inside, about 500 buildings of red sandstone were built. Most of these were later pulled-down by Shahjehan.
The greatest architectural achievement of Akbar was his new capital at Fatehpur Sikri. Three sides of Fateh-pur Sikri are covered by a wall and the fourth side by an artifical lake. The walls have nine gates, of which Buland Darwaza, built of marble and sandstone, is “one of the most perfect architectural achievements in the whole of India”.
Decorative carving was an important feature of Mughal architecture.
Mughals brought the concept of geometrically designed gardens to India. The chief characteristic of Mughal gardens was artificial irrigation in the form of chan-nels, basins or tanks, and dwarf waterfalls.
The most important garden associated with Akbar is at Sikandra. In the centre of this garden stands his mausoleum.
Akbar was illiterate. But, he acquired knowledge of theology, literature, philosophy, history, etc. by having books read out to him every day.
Akbar was the first ruler of Medevial India to discard the Islamic basis of sovereignty and to lay down the principle that the king was the father of all his subjects, irrespective of caste, race or religion.
Akbar sought to strengthen the society by doing away with its evils. He tried to abolish Sati, child-marriage and old-age marriage. He did not allow circumcision before the age of 12, and allowed Muslim converts to go back to their original religion if they liked.
Akbar attempted to give his empire cultural unity by making Persian the court language and by providing in that language (either by translation or original composition) the best Hindu and Muslim thought, religious as well as secular.
Most of the fine arts, such as architecture, painting and music were nationalised and made the common property of the Hindus and Muslims alike.
Akbar gave his empire the political and administrative unity of the highest kind possible in that age, by giving all the provinces the same system of administration, the same set of officials, the same administrative methods, the same revenue system and the same coinage.