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Akbar, the Great Mughal


ON November 23, 1542, Akbar, the future Mughal Emperor, was born at Amarkot. His father, Humayun, had already lost the kingdom won by Babar, and Akbar's childhood was spent in exile. Humayun reconquered India in 1555, only to die, and the boy-king had to endure five years of regency before he came into his own. He stands out among Asiatic rulers as a determined leader and enlightened organizer. But the man was greater than the king. His interest in religion and philosophy, art and science is famous, but the distinguishing marks of his greatness were the questing intelligence and fearless judgment he consistently brought to bear upon the difficulties with which he was surrounded. He set himself to unite Hindu and Muslim India. He married into the ancient Rajput royal families, and Jahangir, his successor, was born of a Rajput princess. It is worth remembering that his reign coincides almost exactly with that of Elizabeth of England. At a time when Europe still found the methods of the rack and stake acceptable, he instituted and enforced religious toleration. He grappled with the horrors of suttee two hundred years before Bentinck abolished it. He was the patron of learning and the arts. His justice knew no distinction of caste or creed or colour. Such was the man, who, while he lived, united India in mutual service. The fourth centenary of Akbar's birth will be celebrated by a meeting arranged by the British Council, the Royal Asiatic Society, the East India Association and the India Society to be held in the rooms of the Royal Society on November 23.

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Akbar, the Great Mughal. Nature 150, 600–601 (1942).

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