The remarkable fact about the policy towards Hindus was that he initiated the policy at a time when there was a lot of intolerance all around. The Muslim tradition in India was to persecute Hindus and this was happening for centuries.
Influence of Akbar’s Hindu Queens
With regard to the factors influencing Akbar in his policy towards Hindus, his Hindu wives must have played an important role. These Hindu wives were allowed to openly worship in their palaces and as a result, Hindus across the country could be shown equal tolerance.
Influence of Hindu Saints and Philosophers
Akbar himself listened to the teachings of Hindu saints and philosophers. It is true that earlier also Muslim rulers had married Hindu wives, but in those cases the marriages resulted in intolerance and bigotry. However, Akbar’s marital relations created a different atmosphere.
Sheikh Mubarak, Abul Fazal and Faizi played important roles in Akbar’s life. There were some Sufi saints and they encouraged Akbar to follow a liberal policy in matters of religion.
Akbar had an extraordinary amount of imagination and initiative. He had a courageous mind and was ready to experiment in every field. It was his inquisitive mind that was responsible for the religious discussions at Ibadat Khana in Fatehpur Sikri.
As the discussion progressed, he was struck by the spirit of intolerance shown by leaders of different religions. They, the mullahs, would call each other anubhava and heretic. Then, one declared something valid, the other outlawed the same thing.” It was this intolerance that was responsible for Akbar’s desire to find out the truth.
It is sometimes reported that Akbar followed a policy of conciliation towards the Hindus for political reasons. Even if this fact is accepted, it does not reduce the greatness of Akbar. His great achievement was that he succeeded in freeing the Mughal state from the domination of the mullahs. This can be perpetuated from the chapter and verse of Akbar’s pot. He was deeply concerned with his religious views towards Hindus.
Abolition of jizya tax
In 1564, Akbar abolished Jaziya which was imposed on Hindus. This was hated by the Hindus as it was a symbol of their inferiority and involved a lot of humiliation. When Jizya was imposed, Muslims alone were the true citizens of the state, but after its abolition, both Hindus and Muslims became equal citizens of the state.
Abolition of pilgrimage tax
In 1563, Akbar abolished the pilgrimage tax. He was opposing the policy of taxing people while they were performing their religious duties. All restrictions on the construction of places of worship were removed. As a result, a large number of temples were built all over the country. Akbar established a large number of translation departments to translate Hindu religious books into Persian.
Its purpose was to establish cultural contacts between Hindus and Muslims. Knowledge of Hinduism was expected to lead to a better understanding of both the religions. In 1603, a firman was issued allowing Christians to convert to India. Even before this, Akbar had stopped the practice of converting prisoners of war to Islam. As early as 1562, Akbar stopped the practice of converting prisoners of war to Islam.
Appointment of Hindu Ministers
Till the time of Akbar, non-Muslims were excluded from all functions of responsibility and prestige. Only the Muslims formed the ruling classes and all the high officials were from the Muslim community. Akbar opened the doors of offices to Hindus and Muslims alike. Merit test was held alone. Todarmal was appointed the Finance Minister and also served as the Prime Minister for some time.
Bhagwan Das, Man Singh, Todarmal and Rai Singh were appointed governors of different provinces. He was also put in charge of several military operations. The Ain-i-Akbari mentions 137 mansabdars of 1,000 and above and 14 of them were Hindus. At the time of Akbar, there was a large number of Hindus in the Mughal army. Impressed by the bravery of the Hindus, Akbar recruited a large number of Hindus in the Mughal army. Akbar’s policy towards Hindus can be gauged from the fact that in the period 1594-95, eight out of the twelve provincial diwans were Hindus.
Appointment of Brahmin judges
In the past, the affairs of Hindus were decided by Muslim Qazis. Akbar appointed Brahmin judges to decide the affairs of the Hindus. A large number of Hindus were employed in the revenue department of the Mughal government.
Participated in Hindu festivals
Akbar had great respect for Hindu sentiments. Since Hindus had great piety for cows, the use of beef was prohibited. However, it is wrong to say that the killers of cows were given the death penalty. In 1583, Akbar banned the killing of animals on certain days. It is said that in 1590-91, Akbar prohibited the consumption of meat of oxen, buffaloes, goats or sheep, horses and camels.
Fishing was banned for some time in 1592. According to Badauni, Akbar avoided associations with people with garlic, onions, beef and beards. Akbar participated in the festivals of Hindus. Some of those festivals were Rakhi, Deepawali and Shivratri. Their aim was only to reconcile the Hindus without hurting the Muslims.
Prohibition on prevalent evil practices among Hindus
Akbar discouraged child marriage and encouraged widow remarriage among Hindus. He prohibited the practice of Sati or the burning of Hindu widows on the pyre of their husbands. It is clear from the above that Akbar deliberately followed a policy of reconciliation to the Hindus and thus won their allegiance to his kingdom. It is a matter of history that the reversal of this policy by Aurangzeb was one of the important reasons for the decline of the Mughal Empire.
Thus, during his reign, Akbar made various efforts to make Hindus his supporters. In fact, Akbar had learned that only enemies could be made by the policy of torture or tyranny, so he adopted the policy of reconciliation in which he was also successful. By relations he made Rajputs his supporters. In this way, Akbar reached a different position by achieving the position of a great ruler in the Mughals with this policy.