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Akbar the Great

Akbar, born on Oct 15, 1542, died on Oct. 16, 1605, the third Mughal emperor of India, is considered one of the greatest Indian rulers. The son of Emperor HUMAYUN and originally named Jalal ud-Din Muhammad, he ascended the throne of Delhi on Feb. 15, 1556, and ruled under a regency until 1560. His position was immediately confirmed by the defeat of the Afghan claimant to the throne at Panipat on Nov. 5, 1556, which firmly reestablished the Mogul dynasty on the throne of Delhi.

Akbar set out to unite all India under Mogul rule. Akbar first set up his court at Agra and then in 1569 built the royal city of FATEHPUR-SIKRI, which was his capital from 1570 to 1585. He began consolidating his power in northern India by annexing Malwa (1562), and by 1595 he had taken Gujarat, Bihar, part of Bengal, Kabul, Kashmir, Sind, and Baluchistan. He moved toward the south in 1596 with the occupation of Berar. He took Khandesh and Ahmadnagar in 1600, but further conquests were thwarted by a rebellion led by his son, Salim.

Akbar moved his court to Lahore in 1585 and returned it to Agra in 1599. In his attempt to unite India, he took Hindu chiefs (particularly the Rajputs) into his administration and otherwise sought to conciliate Hindu interests. He established a fair tax system and a uniform system of weights and measures, developed trade, and practiced religious tolerance. Although illiterate himself, he surrounded himself with scholars and promulgated a new religion, the Din-i-ILahi (Divine Faith), a blend of Islam, Hinduism, and other traditions. He also kept a Jesuit mission at his court.