This is the story of Akbar The Great.
While fire melts glass, it also forges the strongest of swords. Tough times are like fire, and people going through it can either break like glass or get hardened like a sword. Akbar decided to be the sword. From being a fifteen-year-old king of the Mughal dynasty, Akbar went on to become the most influential ruler of the Indian subcontinent.
Akbar was born in a refuge when his father Humayun had left his mother under the care of his elder brother. He was brought up in Kabul, where Kamran Mirza, brother of Humayun, ruled. Throughout his childhood, Akbar was a vulnerable target for enemy forces. And the Mughals had a lot of enemies, some in their families as well. Hence throughout his childhood, he focused on learning survival skills like sword fighting, living off in forests, hunting, archery, and more. And so he was unable to acquire the skills of reading and writing. But from his father, he had learned the importance of knowledge. So he would get people to read to him something every night.
Akbar was 14 years old when Humayun passed away. Akabar was placed in the hands of trusted Bairam Khan. Bairam Khan made sure that the death of Humayun remains a secret for as long as possible. And he began training Akbar for the future. Bairam Khan’s military strategies were unmatched. Akbar made sure he learned as much from him as he could. Hence he would accompany him in the battles and observe the tactics employed. This was a brave move but it made sure that he didn’t become over-dependent on Bairam Khan.
Bairam Khan and Akbar the great won Punjab under the rule of Sikander Shah Suri. Then they expanded to Multan and brought Mughal relatives back from the refuge in Kabul. At the age of 22, Akbar and Bairam Khan had a dispute over further expansion. As a result, Akbar commanded Bairam Khan to retire and take a trip to Mecca.
On his way, Bairam Khan met the uncle of Akbar in Kabul. Here he was gaslighted to rebel against Akbar and was armed with an army. Akbar and Bairam clashed on the outskirts of Delhi. Akabar defeated Bairam khan but refused to punish him because of their past relationship. He was once again given the order to visit Mecca. But he was assassinated on his way.
Akbar the great saw his relatives in Kabul as a chunk in the armour. He called his cousin Adham Khan to Agra and threw him off the fort twice as a statement to his backstabbers. With no real opposition, Akbar managed to expand the Mughal dynasty to its peak.
What makes Akbar great is not just his expansion but the work he did to maintain such a large kingdom. At the core of his principle was secularism. After marrying a Hindu princess, Jodha Bai, Akbar made her a temple inside the Agra fort. He took interest in the teachings of Hinduism. He even sent one of his sons to Varanasi to learn from Hindu sages. His court was full of ministers of different religions including the likes of Birbal and Tanshen. This secularism helped him become popular and liked throughout India. And hence he was given the title of Shahenshah meaning King of Kings.
India is a land of immense diversity. And after the introduction of the Islamic dynasties, it became even more complex. Akbar the great became the first king to bring this diverse land under one umbrella of rule. His type of governance and principles became a banner for future rulers who wished to do the same. His inclusiveness of different religions and cultures is reflected in modern-day India as well.