Essay Unused for Exam 1:
Question: Please discuss the how Mughal India addressed the problems arising from religious diversity. Which religious groups were present in 16th century India, and how did Emperor Akbar incorporate other Muslim and non-Muslim religious groups (see text Bada’Uni). How did his successors change Akbar’s policy, and how did this affect the Mughal Empire in the 17th and 18th century?
Religious diversity, incorporation of the religious groups, and Akbar’s successors.
In the sixteenth century, Mughal Empire expanded through war and other forms of acquisition to incorporate numerous regions in South Asia. Emperor Akbar, the ruler of the Mughal Emperor, controlled a large area and as many as 100 million subjects (Voyages, 461). “Akbar was keenly interested in religion,” (Voyages, 471). Akbar’s politic allowed him to effectively administer over these diverse groups. He incorporated these groups into his political structure and engaged them intellectually.
The Mughal Empire expansion crossed through various religious sects, including Muslim, Sufism, Sikhism, Hinduism, and, eventually with the exploration by the Europeans, Catholicism and Christianity. Akbar incorporated these groups into the Mughal administrative system by maintaining their social customs after establishing relationships with local aristocrats (Voyages, 462). Akbar encouraged religious and political debate and exchange with learned scholars in these groups. From this, he promoted a unified religious theory, “Divine Faith.”
Bada’Uni points out in “Akbar and Religion” how Akbar’s continued engagement with non-Muslim is against the Muslim law and will “eventually lead to license and open heresy….” The failure in these religious doctrine is pointed out but Bada’uni’s highlighting of the pope’s ability to change the interpretation of the Bible. The religious attitude continued through his successor Jahangir. However, Akbar’s grandson, Aurangzeb, reversed this neutral position during the late seventeenth century. This change weakened the solidarity of the Mughal Empire and largely contributed to it’s downfall.
Hansen, Valerie and Kenneth Curtis. Voyages in World History, Volume 2 Since 1500. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2010.
Bada’Uni. (The Mughal Emperor, 1556-1605) Akbar and Religion. In: Reilly, Worlds of History, p.102-105