Muhammad Akbar (Mughal prince)

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Mirza Muhammad Akbar (Persian: میرزا محمد اکبر) (11 September 1657 – 31 March 1706) was a Mughal prince and the fourth son of Emperor Aurangzeb and his chief consort Dilras Banu Begum. Akbar led a rebellion against his father and fled the Deccan after the failure of that venture. He later went into exile to Persia, where he died. He was the father of Nikusiyar, who was Mughal emperor for a few months in 1719.


  • ‘I state, being the meanest among your Majesty’s sons, I, Akbar in reverent obeisance and humility and respect, that I have received your Majesty’s letter. A thousand times do I give thanks for the honours, kindnesses, and favours that your Majesty metes out to me. Thereby have I received great joy and much consolation. The letter arrived at an auspicious moment, and I took it with all the humbleness and obedient duty that is owing to your Majesty’s high dignity. Its mere receipt has brought me comfort. I am now informed as to your orders, and continue to be very joyful at seeing and reading again and again all that your pen has condescended to write to me, and the instruction thereby imparted. I reply on all the heads, which I record with brevity, as is fitting for one who adheres to truth and justice.
    ‘Your Majesty writes to me that you love me, although I became disobedient, and was deprived of rank and dignity because I had placed myself in prison [among the Rajputs]. My lord, just as the son ought to be the obedient servant of his father who has conceived him, and ought to follow rightful orders as his father dictates, so must a father give reasonable commands in order that the son may find himself under a necessity to obey. Thanks be to God! I have not been wanting in due respect and reverence, nor in any way have I failed in my obedience as a son. I acknowledge the great grace and favour of your Majesty; so grateful am I that I cannot display it sufficiently. In fact, of all that you promise me, were there only to be granted a small fraction, or even of that small fraction only the minutest particle, I should rest content.....
    ‘As is usual, fatigue is followed by repose; therefore I hope by the grace of God to be thus favoured, and freed from the hardships and troubles that at present I am suffering. In regard to your remark about Jaswant, who was the greatest of the Rajputs and a friend of Dara, as all the world knows, you advise me not to trust such people. To this I reply that your Majesty says well; but your Highness should be careful, to speak no further thereof. For it is quite certain that Dara was not loved by that tribe; he was their enemy. Had he retained their friendship he would not have been defeated. King Shahjahan was fond of that tribe, being (as he was) related to them, and by their weapons made himself King of Hindustan. ‘By the help of these people the great Mahabat Khan made a prisoner of King Jahangir, and chastised his enemies. Let your Majesty remember what Rajputs, men of this tribe, have done in your very presence at the Court of Dihli. They fought with such bravery that their deeds have been entered in the world’s chronicles. In ancient story no record of equal valour can be anywhere discovered. Jaswant was the man who in the battle against Shah Shuja was guilty of such a defect that he merited to be rigorously punished instead of being pardoned. Yet your Majesty passed this over because you not only knew the man, but feared him. It is he who, being corrupted and deceived by your Majesty’s pretences and magic arts, omitted to espouse the cause of Dara. If he had taken that side your Majesty would not at this day be reigning; for it was he (Jaswant) who won you the victory. ‘Who can doubt that these Rajputs deserve to be praised for their fidelity? This right they earned when, although deprived of their chieftain, they took the little children of the deceased rajah under their charge, and fighting desperately, offered up their lives. Three hundred of their horsemen held out for twelve hours continuously against all the forces at your court, killing many famed and veteran warriors, finally retreating in safety. They are, then, worthy of praise, this tribe, as much for their fidelity as for their valour.
    ‘When the kings of Hindustan, its princes and potentates, or the chief generals, desired to enrol soldiers, for each one whom they required a hundred offered themselves. At the present time it takes you three years to recruit a few men. From what does this difficulty proceed, and what fact could tell you more? Yet from the first day in your Majesty’s reign all are lords, governors, and generals, but none have any loyalty; the soldiers are impoverished and unprovided with arms, famous writers produce nothing and have no employment, the traders are assassinated or deprived of their goods, and the people destroyed. The lands of the Dakhin, which are so vast, and once seemed like a terrestrial Paradise, are nowadays uncultivated, unproductive, and uninhabited. ‘What can I say about the kingdom of Bijapur, once the jewel of India, and now entirely undone? The city of Aurangabad, founded by your Majesty, and the chief place in that province, was devastated by the enemy because it bore your name, and is now like a little quicksilver that disappears suddenly, being at this day no more than a mound of earth.
    ‘The cause of this ruin was the tax imposed on the Hindus, which was converted into a profit to the enemy, who have done so much harm to the population, and subjected them to such hardships and tyrannies, worrying them on all sides, until the whole land has been reduced to desolation.
    ‘Upon what subject can I say anything good of your Majesty? The ancient and noble families are all extinct. The government, the rules, the counsels and advice needed for the welfare of the State, are all in the hands of low, ill-bred persons, such as weavers, washermen, barbers, carpenters, blacksmiths, tailors, and such-like. Your Majesty puts your trust in hypocrites wearing huge turbans, and accepted as theologians because they carry a Quran under the arm and hold a chaplet in their hand. Yet are these men nothing but snares of Hell, with their hypocritical exterior of piety. They give false counsel, and by their appearance mislead the world. From this class of riffraff your Majesty has selected your privy councillors and courtiers. These are your guardian angels, your Gabriel, Michael the Angel, Raphael, and Michael the Archangel, men who are dealers in adulterated wares. In public audience they produce a feather or a straw, which to your Majesty they can make appear as a mighty mountain.’
    ‘…Seeing the destruction of this kingdom, and your inability even then to rule it, I felt forced to withdraw in deep dejection at the sight of such disorders, in order to restore my equanimity and live in peace, with the decorum befitting the refinement of my habits. May your Majesty live long! Quit the government, and I will rule the kingdom as it ought to be done. Journey to Mecca, and when you have done so all men will tell of your greatness. During all these years you have ruled in grandeur and done what you pleased. Now that the shadows fall it is time to retire and begin to care for your soul. Your Majesty urges me to return to the Presence. Willingly would I do so if my youth did not inspire me with some fear. However, if your Majesty were only at the head of a small company, I, as the least among your sons, would come and throw myself at your feet and obey you in every particular.
    • Letter to Aurangzeb, in Niccolao Manucci quoted from Jain, M. (editor) (2011). The India they saw: Foreign accounts. New Delhi: Ocean Books. Volume III Chapter 16

Quotes about Akbar[edit]

  • Although the King Aurangzeb had occupation enough in fighting the Mahrattahs, in conquering different rajahs, and many other enterprises, he never overlooked the question of getting his son Sultan Akbar into his power. This son, then in Persia, was invited back by many letters, none of which had any effect. At last, in the year 1689, he wrote him one in the most loving terms. It was also the last one sent; its terms were as follows:
    ‘My beloved son, light of my eyes, part of my heart, Akbar! I write to you, swearing upon the word of the Ruler over kings, and be God my witness, that I esteem and love you more than my other sons. You were ever my solace and consolation, and lightened my afflictions when you were present. Now that you are so far away, I feel their whole weight, and must endure them. You became disobedient, and were led away by the Rajputs, those demons in human form; thus you lost the favour of Heaven, and were abandoned by it. What can I do? and what remedy can I offer you for the troubles under which you are now suffering? When I think on these things, I continue in travail and great sorrow, so that I have lost the desire for longer life. I endure the greatest grief at seeing you so far from this realm, deprived of your princely title, removed from power, and stripped of your dignities in the State. Because I love you deeply, I weep bitterly over your wretched condition. Yet did you disregard your youth and loyalty to your family, and are forced to live thus far separated from wives, sons, and daughters. From your self-will you fell a prisoner into the hands of those demoniac Rajputs. They treated you like a ball, struck first by one side and hurled back by the other. Thus were you compelled to take refuge first in one place, then in another, In spite of all these things, although you have been guilty of such heavy crimes, yet, impelled by the love I bear you, I have no desire to inflict farther punishment’.... ‘I do not speak of the Rajah Jaswant Singh, who was the chief of all the Rajputs and the follower of Dara. O son! Trust not in such nor heed their words, for they will sell you falsified goods yielding you no profit, and in the end causing nothing but regret. Understand, and accept it as infallible, that what I tell you will be for your good, and points out the only right road. Retain it, therefore, in memory, for never again shall I write to you.’
    • Letter from Aurangzeb to Akbar, in Niccolao Manucci quoted from Jain, M. (editor) (2011). The India they saw: Foreign accounts. New Delhi: Ocean Books. Volume III Chapter 16

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