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Published on: 10/28/20 5:53 AM

Book review: Akbar the Great Mughal by Ira Mukhoty

This is more a brief take than review.

Akbar the Great Mughal by Ira Mukhoty. Aleph Books.

Such a good read.

The picture of the protagonist that emerges from Ira Mukhoty`s book on Akbar is an illuminating one: a man of modest build, sharp intelligence, quick temper, a fondness for  taming elephants (he knew the names of all his thousands of elephants) and cheetahs (he kept a thousand cheetahs in his stable), the man who abolished the jiziya, the man with a pronounced sense of fair play, the man who let his many Hindu wives celebrate their various Hindu festivals, the man who sported jewelled strings tied on his wrist by Brahmins.

A canny warrior who laid siege to the massive fortresses at both Chittor as well as Ranthambore and won the day, besides. The man who had a very sentimental bone to him but was nobody`s fool either. The man who stubbornly resisted any sort of formal education but patronised great art, music (the jewel in the crown being Tansen with  his Dhrupad raags) in his court, had Hindavi, Persian, Greek, Kashmiri and Arabic books read out to him during literary soirees. One who started keeping vrats and one who changed his battle cry to Ya Muin! in honour of Muinuddin Chishti.

The king whose conservative Muslim ministers were quite troubled by the `distressingly tolerant` nature of his court. Who had a decided affection for his Hindu subjects. Who nurtured Rajput noblemen, did away with discriminatory laws. Who started doing a surya namaskar often, and learned the thousand names to worship the Sun God. Who raised his daughters with love and preference over his sons. Who tried to tweak the Muslim laws of inheritance to favour daughters.

Whose tolerance for all religions and ways of life was mistaken by the Jesuits as delusions of grandeur.

This Padshah of  Hindustan, this man of Turki-Chagatai descent…what an interesting man. And how well he has been limned in this book.

Akbar the Great Mughalbook reviewgreat emperorIra MukhotyPadshah of Hindustanportrait of a king

Sheila Kumar • October 28, 2020

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