Akber was only thirteen years and four months old at his father’s death, and though unusually manly and intelligent for his age, was obviously incapable of administering the government.
He had been sent by Humayun as the nominal head of the army in the Panjab, but the real command was vested in Behram Khan; and the same relation was preserved after Akber’s accession. Behram received a title equivalent to that of “the king’s father115,” and was invested with the unlimited exercise of all the powers of sovereignty.
The nobleman thus trusted was a Turkman by birth, and had been a distinguished officer under Humayun before his expulsion from India. In the final defeat of that monarch by Shir Shah, Behram was separated from his master, and made
his way, after a long series of dangers and adventures, through Guzerat to Sind, where he joined Humayun, in the third year after his expulsion. He was received with joy by the whole of the exiled party, who seem already to have rightly estimated his value in times of difficulty. He became thenceforward the most confidential of Humayun’s officers; and it would have been better for the affairs of his sovereign if they had borne more of the impress of his determined character.
At the time of Humayun’s death, Behram was engaged in putting an end to the resistance of Secander Sur, who had retired to the skirts of the northern mountains, and still retained his pretensions to be king of Delhi and the Panjab.
He had scarcely time to arrange the new government, when he received intelligence that Mirza Soliman of Badakhshan had taken possession of Cabul and all that part of Humayun’s late dominions; and while he was considering the means of repairing this disaster, he learned that Hemu had set out with an army on the part of Sultan Adili, for the double purpose of expelling the Moguls and reducing the rebellion of Secander Sur. The result of this contest has been already told116.
The Afghans were defeated; and Hemu, who fought with desperate valour, and had continued to resist after he had received a mortal wound from an arrow through the eye, at length fell senseless on his elephant,
and was taken prisoner and brought to Akber’s tent: Behram was desirous that Akber should give him the first wound, and thus, by imbruing his sword in the blood of so distinguished an infidel, should establish his right to the envied title of “Ghazi” or “Champion of the Faith;” but the spirited boy refused to strike a wounded enemy, and Behram, irritated by his scruples, himself cut off the captive’s head at a blow.
Akber soon after took possession of Delhi and Agra. He was, before long, obliged to return to the Panjab, by intelligence that Secander Sur had issued from the mountains and possessed himself of a great portion of the province. The plain country was easily recovered, and Secander retired to the strong fort of Mankot. He defended that place with obstinacy; and it was not till after eight months’ operations that he capitulated, and was allowed to retire to Bengal, which was still held by an officer of the Afghan dynasty.
The real restoration of the house of Tamerlane may be dated from this period: it had been brought about entirely through the exertions of Behram Khan, whose power was now at the highest pitch ever reached by a subject, and already began to show distant indications of decline.
Behram’s military talents, and the boldness and vigour of his government, had enabled him to surmount external difficulties under which a less determined leader would have sunk; and even his arbitrary and inflexible disposition was essential
to the maintenance of subordination in an army of adventurers, whose disorders Humayun had never been able to repress, and which must soon have overturned the government after it fell into the hands of a minor.
His domination was therefore submitted to without a murmur as long as the general safety depended on his exercise of it; but when the fear of immediate destruction was removed, the pressure of his rule began to be felt, and was rendered more intolerable by some of the vices of his nature. His temper was harsh and severe, his manners haughty and overbearing. He was jealous of his authority to the last degree, exacted unbounded obedience and respect, and could not suffer the smallest pretension to power or influence derived from any source but his favour.
These qualities soon raised up a host of enemies, and, in time, alienated the mind of the king, now advancing towards manhood, and impatient of the insignificance to which he was reduced by the dictatorial proceedings of his minister.
His indignation was increased by the injustice of some of Behram’s acts of power. As early as the battle with Hemu, Behram took advantage of Akber’s absence on a hawking party, to put to death Tardi Beg, the former governor of Delhi, without even the ceremony of taking the king’s orders on so solemn an occasion. The victim had been one of Baber’s favourite companions, and had accompanied Humayun in all his wanderings, but had no
doubt exposed himself to punishment for his premature evacuation of Delhi. One day, while Akber was amusing himself with an elephant fight, one of these animals ran off the field, pursued by its antagonist, and followed by a promiscuous crowd of spectators: it rushed through the tents of Behram, some of which were thrown down; thus exposing the minister himself to danger, while it threw all around him into the utmost confusion and alarm. Irritated by this seeming affront, and perhaps suspecting a secret design against his life, Behram ordered the elephant driver to be put to death, and for some time maintained a reserved and sullen demeanour towards the king himself. A nobleman of consequence enough to oppose Behram was put to death on some slight charge by that minister. The king’s own tutor, Pir Mohammed Khan, narrowly escaped the same fate, and was banished, on pretence of a pilgrimage to Mecca. Those about the king’s person were constantly harassed by Behram’s distrustful temper, and were provoked by his persecutions to realize his suspicions of their enmity. At length Akber was driven to make an effort to deliver himself from the thraldom in which he lived. He concerted a plan with those around him, and took occasion, when on a hunting party, to make an unexpected journey to Delhi, on the plea of a sudden illness of his mother.
He was no sooner beyond the sphere of the minister’s influence, than he issued a proclamation, announcing that he had taken the government
into his own hands, and forbidding obedience to orders issued by any other than his authority.
Behram’s eyes were opened by these proceedings; and he exerted himself, when too late, to recover the king’s confidence. He sent two of his principal adherents to court; but Akber, nowise mollified by this submission, refused to see the envoys, and soon after committed them to prison.
This open separation was not long in producing its natural effect: all ranks forsook the falling minister, to court the sovereign, from whose youthful virtues, and even weaknesses, they expected a happy contrast to the strict control of Behram.
The minister, thus left to his own resources, meditated various schemes for retrieving his power: he once thought of seizing the king’s person, and afterwards of setting up an independent principality in Malwa; but the support he met with did not encourage him, and he probably was at heart reluctant to draw his sword against the son of his old master; he therefore set off for Nagor, with the avowed intention of embarking in Guzerat for Mecca.
At Nagor he lingered, as if in hopes of some change in his fortunes, until he received a message from Akber, dismissing him from his office, and directing him to proceed on his pilgrimage without delay.
On this he sent his standards, kettle-drums, and other ensigns of authority to the king, and set out, in a private character, on his way to Guzerat;
but, irritated at some further proceedings of Akber, Imo. fie again changed his mind, assembled a body of troops, and, going openly into insurrection, at tempted an invasion of the Panjab. He was disappointed in his reception in that province. Akber moved against him in person, and sent detachments to intercept him; he was defeated by one of those detachments, constrained to fly to the hills, and at length reduced to throw himself on the king’s mercy.
Akber did not, on this occasion, forget the great services of his former minister. He sent his principal nobility to meet him at some distance, and to conduct him at once to the royal tent.
When Behram appeared in Akber’s presence, he threw himself at his feet, and, moved by former recollections, began to sob aloud. Akber instantly raised him with his own hand, seated him on his right, and, after investing him with a dress of honour, gave him his choice of one of the principal governments under the crown, a high station at court, or an honourable dismissal on his pilgrimage to Mecca. Behram’s pride and prudence equally counselled the latter course.
He was assigned a liberal pension, and proceeded to Guzerat; but, while he was preparing for his embarkation, he was assassinated by an Afghan, whose father he had killed in battle during the reign of Humayun.
The charge which Akber had now taken on himself seemed beyond the strength of a youth of eighteen; but the young king was possessed of
more than usual advantages, both from nature and education.
He was born in the midst of hardships, and brought up in captivity. His courage was exercised in his father’s wars, and his prudence called forth by the delicacy of his situation during the ascendancy of Behram. He was engaging in his manners, well formed in his person, excelled in all exercises of strength and agility, and showed exuberant courage even in his amusements, as in taming unbroken horses and elephants, and in rash encounters with tigers and other wild beasts. Yet, with this disposition, and a passionate love of glory, he founded his hopes of fame at least as much on the wisdom and liberality of his government as on its military success.
It required all his great qualities to maintain him in the situation in which he was placed.
Of all the dynasties that had yet ruled in India, that of Tamerlane was the weakest and the most insecure in its foundations. The houses of Ghazni and Ghor depended on their native kingdom, which was contiguous to their Indian conquest; and the slave dynasties were supported by the continual influx of their countrymen; but, though Baber had been in some measure naturalised in Cabul, yet the separation of that country under Carman had broken its connection with India, and the rivalry of an Afghan dynasty turned the most warlike part of its inhabitants, as well as of the Indian Mussulmans, into enemies. The only adherents of the
house of Tamerlane were a body of adventurers, whose sole bond of union was their common advantage during success.
The weakness arising from this want of natural support had been shown in the easy expulsion of Humayun, and was still felt in the early part of the reign of his son.
It was probably by these considerations, joined to a generous and candid nature, that Akber was led to form the noble design of putting himself at the head of the whole Indian nation, and forming the inhabitants of that vast territory, without distinction of race or religion, into one community.
This policy was steadily pursued throughout his reign. He admitted Hindus to every degree of power, and Mussulmans of every party to the highest stations in the service, according to their rank and merit; until, as far as his dominions extended, they were filled with a loyal and united people.
But these were the fruits of time; and the first calls on Akber’s attention were of an urgent nature:–
1. To establish his authority over his chiefs.
2. To recover the dominions of the crown.
3. To restore, in the internal administration of them, that order which had been lost amidst so many revolutions.
In the first years of Akber’s reign, his territory was confined to the Panjab and the country round Delhi and. Agra. In the third year, he acquired
Ajmir without a battle; early in the fourth, he obtained the fort of Gwalior; and, not long before Behram’s fall, he had driven the Afghans out of Lucknow, and the country on the Ganges as far east as Juanpur.
The adherents of the house of Sur that still remained in those parts were under Shir Shah II., a son of the last king, Adili; and, soon after Akber took charge of his own government, that prince advanced with a considerable army to Juanpur, in the hope of recovering his dominions.
He was totally defeated by Khan Zeman, a chief of Akber’s; but the victor, despising the youth and feeble resources of his master, withheld the king’s share of the booty, and showed so great a spirit of independence that Akber found it necessary to proceed in person towards the residence of the refractory governor. His presence produced more dutiful behaviour, but the disposition to insubordination was only kept under for the time.
The next affectation of independence was in Malwa. That province had remained in possession of Baz Bahadur, one of the officers of the Afghan kings, and an attempt had been made to dispossess him during the administration of Behram Khan. The undertaking was renewed with more vigour by Akber. Adam Khan, the officer employed, succeeded in defeating and expelling Baz Bahadur117,
But was as little disposed as Khan Zeman to part with the fruits of his victory.
Akber did not wait for any open act of mutiny: he disconcerted the ill designs of his general by a rapid march to his camp; and Adam Khan, unprepared for so sudden a crisis, lost no time in making his submission: his offence was readily pardoned; but he was soon after removed from his government, which was given to the king’s former tutor, Pir Mohammed Khan. This man, bred to letters, showed none of the virtues to be expected, either from his old profession or his present station. He was invaded by Baz Bahadur; and, although he gained considerable successes at first, he stained them by the massacre of the inhabitants of two cities of which he had obtained possession, and was ultimately defeated and drowned in the Nerbadda; the whole province falling into the hands of its old possessor.
Baz Bahadur was finally subdued by Abdulla Khan Uzbek, whom Akber immediately sent against him. At a subsequent period, he entered the service of the emperor, whose liberal
policy always left that resource for his conquered enemies.
The ungovernable spirit of Adam Khan was not tamed by his removal from power; for, on some subsequent rivalry with Akber’s vizir, he stabbed him, while at prayers, in a room adjoining to that occupied by the young king. Akber ran out on hearing the disturbance, and his first impulse was to revenge the death of his minister with his own hand: he restrained himself sufficiently to sheath his sword, but ordered the murderer to be thrown from the lofty building where his offence took place.
Nor was Abdullah Khan less unruly in his government of Malwa: within a little more than a year of the conquest of the province, he obliged Akber to move against him in person; and having in vain attempted to oppose the royal army, he fled to Guzerat, and took refuge with the king of that country.
His fate was viewed with dissatisfaction by several other Uzbeks, who occupied commands in Akber’s army. They suspected that the young monarch was actuated by a dislike to their race, such as a descendant of Baber might well be supposed to entertain; and they shared with many military leaders in their impatience of the subordination to which their class was about to be reduced.
In this spirit they revolted, and were joined by Khan Zeman, before mentioned, and by Asof Khan, another nobleman, who had lately distinguished himself by the conquest of Garrah, a principality on the Nerbadda, bordering
on Bundelcand. It was governed by a queen, who opposed the Mahometan general in an unsuccessful action, when, seeing her army routed, and being herself severely wounded, she avoided falling into the hands of the enemy by stabbing herself with her dagger. Her treasures, which were of great value, fell into the hands of Asof Khan; he secreted the greater part, and the detection of this embezzlement was the immediate cause of his revolt.
The war with these rebels was attended with various success, and with alternate submission and renewed defection on the part of more than one of the chiefs. It occupied Akber for more than two years; and was concluded by an act of courage very characteristic of the conqueror. Akber had made great progress in reducing the rebellion, when he was drawn off by an invasion of the Panjab, under his brother Hakim. This occupied him for several months; and on his return, he found the rebels had recovered their ground, and were in possession of most parts of the Subahs of Oud and Allahabad. He marched against them without delay, though it was the height of the rainy season; drove them across the Ganges; and when they thought themselves secure behind that swollen river, he made a forced march through a flooded country, swam the Ganges at nightfall with his advanced guard of not 2000 men on horses and elephants, and, after lying concealed during the night, attacked the enemy about sunrise.
The rebels, though aware of the approach of a small body of horse, were quite unprepared for an attack; and Khan Zeman having been killed, and another principal chief unhorsed and made prisoner, in the first confusion, they lost all the advantage of their numbers, fell into complete disorder, and soon after dispersed and fled in all directions.
The invasion from Cabul which had interrupted Akber’s operations, had its origin in much earlier events. Two of Akber’s chiefs, Abul Maali and Sherf u din, had revolted at Nagor, before the Uzbek rebellion (in 1561, AH 969), had defeated the king’s troops, and advanced towards Delhi: they were afterwards driven back in their turn, and forced to seek for safety beyond the Indus. They retired with the remains of their force to Cabul, where circumstances secured them a favourable reception.
That kingdom was left at the death of Humayun under the nominal government of his infant son, Mirza Hakim, and immediately after was overrun, as has been mentioned118, by his relation, Soliman of Badakhshan; and, though soon afterwards recovered, was never really in obedience to Akber.
The government was in the hands of the prince’s mother, who maintained her difficult position with ability, though not more exposed to danger from foreign enemies than from the plots and usurpations of her own ministers.
She had recently been delivered from a crisis of the latter description, when she was joined by the rebellious chiefs from India; and before long she was induced to confide the control of her affairs to Abul 11. That adventurer at first showed himself a useful minister; but his secret views were directed to objects very different from the establishment of the Begum’s authority, and as soon as he had himself formed a party in the kingdom, he had her assassinated, and took the government into his own hands. The aid of Mirza Soliman was now invoked, and the result was the defeat and death of Abul Maali (1563). Mirza Soliman affected to leave his young relation in possession of Cabul, but really placed him under the tutelage of one of his dependents, whose yoke was so irksome that Mirza Hakim rose against it; and, after a struggle with Soliman, was overcome and chased out of Cabul.
This took place in the last year of the war with the Uzbek chiefs; and Hakim, although he had received such assistance as the times admitted from Akber, yet, conceiving his brother’s hands to be fully occupied with the rebellion, at once resolved to indemnify himself at his expense, seized on Lahor, and took possession of the greater part of the Panjab. This invasion ended in the expulsion of Prince Hakim from India (November, 1566); and an opportune change of circumstances at the same moment opened the way for his return to Cabul, of which country he remained for a considerable period in undisturbed possession.
During these transactions, and before the final close of the operations against the Uzbeks, another revolt bad taken place in India, which ultimately led to important consequences. Sultan Mirza, a prince of the house of Tamerlane, had come to India with Baber; he had rebelled against Humayun, and though subdued and pardoned, his four sons and three nephews took advantage of the general disturbance just mentioned, and revolted at Sambal, the government which had been assigned to their father.
At first they were overpowered without an effort; and the danger from them seemed to be completely at an end, when they were compelled to fly to Guzerat (1566): yet they there sowed the seeds of future troubles, which only ended with the subjugation of the kingdom.
Some instances occurred during the disturbances above related, which, although they had no important results, yet serve to show the state of society at the time.
During the insurrection of Sherf u din, as Akber was going in procession to a celebrated shrine, an archer, who it afterwards appeared belonged to the rebel chief, mixed with the spectators, and, pretending to discharge his arrow at a bird which was flying over him, suddenly brought it down in the direction of the emperor, and lodged it some inches deep in his shoulder. He was instantly seized, and Akber was intreated to put off his execution, and to extort a disclosure of the name of his instigator; but he said that a confession in such
circumstances was more likely to criminate the innocent than the guilty, and allowed the punishment to take its course119. On another occasion, Khoja Moazzim, a near relation of Akber through his mother, had given way to a violent temper, and treated his wife with such brutality, that her relations applied to Akber to intercede with him, and prevail on him to leave her with her mother when he was about to remove to his jagir. Akber took an opportunity, while going out on a hunting party, to pay him a visit in his house near Delhi; but the monster guessed his design, and running to his female apartment before Akber had alighted, stabbed his wife to the heart, and threw the bloody dagger from the window among the king’s attendants. When Akber entered the house he found him armed for resistance, and narrowly escaped death from one of his slaves, who was cut down as he was making a blow at the emperor. Akber, incensed at these atrocities, ordered Moazzim to be thrown headlong into the Jamna: he did not immediately sink; and Akber relented and ordered him to be taken out and imprisoned in Gwalior, where he soon after died a maniac120.
On one of Akber’s marches he found two great bodies of Hindu devotees prepared, according to their custom121, to contend sword in hand for the possession of a place for bathing during a great
annual festival at Tanesar. He endeavoured at first by all means to bring about an amicable settlement; but finding all was in vain, he determined to allow them to fight it out, and looked on at the conflict in which they immediately engaged. At length one party prevailed, and Akber, to prevent the slaughter that would have followed, ordered his guards to check the victors, and thus put an end to the battle122.
During his struggle with the military aristocracy, Akber was fighting for his crown no less than in his contests with the successors of Shir Shah; but by the time he had completed his twenty-fifth year be had crushed his adversaries by his vigour, or attached them by his clemency, and had time to turn his thoughts to foreign countries. The first which attracted his attention was that of the Rajput princes. Bahara Mal, the raja of Amber (now Jeipur) was always on friendly terms with him, and had, at an early period, given his daughter in marriage to Akber; both he and his son, Bhagwan Das, being at the same time admitted to a high rank in the imperial army.
Soon after the fall of Behram (1561, 969) he had sent a force against Marwar, and by the capture of the strong fort of Mirta had made an impression on that country which he was unable to follow up.
He now turned his arms against the rana of Chitor (or Oudipur). Udi Sing, the reigning rana, was the son of Baber’s competitor,
Rana Sanga, but was a man of a feeble character. On the approach of Akber, he withdrew from Chitor, and retreated into the hilly and woody country north of Guzerat. His absence did not facilitate the capture of the fortress. There was still a strong garrison under Jei Mal, a chief of great courage and ability; and the place, though twice taken before, was still regarded by the Raj-puts of Mewar as a sort of sanctuary of their monarchy. Akber carried on his approaches with caution and regularity. His trenches are minutely described by Ferishta, and closely resemble those of modern Europe. They were zigzags, protected by gabions and by earth thrown from the trench. The object, however, was not to establish a breaching battery, but to get near enough for sinking mines. This was done in two places; and the troops being prepared for the occasion, fire was set to the train. The explosion was the signal for the storming party to rush forward; but it had only taken effect in one of the mines; and while the soldiers were climbing up the breach, the second mine exploded, destroyed many of bath parties, and struck such a panic as to occasion the immediate flight of the assailants.
The operations of the siege had now to be recommenced; but Akber, one night, in visiting the trenches, perceived Jei Mal on the works, where he was superintending some repairs by torch-light; he immediately singled him out, and was so fortunate as to shoot him through the head with his
own hand. The garrison lost heart on the death of their gallant leader; and, with their usual infatuation, abandoned the breaches and withdrew to the interior of the fort, where they devoted themselves with the accustomed solemnities. The women were committed to the flames with the body of Jei Mal, and the men ran out to meet death from the Mussulmans, who had mounted the ramparts unopposed.
Eight thousand men were killed on this occasion, by the Rajput account; and the Mahometan writers make the number still greater123. The rana, notwithstanding the loss of his capital, remained independent in his fastnesses. Nine years afterwards his son and successor, Rana Pertab, was deprived of his strongholds of Komulner and Gogunda (probably in 1578, AH 986124), and was compelled for a time to fly towards the Indus. But, unlike his father, he was an active, high-spirited prince; and his perseverance was rewarded by success: before the death of Akber he recovered a great portion of the open part of his dominions, and founded the new capital called Oudipur, which is still occupied by his descendants125. His house, alone, of the Rajput royal families has rejected all matrimonial connections
with the kings of Delhi; and has even renounced all affinity with the other rajas, looking on them as contaminated by their intercourse with an alien race.
Such connections were zealously promoted by Akber, and were long kept up by his successors. He himself had two Rajput queens, of the houses of Jeipur and Marwar; and his eldest son was married to another princess of Jeipur. The bride, on these occasions, acquired a natural influence over her husband; her issue had equal claims to the throne with those born of a Mahometan mother; and the connection was on a footing of so much equality, that from being looked on with repugnance as a loss of cast, it soon came to be coveted as an honourable alliance with the family of the sovereign.
In the course of the next year Akber took the strong hill forts of Rintimbor and Calinjer: he went in person against the former place.
On a subsequent occasion, being near the frontier of Jodpur, Maldeo, the old raja of Jodpur, sent his second son to meet him126. This Akber resented, as an imperfect substitute for his own appearance; and afterwards, 1572, AH 980, assuming a superiority to which he was not entitled, made a formal grant of Jodpur to Rai Sing of Bikanir, a junior member of the same family. Rai Sing, however, did not obtain possession; and, on the death of Maldeo, his son
submitted, and was afterwards treated with the greatest favour and distinction by the emperor127.
Akber’s attention was soon after drawn to an enterprise of greater magnitude, involving the re-annexation of Guzerat to the empire. That kingdom had passed, on the death of Bahadur Shah, to his nephew, Mahmud II.; and on the death of the latter king, his favourite, Etimad Khan, who had been a Hindu slave, carried on the government in the name of a boy whom he pretended to be a son of Mahmud, and who bore the title of Mozaffer III. The usurpation was opposed by another chief named Chengiz Khan; and it was with this last person that the Mirzas, whose revolt was mentioned in 1566, took refuge on their flight. Their extravagant pretensions soon drove them into a quarrel with their protector; and, after some partial success, they were expelled from Guzerat, and made an attempt to seize on Malwa, not long after the taking of Chitor, in 1568. Akber forthwith sent an army against them; but its services were not required; for Chengiz Khan had in the mean time been assassinated, and the Mirzas returned to Guzerat to take advantage of the confusions which followed. Those confusions continued to rage without intermission till the year 1572, when Akber was solicited by Etimad Khan to put an end to the distractions of Guzerat by taking the kingdom into his own possession.
He marched from Delhi in September, 1572, and soon
reached Patan, between which place and Ahmedabad he was met by the pageant king Mozaffer, who formally transferred his crown to the emperor of Delhi. Some time was spent in reducing refractory chiefs; in endeavours to seize the Mirzas, or, at least, to disperse their troops; and in the siege of Surat, which was carried on by the king in person. Before the place was invested, the principal mirzas quitted it with a light detachment, and endeavoured to join their main body in the north of Guzerat. Akber made a sudden and rapid movement to intercept them, and succeeded in overtaking them before they had attained their object. He had advanced with such inconsiderate haste that he found himself in front of his enemy, who were 1000 strong, with a party which, after waiting to allow stragglers to come up, amounted only to 156 men. With this handful he commenced the attack, but was repulsed, and compelled to take his stand in some lanes formed by strong hedges of cactus, where not more than three horsemen could advance abreast. He was here hard pressed, and once was separated from his men, and nearly overpowered. But in his small band were several chiefs of note, and among the rest Raja Bhagwan Sing, of Jeipur, with his nephew and adopted son, Raja Man Sing; and it was to the exertions of these two that Akber owed his personal deliverance, and the ultimate success of the day. The Mirzas, however, effected their junction with their troops. They afterwards dispersed,
met with different adventures, and came to various ends. One was cut off in Guzerat; the principal ones made their way to the north of India; and, after suffering a defeat from Raja Rai Sing near Nagor, revisited their original seat of Sambal; and when driven thence, they plundered in the Panjab, and again pursued their flight towards the Indus, until they fell into the hands of the king’s officers and were put to death.
One only of the Mirzas, named Husen, fled from Guzerat into the hills near Candesh, and remained unnoticed; while Akber returned to Agra, having once more annexed Guzerat to his crown.
He had not been a month at his capital, when he learned that Mirza Husen had again entered Guzerat, had been joined by one of the principal officers of the former king, and had already reduced the royal troops of the province to a defensive position, which they found some difficulty in maintaining. The rains had also set in, so that the march of a regular army was impossible; but Akber, with the activity, and perhaps temerity, that characterised him, at once determined to retrieve his affairs in person. He sent off 2000 horse to make the best of their way to Patan, and soon after followed, himself, with 300 persons (chiefly men of rank) on camels. He performed the journey of more than 450 miles with such celerity that, in spite of the season, he had assembled his troops, and faced his enemy at the head of 3000 men, on the ninth clay from leaving
Agra. His force was still very unequal to that of the rebels; but they were astonished at the sudden apparition of the emperor, and were, moreover, engaged in a siege, and exposed to a sally from the garrison. Akber, therefore, though again exposed to imminent personal hazard from his own thoughtless impetuosity, was at last successful. Both the insurgents were killed; and tranquillity being completely restored, he again returned to Agra128.
Akber’s next great enterprise was the conquest of Bengal. Part of Behar had been occupied after the defeat of Shir Shah II. in 1560; the rest of the province, with all the country to the east of it, was still to be subdued. Bengal had revolted from Sultan Adili before the return of Humayun, and had remained under different Afghan kings till now. It was held by Daud, a weak and debauched prince, who had been nearly supplanted by his vizir, and was engaged in a civil war occasioned by his execution of this dangerous minister.
Akber had profited by these dissensions to obtain a promise of tribute from Daud: a temporary prospect of security had led that unsteady prince to reassert his independence, and the king thought the occasion favourable for going against him in person. He left Agra in the height of the rainy season, availing himself of the Jamna and Ganges for the transport of his stores and part of his army.
He scarcely met with any opposition during his advance into Behar. Daud Khan retired to Bengal Proper; and Akber left his lieutenants to pursue the conquest, and returned himself to Agra.
The reduction of Bengal did not prove so easy a task as was expected. Although Daud at first withdrew to Orissa129, he afterwards twice encountered and routed the royal troops; and when at length defeated himself, and driven to the shores of the Bay of Bengal, he was strong enough to make terms, and to retain the province of Orissa for himself. One of the most distinguished of the commanders in this war was Raja Todar Mal, so celebrated as Akber’s minister of finance. He and the other commanders were withdrawn after the peace, and an officer of high rank was left as governor of Bengal. He died from the influence of the climate of Gour, or Lacnouti, the ancient capital, to which he had returned after it had been for some time deserted: and his successor had scarcely taken charge, when Daud renewed
the war and overran Bengal, compelling the king’s troops to concentrate and wait for assistance from Behar. A battle at length took place, and terminated in the defeat and death of Daud. Soon after, the fort of Rohtas, in Behar, which had held out till now, was compelled, by a long blockade, to surrender to a force employed for the purpose.
Bengal and Behar were now reannexed to the empire; and the remains of the Afghan monarchy in Hindostan were thus completely extinguished.
But the situation of those provinces was unfavourable to their permanent tranquillity: the hilly and woody tract on the south, the vast mountains and forests on the north, the marshes and jungles towards the sea, still afforded a safe retreat for the turbulent; and there was no want of materials to spread disaffection. Bengal had not before been subjugated by the Moguls, and was filled with Afghan settlers, whose numbers had been greatly increased by the retreat of such of their nation as refused to enter the service of the house of Tamerlane after its conquest of Upper Hindostan. The Mogul chiefs had profited by the unsettled state of the country: they seized on the Airs of the Afghans for their own benefit, and accounted for the rest of the royal revenue as expended on military operations.
The conquest was completed about the time of Akber’s great financial reform, and the governor was re-required to remit revenue to the treasury; while all Airs were strictly inquired into, and musters
of the troops for which each was held were rigorously exacted. The new conquerors were too conscious of their strength to submit to these regulations130. They revolted first in Bengal, and soon afterwards in Behar; when Akber found himself completely dispossessed of the fruits of his victory, and a formidable army of 80,000 men in the field to oppose him.
After much ill success on the part of the king’s troops, Raja Todar Mal was sent to recover the province. He was at first successful, partly owing to his influence with the Hindu zemindars; but some harsh pecuniary demands on the part of the vizir at Delhi led to numerous desertions, even among the chiefs unconnected with the rebels, and it was not till the end of the third year from the breaking out of the rebellion that it was finally put an end to by Aziz, or Azim Khan, who had succeeded Todar Mal, and seems to have bought off many chiefs, and continued their lands to many of the troops (Afghans as well as Moguls), who had heretofore enjoyed them131.
The old Afghan adherents of Daud Khan had not been idle during these dissensions among the Moguls. They assembled soon after the rebellion broke out under a chief called Kuttu, and before long made themselves masters of Orissa and of all the country up to the river Damoder, near Bardwan. Aziz, having left the province after the rebellion was subdued, Raja Man Sing was sent from
Cabul to conduct this new war. He entered the country held by the Afghans, and cantoned for the rains near the present site of Calcutta. A large detachment of his was afterwards defeated by the enemy, and his son, who commanded it, taken prisoner; so that his affairs wore an unfavourable aspect; when Kuttu luckily died (1590), and a prudent and moderate chief, became guardian to his sons. With this chief an agreement was soon concluded by Man Sing, allowing the sons of Kuttu to retain Orissa as dependents or subjects of the emperor. After two years, Isa died. His successor incurred general odium, by seizing on the revenues of the great temple of Jaganath.
Akber took advantage of this mistake to send Man Sing again with an army, who defeated the Afghans on the borders of Bengal, drove them to Cattak, and, by concessions of jagirs, added to more rigorous measures, finally reduced them to submission.
Their last struggle was in 1592; and thenceforth (although Osman, one of Kuttu’s sons, rebelled again in 1600) the pretensions of the Afghans to the possession of the province may be considered as quite extinguished.
While his officers were employed in the settlement of Bengal, Akber’s own attention was drawn to a distant part of his dominions. His brother, Mirza Hakim, who had long been undisturbed in Cabul, was led, by a wish for further aggrandizement, again to invade the Panjab. Raja Man Sing, the governor, was compelled to retire before him,
and to take refuge in la&; and Akber found it necessary to proceed, himself, with an army to raise the siege and deliver the province.
Mirza Hakim retreated before him; and the emperor, whose situation no longer required his allowing such attacks to pass with impunity, followed up his success, crossed the Indus, and, after a feeble opposition on the part of his brother, took possession of Cabul. Mirza Hakim fled to the mountains. He afterwards made his submission, and Akber generously restored him to his government. He thenceforth, probably, remained in real subordination to his brother.
After this settlement, Akber returned to Agra, leaving Raja Bhagwan Das of Jeipur governor of the Panjab. On his way he founded the fort which still stands at the principal ferry of the Indus, and gave it the name of Attok Benaris.
After the abdication of Mozaffer Shah of Guzerat, he accompanied the army to Agra, and was kept for some time about the court. He had latterly been allowed to reside at a jagir, which had been given to him, and was no longer looked on with suspicion (from 1573 to 1581). In this case, as in many others, Akber paid dear for his magnanimity. New intrigues arose in Guzerat, and Mozaffer was invited, by Shir Khan Fuladi, one of the principal actors in the former troubles, to fly from his residence in Hindostan, and put himself at the head of his old kingdom.
An insurrection ensued, which reached to such a height
that the king’s troops were obliged to withdraw to Patan, in the north of Guzerat, while Mozaffer Shah occupied Ahmedabad, Baroch, and almost the whole of the province. Mirza Khan (the son of Behram Khan) was sent to quell this rebellion.
He defeated Mozaffer, and recovered the continental part of Guzerat; but Mozaffer retired among the almost independent chieftains of the peninsula, repelled the attacks of Mirza Khan, and made various attempts, at different periods, to recover his dominions. His efforts were all unsuccessful; but the endeavours of the Moguls to penetrate his retreat in the peninsula were attended with as little effect; and no result was produced for a long period, except alternate victories and heavy loss on both sides.
On one occasion, indeed, in 1589, Aziz made his way to the sea coast on the south, and fought a great battle. The victory was doubtful, but was followed by the retreat of the Moguls; and it was not till four years after this period, and twelve after his rebellion (in 1598), that Mozaffer Shah was taken, on an incursion into the settled part of the province, and cut his throat with a razor while on his way to the court at Agra.
115. It was “Khan Baba”, which is the Persian for the title of Atabek, so common among the Turks, both meaning “Lord Father.”
116. See p. 159.
117. An affecting incident occurred on this occasion. Baz Bahadur had a Hindu mistress, who is said to have been one of the most beautiful women ever seen in India. She was as accomplished as she was fair, and was celebrated for her verses in the Hindu language. She fell into the hands of Adam Khan on the flight of Baz Bahadur; and finding herself unable to resist his importunities and threatened violence, she appointed an hour to receive him, put on her most splendid dress, on which she sprinkled the richest perfumes, and lay down on a couch with her mantle drawn over her face. Her attendants thought that she had fallen asleep, but on endeavouring to wake her on the approach of the Khan, they found she had taken poison, and was already dead. (Khafi Khan.)
118. See p. 217.
119. Khafi Khan. Akbernameh.
121. See Vol. I. p. 116.
123. One body of 2000 men escaped by an extraordinary stratagem: they bound the hands of their own women and children, and marched with them through the troops who had stormed the place, as if they had been a detachment of the besiegers in charge of prisoners.
124. Ferishta. Muntakhab ul Towarikh.
125. Tod’s Rajasthan, vol. i. p. 332, &c.
127. Tod’s Rajasthan, vol. ii. p. 34.
128. Before this battle, while Akber was arming, he saw a stripling (the son of one of the Rajput rajas) labouring under the weight of a suit of mail, out of all proportion to his strength. He immediately exchanged it for a lighter suit of his own; and seeing another raja unprovided, he told him to put on the heavy armour which had remained unoccupied. This raja was a rival of the father of the young Rajput, who was so indignant at the use made of his armour, that he tore off that given him by the king, and declared that he should go into the action without any armour at all. Akber took no notice of this disrespect but to say, that he could not allow his chiefs to be more exposed than himself, and that he would also go unarmed into the battle. (Akbernameh.)
129. Orissa is applied here to the small portion of the country so called that formed the Mahometan province.
130. Stewart’s History of Bengal. Muntakhab al Tawarikh.
131. Stewart’s History of Bengal.
This collection transcribed by Chris Gage