A Handbook to Agra and the Taj eBook

Ernest Binfield Havel
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 98 pages of information about A Handbook to Agra and the Taj.

Akbar spent the rest of his long reign in elaborating the administrative reforms which have made him famous as the greatest ruler India has ever had.  With the aid of able ministers, both Hindu and Muhammadan, he purified the administration of justice, keeping the supreme control in his own hands; enjoined absolute tolerance in religious matters; abolished oppressive taxes, and reorganized and improved the system of land revenue introduced by Shere Shah.  A minute account of Akbar’s reign, of his policy, habits, and character, is given in the “Akbar-nama,” the history written by his devoted friend and Prime Minister, Abul Fazl.  No detail of state affairs was too small for Akbar’s personal attention.  Ability and integrity were the only passports to his favour, while bigotry and injustice were anathemas to him.  Like Babar, he was fond of horticulture, and imported many kinds of fruit trees and flowers into India.  Though he could neither read nor write, he had a great library of Hindi, Persian, Arabic, Greek, and other books, and Abul Fazl relates that every book was read through to him from beginning to end.

The most remarkable of all this remarkable man’s intellectual activities were his attempts to bring about a reconciliation of all the discordant religious elements of his empire.  Badayuni, one of his contemporary historians, but, unlike him, a bigoted Musalman, comments thus on Akbar’s religious views:  “From his earliest childhood to his manhood, and from his manhood to old age, his Majesty has passed through the most various phases, and through all sorts of religious practices and sectarian beliefs, and has collected everything which people can find in books, with a talent of selection peculiar to him and a spirit of inquiry opposed to every (Islamite) principle.  Thus a faith based on some elementary principles traced itself on the mirror of his heart, and, as the result of all the influences which were brought to bear on his Majesty, there grew gradually, as the outline on a stone, the conviction on his heart that there were sensible men in all religions, and abstemious thinkers and men endowed with miraculous powers among all nations.  If some true knowledge were thus everywhere to be found, why should truth be confined to one religion, or to a creed like Islam, which was comparatively new, and scarcely a thousand years old; why should one sect assert what another denies, and why should one claim a preference without having superiority conferred upon itself?”

Near to his palace at Fatehpur Sikri he built an Ibadat Khana, or Hall of Worship, for the discussion of philosophy and religion.  There he received representatives of all religious sects, Muhammadans, Brahmans, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, Jews, and Christians, and listened attentively to their arguments.  He studied deeply religious books, and had the New Testament translated into Persian.  He also invited Jesuit priests from Goa, and not only allowed them to build a church

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A Handbook to Agra and the Taj from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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