The real Father of the Indian nation was the great Mughal Emperor Akbar ( 1542-1605 ). What we Indians are today is largely because of the solid foundation laid by Akbar, who ( along with Ashoka ) was perhaps the greatest ruler the world has ever seen. Because of Akbar, we are Indians today, not just Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Parsis etc.
And yet the tragedy is that many Hindus call Akbar a Muslim, while many Muslims call him a Hindu ( because he observed many Hindu festivals and ceremonies ), which proves my point that 90% Hindus and 90% Muslims in India are fools. The truth is that while being a Sunni Muslim, Akbar was a true Indian.
Akbar saw that India was a country of great diversity ( see my article ‘ What is India ? ‘ on my blog justicekatju.blogspot.com and the website kgfindia.com ). Hence the only way to keep India united was by giving equal respect to all communities and sects. It was because of this realization that Akbar adopted the wise policy of Suleh-e-Kul, that is, Universal Toleration of all Religions ( his attempt to found a common religion called ‘ Din-e-Ilahi was a failure, but ‘ Suleh-e-Kul was a grand success ).
In this respect, Akbar was far ahead of his times, and far ahead of even Europeans who were at that time massacring each other in the name of religion, Catholics massacring Protestants e.g. the St. Bartholomew Day massacre in 1572 by Catholics of the minority Protestant community ( called Huguenots ) in France, the massacre of Protestants by the Spanish Duke of Alba in Holland, the burning at the stake ( auto de fe ) of heretics during the Inquisition, etc, the subsequent massacre of Catholics in Ireland by Cromwell, and the mutual massacre of Catholics and Protestants in the Thirty Year War in Germany ( 1618-1648 ) as well as the killing of Jews by Christians throughout Europe ( culminating in the Holocaust in the Second World War, 1939-1945 ).
In my judgment in the Supreme Court in Hinsa Virodhak Sangh vs.Mirzapur Moti Koresh Jamaat, 2011 ( see online ) I observed :
” The architect of modern India was the great Mughal Emperor Akbar who gave equal respect to people of all communities and appointed them to the highest offices on their merits irrespective of their religion, caste, etc.
The Emperor Akbar held discussions with scholars of all religions and gave respect not only to Muslim scholars, but also to Hindus, Christians, Parsis, Sikhs, etc. Those who came to his court were given respect and the Emperor heard their views, sometimes alone, and sometimes in the Ibadatkhana (Hall of Worship, which still exists in Fatehpur Sikri), where people of all religions assembled and discussed their views in a tolerant spirit.
The Emperor declared his policy of Suleh-e-Kul, which meant universal tolerance of all religions and communities. He abolished Jeziya in 1564 and the pilgrim tax in 1563 on Hindus and permitted his Hindu wife to continue to practise her own religion even after their marriage. This is evident from the Jodha Bai Palace in Fatehpur Sikri which is built on Hindu architectural pattern.
In 1578, the Parsi theologian Dastur Meherji Rana was invited to the Emperor ‘s court and he had detailed discussions with Emperor Akbar and acquainted him about the Parsi religion. Similarly, the Jesuit Priests Father Antonio Monserrate, Father Rodolfo Acquaviva and Father Francisco Enriques etc. also came to the Emperor ‘s court on his request and acquainted him about the Christian religion. The Emperor also became acquainted with Sikhism and came into contact with Guru Amar Das and Guru Ram Das (see`The Mughal Empire by R.C. Majumdar).
Thus, as stated in the Cambridge History of India (Vol.IV The Mughal Period) Emperor Akbar conceived the idea of becoming the father of all his subjects, rather than the leader of only the Muslims, and he was far ahead of his times. As mentioned by Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru in `The Discovery of India , ” Akbar ‘s success is astonishing, for he created a sense of oneness among the diverse elements of India “.
In 1582, the Emperor invited and received a Jain delegation consisting of Hiravijaya Suri, Bhanuchandra Upadhyaya and Vijayasena Suri. Jainism, with its doctrine of non-violence, made a profound impression on him and influenced his personal life. He curtailed his food and drink and ultimately abstained from flesh diet altogether for several months in the year. He renounced hunting which was his favourite pastime, restricted the practice of fishing and released prisoners and caged birds. Slaughter of animals was prohibited on certain days and ultimately in 1587 for about half the days in the year.
Akbar ‘s contact with Jains began as early as 1568, when Padma Sunder who belonged to the Nagpuri Tapagaccha was honoured by him.
As mentioned in Dr. Ishwari Prasad ‘s `The Mughal Empire’ , the Jains had a great influence on the Emperor.
Having heard of the virtues and learning of Hir Vijaya Suri in 1582 the Emperor sent an invitation to him through the Mughal Viceroy at Ahmedabad. Suri accepted it in the interests of his religion. He was offered money by the Viceroy to defray the expenses of the journey but he refused. The delegation consisting of Hir Vijaya Suri, Bhanu Chandra Upadhyaya and Vijaya Sen Suri started on their journey and walked on foot to Fatehpur Sikri,( begging alms on the way, as was their custom ), and were received with great honour befitting imperial guests.
Hir Vijaya Suri had discussions with Abul Fazl. He propounded the doctrine of Karma and an impersonal God. When he was introduced to the Emperor he defended true religion and told him that the foundation of faith should be daya (compassion) and that God is one though he is differently named by different faiths.
The Emperor received instruction in Dharma from Suri who explained the Jain doctrines to him. He discussed the existence of God and the qualities of a true Guru and recommended non-killing (Ahinsa). The Emperor was persuaded to forbid the slaughter of animals for six months in Gujarat and to abolish the confiscation of the property of deceased persons, the Sujija Tax (Jeziya) and a Sulka (possibly a tax on pilgrims) and to free caged birds and prisoners. He stayed for four years at Akbar’ s court and left for Gujarat in 1586. He imparted a knowledge of Jainism to Akbar and obtained various concessions to his religion. The Emperor is said to have taken a vow to refrain from hunting and expressed a desire to give up meat- eating for ever as it had become repulsive to him.
When Suri was leaving for Ahmedabad,the Emperor presented to him Padma Sundar scriptures which were preserved in his palace. He offered them to Suri as a gift and he was pressed by the Emperor to accept them.
Emperor Akbar was a propagator of Suleh-i-Kul (universal toleration of all religions ) at a time when Europeans were indulging in religious massacres e.g. the St. Bartholomew Day massacre in 1572 of Protestants, (called Huguenots) in France by the Catholics, the burning at the stake of Protestants by Queen Mary of England, the massacre by the Duke of Alva of millions of people for their resistance to Rome and the burning at the stake of Jews during the Spanish Inquisition. We may also mention the subsequent massacre of the Catholics in Ireland by Cromwell, and the mutual massacre of Catholics and Protestants in Germany during the thirty year war from 1618 to 1648 in which the population of Germany was reduced from 18 million to 12 million. Thus, Emperor Akbar was far ahead of even the Europeans of his times.
Emperor Akbar himself abstained from eating meat on Fridays and Sundays and on some other days, as has been mentioned in the Ain-I-Akbari by Abul Fazl.
It was because of the wise policy of toleration of the Great Emperor Akbar that the Mughal empire lasted for so long, and hence the same wise policy of toleration alone can keep our country together despite so much diversity. “.
Emperor Akbar was greatly attached to Dargah Ajmer Sharif, the shrine of the great saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty. The first time he went there he travelled on foot in plain white clothes all the way from Agra, and thereafter too had annual pilgrimages to the shrine for many years, travelling on foot for the last 10 or 12 miles to Ajmer.
Apart from that, he had great faith in the great living saint Sheikh Salim Chishty, who used to live in a cave in the Sikri hill. On his first visit there ( when Sikri was just a forest on a hill ) the Emperor walked the 40 miles to it from Agra in the plain clothes of a pilgrim, and told the saint of his sorrow because he had no son to carry on his dynasty. The saint said that God would give him 4 sons, and when the first was born ( of Jodha Bai ) he was named Salim, after the saint, and a new capital called Fatehpur Sikri was built at Sikri.
Akbar had great respect for all religions, and there was not a trace of communalism in him. Hindus like Todar Mal, Man Singh, Birbal etc held high positions in his Court, and were often military commanders as well.
The tragedy is that the 90% fools and idiots living in India today do not even know who is the real Father of their Nation !