Skip to main content

Full text of "Akbar, The Emperor Of India"

See other formats

22                      AKBAR, EMPEROR OF INDIA,
as he was seen at a window, at the same time singing
religious hymns. This fanatical enthusiasm of the Hindus
for his person Akbar knew how to retain not only by actual
benefits but also by small, well calculated devices.
It is a familiar fact that the Hindus considered the
Ganges to be a holy river and that cows were sacred ani-
mals. Accordingly we can easily understand Akbar's pur-
pose when we learn that at every meal he drank regularly
of water from the Ganges (carefully filtered and purified
to be sure) calling it "the water of immortality/'18 and
that later he forbade the slaughtering of cattle and eating-
their flesh.19 But Akbar did not go so far in his cpnnivance
with the Hindus that he considered all their customs good
or took them under his protection. For instance he forbade
child marriages among the Hindus, that is to say the mar-
riage of boys under sixteen and of girls under fourteen
years, and he permitted the remarriage of widows. The
barbaric customs of Brahmanism were repugnant to his
very soul. He therefore most strictly forbade the slaught-
ering of animals for purposes of sacrifice, the use of ordeals
for the execution of justice, and the burning of widows
against their will, which indeed was not established accord-
ing to Brahman law but was constantly practiced according
to traditional custom.20 To be sure neither Akbar nor his
successor Jehangir were permanently successful in their
efforts to put an end to the burning of widows. Not until
the year 1829 was the horrible custom practically done
away with through the efforts of the English.
Throughout his entire life Akbar was a tirelessly in-
dustrious, restlessly active man. By means of ceaseless
activity he struggled successfully against his natural tend-
ency to melancholy and in this way kept his mind whole-
some, which is most deserving of admiration in an Oriental
MNoer, II, 317, 318.                                */&«., 376, 317.
*J. T. Wheeler, IV, I, 173; M. Elphinstone, 526; G. B. Malleson, 176.