AKBAR'S NEW RELIGION. 137 establish the Mughal Empire in Southern India were less suc- cessful. Those efforts began in 1586, but during the first twelve years they were frustrated by the valour and statesman- ship of Chand Bfbf, the Musalman queen of Ahmadnagar. This celebrated lady skilfully united the usually hostile Abyssinian and Persian settlers in Southern India, together with their armies, and strengthened herself by an alliance with Bijapur and other Muhammadan States of the south. In 1599, Akbar led his armies in person against the princess ; but notwithstanding her assas- sination by her mutinous troops, Ahmadnagar was not reduced till the reign of Akbar's grandson, Shah Jahan, in 1636. Akbar subjugated Khandesh, and with this somewhat precarious annexation his conquests in Southern India ceased. He re- turned to Northern India, perhaps feeling that the conquest of the south was beyond the strength of his young empire. Akbar's Death. — His last years were embittered by the intrigues of his family, and by the misconduct of his beloved son, Prince Salfm, afterwards the Emperor Jah&ngfr. In 1605, he died, and was buried in the noble mausoleum at Sikandra, whose mingled architecture of Buddhist design and Saracenic tracery bears witness to the composite faith of the founder of the Mughal Empire. In 1873, the British Viceroy, Lord North- brook, presented a cloth of honour to cover the plain marble slab beneath which Akbar lies. Akbar's New Faith. — Akbar's conciliation of the Hindus, and his interest in their literature and religion, made him many enemies among the .pious Musalmans. His favourite wife was a Rajput princess ; another of his wives is said to have been a Christian. On Fridays (the Sabbath of Islam), he loved to collect professors of many religions around him. He listened impartially to the arguments of the Brahman and the Musal- man, the Zoroastrian, the Jew, the Jesuit, and the sceptic philosopher. The history of his life, the Akbar-ndmah, records such a conference, in which the Christian priest Redff disputed with a body of Muhammadan mullds before an assembly of the doctors of all religions, and is allowed to have had the best of the argument. Starting from the broad ground of general toleration, Akbar was gradually led on by free discussion to
Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/141
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