About this text

Introductory notes

The Akbarnama, written by Abu’l Fazl (1551-1602) upon the order of the emperor Akbar (r.1556- 1605), is a historical work composed between 1589 and 1596, with additions made till 1598. It records the events of Akbar’s reign, preceded by accounts of the reigns of Babur and Humayun, in its first two volumes. The third volume has, probably through the consensus of readers since the seventeenth century, been given a separate title A’in-i Akbari. It deals in particular with the A’inha-i Muqaddas-i Shahi. An illustrated manuscript of the Akbarnama with 116 miniature paintings is held in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Some of the paintings can be viewed on the museum’s database. Another illustrated manuscript is shared between the British Library (Or.12988) and the Chester Beatty Library (Ms.3), and two folios are held separately in the Walters Art Museum (W.684). The standard printed text of the Akbarnama is the Bibliotheca Indica edition of 1873-87 (see below). The following MSS in the British Library contain variants: Add.26207, Add.27247. The work was translated into English by H. Beveridge in 1897-1939. Our selected excerpts contain descriptions of famine and dearth during Akbar’s reign and references to food, feast, charity, poverty, agriculture and climate.

Primary Sources Abu’l Fazl, Akbarnama (Persian), 3 vols., ed. Agha Ahmad Ali and Abdu-r Rahim (Calcutta: Bib. Ind., 1873-87). Abu’l Fazl, Akbarnama (English), 3 vols., trans. H. Beveridge (Calcutta: Bib. Ind., 1897-1939).
Suggested Reading Irfan Habib, The Agrarian System of Mughal India, 1596-1707, revised ed. (Delhi: OUP, 1999). Shireen Moosvi, The Economy of the Mughal Empire c.1595: A Statistical Study, revised ed. (Delhi: OUP, 2015). Milo Cleveland Beach, Early Mughal Painting (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard UP, 1987).


Translated from the Persian by
Low Price Publications, 2013


[Page 47]

Far-sightedness is the pillar, not bodily bulk. Intellect is the substantive thing, not the largeness of the visible body. The foundation of appointments is talents and virtues, and the qualities of ancestors are not regarded.


[Page 156]

One of the occurrences was that for the comfort of travellers he issued an order that at every kos of the way from Agra to Ajmīr a pillar1(minār) should be set up, and be adorned with deer horns so that those who had lost their way might have a mark, and that strength might be given to the fatigued.


[Page 164]

One of the occurrences was that in the country round Agra things like spiders' webs, but several degrees thicker than they, fell upon the fields and pastures. In some places they were half a jarīb 1 in length and breadth, and in others they were smaller than this in length and breadth. Apparently, the sublime Divine Wisdom devised such a remedy for the corruption of the air, and so made a special display of His benevolence towards mankind.


[Page 271]

An order was also given that inquiries should be undertaken and a clear list made of the recluses of that country, who from being occupied in looking after their souls, had not leisure to follow professions or handicrafts, and of the other patient paupers of the land. The object of his holy thought was that an enlightened person of the court might be sent every year to that country so that abundant provision might be made from the table of the Shāhinshāh's bounty for the needy of that country as for the necessitous of other climes. There were various classes of men in this auspicious caravan, and especially those connected with the family of contemplation and enlightenment, and those associated [Page 272] with demonstration and testimony (shahūd).Never before had there been such a coming of seekers of blessing from India to that country.


[Page 278]

Acal means a hill, and the idea is that that pure form is specially associated with the place. Abūgarh is near Sirōhī, and on the borders of Ajmere towards Gujarat. Its extent is about seven kos. On the top of the hill the Rānā built in former times a sky-high fortress. The road to it is very difficult. There are springs of good water, and sweet-water wells, and there is sufficient cultivation to support the garrison. There are various flowers and odoriferous plants, and the air is very pleasant. Wealthy people have for the sake of spiritual welfare erected temples and shrines there. The victorious bands came to the fort by the aid of daily-increasing fortune, and so strong a fortress, such as great princes would have found it difficult to conquer, came into the hands of this party of loyalists with little effort.


[Page 284]

Many of the soldiers had fallen into poverty from staying long in that hill-country, and when the Koka went off, the evil-disposed portion of the army raised a report that Daudā was coming, and [Page 285] set about plundering. The Urdū bazār (camp-market) and much of the city were sacked. The officers out of fear and ignorance were on the point of coming away. The Kokaltāsh returned and took up his quarters there. By the Divine help and by wisdom he got the upper hand over pleasure and preferred hidden service to personally waiting upon H.M. He despatched Rai Surjan to court with some spices (masālih) and set about putting the country into order. Neither outward want of equipment nor the general want of heart affected him, and the dust of dissension was at once laid. Joy returned to the despondent, and the wicked gossips sunk into contempt, while the rebellious received proper punishment.


[Page 308]

Though the sovereign went on, stage by stage, in the enjoyment of hunting, yet all his energy was devoted to the capture of hearts. Spiritual and temporal ministrations issued from time to time from the fount of enlightenment, and good actions adorned the age. At the stage of Bāmrī(?) 1 which is a dependency of Mīrta 2it was brought to his notice that the country was lying waste [Page 309] owing to the bad condition of the reservoirs. In his abundant graciousness he visited the neighbourhood, and distributed active workmen among the officers. By one day's digging moisture was bestowed.


The tanks shone like hearts' tablets,
They appeared like mirrors of wisdom,
Their limpid waters were like eyes,
Every drop was a hundred pearls.


[Page 312]

Be it not concealed from the listeners to knowledge that whenever Mars is predominant in a country, the latter becomes arid, and thick vapours and smokes rise up in it. Especially is this so if Mars be in the tenth house of the horoscope of the year or season, and if that house be windy, or fiery and malific, and the moon, or Mercury, be windy, so that he (Mars) may regard them with a glance of affection. Assuredly, the crops will then become bad, and there will be the elements of a famine. There will also be sicknesses, predominance of wrath, and the snapping of the thread of inquiry. (Wisdom-seeking).


[Page 332]

On 21 Bahman Divine month (about 1 February 1578), he encamped at Shādīwāl, and for the guidance of those standing about the threshold of fortune he uttered auspicious counsels. He let fall many spiritual and physical truths. He said, “If the scarf of social life were not on my shoulder, I would restrain myself from eating flesh.” Inasmuch as he was aware of the wolfish [Page 333] nature of men he considered that to tame them all at once would be to distress and pain the votaries of custom. Therefore the inspiration came to his holy heart that he would stretch out his hand slowly and by degrees so that things might not be made difficult for followers of the truth, and that constant apprehensions might not make the general public crazy. He has now for some time abstained from eating meat on Fridays. It is to be hoped that the practice (of eating meat) will be confined to certain days.


[Page 341]

One of the occurrences was the cessation of clouds and rain. The [Page 342] account of this marvel is that for some days there was constant and unseasonable rain. The campmen and the generality of the subjects were distressed and complained. The wonder worker emitted his glorious breathings on a mirror and then put it into a fire. From the wondrous effect of the breath of him whom the spheres obey the celestial turbulence ceased.

When energy assists the brave,
They raise the Earth above the sky;
By energy accomplish deeds,
That difficulties may be easy to you


[Page 354]

At this time a fresh benevolence was exhibited. An order was issued for the taking of measures to fill the Anūptalāo with money. In the special apartments (courtyard?) (daulat khāna-i-khās) of Fathpūr there is a reservoir twenty by twenty (yards) and twice a man's height in depth. It is paved with red stone and is an object of admiration to the critical. Before the august expedition (to the Panjab) had taken place there had trickled from the fountainhead of bounty the statement that “For some time the participators in the holy banquet have had their eyes and ears gratified by the clearness of the pearling waters and the prattling of the fountains. Now let it be filled to the brim with various coins so that the great treasures may become visible and the general public may receive an abundant share of the sublime bounty, and the necessitous be freed from the anguish of expectation.” At this time the arrangers of the banquet of sovereignty set about filling the reservoir. Rajah Todar Mal reported that it would be filled by the time the royal standards arrived, that seventeen krors of dāms had been counted out, and that it was estimated that this quantity would suffice to fill it.


[Page 381]

One of the occurrences was the laying the foundation of poor¬houses. From abundant graciousness and kindness an order was given to the workmen that they should erect sarais in the various quarters of the capital, and make them over to benevolent and generous persons so that the poor and needy of the world might have a home without having to look for it, or to endure the pain of waiting. In a short space of time the orders were admirably carried out, and those without resources enjoyed the comforts of a home in a foreign land.


[Page 412]

One of the occurrences* was the division of the wide tract of [Page 413] India into twelve portions. It was unavoidable that the sovereign of lofty genius and protector of the weak should favour them by gifts and appointments (bakhshish u bakhshāīsh), and that he should reform the wicked and stiff-necked by the glory of counsels and the flashings of the scimitar. He distributed the territories according to suitable limits and laid out the garden of creation by appropriate methods. And he made it over to liberal and righteous guardians. He irrigated the world-parterres from the founts of knowledge. In this way did he make fitting division of the wide and fertile land of India, and in every province he appointed a viceroy (sipah-sālār), a Diwān a Bakhshī, a Mīr 'Adal, a Sadr, a Kotwāl, a Mīr Bahr (admiral) and a Recorder (Wāq'anavīs).

One of the occurrences was the fixing of the revenue for ten years. Inasmuch as Time produces, season after season, a new foundation for rates, and there are great increases and decreases, there was a regulation that every year some experienced and honest men should send in details of the rates from all parts of the country. Every year a general ordinance (dastūr-al-'amal) was framed with respect to the payment of dues. When the imperial domains became extensive, and the territories of many great rulers came under the shadow of the world-lord's justice, these reports arrived late and at different times. The soldiers and the peasantry suffered loss, and there were disturbances about arrears and about excess demands. It was also rumoured that some recorders of rates had gone aside from the path of rectitude. The officers at headquarters were harassed, and were unable to find a remedy. The wise sovereign gave relief to multitudes by introducing the new system of payment of dues. The gist* of the invention was that the condition of every pargana [Page 414] during ten years, according to degree of cultivation and the price of produce, was ascertained, and that one tenth thereof was fixed as the revenue of each year. This has been explained at length in the concluding volume of this great work. Though the carrying out of this great design was committed to Rajah Todar Mal and Khwājah Shāh Mansūr, the Rajah was sent off to the eastern provinces, and it was the Khwājah who by dint of his sagacity comprehended the sublime instructions and arranged the exquisite plan.


[Page 538]

The fortunate prince went on the 21st (3 August) to the jalgah of Sīāh Sang, and held an assembly. All sorts of men beheld the light of true rule, and rejoiced, and that ancient place, which is a delightsome spot, was refreshed by the irrigation of justice. At the time when the standards of fortune were moving from Surkhāb to Jagdalak, swift messengers brought the news of victory, and the marvels of heaven-aided fortune were impressed anew on high and low. Supplications and thanksgivings were offered up anew. Next day he encamped at Bārīkāb, and on 25th he halted at Butkhāk. The soldiers and the peasantry, male and female, of Zabulistan, flocked in from every side, and became the recipients of various favours.


[Page 540]

In an auspicious hour, on the 29th (9 August 1581) H.M. seated himself in the citadel of Kabul. Splendour took possession of that country, and a court was held there and a great feast. Also during this year the weighment (of Akbar)took place, and was made against choice articles. Mankind were filled with joy by the royal bounties.


[Page 560]

In the beginning of this auspicious year the world's Khedive gave some attention to the arrangements of the affairs of the empire, and bestowed new lustre on administrative and financial regulations. Before2this, the duties of the viziership had been entrusted to Rajah Todar Mal, but on account of the perils of the great enterprise, and the activity of double-faced, ten-tongued persons, he had not applied himself heartily to it. This far-sighted and incorruptible man, who understood the secrets of administration, [Page 561] was appointed to the lofty office of Head of the Dīwān (ashraf-i-diwān), and virtually the position of Vakīl (Prime Minister) was conferred on him. Everything was referred to him, and a choice ordering of administrative and financial matters was the result. By the blessing of a happy fate he sullied not the skirt of wish, but regarded what was good for the State, and acquired an everlasting good name. With a stout heart he maintained the laws of the Caliphate, and had no fear of the powerful and crafty. From far-sightedness and knowledge of the world, he proposed several regulations (fasle)so that the holy orders might be promulgated anew, and have fresh vigour. For better enlightenment I proceed to record them, and so present a boon to posterity.

First. The collectors ('amalguzārān) of the Crown-lands (Khālsa) and the jāgīrdārs should collect the rents1 and taxes in accordance with the code (dastūr-al-'amal). If from wickedness and tyranny they took from the cultivators more than the agree¬ment, it was to be reckoned as the legitimate rent, and the oppres¬sors were to be fined, and the amount entered in the monthly accounts. They should at every harvest inquire into the minutest details and protect the subjects. The thread of the administration of justice was to be a double one, (that is) suppliants were to be reimbursed, and extortioners to be punished.

[Page 562]

2nd. The collectors of the crown-lands had two clerks (bitikcī)—a kārkūn and a khāznavīs. Generally, both of these men were corrupt, and in collusion with the village-headman (kalānta-rān), and they oppressed the peasantry. If in place of these two dishonest men, one1 trustworthy and rightly-acting officer were appointed, the country would be developed, and the peasant would be at peace.

3rd. It appeared that in the crown-parganas the cultivated lands diminished year by year. If the cultivable land were measured once for all, the peasantry would cultivate more and more land in proportion to their ability and the arrangement of progressive pay¬ments should be made. They should give one another as securities and should execute documents. Consideration should be shown in the exaction of dues. In the case of land which had lain2 fallow for four years, only half of the stipulated rent should be taken for the first year, three-fourths in the second, and in the third the peasants should be responsible for the3 full rent. For land which had been uncultivated for two years, one-fourth of the rent should be deducted for the first year. In the case of uncultivated lands they were to be allowed to keep back a small amount of grain so that their lands might become capable of yielding rent. If destitute cultivators were assisted (by advances), documents should be taken from known men, and recoveries made, partly at the spring-harvest, and partly at the autumn harvest so that the country might soon be cultivated, the peasantry satisfied, and the treasury replenished. When the collectors increased the (total) rental, demands should not be made (from them) about4 deficiencies in some items. Every year reports about the collectors should be submitted to H.M. in order that good [Page 563] servants might be rewarded, and promoted, and those who were of another sort, punished.

4th. When the crops are standing, let several measuring-parties1 be appointed, in proportion to the amount of land, and let the measurement be started in an intelligent manner, and the kind and quality of the cultivation be noticed. The collector will choose a central2 spot for himself, and carefully visit every part of the land and examine its condition. When there has been an abundant rain3 and the fields are lying in water, an amount of land up to two-and-a-half biswas should be left out of account, and in jungle and sandy tracts as much as three biswas. Abstract accounts (sīāhha i-zabta) should be sent in weekly, and the daily journal of collections month by month to the head office.

5th. An imperial order should be issued that a list4 of damaged lands should be sent to court so that orders might be passed concerning them.

6th. The dwellers in ravines, who are of a turbulent disposition, think the ruggedness of their country a protection and make long the arm of oppression. Orders should be issued to the Viceregent (sipahsālār), the faujdār the fief-holder and to the collector that [Page 564] they should act together and remedy matters. First, they should admonish, and if this prove ineffectual, they should raise the flag of activity and chastise the malefactors, and devastate their crops (ābādī, perhaps, habitations). The jāgīrdār should get an exchange, and the mastaufīshould not make a demand on this account. If the soldiers should be injured in these operations, a fine should be levied (tāwān). Further, the sums extorted from the peasantry are to be produced before the treasurer and he is to give credit for them in the ryots' receipts. The collectors should be paid their wages quarterly, the last payment being made when there are no arrears due from the ryots.

8th. The ryots should be in such a state of obedience that they should bring their rents to the treasury without its being necessary to set guards over them. Sufficient security should be taken from the refractory, and if such cannot be found, watchmen should be set over the harvested grain and the rent be realized. An account of the rent to be collected from each person according to the amount of his cultivation should be prepared, and the date should neither be postponed nor anticipated. The patwārī of each village should allot these, name by name, among his subordinates. The collectors should send the cash along with the patwārī's signature to the treasurer. They should be vigilant to put down oppression, and should make their words and their works accord.

9th. The Treasurer should receive muhrs, rupis and dāms which bear the august name (of Akbar) and make allowance for obsolete coins so that the collectors and the money-changers may reckon the old and new and ascertain the difference. The L'al Jalālī, of full weight and fineness, is worth 400 dāms, the square rupi is worth 40 dāms. The ordinary ashrafīand the round Akbarshāhī rupi which has become worn, shall be rated as follows.

[Page 565]

If the ashrafī be deficient by two grains of rice (birinj), but be of good quality, it should be valued at 360 dāms. If deficient by three grains up to one surkh its value should be 355 dāms. If deficient by 1 1/2 to 2 surkhs its value is 350 dāms. A rupi deficient by one surkh of the full weight should be valued at 39 dāms. If deficient by 1 1/2 to two surkhs it should be valued at 38 dāms. The L'al Jalālī of full weight and fineness, the Jalālī deficient from 1 1/2 to 2 surkhs and Sikka Sanwāt Akbarshāhī deficient by 3 birinj up to one surkh were to be received at the treasury. If the deficiency were greater, the tahwīldār (cashier) should keep the coins separate and the accountant should enter them in the day-book and send an account of them daily to the head-office. The jāgīrdārs, treasurers, and sarrāfs (money-changers) were to act upon these rules.

10th. The officers of the Khālsa and the jāgīrdārs should make correct reports about the well-conducted, and the ill conducted, the obedient, and the disobedient, in their estates so that recompense and retribution may be bestowed, and the thread of government be strengthened.

11th. Instead of the old charges, one dām per bīgha of cultivation should be fixed. It is hoped that by this arrangement 24 dāms would be allowed to the measurement party. Their allowances would thus be— 15 sīrs flour at the price of 7 dāms 1 3/44 " butter (roghan zard, presumably ghī) 5 " 2 1/2 " grain (for animals) 4 " Cash 8 " 24 " [Page 566] * Of this— The amīn would get 5 sīrs flour 1/2 sīr butter 7 sīrs grain 4 dāms The writer 4 sīrs flour 1/2 sīr butter 5 1/2 sīrs grain 2 dāms Three servants 6 sīrs flour 3 1/4 sīrs butter 3 dāms In the time of the rābī' crop when the days are long, not less than 250 bighas should be measured, and at the time of the Kharīf, when the days are short, not less than 200 bighas. H.M. examined these proposals with a profound eye, and accepted them.


[Page 761]

One of the occurrences was a great flood at Sirhind. The rain began on the 28th (Shahrīyūr) (8 September 1586), and continued for three days and nights. A violent flood came from the northern hills, and in the city the water rose to three yards (gaz). Outside it was five yards. Nearly 2000 houses were destroyed, and the fort-wall was thrown down for 150 yards. 500 yards of the old garden were destroyed, and 100 of the new one, and much property was carried away by the water. One hundred persons were drowned and 2000 animals. The high road to the capital was closed for a time. The Superintendents of Fate showed this spectacle, and thereby gave warning to those who were sunk in carelessness, and awoke the slumbering. Apparently, H.M.'s fortune was illustrated by such things. If retribution were made for wicked actions, assuredly a typhoon of fire and water would have been necessary. But the right-thinking and truth-seeking of the Ruler saved humanity and so it was not overwhelmed by a day of retribution!


[Page 788]

One of the occurrences was the protection of holy men. Though the lightening of the burden of sorrow is always an adornment of those admitted to the august assemblage, and the speech and action of H.M. form the stock of State and Religion, yet a fresh announce¬ment was made that it had occurred to H.M. that every one who had the bliss of attending court should, according to the number of his years, give one dām, or one rupī, or one muhr to some good object, so that by that means a well, or a reservoir, or a caravanserai, or a garden might be constructed, and that thereby every kind of distress might be relieved, and there might be a spiritual and temporal growth. The order was properly carried out, and the countenance of good thoughts was illuminated.


[Page 812]

One of the occurrences was a great act of liberality on the part of the Shāhinshāh. Owing to civilisation and justice there was a great cheapness of articles so that it was difficult for the peasantry in some provinces to pay the revenue. Accordingly in the spring instalment for the provinces of Agra and Delhi a deduction of one-sixth was made, and for the autumn instalment a deduction was made of one in 4 1/2 and in Agra, Oudh, and Delhi of one-fourth. In the 534 exchequer lands this came to 19 krors, 32 lakhs, 80,175 dāms. From this an estimate can be made of the amount of the reduction in the fiefs. Also, at this time, Zain Koka did homage. When Swāt and Bajaur had been in some measure settled, The Kokaltāsh was summoned to court, and an order given to Sādiq to hasten there [Page 813] (Bajaur) and reduce to obedience the remainder of the refractory to obedience. On 15 Bahman the Kokaltāsh arrived at court.


[Page 816]

On the eve of Tuesday, 4 Jamāda-ul-awal 997, 10 or 11 March 1589, after four hours and thirty-six minutes, the brightener of the world's face entered Aries. The beginning of the tenth year of the third cycle brought the news of eternal dominion. H.M., according to the yearly custom, held a feast every day till the culmination, and crowds of men obtained their wishes.


[Page 819]

On this day he gave weighty counsels to Burhānu-l-Mulk at the entrance of the pass, and sent him to conquer the Deccan. As in the time of his elder brother Murtaza Nizāmu-l-Mulk, the peasantry and soldiers enjoyed some repose, and though he was melancholy and a recluse, yet he kept strong the thread of justice, H. M. did not send Burhānu-l-Mulk—who had taken protection at his court— with an army to that country.


[Page 827]

Srīnagar is a great city and has been long peopled. The river Bihat flows through it. Most of the houses are of wood, and some rise up to five* storeys. On the roofs they [Page 828] plant tulips and other flowers, and in the spring these rival flower-gardens. When it is the rainy season in India, it also rains here, and, like Turān and Irān, much snow falls in winter. In spring there are showers (bārān). The crops seldom suffer from a deficiency of rain.


[Page 830]

One of the occurrences was a great flood in Ujjain in Mālwa. It began to rain on the 12th, and this continued for three days. The river Siprā rose high and the outer and inner lakes (kūlāb) over¬flowed. 1700 houses were carried away. Though but few men were lost, yet many animals were carried away by the waves. The flood had reached the gate of the city when the outer lake burst, and the waters were dispersed.


[Page 830]

One of the occurrences was the assessment of Kashmīr. When the able accountants brought forward the subject of the revenue, the just sovereign proceeded to make inquiries. He sent S. Faizī, Mīr Sharīf Āmulī, Khwājagī Muhammad Husaīn to scrutinize the Mararīj(Marrāj), while Khwāja Shamsu-d-din Khāfī—who had come at that time from Kabul—and the Kuar (Mān Singh) were sent to examine the Kāmrāj. Though the autumn crop was over, yet they were able by their skill to make an estimate of it. In India the land is divided into plots, each of which is called a bīgha. In the delightful land of Kashmīr every plot is called a patta. This should be one bīgha one biswa according to the Ilāhi gaz, but the Kashmīrīs reckon [Page 831] 2 1/2 pattas and a little more as one (Kashmīrī?) bīgha. By agreement with the Government (Diwān) one-third of the produce is paid as revenue. In accordance therewith every village has been assessed at a certain number of kharwārs of rice. The same amount of khar-wārs is demanded every year without any fresh investigation. The kharwār is 3 mans 8 sīrs* Akbarshāhī. Sometimes they reckon by the trak, which is eight royal (i e. Akbarshāhī) sīrs. Of the spring (rabī') crop they take for one patta of wheat, barley, pulses, and mustard, two traks as the share of the ruler. In Lār and its appurtenances the persons deputed to inquire found that 1 man 26 sīrs of wheat, 1 man 26 3/4 sīrs of barley, 1 man 30 1/2 sīrs of pulses and mustard were taken and that in the autumn-crop there was taken from that extent of shālī 12 (rice) (land) one kharwār, from mung (phaseolus mungo), motah (P. aconitofolius) and māsh, two traks, from gāl and millet four traks. When the unofficial (kāghzkhām; papers of every village— which showed the real facts—were obtained, the amount of the ruler's share came to 5 mans for rice, while for mung, motah and māsh it was 549 1 man 30 1/2 sīrs, from kangnī and millet it was 2 mans 22 1/2 sīrs. [Page 832] The Mararāj investigators brought back similar reports. As there was abundance of futile talkers and concealers of the truth, and the governor (mirzbān) of Kashmīr was desirous that the truth should not appear, and the sovereign had in his mind the enjoyment of sight-seeing, and the cultivators were chiefly soldiers, the assessment was not fixed upon actual facts (qarār-i-wāqa'). The twenty lakhs of kharwārs of rice were increased by two lakhs. Apparently, the far-seeing glance (of Akbar) perceived that an increase in the assess¬ment, even though it did not exceed a duly calculated amount, would bring destruction on the cultivators, especially in a newly conquered country.


[Page 839]

As the spectacle of that ever-vernal flower garden—which leads every one else to self-indulgence—made H.M. more zealous in devotion to the Creator, and as he had gathered some delight from travelling in it; and had made the peasantry and the soldiery joyful, he decided to return. Though the attractions of the climate, and the abundance of flowers and fruit shut off the road of escape, yet wisdom prevailed and prevented him from staying longer.


[Page 855]

On the 27th when the camp was near Gorkhatra, Shāh Beg came from Swād, and on the way had the bliss of having an audience. At his request H.M. visited Begrām which [Page 856] was in his fief. An order was given to the writer that he should go there, and give presents to the hermits. Thousands of needy persons received their portions, and the treasure-house of prayers was filled.


[Page 857]

At dawn, as it was a feast day, he indulged in some splendour, and there was a daily market of giving. Aḥmad 'Alī Atālīq had an audience, and presented the letter and the choice products of his country. Hakīm Hamām represented that on 16th Āzar of the previous year a wonderful thing had happened in Turān. Up to the end of the evening there were such death-cries of birds that even the loveless hearts of hunters were pained. At dawn there were seen in every field near Bukhāra, ducks, swans, geese, storks, etc, lying dead or wounded or with broken breasts and scattered feathers. Likewise on the banks of Lake Kūrāk many thousand animals were lying dead, and persons who came from the Oxus and its neighbourhood made similar reports. Crowds of men with carts, camels and horses, carried off loads of them to their houses, and for six months ate their flesh, and supplied lamps with their fat. The Turānīān ambassador represented that 'Abdullah K. had assembled able men and made enquiries. As there was no ice or snow, they were unable to give any explanation. Some said it appeared that an army of owls must have passed by. Others suggested that it was a hunting animal called a Sadāīq.


[Page 875]

On the 4th a great boon was granted by H.M., and numbers of men were comforted. On account of the extent of cultivation, and the goodness of the administration, prices fell very low, and many cultivators were unable to pay the government revenue. In the provinces of Allahābād, Agra, Oudh, Delhi, and the Sarkārs of Sahāranpur and Budāon, one-eighth was remitted, and in Sarkārs Sirhind and Hisār one-tenth. In the Khālsa (exchequer or crown-lands) this came to 7 krors, 97 lakhs, 81,800 dāms.


[Page 876]

One of the occurrences was the fall of rain at the wish of H. M. For some days there had been no rain, and the feeble-hearted were distressed. One of his intimates represented that if a request were made of the Almighty, it would be very proper. H. M. replied that the Creator well knew what was good for his servants, and added some [Page 877] words which bore the character of knowledge. The other repeated his entreaties, and increased his wishes. H.M. accepted his prayer and on 3 Tīr engaged in prayer. In a short time there was a downpour, and the world was refreshed.

One of the occurrences was the fall of rain at the request of the Shāhinshāh. Astronomers had represented that on the 23rd there [Page 878] would be a total eclipse of the sun. The skilled scientists of India said that if there were rain seven days before or after, no harm would occur from the eclipse. Though they tried, they were unsuccessful (in producing rain). They were ashamed and retired. When the time arrived, H.M. applied himself to supplications to the Incom¬parable Deity. In a moment (?) clouds gathered, and there was rain until that hour passed away. A world was amazed. H.M. said: “The Almighty has accepted the petition of this suppliant, and has cast a veil over the boastful astronomers. If their statement had been true, the darkness would have increased.”


[Page 889]

Every day there was a fresh feast, and a new market day of thanksgiving to God. On the 6th (Farwardīn) the rank of Zain K. Koka was increased, and he attained the lofty position of 4,000 and the right to drums. On the 9th H.M. entered a boat along with many veiled ladies and proceeded to Mīrzā Kāmrān's garden and enjoyed the spectacle of the variegated spring. On the 17th the presents of the Khān Ā'zim were produced. He had sent some choice elephants and other rarities from Gujarat, and in this way he brought himself to remembrance. On the day of culmination (sharf, i.e. the 19th) when there was a great feast, the Tatta ambassadors obtained an audience. They presented a petition and presents. The purport of the representation was that it was from somnolence of intellect that there had happened what had happened, and that if the tidings of forgiveness could reach (the ruler of Tatta), former [Page 890] stumblings would be rectified. The excuse-accepting sovereign made the envoys hopeful, and a comforting rescript was issued. On 9 Ardibīhisht the lunar weighment took place, and H.M. was weighed against eight articles. There was a season of liberality and largesse.


[Page 924]

At this time a new arrangement was introduced. The world-adorning sovereign in his enlightenment divided, on 2 Isfandār¬maz, 12 February 1592, the crown-lands (khālisāt) into four portions, and made over each of them to an able man. The provinces of the Panjab, Multan, Kabul and Kashmīr were made over to Khwāja Shamsu-l-dīn, the provinces of Ajmīr, Gujarat and Mālwa to Khwāja Nizāmu-d-dīn Ahmad Bakhshī, the province of Delhi to Rai Patar Dās, the provinces of Agra the capital, Allahabad, Bengal and Behar to Rai Rām Dās. Though Qulīj K. received* the reports, yet this act of foresight was done on account of the extent of the country. H.M. also attended to the matter of the currency, and the old diseases of silver and gold (coinage) were remedied, as has been described in the last volume.

One of the occurrences was the capture of 'Umarkot. When Dalpat and Rāwal Bhīm passed by it with a choice army on their way to Tatta, this birthplace of the world's lord fell into their hands without a struggle. The Rai of the place accompanied them in [Page 925] performance of service. There was a wonderful piece of fortune in the circumstance that some of the land-owners had filled up the wells and had poisoned them. Consequently the soldiers were in that sandy land distressed for want of water. They remembered the holy personality and prayed to God, and then sate down and waited in expectation. Suddenly rain fell, though it was out of season, and the dried-up tanks ran over with water. One of the occurrences was the sending of Rai Rai Singh to Tattah. When the victorious troops succeeded in the river-fight, and when owing to the folly of shortsighted persons there was delay in advancing, the enemy who had been disconcerted made a stand. After much discussion, the fort which M. Jānī had constructed, was invested on 9 Āzar. There was hot fighting, and every day the brave men on each side distinguished themselves. One day, Sikandar Beg, who was among the noted men on the imperialists' side, was wounded in the leg by a bullet, and after some time he died. The enemy were confident on account of the strength of their position, number of men, abundance of provisions, and the help of the peasantry, and were watching for the rains. Then everything would be under water, and the foreign army would be dispersed without an engagement. Among the imperialists, provisions became very dear, and consternation seized upon the weak-hearted. The Khān-Khānān reported the circumstances and asked for help. On the 21st Rai Rai Singh was sent off. Khāki Gallabān, Khwāja Hisāmu-d-dīn and other brave men went by the river-route. Provisions, guns, gunpowder (dārū), etc. were dispatched.


[Page 956]

On the 2nd Ābān he had a great feast, and the solar weighment took place. He who was of equal value with the heavens, was weighed against twelve things, and high and low shared his bounty. He appointed several persons to distribute money. The writer distributed presents to 14,000 necessitous people in the 'Idgāh. In this cultivated country thieves and beggars were few in number. At this time owing to an evil mixture there was loss, and many failed in patience and contentment.


[Page 969]

One of the occurrences was the marriage-feast of Prince Sultān Selīm. Just as for other people more than one wife is not suitable, so for great persons more are necessary, so that their dwellings may be more splendid, and a large number of people may be supported. Especially is this so with nobly-born persons who are the ornament of the Age. At the beginning of this spring Gulrukh Begam, the daughter of M. Kāmrān, begged that her daughter might enter the harem of the Shāhinshāh's son. H.M. agreed and there was a banquet of joy. There was largesse and there were marriage presents. On the night of 7 Isfandārmaz H.M. had a meeting [Page 970] in the house of Miriām Makānī, and the marriage was solemnized at an auspicious hour.


[Page 971]

One the eve of Sunday 17 Jumāda-al ākhirī, 1001 A.H., 10 or 11 March 1593, after 3 hours 55 minutes, the spiritual and physical light-increaser cast his rays on the Sign of Aries. Melancholy terrestrials had heavenly bliss, and had equal rank with the celestials.


The hand of morn kindled the torch of the new spring.
The branching standards took to torch-bearing
By the side of the wind, the black earth clothed itself in green.
Every flowerpot drank milk from the breast of the clouds.

There was a daily feast till the day of Exaltation, and high and low rejoiced.


[Page 991]

One of the occurrences was the sending Shāhrukh M. to look after Mālwa. H.M. had been searching for a governor of Mālwa from the time that Gujarat had been made over to Prince Sultan Murād. As his ability and consideration for the peasantry were conspicuous, he was on 7 Mihr raised to the high rank of 5,000, and after receiving weighty counsels he was sent off there. Shahbāz K. was raised to the office of Atālīq and sent with him—Haidar Dost and…(three lines of names) were also appointed.


[Page 996]

One of the occurrences was the increase of saffron in Kashmīr. Formerly each seed yielded less than three flowers, and the amount received by government did not exceed 20,000 traks, but was not [Page 997] less than 7,000. Once in M. Haidar's time it was 28,000 traks. This year when it became khālsa the ruler's share was 90,000 traks. Though there was more land under cultivation, yet the flowers were also more than usual. Every seed yielded up to eight flowers. On 18 Bahman, the report was received, and thanks were returned to God.


[Page 998]

H.M. celebrated entrancing feasts up to the day of exaltation, and Divine worship assumed a higher form. On 7 Farwardīn 10,000 cavalry were assigned to the Prince-Royal. Five thousand (of them) received jāgīrs in Bengal.

[Page 999]

On the 8th the feast of the lunar weighment took place, and H.M. was weighed against eight articles. There was a daily market of liberality, and all sorts of men attained their desires.


[Page 1014]

On 24 Āzar Āsaf K. arrived in three days from Kashmīr, and reported the revenue of the country to be, according to the settlement of Qāzī 'Alī, 31 lakhs of kharwārs, each of 24 dāms. He had pacified the soldiers and the peasantry and distributed the fiefs in a proper manner.


[Page 1021]

One of the occurrences was the conquest of Sīwī (Sibi). It is a strong fort near Qandahār, and in old times was held by the ruler of Bhakkar. For a long time the Afghans had held it. Saiyid Bahāu-d-dīn Bokhārī the fiefholder of Ūc, and Bakhtiyār Beg the fiefholder of Sīwistān, and Mīr Abū-l-Qāsim Tamkīn the jāgīrdār of Bhakkar, and Mīr M'asūm and other soldiers of the province of Multan, received orders to proceed thither and to make advice the material of conquest. If they did not listen, they were to be punished. On 23 Dai they went out with this intention. The zamīndārs of [Page 1022] Ganjāba and the other chiefs there—such as Daryā K. and Dāūd— submitted. On 3 Isfandārmaz they arrived at the fort. 5,000 men came out to fight, and after a short engagement they were defeated and retired into the fort. After investing it and preparing to take it, the garrison came to terms and gave up the keys. By this victory the country up to Qandahār, Kac and Mekrān was included in the empire. The soldiers were distressed in that desert from want of water. They made the world's lord the Divine instrument of worship and prayed for water. By the Divine favour in a short space of time, the dry bed of a turrent became full of water, and there came occasion for thanksgiving.


[Page 1040]

One of the occurrences was the marriage of Prince Sultān Daniel. On the eve of the 22nd Mihr (2nd October, 1595), there was a feast of joy, and that nosegay of fortune was united to the daughter of Rai Mal the son of Rai Māldeo. On the 2nd Ābān the solar weighment took place. There was rejoicing, and H.M. was weighed against twelve [Page 1041] articles. A new door was opened for liberality. On this day Rustam M. obtained leave to go to Cītūr. As his agents in Multān had cast away the thread of justice, Multān was made crown land and entrusted to Khwāja Muqīm. Amīnu-d-dīn accompanied him (Rustam) in order that an ignorant Turk might not oppress the weak. On account of the illness (tabāhserai) of his companion, he sent him back from Sirhind.


[Page 1048]

On the 15th the lunar weighment of H.M. took place and there was a great feast. The holy frame was weighed against eight articles, and the wishful had their desires gratified.


[Page 1062]

On 7th Mihr the holy form bathed, and there was a great festival.


There was a feast such as
The young had not beheld in dreams.
'Twas not a feast, but a picture of sky and stars—
An assemblage of the beauties of the seven worlds.


[Page 1063]

In this year kitchens were established in every city. There [Page 1064] was a deficiency of rain this year, and high prices threw a world into distress. In the beginning of the year a comet (zūzūāba) appeared, and astrologers predicted that there would be dryness and scarcity. The gracious sovereign appointed able men to every place to give food duly to the necessitous. Petitioners constantly came before H.M., and had their desires gratified. Similarly numbers of beggars were made over to rich people (khwāstadārān.)(?)

On 2 Ābān the solar weighment took place and H.M. was weighed against twelve articles. Numbers of men had their desires gratified. On the 10th, which was a feast day, a Turānī farāsh (carpet-sweeper, etc.) lifted up (barkashīd) two camels with their loads, and astonished the spectators. On this day Shāham came from his fief and was exalted by royal favours.


[Page 1064]

At this time saffron flowered in Begrām. H.M. recognized that that country was suitable for this crop, and sent seeds to Takhta Beg. On the 11th he learnt that they had sprouted and bloomed. On this day M. Yūsuf obtained leave to go to Gujarat. He obtained a fief in that quarter and was sent there in order that he might assist the army of the Deccan.


[Page 1087]

On account of the deficiency of rain and the dispersal of the husbandmen, prices became somewhat high. Though by the coming of the victorious army the scarcity was increased, yet the Shāhinshāh's graciousness provided a remedy. By his orders twelve places were prepared in the city for the feeding of great and small (i.e. young and old). Every Sunday a general proclamation was made in the 'Īdgāh, and some went from the palace and bestowed food and presents on the applicants. Eighty thousand necessitous persons—more or less—received their hearts' desires. A great many persons also got their livelihood by the building of the fort. By means of the pay for their labour they were brought out from the straits of want. At this time some attention was paid to miscellaneous imposts. Fifty-five censurable customs were abolished. The husbandmen for a long time paid these, and until the order of remission took effect they did not believe in it (the abolition). The case of the saffron is one of these. The Government share of the produce was divided among the bazaar-people and the husbandmen to be cleaned. Though out [Page 1088] of eleven traks, one was given as wages, yet two sīrs of dried saffron and buds (?) were exacted, and there was great loss, especially in the time of rain. It was also an old custom that the cultivator should cut and bring some wood from a distance. Otherwise they lost their pay. Similarly they took money from the carpenter, the weaver and other workmen.


[Page 1095]

On the 25th (Mihr=about 5 October) he embarked in a boat and pro¬ceeded towards the exhibition, on his way to India. Next morning he arrived at the saffron-fields. He stayed there seven days, and every day the flowers were harvested. They were divided among the officers in order that they might superintend the cleaning. At the time when the peasants were impressed for this work, and when deficiency (in produce) was punished (?), two sīrs were obtained from eleven, and occasionally, from thirteen traks. Owing to the great remission (by Akbar) the same quantity was obtained from seven or eight traks.


[Page 1116]

One of the occurrences was the remitting of [the increase of] the ten to twelve to the Panjab. When Lahore was for some time the seat of government, the imperial officers increased the government share in the proportion of ten to twelve on account of [Page 1117] the high prices. When it appeared that by the departure of the auspicious standards, prices returned to their former level, the just sovereign remitted the increase, and small and great were much relieved.


[Page 1119]

H.M. marched and administered justice for two months, twenty-one days. From every place he received new grandeur. Three days he halted in order to give men repose. Crowds of men obtained varied joys, and gifts were showered. The appreciative sovereign won the heart of every one by special consideration. He alighted in the august fortress. Everywhere there was feasting and banqueting.


[Page 1138]

On the 19th they broke up the siege and went off in a confused state to Ahmadnagar. Thanksgivings were offered upon the receipt of this news, and there were joyful meetings. The garrison had been in straits for nineteen days. Though on the first day they did not display much courage, yet during the siege they showed great valour, though their condition was wretched, and they despaired of help. Every day there were hot contests. The men had to eat horse flesh, and the horses ate the reed-thatching of the houses. The heroes were nearly slaying their families and coming out by sacrificing their own lives. In spite of the confusion of one's comrades, smallness of means, and the difficulty of the work, the Incomparable Creator produced so delightful a picture, and a world fell into rejoicing.


[Page 1138]

There was new fervour in giving of thanks, and there was also acknowledgment of the Shāhinshāh's fortune. There was a wonderful old nīm tree [Page 1139] in the fort of Shāhgarha. Its trunk had two branches, one sweet, and the other bitter. The first was good for preserving health and in leprosy, etc. I reported this to H.M., and in accordance with orders I sent portions of both to court.


[Page 1156]

On the 4th M. Rustum was sent to the Deccan. As the capture of Ahmadnagar was delayed, and the army was in some distress from the dearness of provisions, the wicked raised their heads here and there. The Prince (Daniel) asked for reinforcements. Accordingly Bāz Bahādur, Khān Qulī, Rahīm Dād, Payinda Beg, and many others, were sent under the command of the Mīrzā. Many good advices were given to him, and one lakh of mohars was made over to Iftikhār in order that he might convey them to the Prince. On the 22nd Khwājagī Fath Ullah together with Zāhid, Mīr 'Abdu-l-hai and others had an audience. When they went on the expedition against Lalang, the garrison capitulated on account of want of food and delivered up the keys.


[Page 1170]

This unwise hill-man had conveyed more than 100,000 souls to the top of the fortress. On account of the crowd of creatures the atmosphere was affected, and a great sickness ensued. 25,000 persons died. Owing to daily-increasing fortune there was some delay in the rains, and corn was collected from all sides. This was a comfort to the victorious troops.


[Page 1198]

On 9th Dai the festival of the lunar weighment was cele¬brated, and H.M. was weighed in the house of Miriam-Makānī against eight articles. There was a daily market of liberality, and high and low obtained their desires.


[Page 1211]

As the distress and poverty of the peasants (kadīwar) of Kabul was represented to H.M., one year's revenue was altogether remitted to that country, and an order was given to the collectors that for eight years one-eighth share of the revenue of the fief-holders should be remitted. The mansab of Shamsu-d-dīn Husain, the son of the Khān A'zim—who was the Nāīb of the province of Gujarat—was fixed at 2,000, principal and increase (amal u izāfa).


[Page 1236]

The gracious sovereign cast an eye upon the comfort of travellers and ordered that in the serais on the high roads, refuges and kitchens should be established, and that articles of food should be in readiness for the empty handed travellers so that when they had undergone the fatigues of journeying and had sat down to rest they might put food into their mouths without trouble.

This text is an English-language translation of the original version:

This is a selection from the original text


animals, beggar, famine, feast, flood, food, kitchen, peasant, poor-house, revenue, saffron, settlement, sickness, travel

Source text

Title: The Akbarnama of Abu-L-Fazl

Author: Abul Fazl

Editor(s): H.Beveridge

Publisher: Baptist Mission Press

Publication date: 1897-1939

Original compiled c.1589-1598

Original date(s) covered: c.1589-1598

Place of publication: New Delhi

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at the Digital Library of India: http://www.dli.ernet.in/. Original compiled c.1589-1598 Original date(s) covered: c.1589-1598

Digital edition

Original author(s): Abul Fazl

Original editor(s): H.Beveridge

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) page 47
  • 2 ) page 156
  • 3 ) page 164
  • 4 ) page 271 to 272
  • 5 ) page 278
  • 6 ) page 284 to 285
  • 7 ) page 308 to 309
  • 8 ) page 312
  • 9 ) page 332 to 333
  • 10 ) page 341 to 342
  • 11 ) page 354
  • 12 ) page 381
  • 13 ) page 412 to 414
  • 14 ) page 538
  • 15 ) page 540
  • 16 ) page 560 to 566
  • 17 ) page 761
  • 18 ) page 788
  • 19 ) page 812 to 813
  • 20 ) page 816
  • 21 ) page 819
  • 22 ) page 827 to 828
  • 23 ) page 830
  • 24 ) page 830 to 832
  • 25 ) page 839
  • 26 ) page 855 to 856
  • 27 ) page 857
  • 28 ) page 875
  • 29 ) page 876-878
  • 30 ) page 889 to 890
  • 31 ) page 924 to 925
  • 32 ) page 956
  • 33 ) page 969 to 970
  • 34 ) page 971
  • 35 ) page 991
  • 36 ) page 996 to 997
  • 37 ) page 998 to 999
  • 38 ) page 1014
  • 39 ) page 1021 to 1022
  • 40 ) page 1040-1041
  • 41 ) page 1048
  • 42 ) page 1062
  • 43 ) page 1063-1064
  • 44 ) page 1064
  • 45 ) page 1087 to 1088
  • 46 ) page 1095
  • 47 ) page 1116-1117
  • 48 ) page 1119
  • 49 ) page 1138
  • 50 ) page 1138 to 1139
  • 51 ) page 1156
  • 52 ) page 1170
  • 53 ) page 1198
  • 54 ) page 1211
  • 55 ) page 1236


Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

Texts encoded by: Bonisha Bhattacharya, Shreya Bose, Lucy Corley, Kinshuk Das, Bedbyas Datta, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Sarbajit Mitra, Josh Monk, Reesoom Pal

Encoding checking by: Hannah Petrie, Gary Stringer, Charlotte Tupman

Genre: India > chronicle histories

For more information about the project, contact Dr Ayesha Mukherjee at the University of Exeter.