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Introductory notes

The Tabaqat-I-Akbari is a three-volume chronicle compiled by Khwajah Nizamuddin Ahmed(1551(?)-1594) (who was appointed as a Bakshi by Emperor Akbar). The account covers the earliest Muslim invasions (from 986 A.D.) and concludes at the thirty-eighth year of Akbar's reign (1593-94 A.D). In compiling this chronicle, Ahmed cites the use of twenty-nine other works. The work has been translated into English by Dr.Brajendranath De (1852-1932). W.N.Lees and H.Blochmann had laid emphasis upon the need to translate this text in the 1860s but it was only in 1927 that the first volume of the translated text appeared. The second volume of the translation appeared in 1931 and the third and final volume was completed in 1936 by Shams-ul-'Ulama Khan Bahadur Hidayat Hosai and then revised and edited by Baini Prashad. Our selected excerpts contain descriptions of famines, climate, feasts, abundance and charity.

Primary Sources Khwajah Nizamuddin Ahmed, Tabaqat-I-Akbari (Persian),3 vols, ed. B.De and M.Hidayat Hossain (Calcutta:Bib.Ind., 1931-35) Khwajah Nizamuddin Ahmed, Tabaqat-I-Akbari (English),3 vols, trans. B.De and Baini Prashad (Calcutta:Bib.Ind., 1927-35)



Printed at the Baptist Mission Press Published by the Royal Asiatic of Bengal CALCUTTA: 1939


[Page 1]
To exalt the heads of the unworthy,
To hope for good from any of them,
[Page 2]
Is utterly to lose the thread of thy actions,
And is like a snake, in thy pocket, to keep.
As on the worthless, thou placest charges great,
Know that from salt land thou hop’st for fruit.


[Page 18]
The world hath to ashes burned many such heaps of grain;
Thou shouldst not try to teach tricks to such a magician old.
[Page 19]
Be not secure that this turbulent stream,
Hath forgotten its habit of devouring men.


[Page 34]

When the world-illuminating sun bound the black veil over his bright forehead, the drum of return was beaten, and the army took up its former position. The next day Sultān Firuz Shah [Page 35] devastated and ravaged the country surrounding the fort; and for some days was engaged in measures of pillage and destruction, and the whole country was laid waste. Then Deo Rāy with (great) humility sent an ambassador, and pRāyed for the pardon of his offences, and making promises of loyalty sent much tribute, consist-ing of elephants of the size of mountains, and various kinds of fabrics and stuffs. The Sultān, on account of his innate kindness accepted his excuses, and turned his bridle for his return.

As Firuz Shāh's heart was always engrossed with the conquest of new dominion, he marched with a well-equipped army for the conquest of the Marhatta country, at a moment which the astrologers declared to be auspicious. When he arrived in the neighbourhood of Mahur, the thānadār there offered many fine and beautiful presents.

[Page 36]

He then traversed many stages, and arriving at Kehrlā (the ancient Kerala), laid siege to that fortress and devastated the country all round it. Harsingh Rāy the Rāy of Kehrlā, having with great humility, made his submission petitioned for the pardon of his offences; and bringing some valuable presents, gems and gold, and twenty chains of elephants came to render homage; and presented the keys of the forts. The Sultān gave him a seat in front of the throne, and having given him Arab horses and a gold embroi-dered robe and a jewelled belt gave him permission to go back(to his capital).

Returning from there, after a few days, he sent bodies of men to different parts of his dominions to collect the revenue; and the men, who were sent, brought after a time immense qualities of treasure and elephants and gold and gems.

At this time also, the engineer of his thoughts planned a city on the bank of the river, into all the houses in which there should be running water. After it had been finished, he gave it the name of Firuzābād. He built a noble mansion, the turrets of which raised their heads and claimed rivalry in altitude with the stars, for his own palace.


[Page 41]
He(alone)is wise,who in all things,
Sometimes accepts flowers and sometimes thorns.
With every morsel, thou cans’t not sugar find;
Sometimes comes the clear (wine) and sometimes the dregs.


[Page 48]

After the conquest of Māhur, as the kingdom became more extensive, the amirssubmitted that one of the Shāhzādas might be declared to be the heir apparent; and subās might be allotted to the others, so that the rule of sincerity and friendship might continue among the “brothers of purity”.The Sultān said, “Please tell me whatever might have been decided in your minds on the subject of the heir apparent”. The amirs submitted "Shāhzāda ‘Ala-ud-din is endowed with high attributes and is most anxious and painstaking in the management of measures for the amelioration of the condition of the raiyyats,and for improving the condition of the poor and the oppressed”. The Sultān applauded the opinion of the amirs and appointed Shāhzāda ‘Ala-ud-din to be the heir apparent and made Muhammad Khān over to him. He conferred the country of Mahur with its dependencies on Shāhzāda Mahmud Khān, and he gave the fort of Rāijur(Rāichur) with its surrounding country to Daud Khān, and took an engagement from all his sons, that they should never be hostile to one another, and should keep the raiyyats, and the poor and oppressed, who have been entrusted to them by God, in comfort. He also directed them that they should treat the following four noble classes among men with special respect and [Page 49] esteem; viz. first, learned men, for their minds are the fountains of of philosophy and Divine knowledge; second, writers, as this great band adorn the cheek of the country, and the face of the state with con-structive guidance, by the tongues of their pens.

Couplet :
As the Shāh-in-Shāh’s sword lays the foundation of the state,
The tongue of the pen, of rules becomes its guide.

The third are the men of arms, for the well-being of the people (‘ibad, literally the servant of God), and the putting down of all disturbances in the country, are bound up with (the existence of) this body; and the flashes of the light of their lances, which put down all disturbances are the guardians of religion and of the state; and the tongue of the ruthless swords explain the texts of victory and triumph. The fourth are the cultivators, for the stability of the world, and the continued existence of mankind are bound up with and sustained by the exertions of this body. For if they show any negligence, and permit idleness to find its way into their limbs, the supply of food, which is the means of mainten-ance of life and of the sustenance of existence, would be completely cut off. And after giving necessary counsel and directions he sent Mahmud Khān and Dāud Khān to the subas to which they had been nominated.


[Page 90]

Nizam Shah had, at the time starting on the campaign, written a letter in the language of sincerity, giving an account of what was happening to Sultān Mahmud of Gujrāt. Now when he was recovering at Firuzābad; and the men who had fled had assembled again, he sent Khwājah Jahān with a large army to fight with Sultān Mahmud (Khalji). About this time information came that Sultān Mahmud Gujrāti had arrived at the frontiers of the Deccan, with eighty thousand horsemen. Sultān Mahmud Khalji, finding that he had not the strength to withstand him, started on the seventeenth day for Mandu, by way of Gondwāra. Khwājah Jahān [Page 91] returned after pursuing him for three or four stages. At the time of his return, as the road through Gondwāra was uneven, the Gonds harassed him at every stage, and some thousand of men and animals perished on account of scarcity of water. It is stated that at the first stage (of the journey) about six thousand men died for want of water; and the price of one kāsa (cup) of water was cheap at two tankas. In truth as the act of Sultān Mahmud Khalji was in reality outside of rectitude and justice, the result of such unrighteous con-duct could not be anything but misfortune and wretchedness.

Plant such a branch that it bear fortunate fruit ;
Sow such seed, that a harvest thou mayst reap.


[Page 98]

When the rainy season was over, the amirs again directed their attention to the punishment of the Rāy of Sonkar, and when they arrived at the fort of Māchal, they attacked it, and conquered it at the first onset, and many of the rebels were slain, and some of their leaders seized. When the overwhelming strength and power of the Malik-ut-tujjār became known, the Rāy of Sonkar sent a body of intelligent men to him, and prayed that he would pardon his offences, and he would surrender the fort of Kaikania to him. The Malik-ut-tujjar pardoned his offences; and having placed the fort in charge of some trusted adherents, and made a [Page 99] pecuniary allowance from the revenue of the country, which might be sufficient for the subsistence of the Rāy, he without any hesita-tion or delay advanced towards the island of Goa, which is a famous port of Bijānagar. He sent by water 120 ships filled with war-like men and in a short time the island came into his possession. When he returned(crowned with victory), and (loaded with) plunder, to the capital, his services were considered to be meritorious, and were acceptable to the Sultān; and the reigns of binding and loosen-ing were placed in his hands of power, and the title of A’zam Humāyun Khwājah Jahān was conferred on him.


[Page 200]

When the two bādshāhs stood in front of each other, and the two armies met in great excitement and clamour, an elephant belonging to Sultān Ahmad’s army rushed on Sultān Hushang’s troops, and caused much havoc; and scattered the horsemen in all directions. Ghaznin Khān, son of Sultān Hushang, coming within bow shot, shot many arrows on the forehead of the animal and wounded and killed it. From all sides warriors thirsting for battle rushed and fell on Sultān Ahmad’s army; and there was great distress among the men of Gujrāt. At this time Malik Farid mounted on his horse and followed by his men came towards the battlefield, but although he tried, he could not find his way into it. At last a man told him, “I know a path by which you can get behind the enemy’s army, and can launch an attack on it.” Malik Farid knowing the finding [Page 201] of the pathway to be a piece of unhoped for good fortune, advanced along it. At this time when the two armies were contending with each other, the detachment of Malik Farid appeared before Sultān Hushang’s army; and he at once, and without hesitation fell on it, and there was a great battle. Although Sultān Hushang was per-sonally bold and courageous, yet not being victorious in the battle he took the road of flight; and fled galloping to the fort of Mandu. Much booty fell into the hands of Sultān Ahmad, and his soldiers; and they went in pursuit till within one karoh of Mandu. Sultān Ahmad also sent detachments in different directions, so that they plundered and ravaged the country, and cut down trees, both those that bore fruit and others that did not, in the vicinity of Mandu. As the rainy season had now arrived, they turned back and returned to Gujrāt. They trampled down (the crops etc.) in the countries of Champanir and Nadot, which lay on their way. After arriving at Ahmadabad Sultān Ahmad held many entertainments and festivities in the course of some months; and everyone, who had exerted himself even a little was distinguished by favours and kindnesses and had title conferred on him.


[Page 234]

In the beginning of the year 862 A.H., the Sultān made a strong resolution to punish the zamindārs; and marched to Sirohi. The Raja who was a relation of Rānā Kumbhā fled to the hills, and took shelter there; and for the third time Sirohi was burnt down; and the other towns were raided and ravaged. Then (the Sultān) sent detachments to ravage the dominions of Rānā Kumbhā; and himself advanced to the fort of Kumbhalmir. At this time intelligence came that Sultān Mahmud Khalji had advanced towards the fort of Chitor, by way of Mandsur; and seized all the parganas near the last-named place. Sultān Qutb-ud-din now besieged the Rānā in the fort of Kumbhalmir with a firm denomination; but as a considerable time elapsed, and he knew that it would be difficult to seize it, he gave up the siege, and advanced towards the fortress of Chitor; and after plundering and ravaging the country around it, went back to Ahmadābād. To everyone of the soldiers whose horses had become disabled during the campaigns, the Sultān gave the price of one from the treasury; and thought it proper, in this way, to show kindness to them. Rānā Kumbha sent ambassadors after the Sultān and in great humility and distress prayed to be excused for his offences; and the Sultān again drew the pen of forgiveness across his guilt; and sent back the ambas-sadors, pleased and happy.


[Page 322]

When the news that Bahadur Khān had gone to Dehli, and Firdus Makani Bābar Bādshāh had arrived in those parts with the Maghul army reached Sultān Muzaffar, he on account of the separation from his son became depressed and sorrowful; and ordered Khudāwand Khān on letters and petitions to summon the Shāhzāda. At this time there was a great famine in Gujrāt, and the people suffered great distress. Sultān Muzaffar owing to the love which he had for the people, began a complete recitation of the great book (Qurān) and of the six canonical books of Hadis. The great and Holy God taking account of the true and pious intention of the Sultān removed the calamity from his people. At the same time, the Sultān fell ill, and his illness increased from day to day. One day he in great sorrow spoke of Shāhzāda Bahādur Khān. Someone taking advantage of the opportunity informed him that the army was divided into two factions. One of them wanted the succession [Page 323] of Shahzada Sikandar Khān; while the other was inclined towards Latif Khān. Sultān Muzaffar on hearing this said, “Has any news come from Shahzada Bahadur Khān?” Intelligent and wise men have inferred from this that he wished to make Shāhzāda Bahādur Khān his heir. He then called Sikandar Khān to his presence, and gave him some advice in the matter of his brothers and then gave him leave to retire. Then he went to the haram serā , and again came back outside, and rested for a moment. After a moment he heard the call of Friday prayer. He said, “I do not find the strength in me to go to the masjid.” He sent the men who were there to the mosque, and said the midday prayer. After he had finished he rested for a moment; and then passed away into the mercy of God. The period of his reign was fourteen years and nine months.


[Page 338]

At this time news came that Latif Khān had, at the instigation of ‘Add-ul-Mulk and Muhāfiz Khān, gone to the hills of Āwas in the vicinity of Sultānpur and Nadarbar, with the intention of creating a disturbance and raising a revolt. Sultān Bahādur ordered that an army should be sent, which would in co-operation with Ghāzi Khān crush and destroy him. At this time, the date of the accession on [Page 339] the ‘Id-ud-duha arrived. On this day the Sultān arranged a grand festive assembly, and again bestowed on many of the amirs robes and belts and daggers and swords, and in this way made them pleased with him.

It so happened, that at this time a famine took place, and (the Sultān)ordered Hushiyār-ul-Mulk, who was the treasurer, to attend at his stirrups,so that at the time when he was riding, he should give a Muzaffari to everyone who would ask for help. The Sultān rode out every day twice to play chaugān ; and in every city many alms houses were established for faqirs and poor people; and the Sultān endeavoured with all his energy to ameliorate the condition of the ra’iyats; so that in a short time a new grandeur and splendour appeared in the country of Gujrāt.


[Page 340]

In the beginning of the year 933 A.H., 1527 A.D., a body of silāhdārs (troopers), whose numbers reached ten thousand, made a [Page 341] complaint on a Friday, that they had not received their allowances, and did not allow the Khutba to be read. Sultān Bahadur excused the offence on account of his innate forbearance, and ordered the payment of their allowances. These men had intended to go to Latif Khān, and they had also instigated others to do so.

At this time a petition came from Ghazi Khān to the effect that “Latif Khān has come to Sultānpur with a large force and has raised the standard of hostility. I went and met him, and after the battle, ‘Add-ul-Mulk and Muhāfiz Khān fled, and Rāy Bhim with his brothers fell on the battlefield,and Latif Khān was wounded and taken pri-soner”. Sultān Bahadur immediately on hearing the news, sent Muhib-ul-mulk, and a body of other amirs, so that they might properly and kindly attend to the condition of Latif Khān, and bring him to his presence, after placing ointments on his wounds; but as he was mor-tally wounded he died on the way. He was buried in the village of Halol, one of the dependencies of Chāmpānir, by the side of Sultān Sikandar. In the course of the same year Nasir Khān, who had received the title of Sultān Mahmud also died. The Sultān appointed a number of headsmen at his brother’s tombs, and ordered the daily distribution of cooked food and uncooked food there.


[Page 373]

Sultān Bahadur approved of this plan and a ditch was dug round the camp. At this time Sultān 'Alam Kalpiwal, on whom Sultān Bahadur had conferred Raisin and Chanderi and that suba as jagirs, came with a large army, and joined the Gujrāt camp. For two months the two armies sat face to face; and the Mughal troops raided round the camp, and shut up the way of the ingress and egress of grain. After some days had elapsed in this way, a great scarcity made its [Page 374] appearance in the Gujrāt army; and all the fodder that was in the neighbourhood was entirely exhausted. Owing to the attacks of the Mughals, no one had the power, that he should go to a distance from the camp and bring grain and fodder. Sultān Bahadur saw that his remaining there any longer would result in his capture. Therefore one night he came out from behind his pavilion and, with five of his trusted amirs, one of whom was the governor of Burhanpur and another Mallu Qadir Khān, governor of Mālwa, fled towards Mandu. When his army came to know of his flight, each man fled in a (different) direction.

His Majesty Jinnat Ashiani Humayun Badshah pursued (Sultān Bahadur) to the foot of the fort of Mandu, and on the way many men were killed. Sultān Bahadur shut himself up in Mandu; and after some time Hindu Beg Qulchin and a number of other Mughal amirs got into the fort from the bastion of the seven hundred steps. Sultān [Page 375] Bahādur was asleep when there was a great noise; and the Gujrātis in great dismay took the path of flight. Sultān Bahādur with five or six horsemen went away in the direction of Chāmpānir. Sadr Khān and Sultān 'Alam, governor of Raisin and that suba,took shelter in the citadel of Sunkar; and after two days they asked for assurances of their lives being spared, and waited on Jinnat Ashiāni. Sadr Khān was taken into the latter's service; but Sultān 'Alam, as he had been guilty of improper behaviour, had, by order of Humāyun, his sinews cut off (i.e., he was hamstrung). Sultān Bahadur sent the treasure and jewels which he had at Chāmpānir to the port of Dip, and himself went to Kanbāyet. When His Majesty ,Jinnat Ashiani in pursuit of him arrived at the foot of the fort of Chāmpānir he marched from there and proceeded towards Kanbāyet on wings of speed. Sultān Bahadur took fresh, strong horses and went on to the port of Dip. His Majesty Humāyun arrived at Kanbāyet the very day that Bahadur started for Dip, and leaving Kanbayet he took pos-session of Chāmpānir. Ikhtiyār Khān Gujrāti, the governor of the fort, occupied himself in defending it, but his Majesty Jinnat Ashiāni seized it by a plan which has been described in the narrative of his history. Ikhtiyar Khān took shelter in the citadel of the fort, which was called Mullā; and in the end after prāying for quarter, acquired the honour of serving His Majesty. As he was distinguished by great excellence and accomplishments above all the other amirs of Gujrāt, he was enlisted among the courtiers of Humayun's special majlis.

[Page 376]

All the treasures of the Sultāns of Gujrāt, which they had collected in the course of many long generations, fell into his hands and were distributed among the soldiery by shield-fulls.


[Page 405]

As Miran Muhammad Shah, son of Mirān Mubārak Shāh had been emboldened by his first victory, and found the kingdom of Gujrāt without a head, he considering the disputes and hostility among the amirsto be a very great mercy, advanced with the object of conquering the country, and did not draw his reins till he came opposite to Ahmadabad. Chengiz Khān in concert with the Mirzās, came out of the city with the object of giving battle. The Mirān was defeated in the battle which took place and fled and went back to Asir in great confusion, losing everything that he had with him.

As this victory was gained by the great exertions of the Mirzās, Chengiz Khān in order to please them, allotted some fertile and well [Page 406] populated parganasin sarkarBahroj as their jagirs;and gave them permission to go there; so that they might entertain retainers and equip them. When they arrived in the estates appertaining to their jāgirs, and low class people, and the people who were always in search of adventure collected round them, and as the revenues of their jagirs did not suffice for their entertainment, they found it necessary to occupy other estates without the permission of Chengiz Khān. When this news reached the latter, he sent an army to attack them. They defeated that army and slew a number of the men; and advanced towards the territory of Burhānpur, and after interfering in the affairs of that country they went to Malwa. The details of the affairs of the Mirzās have already been narrated in the history of His Majesty the Khalifa-i-Ilāhi.

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

This is a selection from the original text


entertainment, famine, food, grain, revenue, treasure

Source text

Title: Tabaqat-I-Akbari-Vol.3

Author: Khwajah Nizamuddin Ahmed

Editor(s): B. De, Baini Prashad

Publisher: Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal

Publication date: 1939

Original compiled c.1595

Original date(s) covered: c.1556-1593

Place of publication: Calcutta

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at the Digital Library of India: Original compiled c.1595 Original date(s) covered: c.1556-1593

Digital edition

Original author(s): Khwajah Nizamuddin Ahmed

Original editor(s): Baini Prashad

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) 1 to 2
  • 2 ) 18 to 19
  • 3 ) 34 to 36
  • 4 ) 41
  • 5 ) 48 to 49
  • 6 ) 90 to 91
  • 7 ) 98 to 99
  • 8 ) 200 to 201
  • 9 ) 234
  • 10 ) 322 to 323
  • 11 ) 338 to 339
  • 12 ) 340 to 341
  • 13 ) 373 to 376
  • 14 ) 405 to 406


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.