The Akbarnama which translates to Book of Akbar , is the official chronicle of the reign of
Akbar , the third Mughal Emperor (r. 1556–1605), commissioned by Akbar himself by his court historian and biographer, Abul Fazl who was one of the nine jewels in his court . It was written in Persian, the literary language of the Mughals, and includes vivid and detailed descriptions of his life and times.
Abul Fazl who wrote this book, it included the work between 1590 and 1596 and is thought to have been illustrated between 1592 and 1594 by at least forty-nine different artists from Akbar’s studio.
It took 7 years to complete this book and included the original manuscripts contained a number of paintings supporting the texts, and all the paintings represented the
Mughal school of painting , and work of masters of the imperial workshop. Which makes it more beautiful and royal.
After Akbar’s death in 1605, the manuscript remained in the library of his son, Jahangir (r. 1605-1627) and later Shah Jahan (r. 1628-1658). Today, the illustrated manuscript of
Akbarnma , with 116 miniature paintings, is at the Victoria and Albert Museum. (Source Wikipedia)
It is the official history of Akbar’s time in the three volumes. It also includes the history of Akbar’s forefathers from Timur to Humayun.
1) The first volume deals with the birth of Akbar , the history of Timur’s family and the reigns of Babur and Humayun and the Suri sultans of Delhi.
2) The second volume describes the detailed history of the reign of Akbar till 1602, and records the events during Akbar’s reign.
3) The Third Volume is known as Ain-I-Akabari which gives the administrative details of Akbar’s time.
Here’s what Abul Fazl says in the book and his description in some books :-
In his description of Hinduism, Abu’l Fazl tries to relate everything back to something that the Muslims could understand. Many of the orthodox Muslims thought that the Hindus were guilty of two of the greatest sins, polytheism and idolatry (Andrea; Overfield: “A Muslim’s Description of Hindu Beliefs and Practices,” “The Human Record,” page 61.)
On the topic of idolatry, Abu’l Fazl says that the symbols and images that the Hindus carry are not idols, but merely are there to keep their minds from wandering. He writes that only serving and worshipping God is required. ( Fazl, A: “Akbarnama,” Andrea; Overfield: “The Human Record,” page 62.)
Abul Fazl also describes the Caste system to his readers. He writes the name, rank, and duties of each caste. He then goes on to describe the sixteen subclasses which come from intermarriage among the main four. Abu’l Fazl next writes about Karma about which he writes, “This is a system of knowledge of an amazing and extraordinary character, in which the learned of Hindustan concur without dissenting opinion.” He places the actions and what event the ( Fazl, A: “Akbarnama,” Andrea; Overfield: “The Human Record,” page 63.)
He places the actions and what event they bring about in the next life into four different kinds. First, he writes many of the different ways in which a person from one class can be born into a different class in the next life and some of the ways in which a change in gender can be brought about. He classifies the second kind as the different diseases and sicknesses one suffers from. The third kind is actions which cause a woman to be barren, or the death of a child. And the fourth kind deals with money and generosity, or lack thereof. (Fazl, A: “Akbarnama,” Andrea; Overfield: “The Human Record,” page 63-64.)
The Ain-i-Akbari is currently housed in the Hazarduari Palace, in West Bengal.
It has some beautiful manuscript and painting which make it a beautiful art work in the modern days, it also has some memories from the past which let us know about that Great Mugals time period.