Akbar was born at Umarkot in Sind on the 15th of October1542. His father, Humayun, was driven from the throne in a series of decisive battles by the AfghanSher Shah Suri. After more than twelve years' exile, Humayun regained his sovereignty, which, however, he held for only a few months before he died. Akbar succeeded his father in 1556 under the regency of Bairam Khan, a Turkoman noble, whose energy in repelling pretenders to the throne, and severity in maintaining the discipline of the army, helped greatly in the consolidation of the newly recovered empire. Bairam, however, was naturally despotic and cruel. When order was somewhat restored, Akbar took the reins of government into his own hands by a proclamation issued in March 1560.
On November 5 fifty miles north of Delhi, a Mughal Army defeated Hindu forces of General Hemu to give Akbar the throne of India.
When Akbar ascended the throne, only a small portion of what had formerly comprised the Mughal empire was still under his control, and he devoted himself to the recovery of the remaining provinces. He expanded the Mughal empire to include Gujarat (1572), Bengal (1574), Kabul (1581), and Kashmir (1586), among others. Over each of these, as power was restored, he placed a governor, over whom he superintended.
Akbar did not want to have his court tied too closely to Delhi. He ordered the court moved to Fatehpur Sikri, near Agra, but when this proved untenable, he set up a roaming camp that let him keep a close eye on what was happening throughout the empire. He tried to develop and encourage commerce; he had the land accurately measured for the purpose of correctly evaluating taxation and he gave strict instructions to prevent extortion on the part of the tax gatherers.
He was at first Muslim, but skepticism as to the divine origin of the Koran led him to seek the true religion in an eclectic system. He accordingly set himself to obtain information about other religions, sent to Goa, requesting that the Portuguese missionaries there should visit him. Based on these inquiries, he adopted a religion called Din-e-alahi taken from Islam, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, and other religions. This religion separated out his truest devotees in the court, but failed to gain acceptance outside, and died with Akbar.
However, the spirit of toleration which originated his religion was also important in establishing his kingdom. He conciliated Hindus by giving them freedom of worship; while at the same time he strictly prohibited certain Brahman practices, such as trial by ordeal and sati, the burning of widows against their will. He also abolished all taxes upon pilgrims as an interference with the liberty of worship, and the capitation tax upon Hindus, probably upon similar grounds.
Although he was illiterate (and possibly dyslexic), he had a great love for knowledge, inviting men from all different religions to come to discuss matters of the world with him. He was a patron to many men of literary talent, among whom may be mentioned the brothers Feizi and Abul Fazl. The former was commissioned by Akbar to translate a number of Sanskrit scientific works into Persian; and the latter has left, in the Akbar-Nameh, an enduring record of the emperor's reign. It is also said that Akbar employed Jerome Xavier, a Jesuit missionary, to translate the four Gospels into Persian.