Aolib.comFragment of Photochrom print of the front of Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany (ca. 1897)

Akbar, Emperor of India »


By Richard von Garbe

[Footnote 5: Noer, I, 131.]

Mahum Anaga, the Emperor’s nurse, for whom he felt a warm attachment and gratitude, a woman revengeful and ambitious but loyal and devoted to Akbar, had contributed in bringing about the fall of the regent. She had cared for the Emperor from his birth to his accession and amid the confusion of his youth had guarded him from danger; but for this service she expected her reward. She sought nothing less than in the role of an intimate confidante of the youthful Emperor to be secretly the actual ruler of India.

Mahum Anaga had a son, Adham Chan by name, to whom at her suggestion Akbar assigned the task of reconquering and governing the province of Malwa. Adham Chan was a passionate and violent man, as ambitious and avaricious as his mother, and behaved himself in Malwa as if he were an independent prince. As soon as Akbar learned this he advanced by forced marches to Malwa and surprised his disconcerted foster—brother before the latter could be warned by his mother. But Adham Chan had no difficulty in obtaining Akbar’s forgiveness for his infringements.

On the way back to Agra, where the Emperor at that time was holding court, a noteworthy incident happened. Akbar had ridden alone in advance of his escort and suddenly found himself face to face with a powerful tigress who with her five cubs came out from the shrubbery across his path. His approaching attendants found the nineteen year old Emperor standing quietly by the side of the slaughtered beast which he had struck to the ground with a single blow of his sword. To how much bodily strength, intrepidity, cold—blooded courage and sure—sightedness this blow of the sword testified which dared not come the fraction of a second too late, may be judged by every one who has any conception of the spring of a raging tigress anxious for the welfare of her young. And we may easily surmise the thoughts which the sight aroused in the minds of the Mohammedan nobles in Akbar’s train. At that moment many ambitious wishes and designs may have been carried to their grave.[6]

[Footnote 6: Noer, I, 141.]

The Emperor soon summoned his hot—headed foster—brother Adham Chan to court in order to keep him well in sight for he had counted often enough on Akbar’s affection for his mother Mahum Anaga to save him from the consequences of his sins. Now Mahum Anaga, her son and her adherents, hated the grand vizier with a deadly hatred because they perceived that they were being deprived of their former influence in matters of state. This hatred finally impelled Adham Chan to a senseless undertaking. The embittered man hatched up a conspiracy against the grand vizier and when one night in the year 1562 the latter was attending a meeting of political dignitaries on affairs of state in the audience hall of the Imperial palace, Adham Chan with his conspirators suddenly broke in and stabbed the grand vizier in the breast, whereupon his companions slew the wounded man with their swords. Even now the deluded Adham Chan counted still upon the Emperor’s forbearance and upon the influence of his mother. Akbar was aroused by the noise and leaving his apartments learned what had happened. Adham Chan rushed to the Emperor, seized his arm and begged him to listen to his explanations. But the Emperor was beside himself with rage, struck the murderer with his fist so that he fell to the floor and commanded the terrified servants to bind him with fetters and throw him head over heels from the terrace of the palace to the courtyard below. The horrible deed was done but the wretch was not dead. Then the Emperor commanded the shattered body of the dying man to be dragged up the stairs again by the hair and to be flung once more to the ground.[7]

[Footnote 7: J.T. Wheeler, IV, I, 139, 140; Noer, I, 143, 144.]

I have related this horrible incident in order to give Akbar’s picture with the utmost possible faithfulness and without idealization. Akbar was a rough, strong—nerved man, who was seldom angry but whose wrath when once aroused was fearful. It is a blemish on his character that in some cases he permitted himself to be carried away to such cruel death sentences, but we must not forget that he was then dealing with the punishment of particularly desperate criminals, and that such severe judgments had always been considered in the Orient to be righteous and sensible. Not only in the Orient unfortunately,–even in Europe 200 years after Akbar’s time tortures and the rack were applied at the behest of courts of law.

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