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Chronicles Of The Chronicler: Abul Fazal And ‘His’ Akbarnama. Among them, however, Shaykh Abul Fazl occupied a place of distinction and has left his mark on the traditions of historical wrings in medieval India. Liberal in his religio-political outlook, cosmopolitan in his dealings with various religious communities of India, seasoned as a diplomat and versatile as a scholar, he occupies a prominent place in history of medieval political thought. Abul Fazl was not only one of the eminent court poets of Akbar, but was also a favourite courtier and trusted secretary of Akbar.
In fact Abul Fazl may be regarded as a pioneer in the field of collection and utilization of statistical data for the purpose of historical study. Abul Fazl was perhaps the most gifted historians of India. The detailed information in it is related generally to the fields of battle, tactics employed therein, persons in command of forces.
At times, there are brief notices on the history of other countries or territories. Occasionally, too, there are genealogical data of persons concerned with events.
The Ain-I Akbarnnama is divided into five books. The first of these deals with the Imperial establishment. Book II deals with the institution of the army, its various divisions, the rules of payment, etc. Book IV is mainly concerned with the various concepts of Hindus- astronomical, medicinal, philosophical, etc and their fzzl and manners.
Book V consists of a chapter comprising the wise sayings of Akbar, a conclusion and a akbaenama autobiographical sketch of Abdul Fazl. It is in the Ain, that Abul Fazl fully utilizes his potential as a compiler and editor. The whole of Akbarnamabeing circumscribed by its own character, generally lacks in incidental reference to men and manners outside the narration of political events centred around the person, and the court of Akbar.
His letters, known as Ruqqat-i-Abul Fazl and Mukhtabat-I-Allami sheds lights on his views about a number of social and religious matters, his appreciation of religious attitudes and above all his deep humanism. If the dominant note of his political chronicles is political expediency, his letters have a thoroughly humanistic approach. It is therefore, necessary to study the ancestral background of Abul Fazl. The family continued to live in Siwistan till the close of the fifteenth century.
Later Shaikh Khizr, father of shaikh Mubarak, left Siwistan, urged by a desire to meet the saints and ulema of India. Mubarak displayed unusual intelligence at an early age. By the time he was fourteen fazo knew many of the sciences, taught then at the madrasas by heart. But Abul Fazl baul not say anything about his mother.
Abul Fazal: Author of Akbarnama
Abul Fazl was born on Muharam 6, A. He was endowed with a prodigious memory. Even at the age of a little over one year he spoke fluently. His education began with Arabic.
At the age of five, he could both read and write without any difficulty.
The Akbarnama Of Abul Fazl Vol. 1
Thereafter, his father started teaching him a little of every branch of traditional sciences Manqulat but his brilliant mind could not appreciate prolonged adherence to conventional learning. Shaikh Mubarak then made him commit to memory the essential elements of every branch of learning.
At the age of fifteen, he was well ffazl with rational and traditional sciences Maqulat and Manqulat. The pursuit of learning had grown into a passion with him. Through out his life, he eagerly and sincerely yearned to study the problems of different religious and did not rely upon any preconceived notion and accepted postulates. Muhamad bin al-Hanafiya was the first to claim that position. Shaikh Mubarak who had subscribed to the mahdavi ideology faz, to suffer in the hands of the orthodox ulemas.
Another very important current of religious thought which considerably influenced the mind of Shaikh Mubarak and his son Abul Fazal was the Nuqtawi Movement.
The Nuqtawis were severely punished on account of their liberal views. It appears that these prosecuted Nutawi scholars succeeded in wining over the sympathies of Emperor Akbar and Abul Fazl. Abul Fazal, like his father also came into several conflicts with the ulemas. Later on the Ulemas planned to get Mubarak and Abul Fazl murdered. Abul Fazl has given pathetic details of the exile of his family, its trials and tribulations. The Ibadat Khana was constructed at the order of Akbar in In the first place, they deserve special attention as they determined his selection of important facts of history.
In the second, they affected the treatment of subject matters. He himself was a genuinely religious person as the Munajat shows. But religion was for him, a matter of inner spiritual discipline rather than outer ecclesiastical formality. He could not help being influenced by those contemporary trends of thought which aimed at working out a common religious outlook. Abul Fazl had studied by his fifteenth year all the Muslim religious sciences along with Zkbarnama thought and mysticism.
To him god is the creator and the sole cause of all existence. He is the eternal spirit. Abul Fazl believed that comprehension of divine reality was beyond the capacity of man. It is on his account of his deep devotional spirit that he came to be known as Abul Wahdat. He also felt that formal religion and adherence to its ritualistic spirit did not lead to the salvation of man. He interpreted religion as a service to man and had a tolerant and aknarnama attitude towards other religions.
At the Ibadatkhana he came into contact with Hindu philosophers like Madhusudan, RamTirth and others. All this reveal his reverence towards other religions. In his works he refers to Muslim mystics like Hafiz, Rumi, Jami, whose teachings inspired him.
Taken as a whole he had a firm and aobarnama faith in god. It can be explained with reference to three fundamental postulates: He did not believe completely in a classless society. He was an aristocrat to his fingertips and elitist in approach to many matters Abul Fazl gives the following classifications of the society: He laid great emphasis on their loyalty to the king.
Abul Fazal: Author of Akbarnama
His attempt to remove social tensions fazll an attitude which emphasized the ffazl cultural identity between Hindus and Muslims. He was opposed to orthodoxy in any form as it prevented the development of society. He did not like the idea of slavery.
His deep faith in the role of the state as an instrument for social welfare is a very important aspect of his social outlook.
It was the perfect combination of these factors that led to the creation of marvelous akbarhama like the Akbarnama and Ain-i-Akbari. One very important question that comes up in this context is why the Akbarnama was written in the first place.
Historical works were read out to him. Presence of a considerably large number of historians created xbul high level for historical discussions and created in the emperor a desire to get his skbarnama and reign immortalized by a capable historian. When he decided to get the history of his reign compiled, he put Abul Akbarnams in sole charge of the task.
While several hands were associated with the collection of the abuo only one hand was to interpret it. But Akbar did not impose any restriction as regards the style.
Akbar himself took keen personal abu, in the day to day proceedings of the work. He declared that collected data should be read out in royal hearing. Abul Fazl takes his readers to the laboratory of history and explains the making of Akbarnama. First stage in the making of the epic was the laborious a,barnama of records and events. His source material consisted of accounts written by those who were eye witnesses to them. The Akhbarat-i-darbar-i-maula or the court bulletins were also consulted.
His next step was the imperial search of evidence. He inquired from the principal officers, grandees, well informed dignitaries of the royal family. His final step was the testing of evidence and marshalling of facts.
Abul Fazl repeatedly revised his creation to give it literary grace. Thus he labored hard for seven years in completing the Akbarnama. In fact the role of Abul Fazl as a historian has been the subject of controversy among scholars. This plagiaristic trait in him has been noticed by Jarret. While dealing with the extraordinary qualities of Akbar he fails to listen to the voice of reason.
The apostle of reason appears to have fallen a victim to credulity and superstition. Similarly the reforms spread over a long time do not find a place in Akbarnama. Many examples may be quoted where Abul Fazl fails his duty as a historian. The net result is that, the life of the age in the broader sense do not figure in the pages of Akbarnama.
Since the objective of this paper is to trace the outlook of Abul Fazl which formulated in the creation of Akbarnama, it is important to note that Abul Fazl was not an independent historian. Thus Akbarnama is definitely not an impartial, unbiased creation of Abul Fazl.
It contains the interpretation of the life and times of Akbar in the way Akbar wanted it to be interpreted. But above all these, Akbarnama and Ain continue to be one of the brightest examples in the genre of memoirs in medieval historiography.