Akbar’s Religious Policy
Akbar started as an orthodox Muslim and then he adopted an accommodative approach due to the influence of Sufism. He was keen to learn the doctrines of all religions and propagated the philosophy of Sulh-i-Kul, which means peace to all.
Badauni, a contemporary author, who did not like Akbar’s inter-religious interests, accused him of forsaking Islam.
Akbar established a hall of worship called Ibadat Khana, where initially Muslim clerics gathered to discuss the issues related to spirituality.
Later he invited Christians, Zoroastrians, Hindus, Jains, and even atheists to discussions. In 1582, he discontinued the debates in the Ibadat Khana as it led to bitterness among different religions. However, he did not give up his attempt to know the Truth.
Akbar discussed personally with the leading lights of different religions like Purushotam and Devi (Hinduism), Meherji Rana (Zoroastrianism), the Portuguese Aquaviva, Monserrate (Christianity), and Hira Vijaya Suri (Jainism) to ascertain the Truth.
Because of the discussions, he felt that behind the multiplicity of names, there was but one God. The exact word used by Akbar and Badauni to illustrate the philosophy of Akbar is Tauhid-i-Ilahi namely Din Ilahi. Tauhid-i-Ilahi literally meant divine monotheism.
It can be considered a Sufistic order but not a new religion. He had become a Pir (Sufi Guru) who enrolled Murids (Sufi disciples) who would follow a set pattern of rules ascribed by the Guru. Thousands of disciples enrolled as his disciples.
Akbar’s intention was to establish a state based on the concept of secular principles, equal tolerance, and respect for all sections irrespective of their religious beliefs. He set up a big translation department for translating works in Sanskrit, Arabic, Greek, etc, into Persian.
The Ramayana, Mahabharata, the Atharva Veda, the Bible, and the Quran were translated into Persian. The Din Ilahi ceased to exist after Akbar.