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An Ecumenical Emperor of India

November 10, 2012  by: Paulose  Points: 15   Category: Social Studies    Views: 625

Akbar the Great almost brought the Indian continent under one rule. He brought ecomenism in India. He wanted to live in peace. His efforts for ecumenism are greatly laudable. His efforts are a great lesson to the modern world.


In the Indian history, after Ashoka the Great, who brought the “Dhamma” of peaceful life to the greater India, it was Akbar the Great who showed a way for religious tolerance and paved way for ecumenism among religions. He was totally devoted to God and respected he best out of every religion. For him God was a Supreme Almighty who created everything and the real worship was a peaceful life of harmonious living. He wished that everyone should be free in his worship. This spirit of secularism lead Akbar to find Din-I-Ilahi, a new way of reaching God.

Din-I-Ilahi an attempt for ecumenism

Akbar, who always offered a cordial welcome to the men of intellect, believed that intellect has no caste or other differences. He insisted reaching God through knowledge. Akbar was born in the age of Kabir and Nanak who worked for religious harmony in India. The great insight of the emperor made him to be very tolerant towards all religions. Akbar felt that religion was a great force that can make people live in peace.

Din-I-Ilahi an amalgamation of all religions

1) Although there were many religious sects in the country, he believed his Din-I-Ilahi, a syncretic religious doctrine propounded by Akbar in the year 1582, would be a solution to all the religious problems.

2) Buddhism which was born in India in the sixth century BC as a new avatar of Hinduism was almost extinct in the country during the time of Akbar. But it had great influence throughout the country.

3) Jainism which was also born in India around the same time as an alternative to Hinduism thrived in India and was active during the period of Akbar.

4) Zoroastrianism founded in Persia in the sixth century BC had great influence in Akbar as he was apparently disillusioned with orthodox Islam.

5) Christianity, although had been alive in the south west part of India even before it reached most of the European countries, came to be propagated only after the arrival of the Portuguese in the beginning of 15th century, just during the period of Akbar.

6) Akbar was quite aware of the wars going on in Europe in the name of religions. He was aware of the Protestant Reformation that was going on in the west.

7) All his personal experiences convinced Akbar to believe that bringing about religious unity within his empire by promulgating the Din-i-Ilahi (divine faith), an eclectic creed derived from Islam, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, and Christianity, would bring peace and harmony on this earth.

Akbar, the ecumenical emperor of India, had great vision on all religions. His tolerant tendencies and tolerant activities are great lessons to the modern world, torn in ideologies. It is sad that even today for the Christian West, Islam is the religion of the sword and for Muslims, the Christian West is the army of the Crusades.


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