BLTC Press Titles

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Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man

Friedrich Schiller

Mortal Coils

Aldous Huxley

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite

The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas

Akbar, emperor of India

by Richard Garbe



Akbar Directing the Tying-up of a Wild Elephant Frontispiece.

Akbar, Emperor of India, facing p. 4

Mausoleum of Akbar's Father, Humayun, " p. 12

View of Fathpur, " p. 20

Akbar's Grave, " p. 28

Mausoleum of Akbar at Sikandra, " p. 40

The Chakra, the Indian Emblem of Empire, p. 42


THE student of India who would at the same time be an historian, discovers to his sorrow that the land of his researches is lamentably poor in historical sources. And if within the realm of historical investigation, a more seductive charm lies for him in the analysis of great personalities than in ascertaining the course of historical development, then verily may he look about in vain for such personalities in the antiquity and middle ages of India. Not that the princely thrones were wanting in great men in ancient India, for we find abundant traces of them in Hindu folk-lore and poetry, but these sources do not extend to establishing the realistic element in details and furnishing life-like portraits of the men themselves. That the Hindu has ever been but little interested in historical matters is a generally recognized fact. Religious and philosophical speculations, dreams of other worlds, of previous and future existences, have claimed the attention of thoughtful minds to a much greater degree than has historical reality. The misty myth-woven veil which hangs over persons and events of earlier times, vanishes at the beginning of the modern era which in India starts with the Mohammedan conquest, for henceforth the history of India is written by foreigners. Now we meet with men who take a decisive part in the fate of India, and they appear as

*This essay is an enlarged form of an address delivered on the occasion of the birthday of King Wilhelm II of Wiirttemberg, on February 25, 1909.

When we wish to understand a personality we are in the habit of ascertaining the inherited characteristics, and investigating the influences exercised upon it by religion, family, environment, education, youthful impressions, experience, and so forth. Most men are easily comprehensible as the products of these factors. The more independent of all such influences, or the more in opposition to them, a personality develops, the more attractive and interesting will it appear to us. At the first glance it looks as if the Emperor Akbar had developed his entire character from himself and by his own efforts in total independence of all influences which in other cases are thought to determine the character and nature of a man. A Mohammedan, a Mongol, a descendant of the monster Timur, the son of a weak incapable father, born in exile, called when but a lad to the government of a disintegrated and almost annihilated realm in the India of the sixteenth century,—which means in an age of perfidy, treachery, avarice, and selfseeking,—Akbar appears before us as a noble man, susceptible to all grand and beautiful impressions, conscientious, unprejudiced, and energetic, who knew how to bring peace and order out of the confusion of the times, who throughout his reign desired the furtherance of his subjects' and not of his own interest, who while increasing the privileges of the Mohammedans, not only also declared equality of rights for the Hindus but even actualized that equality, who in every conceivable way sought to conciliate his subunfairly in many places, but declares at the bottom of page 135, "The reign of Akbar is one of the most important in the history of India; it is one of the most important in the history of the world") ; Mountstuart Elphinstone, History of India, the Hindu and Mahometan Periods, with notes and additions by E. B. Cowell, 9th ed., London, 1905; G. B. Malleson, Akbar and the Rise of the Mughal Empire, Oxford, 1890 (in W. W. Hunter's Rulers of India) ; A. Miiller, Der Islam im Morgen- und Abendland, Vol. II, Berlin, 1887; but especially Count F. A. von Noer, Kaiser Akbar, ein Versuch iiber die Geschichte Indiens im sechzehnten lahrhundert, Vol. I, Leyden, 1880; Vol. II, revised from the author's manuscript by Dr. Gustav von Buchwald, Leyden, 1885. In the preface to this work the original sources are listed and described; compare also M. Elphinstone, pp. 536, 537, note 45.

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