The real manifestation of the monarchy theory of the Mughals took place during the reign of Emperor Akbar. Akbar’s successor Jahangir followed the
same principle of kingship propounded by him to a considerable extent . Shah Jahan gradually started withdrawing from Akbar’s policy. Shah Jahan’s successor Aurangzeb abandoned this policy and followed a purely Islamic ideal of kingship. The state ideology of the Mughals was formulated by Emperor Akbar’s best friend and ideological associate Abul Fazl. According to scholars, it was influenced by the Timurid structure of the monarchy and the ideas of the famous Iranian Sufi Shihabuddin Suhrawardy (died 1191 AD). According to Shihabuddin, there is a divine radiance (Far-e-Izadi) in every person, but only the highest person can be the leader of his era. This ideology was also at the core of the kingship theory propounded by Abul Fazl.
The elements that formed the Mughal ideal of kingship were as follows:-
1. Divine Principle of Rajapad- All the Mughal emperors believed in the divine principle of Rajapad. He was of the view that this position was conferred on a particular person by the supreme power. The historians of the Mughal court tried to clarify on the basis of many evidences that the power of the Mughal emperors was directly received from God. A legend narrated by him states that the Mongol queen Alankua was impregnated by a ray of the sun while resting in her camp. The child she gave birth to was influenced by divine light. This light was passed on from generation to generation.
Explaining the divine principle of kingship, Abul Fazl wrote, “The king is much more than an ordinary human being; He is the representative of God on earth, the form of God, and he receives the divine gift of wisdom and discretion in greater quantities than an ordinary man. According to him, “state-power is the light emanating from God and the ray emanating from the sun.” Due to this principle of kingship, the Mughal emperor considered himself to be the representative of God on earth. Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb etc. all assumed the title of ‘Jill-e-Ilahi’ i.e. ‘Shadow of God’. This divine principle of kingship increased the power of the Mughal emperors and instilled in the general public the feelings of respect and reverence for the position of the emperor.
2. Communication of the idea of divine principle through pictures- It is noteworthy that the pictures to be painted with the details of the chronicles made an important contribution in the communication of these ideas. These pictures had a lasting effect on the mind and mind of the beholders. From the 17th century, Mughal artists began to depict emperors with auras. He saw these halos symbolizing divine light in European paintings of Jesus and the Virgin Mary.
3. Separation in religion and politics– An attempt was made to establish a separation between religion and politics in the Mughal monarchy theory. Akbar did not like the undue interference of the Ulema class in politics. He wanted to eliminate the influence of the Ulema class and conduct his government policy on the basis of people-friendly principles. For this purpose, he announced the ‘Nirbhut Announcement’ (Mahzar) in September 1579. According to this declaration, the emperor was accepted as the supreme authority to make final decisions in the controversial issues arising out of the interpretation of the Quran.
4. Following the policy of sulh-i-kul- The policy of sulh-i-kul had an important place among the elements that formed the Mughal ideal of kingship. Accepting the secular form of the state and following the policy of religious tolerance was the most important feature of the Mughal theory of kingship. According to Abul Fazl, the ideal of sulh-i-kul (complete peace) was the cornerstone of enlightened governance. In Sulh-i-Kul all religions and sects had freedom of expression; The only condition was that they would neither harm the monarchy nor fight among themselves. Apart from Aurangzeb, almost all the Mughal emperors were religiously liberal and tolerant, so they violated the narrow Islamic principle of royalty and granted equal rights to their Hindu and Muslim subjects. Akbar was the first Muslim ruler, The one who renounced the distinctions of religion and caste and treated all his subjects equally and fairly. He was of the view that the ruler should be equally tolerant towards every religion and caste.
5. Implementation of the ideal of Sulh-e-Kul through state policies– The Mughal rulers implemented the ideal of Sulh-e-Kul through state policies . The Mughals gave it a mixed form by including all the nobles like Irani, Turani, Afghani, Rajput, Deccan etc. in their aristocracy (Amir class). While conferring all these posts and awards, not their caste or religion, but their service and loyalty to the king were kept in mind. Akbar proved that his rule was not based on religious bias by undertaking pilgrimage in 1563 AD and abolishing Jaziya in 1564 AD. The officers of the empire were also given clear instructions to follow the rules of ‘Sulh-i-Kul’ in administration.
Grants were provided by all the Mughal emperors for the maintenance and construction of places of worship. Although Jaziya was again imposed on non-Muslim subjects during the reign of Aurangzeb, it is known from contemporary sources that if the temples were destroyed during war times during the reign of Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb, they would have to be repaired later. Grants were issued for
6. Just Sovereignty as a Social Contract – According to Abul Fazl, sovereignty was a social contract between the king and the subjects. The emperor protected the four essences of his subjects – life (jana), wealth (maal), respect (namas) and trust (din) and in return he demanded obedience from the subjects and a share in the resources. Only the just sovereign would have been able to honor these covenants with power and divine guidance. Akbar thought that a king or ruler is the greatest well-wisher and protector of his subjects. He should be just, fair and generous; One should consider his subjects like his own children and should strive for the betterment of the people every moment. Akbar’s successors also kept this principle of public interest as the main basis of their monarchical ideas.
7. Visual representation of the idea of justice through symbols– Many symbols were created to represent the idea of justice in a visual form. The idea of justice was considered the best virtue in the Mughal monarchy. The lion and the goat or cow, sitting peacefully clinging to each other, was the most popular symbol used by artists. Its purpose was to show the state as a region where the weak and the strong could all live peacefully in mutual harmony. In the court scenes of the illustrated ‘Badshahnama’, this symbol is depicted in a niche built just below the emperor’s throne. Undoubtedly, the monarchy theory of the Mughals was more liberal and fair than the monarchy theory of the earlier Muslim rulers.