The Mughal Empire is one of the most revered empires in the history of India. Not only did it have a deep imprint on Indian history, but also has a great influence in modern times, in forms of cuisine, culture, heritage as well as archaic, royal and elegant architecture. It will not be wrong to suggest that the Mughals governed the land for about two centuries, and in the timeline, we witness a lineage of emperors who though shared the same blood, but had their distinct ideologies that at times were contradicting each other.
Among the significant Mughal emperors were Akbar and Shahjahan who in their respective eras made several contributions and conquests that are worthy to note.
Akbar vs Shahjahan
The main difference between Akbar and Shahjahan is that Akbar was the Grandfather of Shahjahan and the son of Humayun. While Shahjahan was the offspring of Akbar’s son Jehangir or Alamgir. Akbar assumed the throne in the year 1556 to 1605 while Shahjahan ruled from the year 1528 to 1658.
Akbar has won hearts with his religious tolerance and radical philosophy. He maintained a cordial relationship with the neighbouring estates and expanded his empire with coexistence, especially with the Rajputs. He even married the Rajput princess Jodha Bai, and admitted Man Singh as his close comarade and advisor.
Shahjahan on the other hand contributed to beautifying the landscape with architectural sophistication. He built several monuments that are important heritage sites of India. Despite his attempts of Southern Expansion of his empire, he failed and also like Akbar he combated the Rajputs. Also throughout his reign experienced several rebellions against himself.
Comparison Table Between Akbar and Shahjahan
|Parameters of Comparison||Akbar||Shahjahan|
|Years of Rule||Ruled from the year 1556 to 1605.||Ruled from the year 1628 to 1658.|
|Battles Fought||He fought in the Battle of Haldighati, Second Battle of Panipat, Battle of Thanesar, Battle of Tughlaqabad, and Sieges of Ranthambhor and Chittorgarh.||The only know battle that Shahjahan fought was the Battle of Kartarpur apart from resisting the innumerable rebellions and uprising against him.|
|Father||He was the son of Humayun.||He was the son of Jehangir.|
|Monuments Built||Akbar built monuments like Buland Darwaza, Allahabad Fort, and Agra Fort,||He is known for building the Taj Mahal, Red Fort, Jama Masjid (Delhi as well as in Agra), Moti Masjid, and Wazir Khan mosque.|
|Rule and Reforms||He abolished the Jizya Tax, divided his empire into 15 provinces or Subas, and also introduced the Kankut system.||Military machinery was larger than that of Akbar. Architectural enhancement was witnessed. Export trade with the Europeans was established|
|Succeeded by||He was succeeded by Jehangir.||He was succeeded by Aurangzeb|
Who was Akbar?
Jalal-Uddin Mohammad Akbar is undoubtedly an important emperor in Indian history. He is often reiterated as Akbar the Great by several historians for the way he governed the land. Not only did he bring immense wealth and expansion, but he also brought prosperity. Especially by his warm treatment and coexistence with the Rajputs. He proclaimed the throne at the young age of 13 in the year 1556.
Akbar was a wise and benevolent ruler whose judgements were sound and thus his rule is known as the golden rule. Among his significant reforms was his abolition of the Jizya tax. His reign saw a growth of literature, art and intellect as he would invite holy men, poets, artists, and hold intellectual discussions. Therefore this laid the founding block of Akbar’s Din-e-illahi which was a religious philosophy coined by him.
More than 24,000 volumes of written material were compiled by him in the grand library in languages like Persian, hundi, Urdu, Arabic, Kashmiri, Latin and Greek. His contributions also count the construction of artistic monuments that are flocked by visitors even now.
Who was Shahjahan?
Shahjahan or Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Khurram was the son of Jehangir and was the fifth Mughal emperor, famous as the Romantic, but alongside that, he was not an excessive pleasure-seeking and self-indulgent emperor. He ascended the throne in the year 1526. He was an ardent and strict judge who ensured the well being of his subjects.
As an emperor, he brought the use of the Hindi language while speaking the same himself. In his rule, he paved way for export trade with the Europeans thus flourishing the finances of the empire. He also attempted to begin the southern expansion multiple times, and not only that, he even had a cold attitude towards the Rajputs, unlike Akbar. But the most significant idea of his rule was the architectural development that took place, for which he assumed the title of builder emperor in history.
His famous construction includes The Taj Mahal, Moti Masjid, Jama Masjid of both Delhi and Agra along others.
Main Differences Between Akbar and Shahjahan
- Akbar ruled from the year 1556 to 1605 while Shahjahan Ruled from 1626 to 1656
- Akbar fought in the Battle of Haldighati, Second Battle of Panipat, Battle of Thanesar, Battle of Tughlaqabad, and Sieges of Ranthambhor and Chittorgarh while Shahjahan fought the Battle of Kartarpur apart from resisting the innumerable rebellions and uprising against him.
- Akbar was the son of Humayun, while Shahjahan was the son of Jehangir.
- Akbar built monuments like Buland Darwaza, Allahabad Fort, and Agra Fort, while Shahjahan is known for building the Taj Mahal, Red Fort, Jama Masjid (Delhi as well as in Agra), Moti Masjid, and Wazir Khan mosque.
- Akbar abolished the Jizya Tax, divided his empire into 15 provinces or Subas, and also introduced the Kankut system. Whereas Shahjahan expanded the military which was larger than that of Akbar. Architectural enhancement was also witnessed in Shahjahan’s reign.
- Akbar was succeeded by Jehangir while Aurangzeb succeeded Shahjahan.
Both the rulers were related to each other by being of the Mughal lineage and were able emperors in their own way. When Akbar flourished the literary landscape, Shahjahan enhanced the Mughal architecture. Akbar’s was a period of prosperity while Shahjan witnessed several unrests. Akbar maintained a diplomatic relationship with the Rajputs, unlike Shahjan who fought against them.