India is the mother of all. For millennia, the Indians were vanguards of metaphysics, philosophy, and mysticism. Their epic poetry guided the mind of man to new heights. India has inspired all of Asia and influenced western antiquity, the extent to which we have yet to fully grasp. India is polytheistic at its core, yet Islam has played an important role. Islam arrived over time through a series of successive invasions, which left majestic monuments scattered throughout the country, the most magnificent being the most recent.
During the 15th century, the Great Mughals, as they called themselves, descended from the slopes of the Afghan plateau and spread throughout the Indian plain. They succeeded in unifying India well before the English. The founder of this dynasty, Babur, despite establishing one of the world’s greatest empires, forever missed his native Fergana. Akbar, the third of the dynasty, is one of my heroes.
He came to the throne when he was 12 years old, succeeding his father Humayun, who died after falling from the ladder in his library. When he turned 18, Akbar had experienced quite enough of his rather authoritarian regent, and so he threw him out of the widow. Upon arriving in the courtyard he realized the regent was still alive, so he carried him back up the stairs and once again threw him from the window. Akbar fought many of the Hindu princes of Rajasthan, but it was during the siege of Chittorgarh that he would truly leave him mark.
Upon seeing the Rajputs open the door of their fortress, in full evening dress and covered in jewels, Akbar threw himself against their army, fighting through every last one of them. When he entered the city, he found Rajput women and children, along with the city’s treasure, burning atop monstrous funeral pyres.
Following this, Akbar decided against further war and sought to assimilate the Rajputs in order to end confessional conflict. He soon married one of their princesses. In his newly constructed palace of pink limestone which stood prominently above the new and magical capital of Fatehpur Sikri he called together all of the religious leaders. Day after day, night after night he tried to convince those in his presence to unify their religions, on the premise that they were all worshiping the same god. Akbar, the Great Mughal, was a visionary. Unfortunately, these various prelates and other religious leaders were not, and a unifying accord was never reached. It was a fatal blow to the Akbar’s vision of religious synthesis, and a loss for the cause of human progress.