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The next stage in the development of the religious views of Akbar came in 1581 when he promulgated the Din-i-Ilahi or Tauhid-i-Ilahi. Its object was to establish National Religion which would be acceptable to the Hindus and Muslims alike. Akbar became the spiritual guide of the nation and saw in the performance of that duty a means of pleasing God.
Certain ceremonials of the Din-i-ilahi were prescribed. There were four grades of the followers of Din-i-Ilahi. Those grades entailed readiness to sacrifice for the Emperor Property, life, honour and religious. Whoever sacrificed all the four possessed the four degrees and whoever sacrificed one of the four, possessed only one degree.
Badaoni tells us that “After the promulgation of Din-i-Ilahi, Akbar issued many ordinances which were against Islam” but no reliance can be placed upon the views of Badaoni. Most of his information was based on hearsay. He criticized Akbar because he was dissatisfied with his own promotion. He was jealous of the rise of Abul Fazal and Faizi. His frustration made him the bitter enemy of Akbar and his friends.
The view of V. A. Smith is that “The organisation of the adherents of Din-i-Ilahi was that of an Order and not a church. The creed inculcated monotheism. His conclusion is that the Din-i-llahi was the outcome of his ridiculous vanity, a monstrous growth of unrestrained autocracy.”
Dr. lswari Prasad says that “The Din-i-llahi was an electric pantheism containing the good points of all religions. Its basis was rational. It upheld no dogma and recognised no Gods or Prophets. The chief exponent of Din-i-llahi was Akbar himself.” The view of S. R. Sharma is that “The Din-i-llahi was the crowning expression of the idealism of Akbar. It was nothing more than a tentative experiment in the process of fundamental synthesis. It was never forced upon any man.”
Dr. R.P. Tripathi says that “The Din-i-llahi was not a religion and Akbar never intended to establish a Church. Akbar knew that his position might induce a large number of men to become the followers of Din-i-llahi and he was very strict in admitting men into it. In spite of these restrictions, a number of men might have got themselves enlisted with no higher motives than those of hope and fear.
Those selfish men found that Akbar was a very shrewd man. No compulsion was used or bribes given to convert a person to Din-i-llahi. There is not a single instance to show that refusal to join Din-i-Uahi lowered or admission into it raised the official status of a person. Only a few courtiers of Akbar became the followers of Din-i-llahi.”
Dr. R, P. Tripathi further says that Akbar wanted to bring together men who were willing to submit to his spiritual guidance and infuse into them his own catholic spirit and principles of action this he expected to do by his personal example and not through coercion or cajoling.
Akbar had no intention to perpetuate Din-i-llahi by nominathilf and propagate it. With his own position it would not have been difficult for Akbar to have a large number of followers with the death of Akbar disappeared the Din-i-llahi. Jahangir tried for some time to follow the example of his father, initiate disciples and bestow Shast and his picture.
The view of Malleson G.B. is that “The Din-i-llahi was, by no means, a new religion or a new sect. At the most, it was an order whose purpose perhaps was veneration for Akbar. So far as Akbar was concerned, the Din-i-llahi was an “earnest and intense endavour in search of a formula which would satisfy all but hurt none and contained all that was good and true and beautiful in the great faiths of the world.”
“It is difficult to define Din-i-llahi. It may be that Akbar’s desire was that his person should be the symbol of the unity he sought to build up among his subjects. He believed that a king was the shadow of God. However, Din-i-llahi cannot, in any sense be called a religion. It had no holy book or books, no priests, no ceremonies and no religious dogmas or beliefs.
In all probability, Akbar had in mind the removal of those conditions under which a man like Mulla Mohammad Yazdi could fan the fire of fanaticism against his authority. Akbar wanted to rally around him a number of adherents who would place loyalty to the throne even above honour, property, life and religion.
An obvious refutation of the allegation that Akbar founded a new religion is to be found in the fact that even after 1583, he continued to have religious discussions, patronize leaders of all faiths and summon two more Jesuit missions from Goa.