Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Jodha Akbar

Hritik Roshan? as The Mughal Emperor Akbar, and Aishwarya Rai as Jodha Bai.
Stills from the Hindi movie Jodha Akbar.

Though a Muslim Emperor, Akbar (the Great), who was extremely tolerant for his time, wanted to unite the various faiths and peoples within his extensive empire. He married a Hindu princess, Jodha Bai, and invited Sunni's, Shias, Christians, Jains and Hindus to debate religious issues at his court. After hearing their arguments, he decided that no one religion has a monopoly on truth. Then he created his own syncretist religion.

Akbar was a devotee of the Sufi Saint Salim Chisti, one of a long line of pirs in a branch of Sufism particularly renowned for it's tolerance, and emphasis on love as the true essence of religion. To this day, both Muslims and Hindus worship at many of the Chisti Shrines.

Unable to produce a male heir, Akbar walked barefoot to meet with the saint to ask for a blessing so that he could have a son. Akbar subsequently had three sons. Later he built his palace of Fatehpur Sikri, and a beautiful marble tomb for Salim Chisti, on the site of the saint's encampment.
Here is a link to a beautiful sufi song:

Akbar was an exceptional patron of the arts. Under his reign, Indian miniature painting reached a high point, combining Islamic decorative bravura with Hindu genius for combining rich, bright colours.

Akbar presiding over interfaith discussions.

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