The Natural HR Theory by Dr IVNS Raju

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VI

MEANWHILE, the young emperor was called to active efforts in the field. The surrender of Gwalior and the annexation of Jaunpur had strengthened Akbar’s frontiers : he was now determined to undertake the conquest of Malwa, a kingdom ruled over by a lover of wine and song and music, Baz Bahadur; and Maham Anaga’s son, Adham Khan, was put in command of the expedition. Baz Bahadur’s favourite wife, Rupmati, was famous for her charm and beauty. Their loves have been celebrated in song, and are the theme of many an Indian painting. We see them riding together among the hills by moonlight, or resting by the mountain streams. Before the battle which decided his fate, Baz Bahadur had given commands, according to Indian custom, that in the event of his defeat the lovely Rupmati should be killed with his other wives and concubines, so that they should not fall into his enemies’ hands. He was defeated. Just as the victorious troops entered, Rupati was stabbed but still lived. Adham Khan sent to search for her, and tried to take her for his own, but she poisoned herself to escape him. Adham Khan also kept bac the women and the spoils he had captured, instead of sending them to court, and massacred the defeated population with a bloodthirsty delight.

Akbar was enraged, and took swift measures. Leaving Agra in haste, he surprised the delinquent general, who behave ‘like a bewildered moth’ and humbly prostrated himself. His mother, Maham Anaga, hurried after Akbar to smooth matters over, and succeeded for the moment. She scolded her son and forced him to make reparation. But Adham Khan was incorrigible. He bribed his mother’s servants to let him steal two special beauties from the harem of Baz Bahadur who had passed into Akbar’s harem, thinking that in the bustle of departure it would not be noticed. But he was found out, and the women were sent for by Akbar. Maham, afraid that if they came before the emperor her son’s treachery would be disclosed, had them both put secretly to death. It speaks much for this woman’s extraordinary plausibility and her ascendancy over Akbar that he condoned this cruel murder, though perhaps he never forgot it.

Image:www.bridgemanart.com

On the way home a tigress with five cubs came out of the jungle in the path of the royal cavalcade. Akbar at once encountered it alone, and while his escort turned pale and sweated with apprehension, killed it with a single blow of his sword.

At this time Akbar began a habit of disguising himself from time to time and mixing with his subjects in order to hear their opinion of things. On one such occasion, when there was great assemblage of pilgrims and others near Agra, he went among the crowd by night ‘contemplating humanity’, and was recognized by a vagabond. Instantly distorting his features and squiting with his eyes, he completely changed his appearance : the vagabond’s surmise was discredited, and the emperor quietly stole away.

These nocturnal adventures were in keeping with Akbar’s boundless curiosity. But it was something more than curiosity. Surrounded by flatterers and intriguers, he could not expect to know the truth unless he sought it out for himself. He was not yet twenty; but he meant to rule, and in order to rule wisely, he must understand the condition of the people. In spite of his outward devotion to sport and hunting, it is clear that he was thinking deeply and paid far more attention to state affairs than he let his courtiers know. Maham Anaga still regarded herself as virtual prime minister. But in 1561 she and her party received a severe check.

Shams ud-Din Khan arrived from Kabul and was given control of political, financial, and military affairs. Maham was superseded. At the same time her brutal son, Adham Khan, was recalled from the government of Malwa. Apparently Akbar wished to reform him and to have him under his eye. But he had not been long in Agra when he surpassed, in a supreme outrage, all his former audacities. On a day in May 1561 Akbar was asleep in his harem, adjoining the hall where the new prime minister, Shams ud-Din, was engaged in public business with other officials. To them strode in Adham Khan with a gang behind him : heedless of their courtesies, he advanced with loud and insolent threats. Then he signed to two of his followers : they set upon Shams ud-Din with their swords : he ran out, was again struck, and fell dead. The noise roused Akbar. Already Adham Khan was at Akbar’s door, bent on a greater murder; but the door was bolted and guarded. Akbar had been told of what had happened, and went out by another way. He saw the blood-stained corpse.

The two met on the terrace. Adham Khan tried to seize the emperor’s sword, but Akbar felled him with his fist. The, terrible in his rage, he ordered his men to bind and take up the senseless miscreant and throw him from the terrace. But the men were timid, and fear made them half-hearted in the business. Adham Khan was found below, still breathing. He was carried up and again flung headlong; his neck was broken and his brains scattered.

Akbar retired to his harem. Maham Anaga, hearing that her son had committed an outrage and had been imprisoned, rose terrified from a sick-bed and came in supplication to the emperor. Akbar spoke briefly : “Adham Khan killed our minister; we have punished him.’ The wretched woman still did not know that her son was dead. She could only murmur, ‘You did well.’ A litter after, she learnt the truth. ‘How was he killed?” she asked. ‘We don’t know,” they answered ‘but there is the mark of a mace on his face.” The mace was Akbar’s fist. Maham did not dare to complain openly, but ‘inwardly she was wounded by a thousand deadly blows.’ She shut herself up and wept; her illness grew worse, and in six weeks she was dead. Akbar was free at last to govern in reality.

 

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