This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Akbar’s Miraculous Touch And His Supernatural Abilities

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Pushkal Shivam:

A companion of one Mullah Tarson of Badakhshan had the temerity to abuse the ‘Representative of God’, Akbar. He even refused to enter his mausoleum at Sikandrah. At his apparent blasphemy, his companions said, “If Akbar possesses hidden knowledge, that man will certainly come to grief.” Just then a piece of broken stone fell on his toe and crushed it. (1)

Akbar’s subjects had a perception of royalty different from our own. The supernatural character of the emperor was a part of that perception, and served to establish his authority in the mind of his subjects. It is worth mentioning here that Akbar was a Muslim ruler who ruled the non-Muslims. And one thing that sets him apart from his predecessors is his success in establishing himself as “the spiritual guide of the people” (2) who were fragmented and swore fealty only to their immediate rulers and chieftains. His appeal cut across religions. If he remained a true Muslim till the end, despite his ‘innovations’, for Muslims of his reign (including the orthodox Sunnis)(3), he was “King Rama” fighting “demons” for Hindus. He used to mutter spells taught to him by the Hindus to be able to subdue the sun to his wishes.(4)

As a prince interested more in outdoor sports like hunting, a courtier sent by his father Humayun to motivate him to study found him lying on the grass, looking serene, as if he were asleep, but in fact “contemplating his plans for world conquest”. In words of Abu-l-Fazl, this episode demonstrated that “the lofty comprehension of this Lord of the Age was not learned or acquired, but was the gift of god in which human effort had no part.”(5) Akbar also claimed to impeccably recall everything that happened during his infancy. (6) He was believed to be a king with cosmic powers. “The heavens revolve at his wish” and he was a “rainmaker” and “rain-stopper”.(7)

To what extent did the supernatural and divine character of Akbar serve in endearing him to the masses? Did they also have a bearing on his policies? In the introduction of his classic book, “The Royal Touch”, Marc Bloch has noted that “historians have written massive tomes on the idea of royalty without ever mentioning” the supernatural character attributed to the monarch. The ‘mystique’ behind the veneration commanded by the ruler could be studied in the context of marvelous abilities of the ruler. It would be interesting to study the imprint that such phenomena possibly had upon the human spirit.

Bloch writes, “…in the eyes of his faithful subject a king was, after all, something very different from a mere high official. He was surrounded by a ‘veneration’ which did not simply originate in the services he performed. How can we understand this feeling of loyalty which was so strong and so specific at certain periods in our history if, from the outset, we refuse to see the supernatural aura which surrounded these crowned heads?” Although Bloch’s work focuses only on medieval France and England, it is true that many countries during that period had rulers who were believed to have miraculous powers of healing and more. Abu-l-Fath Jalad-ad-din Mohammad Akbar Padshah-i- Ghazi is one of them.

According to Abu-l-Fazl, Akbar’s “superhuman knowledge proves that the light of god dwells in him” and “the surest way of pleasing God is to obey the king.”( 8 ) Fazl extricates Akbar from Islam and projects him as a ruler of humanity. Akbar was seen as the possessor of “Divine Wisdom” and owing to his high position people expected him to be their spiritual leader.

Akbar’s touch and breath had miraculous powers. A “simple-minded recluse” chopped off his tongue and threw it at the threshold of the palace. He thought that Akbar will, using his supernatural wisdom, find out about his self-inflicted injury and cure it. He said, “If that certain blissful thought, which I just now have, has been put into my heart by God, my tongue will get well.” His wish came true, the chopped off tongue was cured.(9)

Crowds of men and women used to flock to the emperor and made obeisance, offering vows in order to purge their lives of miseries. Be it those who had renounced the world or those who followed worldly pursuits, all saw emperor as someone who could enhance their knowledge and provide bliss. People also sought “enlightenment, birth of a son, reunion of friends, a long life, increase of wealth, elevation in rank” and many other things.

Akbar not only remedied religious perplexities but also healed physical afflictions. “Not a day passes but people bring cups of water to him beseeching him to breathe upon it”(10) The cup of water, under the illumination of sun, fulfilled the desire of its possessor. It even reinvigorated the lives of the sick whose diseases had been pronounced incurable. Every morning Akbar appeared at a window in front of which many came and prostrated themselves. “Women brought sick infants for his benediction, and offered presents on their recovery”.(11)

The Ganga was once in flood due to heavy rain. Akbar plunged his elephant into it and “impossible as it was to cross that murderous river, due to the miraculous personality of His Majesty the swelling ocean gave a passage to that mine of his holiness.” According to a European traveler, Jerome Xavier, he worked miracles through healing of the sick by means of water in which he washed his feet. Another European traveler, Coryat, didn’t buy into Akbar’s supernatural abilities: “Eckbar Shaugh had learned all kinds of sorcery”.(12)

About the accounts of Akbar’s ‘Royal Touch’, Abu-l-Fazl writes, “Should my occupation allow sufficient leisure, and should another term of life be granted me, it is my intention to lay before the world a separate volume on this subject.” However, Harbans Mukhia has dismissed “these attributes of thaumaturgy, ‘the royal touch’, and the performance of miracles” as derivatives of folklore. He notes: “They (miracles) had also been assimilated into Islam, Christianity and Buddhism, even as all these religious systems expressed strong disapproval of the association of miraculous energies with any human being other than Christ, Muhammad or the Buddha.” It is only interesting that Abu-l-Fazl, in his description, does not associate with any religious system.

The intermingling of the spiritual and the temporal is unmistakably evident here. Although the entire idea might be repugnant to our modern sensibility, in those times the supernatural character of the ruler elevated his position to a “spiritual guide”, thereby adding a whole new dimension to the idea of “royalty”.

When those who sought to become his disciple approached him, Akbar would say, “Why should I claim to guide men, before I myself am guided?” However, “when a novice bears on his forehead the sign of earnestness of purpose, and he be daily enquiring more and more His majesty accepts him, and admits him.” (13) The reference here is to conversion the “New Faith” engendered by Akbar, Din-i-Illahi.

As a symbolic gesture, the entrant to the new religion would, with his turban in his hands, put his head on Akbar’s feet. The emperor would then extend his hands to raise him up and replace his turban which had a symbol of the newly formed “brotherhood”, the Shast. The symbol resembled a ring and had “Allahu Akbar”, the symbolic motto, inscribed in it. This ritual metaphorically signified casting aside of conceit and selfishness. It also taught the disciple: “The pure Shast and the pure sight never err”.(14) The disciples had to adhere to certain rules of conduct. For example, when a disciple met another he had to greet him with “Allahu Akbar” and the other was to respond “Jalle Jalalahu”. The motive of Akbar in laying down this form of salutation was to remind the disciple of the origin of their existence and “to keep the Deity in fresh, lively and grateful remembrance.

Although Akbar was extremely tolerant towards other religions he would never accept any encroachment on His Divinity. He even held himself forth as an object of worship.(15) As Harbans Mukhia has pointed out, “the metaphor of light dominates his (Akbar’s) conceptualization of divinity, and the Sun in turn dominates the metaphor for light. Divine light permeates Akbar’s very being.” Akbar expressed his veneration for the sun by worshipping it four times a day. In 1579 A.D., during a festival, he even prostrated himself before the sun and the fire in public. In the same year, with jewel strings tied on his wrists by Brahmins as a blessing and his forehead marked like a Hindu, he went forth to the public-audience chamber.(16)

1 P. 414, Muntakhab-al-Tawarikh, Badauni
2 P. 162, Ain-i-Akbari, trans. H. Blochmann
3 Iqtidar Alam, Akbar’s Personality Traits and World Outlook: A Critical Reappraisal
4 Excerpt from Muntakhab-al-Tawarikh published in History of India, Vol V
5 P. 12, Akbar, Andre Wink, the author quotes from the Akbarnama
6 P.10, Akbar, Andre Wink
7 Wink quoting from the Akbarnama
8 P. 162, Ain-i-Akbari, Trans. H. Blochmann
9 P. 165, Ain-i-Akbari, Trans. H. Blochmann
10 P. 164, Ain-i-Akbari Trans. H. Blochmann
11 P. 165, Ain-i-Akbari Trans. H. Blochmann
12 P.49, Mughals of India, Harbans Mukhia
13 P.165, Ain-i-Akbari, H. Blochmann
14 P. 166, Ain, Blochmann
15 Footnote 3, p. 165, Ain, Blochmann
16 Excerpt from Muntakhab-al-Tawarikh published in History of India, Vol V

You must be to comment.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Akansha Singh


By sharmaniti437

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below