The Mughal Influence on Vaisnavism, Part 55

BY: SUN STAFF - 30.4 2019

Kanak Vrindavan Temple, Amber Ghati, Jaipur

A serial presentation of the Mughal effect on Vaisnava society.

Over the course of our last several segments in the Mughal Influence series, we focused on the role of the Rajputs in the Mughal invasion of northern India, and in particular, on the Rajput general, Raja Man Singh. One of Emperor Akbar's greatest generals and appointed by Akbar as the Subahdar (governor) of Bengal, Raja Man Singh remained a devoted Vaisnava throughout his career in the Mughal court.

In 1582 A.D., when Akbar called an historic meeting of his court nobles at Fatehpur Sikri to introduce his personally contrived spiritual path, Din-i-Ilahi, the Vaisnava Raja Bhagwant Das was the only man who refused to take up that religion. Later, Raja Man Singh became another of the most prominent members of Akbar's court to refuse conversion to Din-i-Ilahi. Man Singh's son, Jagat Singh I, maintained his father's devotion to Sri Krsna, and himself became the student of the poet Tulsidas. Together, father and son attended some of Tulsidas' lectures.

Just as Raja Man Singh's disavowal of Din-I-Ilahi stood as an important marker in Akbar's court, the Rajputs played a key role throughout the Mughal campaign. Their presence became a pivotal element in many battles, political strategies, alliances and subterfuges. The Rajputs served as something of a buffer between the Hindu population and the Muslims who sought to subjugate them. Many acts of statecraft were executed through marriages between the Rajputs and the Mughals. In fact, Raja Bharmal, the first Rajput ruler to marry his daughter to a Mughal, was the grandfather of Raja Man Singh.

Raja Man Singh is also an interesting personality because he served as a generational bridge between Emperor Akbar and the son who succeeded him, Jahangir. Although the Rajput general did not support Jahangir's accession to the throne during Akbar's lifetime – a move the son aggressively sought -- Man Singh did not oppose his coronation after Akbar's death.

Shila Devi Temple, Amber Fort, Jaipur


During his tenure under Akbar, Raja Man Singh was deployed in many different locations throughout Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bengal and Orissa. In addition to the contributions he made in Vrindavan under the instruction of Srila Rupa Goswami, Man Singh helped to build other Vaisnava temples, as well. While serving as Governor of Rajasthan, he installed the famous deity of Shila Devi in a temple inside the Amber Fort. He also constructed the beautiful Kanak Vrindavan temple near Amber Ghati at Jaipur, and constructed or repaired many other temples in Benaras, Allahabad, and elsewhere.

Raja Man Singh's prominent role in the Mughal Empire waned with the takeover of Akbar's son, Jahangir. As a young boy named Prince Salim, Akbar's son grew to manhood as an insolent and addicted debaucher, famous for his love of alcohol and opium. He was well known for disobeying his father's orders, and for handing out torture as a punishment to those who displeased him. Such behaviour was no doubt repulsive to Raja Man Singh, although the Rajput general never quit his Mughal employers, under after Jahangir took the throne.

Man Singh died a natural death, succeeded by his son, and by a line of descendants known as the Rajawats, who remained privileged to the gaddi (throne) at Amber, and later Jaipur. Jahangir died an inauspicious death brought on by his addictions. He was succeeded by his third son, Shah Jahan, who likewise gave birth to the next Mughal Emperor after him, the demon Aurangzeb.

Kanak Vrindavan