Akbar vs Aurangzeb: Difference and Comparison

India has been the home of one of the most ancient civilizations in the world. In addition to that, there have been several conquests on the Indian soil for as far as history stretches.

One of the biggest dynasties that ruled in India for over 300 years was the Mughal dynasty.

Key Takeaways

  1. Akbar and Aurangzeb were Mughal emperors who ruled over India during different periods.
  2. Akbar was known for his religious tolerance, administrative reforms, and artistic patronage, while Aurangzeb was known for his strict Islamic policies and expansionist ambitions.
  3. Akbar’s reign is considered a Golden Age of Mughal rule, while Aurangzeb’s reign is considered a time of decline and oppression.

Akbar vs Aurangzeb

The difference between Akbar and Aurangzeb was that while Akbar as a ruler had a liberal and secular outlook in the ripe years of his reign on the other hand Aurangzeb was a staunch Muslim and the strict laws during his reign did not let people freely enjoy the freedom of religious practice. 

Akbar vs Aurangzeb

Akbar was the third Mughal emperor to rule India. His rule lasted for almost 50 years and is viewed as the most important reign in Mughal history.

It was during his time that the Mughals actually amalgamated themselves with the Indian population and truly became Indian rulers, instead of foreign invaders. 

Aurangzeb was the sixth Mughal emperor. His rule was almost as long as Akbar’s, but not as peaceful. Due to his policy of war and expansion, the Mughal Empire was at its peak during Aurangzeb’s time, covering most if not all parts of India.

He even subdued the Maratha powers to an extent, a feat that no other Mughal ruler had been able to accomplish before him. 

Comparison Table  

Parameters of Comparison Akbar Aurangzeb 
Years of Reign 1556-1605 1658-1707 
Religious Policy Religiously tolerant and lenient Orthodox Muslim, prosecuted Hindus 
Title Akbar ‘the Great’ Aurangzeb ‘Alamgir’ 
Relations with Rajputs Akbar had good relations with the Rajputs, with marital alliances as well Aurangzeb has Rajput nobles in his court, but he was not as tolerant as Akbar 
Important Contribution Area of expansion, conquests, art, architecture and literature Most of Aurangzeb’s life as emperor was spent on war and conquests 

Who is Akbar?

Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar was one of the greatest rulers of medieval India. He was the third Mughal ruler after Babur and Humayun, and ascended the throne at a very young age of 14, after his father’s demise.

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Bairam Khan acted as his confidante and regent till he came of age. 

The majority of the Mughal empire’s consolidation was done by Akbar. Sher Shah Suri had left the Mughals in shambles neither Humayun nor Babur had a reign long enough to strengthen the Mughals’ position in India.

Akbar did that with a mixed policy of war and expansion, regional alliances with the local rulers, and matrimony alliances. 

Akbar is famous for a countless number of reasons. He was a great patron of art and architecture and commissioned a great number of works during his reign.

He tried and successfully won over the Rajput rulers of Rajasthan by awarding them with high posts in his court and matrimonial alliances.

He was also a capable general and expanded his empire to include most of north, east, and west India. 

Some of Akbar’s greatest accomplishments include the abolition of the jaziya and pilgrimage tax, his land revenue policy, founding the new religion of Din-I-Ilahi, and establishing the city of Fatehpur Sikri. 

Who is Aurangzeb?

Muhi-ud-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb ascended the Mughal throne after brutal infighting with his brothers and disposing of his father Shah Jahan.

His rule lasted for around 49 years, and the extent of the Mughal Empire was at its zenith during his time. He is largely regarded as the last great Mughal ruler of India. 

He established the Shariat Law across the Mughal Empire during his reign. Although he was a very pious Muslim, Aurangzeb was not very tolerant towards other religions.

He is infamous for re-imposing the jaziya tax and desecration of places of worship of other religions. He did not follow the policy of religious tolerance like his ancestors. 

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Aurangzeb led a very austere life and did not commission a large number of artworks and monuments, as a result of which, there was no real growth of art and architecture during his reign.

Although he did have a large number of Hindu nobles in his court, his reign saw several uprisings and rebellions due to the oppression and his military conquests. 

He was a very capable military leader, and he conquered almost all of the Indian subcontinent. The most notable military campaign under Aurangzeb’s rule was the Deccan campaign carried out by his trusted general Malik Kafur.

It was here that the Mughals came into direct conflict with the Marathas, which ultimately became a cause of the Mughal Empire’s downfall in the Later Mughal Era. 


Main Differences Between Akbar and Aurangzeb

  1. Akbar was largely responsible for the real consolidation of the Mughal Empire. Aurangzeb already had a stable empire to rule when he ascended the throne. 
  2. Akbar ascended the throne at the young age of 14, whereas Aurangzeb ascended the throne at the ripe age of 39. 
  3. While Akbar’s expansion policy was a mix of feudal systems, matrimonial alliances, and wars, most of Aurangzeb’s expansion was done via wars and military campaigns. 
  4. Art, culture, and architecture gained huge patronage and popularity under Akbar and faced a huge downfall under Aurangzeb. 
  5. Both Akbar and Aurangzeb trusted Hindus in their administration, but Akbar was religiously tolerant and embraced secularism, whereas Aurangzeb established the Shariyat Law and ruled India as a Muslim domain.
  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2547889
  2. https://books.google.co.in/books?hl=en&lr=&id=v_rEDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=akbar&ots=4T16n5vhVG&sig=BsG7qXMQ5K9ofZoYuSVSXe5NWD0&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=akbar&f=false

Last Updated : 15 July, 2023

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