Akbar's Concept of Sulh-kul, Tulsi's Concept of Maryada and Dadu's Concept of Nipakh:
A Comparative Study
Although Akbar's concept of sulh-kul has been analyzed in detail by historians, in the context of prevalent sufi concepts in Central and West Asia and India, as also in the broad context of such liberal nirguna saints as Kabir in India, little effort has so far been made to see it in the context of the ideas and beliefs put forward in the country during Akbar's own life time. The two most prominent Hindi saint poets of the time, Tuisi and Dadu were contemporaries of Akbar. Thus, according to traditions, Tuisi was bom in 1532, and died in 1623; while Dadu was bom in 1544 and died in 1603. Although there is a widespread belief that Akbar met both these saints, as was his custom, and that it was at Dadu's instance that he banned cow slaughter in his kingdom, a belief not supported by any historical evidence, it is clear that there was no continuous association between Akbar and these saints, Tuisi having lived and worked mainly at Kashi, and Dadu in Sanganer near modem Jaipur in Rajasthan. However, a comparison of the concepts of the three major figures of the time can help in understanding better the intellectual atmosphere in the country during Akbar*s time.
Akbar's concept of sulh-kul which evolved gradually and his concept of sovereignty had obvious socio-cultrual implications. Thus, according to Abul Fazi, a ruler who was endowed with farr-i-izidi (the divine light), had a paternal love towards his subjects so that he did not allow sectarian differences to 'raise the dust of strife.' This, in turn, implied understanding *the spirit of the age*, or what was called in the Mahabharat Yuga-Dharma. It implied daily increasing trust in God, and belief in prayer and devotion so that he was not dependent on any religious leaders. He believed in justice which implied curbing the tyrants, and ensuring that inconsiderateness did not 'overstep the proper limits.' He also sat 'on the eminence of propriety* which itself has been interpreted in different ways. At one level it implied considerateness so that 'those who have gone astray have a way left to return without exposing their bad deeds to the public gaze.* But at
Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
Social Scientist, Vol. 20, Nos. 9-10, September-October 1992