Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar was born in India in 1543, the son of the Mughal Emperor Humayun, the grandson of the badass Emperor Babur, and the descendant of the merciless warlord Timur. Well despite having the solid lineage and the lofty title of "Great Mughal Emperor", Humayun was in some deep shit at this time. He had just got his ass kicked by some jackass warlord named Sher Shah and his Afghani hordes, and was currently hiding in exile in a small province of what is now present-day Pakistan. Though he was technically a Prince, Akbar was raised in the harsh climes of Pakistan and Afghanistan where he learned badass manly things like hunting and fighting, and was able take care of himself. It would be training that would serve him well, because he was going to need to grow up in a hurry.
Humayun eventually headed off to Persia for a little bit before returning to India with a bigass army and recapturing his land from Sher Shah. Akbar moved to the sweet ass city of Delhi to be with his family. Unfortunately, one day in 1556 Emperor Humayun was running to go pray to Allah when all of a sudden he tripped, fell down the stairs like a dumbass and died. It may surprise you to find that he was not protected at the bottom of the stairs. And just like that the 13 year-old Akbar was the ruler of the Mughal Empire.
Now when I was thirteen, I think I was spending all my free time playing rec-league basketball and trying to beat Super Mario Brothers 3. This guy was ruling a country. Akbar had the common sense to know that the greatest threat to his power were the sons of the now-dead Sher Shah so, guided by his capable regent Bairam Khan, Akbar marshaled his armies and set out to kick some ass.
Akbar marched across Hindustan winning battle after battle, mostly thanks to his large contingent of 1,500 war elephants (one of the most badass military units ever invented). Unfortunately, while Akbar and Bairam Khan were wandering around Hindustan whomping balls some jerk named Hemu decided to incite a revolt, put an army together, and capture Delhi behind Akbar's back. When Akbar was informed of this, his generals told him all was lost and that his best option was to cry like a schoolgirl, retreat to Kabul with his tail between his legs and regroup. Well Akbar was like "fuck that" and ordered his men to turn around and teach Hemu a lesson one what it feels like to be force-fed your own scrotum.
At the Second Battle of Panipat, Akbar's men faced a much larger rebel army under the command of Hemu. Well right when things were starting to look bleak, a freak arrow came flying in and nailed Hemu right in his fucking eye. When their leader went down, the rebel army broke and were crushed by the Mughal forces. Hemu was brought before Akbar, who promptly beheaded him. Abkar also threw a shout-out to Tamerlane and built a huge pillar of human skulls to not only commemorate his victory but to stand as a testament to what happens if you try to fuck with him.
After the success at Panipat, Akbar took his army and finished off Sher Shah's sons. By the age of fifteen Akbar had solidified control of the entire Hindustan region, a jurisdiction which would remain for three centuries.
Akbar: It's a trap!
Once he reached the age that he no longer required a regent, Akbar sent Bairam Khan off on the Hajj to Mecca. Unfortunately while he was on his way out of town Bairam ran into an Afgani man who was understandably a little pissed off that Bairam had killed a shitload of his people, so he shivved him to death with a spoon. Them's the breaks sometimes. With BK dead, Akbar appointed his foster brother (and blood cousin) Adham Khan general of the Mughal Army, charging him with expanding the Empire's borders. Adham Khan immediately marched out for Malawa in 1561, using his numerically superior numbers to obliterate Malawan Sultan Baz Bahadur's army and conquering the capital city of Sarangpur.
Well once the Mughals rolled into Sarangpur shit got ugly real fast. Adham Khan and his generals got really high on opium, booze and prescription cold medicine, pillaged the town, slaughtered religious leaders, terrorized the citizenry, and ravaged and butchered the Sultan's harem of hot babes. Akbar, like any true badass worth his leather jacket, believed that there is nothing more cowardly and dishonorable than the massacre of innocent people (especially when they're hot babes), so he got really fucking ripshit pissed, punched Adham Khan in the face, and then had him thrown from the highest parapet in the city. When the stupid bastard didn't die, Akbar had him carried back up to the top and chucked off again.
Not to say that Akbar was just this land-snatching, elephant-riding conqueror who enjoyed throwing Princes off of tall buildings though. Akbar was in fact the most tolerant of all the Mughal rulers of India. He abolished the Jizya (a tax on all non-Muslims), allowed freedom of religion, supported interfaith marriages, and made it legal for people of different belief systems to perform business transactions with one another. He also fostered civilized religious debate, opening up a hall where Shi'as, Sunnis, Hindus, Christians, Zoroastrianas, Jains, Buddhists, and Sufis could engage in open discourse about their respective faiths, something which before this time period was pretty much unheard of. Though he was a Muslim, he did not have any compunction about promoting Hindus to positions of power and nobility within the government, and didn't hold non-Muslims to the Shari'a (Islamic Code of Law), instead allowing them to govern themselves according to their belief systems.
He also abolished slavery, ended child marriage (because it's gross), and forbade the practice of sati (a traditional Hindu custom in which widows were forced to throw themselves on their husband's funeral pyre). Akbar thought it was a shame to have so many chicks burning themselves to death, and I have to say that's probably a good decision. He also reformed the bureaucracy and tax laws, and battled corruption wherever he could.
His people considered him to be a benevolent and wise ruler. He was believed to be dyslexic and never learned to read, but he had is courtesans read him all of the classics so he would know what was up. He studied religion, the arts, literature, music and science; had scribes write comprehensive works on those subjects; and brought forth a golden age of wealth, happiness, intellectualism, and political stability. He was loved and respected by all of his subjects, which is bitchin.
Throughout his reign he consolidated and expanded his Empire through conquest and diplomacy. His military forces marched on Malawa, Gujarat, Bengal, Kabul, Kashmir, and Kandesh, stretching his empire from the Himalayas to the Deccan plateau. He loved babes and married 5,000 women of all different nationalities and religions, ranging from Armenian Catholic hotties to Rajput princesses, and states he didn't crush to death with his giant dong were allied to him through marriage or statesmanship. At the time of his death in 1605 he had constructed the greatest empire in the world, ruling over a nation of 140 million people at a time when the entire population of Europe numbered about 40 million. He kicked ass, he took names, and he proved himself as an honorable badass.
Probably the most telling aspect of his badassitude is this: The Arabic word "Akbar" literally translates to "Great". So the English translation of his name essentially means "Great The Great".
The Mughals: Akbar
Akbar the Great