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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Debate : What is the BASIS of GreatNess ? From Akbar - Alexander to Pratap..

Hi friends,

This is a post with a difference, as normally i do not write posts related to 'DEBATES' on any topic.


This is a post for a discussion on the topic of GREATness. I am trying to figure out on what basis do we classify people as great. 

The origin of this writeup lies in a question, which a friend of mine asked recently. The topic under consideration was Maharana Pratap, the King of Mewar, who never  submitted to the authority of Mughal Emperor Akbar and waged a LONE battle throughout his life. The question put was the basis of GREATness. We had the mention of Ashoka, Alexander, Akbar - All GREATs.

It was then, it came to my mind to write a few words. And, here is the post i ended up writing. This post contains my own views. I would like to read more views on this subject from people around the world. Please note that this post has been written for a constructive debate and with a genuine urge to know what different people from different backgrounds think about this topic. I kneaded some philosophical insights with a dash of history. Let me start here.

This topic of greatness is a bit conflicting for me because there are many ways to look at it. The Great Man theory has been reduced to mere pages of history, but its allure continues to mystify one and all. When we talk about greatness, we assume that when the time comes, the right man - it is often assumed to be the right man only -  will take control of the most dire situations, will come out almost magically from all the tragic events and always emerge a winner. Often he is projected as a super hero, a super man of sorts, who can drive events and manipulate destiny, entirely on his own or by attracting the right people to do the job for him. This is what is the general image of a GREAT man, most often. But, we should see that it is RARE to find a GREAT man withOUT a fault..!


One can analyze it in philosophical terms as well. We can say GREATness is a state of superiority. It can be said to be a natural ability to be better than all others. Like an implication that the person, when compared to others of "similar types", has clear advantage over others. In some cases the perceived "greatness" of a person, might be agreed upon by many, but this does not necessarily finishes the debate, as the perception of "greatness" may be both fiercely contested and is highly individual.

With such disclaimers , i now, start my post..

There are not only Emperors Akbar, Ashoka and Alexander who are called great. Peter of Russia is also called GREAT. Then we have Pompey - The Great (Roman Emperor Julius Caeser died at his statue. Remember?) . We have the Turkish Emperor Suleiman - The 'Magnificent'. Shah of Persia - Abbas , who was a contemporary of Mughal Emperor Akbar, is also called GREAT. Likewise, there are many other monarchs called Great.

In Present discussion , i am restricting myself to Akbar, Ashoka, Alexander ; and the topic of Maharana Pratap, the ONLY Rana to have the prefix of 'Maha', meaning GREAT. I presume we know about the life of Emperors Akbar and Ashoka, mostly, this blog contains sufficient information about both of these Emperors. So, i am adding a few lines about Alexander here, to give a brief BG, since we need to know about him also...

A Brief Introduction to Alexander

Alexander - People like him are RARE. He is one of history's most famous conquerors and a legend of "almost divine status" in his lifetime. He belongs to the elite category of individuals who changed the history of civilisation and shaped the world as we know it today. More than 50 cities are still named after him, after more than 2000 years of his death. He destroyed many a beautiful city during his conquests, for which he is loathed at some places. But he is also acknowledged as a GREAT monarch at many places, from Babylon to the Pyramids of Cairo to the vicinity of the Sands of Thar.!

From a leadership perspective, Alexander was without a peer. He could be magnanimous towards defeated enemies and loyal toward his friends, and as a general he led by example, literally from the front. He died young more than 2,000 years ago, but his life offers important lessons even today. We can not compare him with Akbar or any other monarch. His time was different, his method was different, his area of rule was different. Though, one can compare "individual" acts of these "great" people, and can debate , but overall "objective comparison" of greatness among them is not possible.

Alexander set the example of excellence with his leadership style, which involved sharing his soldiers' triumphs and woes alike. When his troops went hungry or thirsty, he went hungry or thirsty. When their horses died beneath them and they had to walk, he did the same. This accessibility changed only when he succumbed to the luxury of court life, and that was the beginning of the end for Alexander.!!

From an early age he was an achiever. He conquered territories on a superhuman scale. He established an empire, until his times unrivaled, and he died young, at the height of his power. At the young age of 20, he inherited the powerful empire of Macedonia, which by then controlled Greece and had already started to make inroads into Asia. Later, he invaded Persia, and within a decade he had defeated the Persians, subdued Egypt, and pushed on to Iran, Afghanistan and even India. As well as his vast conquests, Alexander is credited with the spread of Greek culture and education in his empire, not to mention being responsible for the physical and cultural formation of the hellenistic kingdoms -- some scholars in fact argue that the hellenistic world was Alexander's legacy. He has also been viewed as a philosophical idealist, striving to create a unity of mankind by his so-called fusion of the races policy, in which he attempted to integrate Persians and Orientals into his administration and army. Thus, within a dozen years Alexander's empire stretched from Greece in the west to India in the far east, and he was even worshipped as a god by many of his subjects while still alive. On the basis of his military conquests contemporary historians, and especially those writing in Roman times who measured success by the number of body-bags used, deemed him great.

Some Drawbacks(?) of Alexander 

As i said in the starting, it is RARE to find GREAT men withOUT a FAULT. However, does a man deserve to be called 'The Great' when he was responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of his own men and for the unnecessary, wholesale slaughter of native people ? Or whose violent temper on occasion led him to murder his friends and who towards the end of his life was an alcoholic, paranoid, megalomaniac, who believed in his own divinity? 
Just like the massacre at Chittor is a blot on Akbar, Alexander also carries the taint of wiping out large scale populations from their native lands during his conquests. Alexander is also criticized for continuous warfare instead of taking out time for consolidation and long-term administration.

These are questions posed as per the ethical standards of today, of course. In those times, such questions did not matter one bit; nevertheless, they are legitimate questions, given the influence which Alexander has exerted throughout history - an influence, which will no doubt continue. The first text which calls Alexander as Great was written around 200 BC by the Roman writer Plautus.

What Makes Akbar Great?

In my opinion, Mughal Emperor Akbar is great, but certainly not because of his Empire. I say this because, if you talk about the extent of empire, then Aurangzeb and Shah Jahan had a bigger empire than Akbar. 

I already talked about the land Alexander won in his lifetime. Even the ancient Indian monarchs Chandragupta Maurya and Samudragupta had a bigger empire. Samudgragupta is also termed The Indian Alexander by historian Vincent Smith. Going down South, one can not forget the might of Raja Raja Chola, who even had the capacity to subjugate Lanka and eyed the Spice Islands. Art and Culture flourished in his reign. 

Ashoka was a "warrior reformer". His Empire extended upto Kandhahar beyond the Hindukush and Sravenbelgola in the south.!! 

Akbar is great because of the brilliant strategies, which he incorporated to keep his empire stable for a long time and the reforms which he carried out in this land, which was divided on the basis of religions. We had a ruthless conqueror in Akbar in the initial period of his life who wanted to win HIND at any cost. A determined monarch with fierce strategies, he has been compared to Alexander in battling prowess by his chroniclers. 

There is a difference between THE Akbar who wanted to expand his Empire in the "initial" period of his life and THE Akbar who executed these reforms for the welfare of ALL his people. 

Akbar showed through his reforms that he was tolerant and "accommodating". But he could also be a devil to those who did not accept him as their master. Who can forget Chittor ? It is TRUE that Akbar brought in all those reforms, after stabilizing his empire and safeguarding it from all sides. The Right TIME and the Right OPPORTUNITY are required for such watershed changes as also the ability to recognize when the time was right and to seize an opportunity when it presented itself. It was possible for Akbar to be daring in his reforms because he had that URGE and the required political muscle. From the perspective of Abul Fazl, Akbar is lent an almost divine status. 

Can Hitler and Napoleon Be Called Great?

In the said conversation, we talked about Hitler too. Why don't we call Hitler great ? After all, he was fighting for the "cause" of the German RACE and wanted to avenge the humiliation of First WW. There was a time in Germany when Hitler's book Mein Kampf was given to all newly married couples, to advocate his doctrine. But, we can not forget the genocide he unleashed on the Jews. Why don't we call Napoleon great ? In fact, Napoleon brought in some good reforms for his nation. As i said in the beginning, GREATness is a term which we decide from person to person. In addition, different people will have different criteria to define someone as great. 

Maharana Pratap - Does he Qualify to be called Great ?

Finally, coming to Maharana Pratap (MP), which was the original topic of my discussion. We can not compare MP with Alexander, as far as "extent" of political empire is concerned, but certain individual acts i would like to point out. Like Alexander, he too led from front, MP's wars were fought by him, "in person". He may not have that many resources with him as Alexander, Ashoka and Akbar, but nonetheless, he was second TO NONE when it came to IDEALS and PRINCIPLES. He never bartered his independence no matter what . Come what may, he faced it all.Even after being hunted from forest to forest and from cave to cave, he refused to submit to the Mughals.

Single-handedly, for a quarter of a century [1572-97], he withstood the mightiest empire of his times under one of the mightiest sovereigns to have ever walked on this earth. The story of the prolonged struggle between Maharana Pratap and Akbar is replete with incidents and produces the impression that it involved the Mughals in useless sweat and toil. Try as they did, the Mughal Emperor could not wrest back control of Mewar (with the major exception Chittorgarh) from Pratap, till the time he lived. 

Great warrior as Pratap was, it is to be admitted that Akbar was a master strategist who brought almost everyone into his fold whatever may be the means, except Pratap. Pratap's remaining aloof from that hold was an impediment to his task(as Abu'l Fazl says). Had Pratap joined the service of Akbar, his country could have been saved from plunder, continuous destruction and ruin.But Pratap's name is immortal in the history of this land as a great soldier of liberty. He focused on the moral aspect of the struggle without caring for material advantage or losses involved.

His was a war not aimed at increasing his dominions, but to uphold the independence of his race, and as long as this race lives, it will cherish with pride the memory of one who staked his all in a fight against the person "who wanted to imperialize him". As a great warrior of liberty, a devoted lover of noble cause and a hero of moral character, his name is to millions of men even today, a cloud of hope by the day and a pillar of fire by the night.

Pratap was nobly supported. The temptations of wealth and fortune could not sway his followers from leaving his side. With the aid of some chiefs with good judgment and experience, Pratap remodeled his government, adapting it to the exigencies of the times and to his slender resources. New grants were issued, with regulations defining the service required. Kumbhalgarh, now the seat of government, as also Gogunda and other mountain fortresses were strengthened. Unable to keep the field in the plains of Mewar, he followed the system of his ancestors and commanded his subjects, on pain of death, to retire into the mountains. During the protracted contest, the fertile tracts watered by the Banas and the Beris, from the Aravalli chain to the eastern tableland, were to be left. The range to which Pratap was restricted was the mountainous region around, though chiefly to, the west of the new capital, Udaipur. His writ ran from north to south, from Kumbhalgarh to Ricumnath, and from west to east, from Mirpur to Sataula.

Pratap was a gallant foe to Mughal Emperor Akbar and, despite his ill fortune, he made the latter fight hard for triumph. The people of Mewar rallied behind Pratap in excruciating living conditions and are worthy of remembrance. IMO, the vanquished were "greater than the victor"... IN short, one can term it a war between two people - a war that was all about "Love for one's freedom vs. Imperialism".

Had Mewar possessed her Thucydides or her Xenophon, neither the wars of the Peloponnesus nor the retreat of the " ten thousand " would have yielded more diversified incidents for the historic muse than the deeds of this brilliant reign amid the many vicissitudes of Mewar. Undaunted heroism, inflexible fortitude, that which " keeps honour bright ", perseverance -with fidelity such as no nation can boast, were the materials opposed to a soaring ambition, commanding talents, unlimited means, and the fervour of religious zeal ; all, however, insufficient to contend with one unconquerable mind - that of Pratap.

I re-iterate, GreatNess of any person is seen in context of what is the benchmark we set. 
For some, it is the morals, principles and heroism of Pratap which make him GREAT. There were times when he had nothing to eat, when he lived in forests, feeding his family on wild fruits and water.!!. His family slept on an empty stomach. Pratap was a person who was born in a Royal House, whose ancestors ruled Chittor right from 734 AD, starting from Bappa Rawal. Was he born to lead a life like this.?? He could have easily accepted the suzerainty of the Mughal Emperor and led a comfortable life in a palace. But he rejected all this - for what ??  IDEALS and FREEDOM. He was a man who refused to act under the orders of anyone.! Just like Akbar was NOT accustomed to see anyone disregarding his orders, in the same manner, Pratap was NOT used to take orders from anyone, except his own SELF.

Aren't some of these qualities sufficient to concede a THOUGHT about the greatness of Pratap - the ONLY 'Maha'rana among all the Ranas ?? This is my question to all, as this was the question put to me also. 


For some, it may be the amount of land won by Alexander, which makes him GREAT. For some, the reforms of Emperor Akbar make him GREAT. Ashoka is called GREAT, not for the Kalinga massacre, but for the reforms he undertook after that. Even Pompey, Caesar, Abbas and Suleiman are 'GREAT' and 'Magnificent' in their countries. Just like Newton's laws are applicable in some " FRAME of REFERENCE " and they change their meaning from one frame to another, same is the case with the epithet, GREATness...

I am not passing any judgement on the GREATness of any individual here. This post is an attempt to know the varied viewpoints of the readers.

History can be judged by people from their own perspective. As i mentioned earlier, the criteria are set differently by different authorities. As far as i am concerned, none of the people, whose names i mentioned in this post, can be objectively compared. Their challenges were different, the people they governed were different, the resources they had access to were different, their ambitions were different. 

They had a multitude of dissimilarities but not an iota of similarity except the zeal to think BIG and to pursue their dreams in the face of all odds. 

Interestingly, most of the time, i find it hard to explain, how i am able to respect both Akbar and MP, who happened to be the MOST FIERCE RIVALS of each other during their lifetime. As much as i admire and salute the Maharana for his courage, principles & never say die spirit ; i also admire Akbar for taking on the established  orthodoxy and daringly carrying out various reforms including ones, which were considered BLASPHEMOUS at the time.

This post is mostly written from the perspective of Pratap, as the topic of debate was more about the Maharana and his status vis-a-vis the generally "taught" definition of greatness. I am going to play a devil's advocate here. And, the two people chosen are the contemporaries and bete noir - "Emperor Akbar and Maha Rana Pratap", both of whom happen to be the different sides of the same coin.! This is going to be interesting..

The article has been posted under the Mughals(Akbar) , Rajputs, Ashoka, and Miscellaneous section of this history BLOG.

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  1. Abhay,

    What a post - it is an unusual topic for debate. :)

    I am hesitant to write about this topic, as I am not well-versed in even the history of India, leave alone world history. Still I will try to share some of my views, though they are not as insightful or philosophical as yours. :)

  2. Radhika,
    Will look forward to reading your views. I have also penned down my thoughts as they came to my mind. Please share your thoughts also when possible. :)

  3. Abhay

    First, I will share my views about Alexander and others. And then talk about Pratap and Akbar.:)

    Before proceeding, I want to add my own views about greatness. I feel a person who is truly great should have universal and timeless appeal. In my view, any hero, no matter how great he may have been, should be known widely across the world and should be liked by people all over the world in all ages.

    Going by this definition, Alexander is indubitably great, for he is considered great across the world, across centuries and even millenia. True, he may have left behind him a trail of death and destruction wherever he went, but today all that is forgotten and what is remembered is only his incomparable conquest of a vast region at a young age.

    So what qualifies him as a great conqueror? His youth, his soaring ambition, his incredible success. There is almost a touch of the Tragic, Romantic Hero about him. That a king should die a tragic death in a far-away land at the height of his power and success, at a young age, definitely adds to his aura and allure.

    What if he had lived to a ripe, old age? Would he still be considered just as great?

    I have a feeling that in such an eventuality, he would still be considered great but his appeal would be somewhat lessened.

    A Romantic Hero is true to his conception of himself. He is usually passionately individualistic, imposing his own vision on the world, no matter what the cost may be to himself, his associates or fellow citizens. He often shows violent self-affirmation and even resistance, for he often sees life as a series of events in which he has to overcome various odds using his will.

    If we look at Alexander then from the perspective of a Romantic Hero, he can be seen to have succeeded in transforming the world according to his conception of it with unflagging courage, energy and faith, and secured his place in it.

    He is the typical lone quester, who sought self-fulfillment on his own terms. His moral culpability seems to add to, without taking anything away, to his image of a larger-than-life, awe-inspiring hero, who pursued his vision single-mindedly, with no concern for the means.

  4. Abhay,

    Continuing my musings. :)

    You have mentioned Napoleon. Can he be considered great?

    Napoleon can also be seen as a Romantic Hero, a historic rebel. His rise to power and position as self-declared Emperor of France was meteoric. His brilliant military strategies were matched only by his administrative skills. He created a tax system, sewer systems, a central banking system, and even a system of higher education. He also drafted the Napoleonic Code, a set of civil laws.

    To Lord Byron, who is perhaps one of the most famed Romantic poets of all time, Napoleon was both a figure of heroic aspiration and someone who has been mastered by his own passions, who has had an inglorious fall. Many of Byron's heroes / protagonists can be traced to impressions of Napoleon.

  5. Can Hitler be considered great?

    On the face of it, if many so-called great emperors like Ashoka, Alexander, Akbar, and Napoleon, had murder on their hands, and yet achieved greatness, can Hitler also be termed great?

    No. The reason being that his genocide of Jews is still recent history, fresh in the minds of people everywhere. Further, he DID NOT CHANGE even later, did not assume moral culpability for his actions, and did not leave behind any constructive and lasting legacy.

    Ashoka and Akbar changed. Napoleon too introduced great reforms. Alexander made a great contribution to the spread of Greek history, mythology and art and culture, wherever he went.

    So another definition arises for greatness - a positive, lasting legacy. Hitler fails to make the grade, as per this definition.

  6. Love it thank you Abhay, for me Akbar the great b'coz he thinking ahead and relevant till today,although there will always be support and criticize

  7. Well, Abhay,
    What else can I say but to admire u, the depth in ur thought, a marvellous balance in comparing these Great kings! Abhay, I am not a historian, don't hv enough knowledge, about all these persons:( Whatever knowledge i hv, that has been discovered along with u, on this blog.:). I feel I am a small person to comment on these Great men Having said that, based on ur post, I hold Maharana Pratap as the all time Great, na bhooto na bhavishyati type. U know I hv a soft corner fr him.:) i just cannot believe a warrior could be so saintly also!
    Nonetheless, Abhay, I feel the matter is totally subjective, depending upon what a person perceives Greatness to be, i.e, amassing wealth, territory, servants, subjects so on - -. .And I beg a pardon! My personal view is totally different frm this. I think, a person who gives away, is always greater than the person who takes away. i would like to give king Siddhartha's example. He left his kingdom, n luxurious life in search of truth, n after attaining Sakshatkar, he did not stop there, he started sharing his knowledge.of Non-violence. Anybody, who selflessly strives for community welfare is Great fr me.:) God fr me has been the Giver all the way. That is why, I think we say God is Great. My belief has been strengthened, after watching, all these wars, Chittor siege. I mean there was no need fr these wars. Abhay, I ask u, if some day, some political party, takes away ur house or lays it's claim, n then keeps ur room clean, n gives u advice on how to dress up nicely, how things shud not be srewn around, etc. will u be happy?No na? After all ur basic rights hv been taken away.!

    The same way I feel the invaders r invaders, They can at the most be Great invaders not Great men.We can only compare among themselves n come to the conclusion who did their job in a better way:) This is only my personal view.:)

  8. Greatness, is a very Deep & vast meaning.or Greatness, is a Path, where, less people walk,

    or after walking, they save their name;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;Greatness World. or this journey, have no end,;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;but we can add more greatness things, with our great valuable thoughts some stops their way, acc to their choice, in middle, ;;;;;;;;;;;;because, they feel, its enough for them..This journey, person not travells, he or she will get, Great, title Hunger of doing some insipres them, or they start to do that., but when his or her work, seen by observers, they delightfully give this to That Person.or they DESERVES this

    But we can't comapre, who is more great. last days we saw, two persons got , Nobel, Prize

    Kailash Sathyarti, or Malala, both work is different, but both are great,

    or both doing, next to next.maybee their name will be written, Great peoples.

    But who not stops, , they work hard, inner & outer world.greatness world contains in inner, so much deep +vast meaning, we can't bind, him Fix, basis.& rules.Differnt , cen, different demand, Acc to circumstances, Different work, have to done

    Acc to time, or Which cen, What demands, or Who is capable then, bind the Whole Universe, own country, with their , Meaningful, work, & will try to far away, obstacles, conservative thoughts, which is responsibile, to down a kingdom , down a country. but that person works, without fearing,or astablishes, New Way, which way, that gives Generation, & learns, them, this is also a beautiful way,;;;;;;;;;;;;;Walk on this, this will give you Peace, internally +outerly

    or that's your right,;;;;;;;;because God send you here, for living peacefully,(here ques Rise,

    Alexender, Akbar etc also did mistakes,;;;;;;;;;But they learnt from mistakes, Not knows Alexender much,;;;;;;;,

    But Akbar gave a lot, Akbar combinded two relgions, which is tough in 21 cen,;;;;;;;;This was the Main, thing her personality. Today, how many familes following,

    Akbar thinking style, 1 percent.suppose all follow Akbar thinking, so relgion realted problem easily solve,;;;;;;;;;;;;;;but person habit to see Drawbacks. He did this,;;;;;;;Good things, always be acceptable. Bad we should leave.;;so nothing will get.if we recall bad things always.

    This will bring in your happiness, freedom of thoughts,or you can live, Life, which gave God you .

    But it not means, one's greatness is bigger then, Other,Everybody has its own individual space.Everygem has its own spark.

    Titles, also have a great, Meaning, big responsiblites, or Big theme behind that, or which person gets, he or she, did a lot of efforts,;;;;;;;;;Then Titles, Gives, Respect to that person.

    or Title getting, is also a tough. Respect of handling Titles, more then tough.

    They sure did, precious, Which was very tough then, or their thinking was, able to see, what is, precious that time,

    Titles when gets, when you do some, Good, or impo*nant, People feels proud for you, then people or others gives, you,;;;;;;;;;;;;;;for your Good deeds,Great, or Greatness, also a very respectful, Titles,;;;Who got that, sure they are respectable. They gave many time, precious hours, precious thinking,;;;;;;; then, try to invest this, enerhy, first they live Near, then after seeing, good effects, they try to bind, whole kingdom+whole universe.

    Here ques is, Alexender, MP, Akbar,;;;;; they great or not. of course They " GREAT"

    Blance i will write later.

  9. Abhay,

    Thank you for presenting yet another thought provoking article on the suffix GREAT attached to the names of three dynamic rulers, Alexander, Ashoka and Akbar. :) Maharana Pratap who was did not receive the title of Great to his name, deserved the title in the truest sense. He was great in spirit and by virtue of his achievements.

    My knowledge of history is limited only to text books dating several years back, as a student. Please pardon any errors and feel free to point out any so that I do not repeat them again. My most recent exposure to history has been by reading your blog. :)

    The definition of 'great' says : of ability, quality or eminence considerably above the normal or average.

    All four of the above rulers did not fall into the 'normal' category. They were individually exceptional with their achievements.

    Alexander was extraordinarily gifted as a king, and at a very young age ruled over a vast empire that included Persia. Considered ruthless as a ruler, he is celebrated for his intelligence as an administrator and as a warrior. He is widely known for spreading the Hellinistic ( Greek) Culture in his empire.

    Akbar was very similar to Alexander in military tactics, with 'My way or no way' being his primary policy. Both were very young when they started expanding and ruling their respective empires. He was also a master strategist in military tactics, merciless and brutal when it came to his singleminded determination in achieving his goals. The siege of Chittor is an example of this nature.The consequences of this gory attack over the Rajputs that left several thousands dead, was the changing point in Akbar's life.
    The very same Akbar was also a skillful administrator, tolerant, benevolent and most progressive minded ruler of his time.

    Ashoka the emperor of the Mauryan dynasty in India was also a brilliant chief as much as he was unmerciful and cold-blooded as the ruler who fought the Kalinga war. The aftermath of the brutality led him towards spirituality and Buddhism. It also enabled him in becoming an administrator with social-consciousness and compassion. He created history.

    Both Akbar and Ashoka 'became' GREAT only after committing grave errors of reckless blood-shed. Their greatness lay in their spiritual awakening that did wonders in their individual growth as people, that in turn reflected on their administrative policies.

    The emblem of India, even to this day conforms to the original lion pillar from King Ashoka's times. The four headed lion pillar is called the Ashoka pillar.

    This fact alone makes him worthy of being called GREAT.

    Akbar earned the title of GREAT for his religious tolerance, (that mainly included abolishing the tax levied on Hindus), not forcing conversion to Islam, diplomatic policies in maintaining the goodwill of his subjects, and progressive mindset in almost all areas of administration, fine arts and inclusion of women in day to day governance.

    Coming to Maharana Pratap, this king's unwavering self respect, love for his Rajput community, his fearlessness as a warrior and the unrelenting perseverance by maintaing his stance of not giving into the foreign dominance of Akbar, by fighting for the cause all his life, makes him truly GREAT. Akbar was a powerful force to reckon with. Maharana Pratap stood his own to this formidable foe and never gave into his might, till the end, thereby earning the respect of Rajputs and the Mughals themselves.

    I have made an attempt to share my thoughts based on the qualities that I felt truly exhibited the traits of 'Greatness' in all of the above mentioned rulers.

  10. Hi Abhay

    It took me pretty long time to reply to this very different topic of yours. A very lengthy post which took me quiet sometime to read and contemplate. This topic can be argued and counter-argued.

    Like many here - Radhika, Charu and others, I too opine that GREATNESS is very subjective.

    How to define "greatness" : Is it Spritual, Is it Physical, Is it the Mental strength,is it the success in terms of wealth ? Coz, for each adjective, we have many examples of greatness. In spiritual - we have The Prophet, Jesus, Zen masters, great Dalai Llama, Adi Shankara, Mother Teresa and we can add many more. For physical take any hollywood and bollywood heartthrob, mental strength scientists from eon, great achievers in sports, music, fine arts, all those multi billionaires of today for wealth. So, basically, in today's world whats construed as success can easily be corroborated as "greatness" isnt it,,??!

    To add my two cents - people who have overcome difficulties and faced odds in pursuit of excellence in each field without giving up their social responsibilities, loved doing their work and working for the welfare of the common man should be considered GREAT.


  11. Sorry comments does not relevant to this discussion. Could u please visit angel1600 word also discuss about Mughal and different view with your blog. If u don't mind please give me your opinion regarding the discussion on that blog.

  12. Hi Mirah

    I have seen the blog you mentioned. You will have to ask the blog writer there about the veracity of his / her posts. Some truly differ from what I have read and some seem "inspired" by posts here.

    As far as this blog is concerned, references are provided as much as possible so that you can read and verify for yourself. :)

  13. Wonderfully put, Viji :)

  14. Charu

    You have captured the essence of each of these great rulers. :) Any person who has to be considered great must show a lifelong learning and evolving curve.

  15. Ayushi

    True, a title such as "great" is best bestowed" by the people. Only then it has value. :)

    Looking fwd to read more about your views.

  16. Geeta

    Your definition of a great man being one who is a giver is beautiful.

    Can any human being be a giver? Only God can be a giver. :) By this definition, only God can be great. My mom used to say always be a giver and if you must expect something in return, expect it from God only.

    Regarding the Q of invaders, I generally differ from the common view that all invaders are bad. If we look at history, most countries have been shaped by invaders and the culture they brought in. Yes, there has been a lot of struggle, blood-shed and painful memories associated with invasions, but without them, this world would be a totally different place. There would be no merging together of cultures. Each culture would be shining in isolation.

    I would any day prefer an "invader" like Akbar over a native ruler who did nothing for his people.

    Even the greatness of our heroes like MP shines because they stood up to great invaders, not just run of the mill invaders. MP shines that much more because he stood up to a great emperor like Akbar. If MP had fought against someone like Baz Bahadur, his heroism wouldn't have been the same for us.

  17. Radhika
    There were saints, n saintly persons in the past, also at present, who dedicated their whole lives fr community service n teaching Sathya, Dharma, Shanti, Prema, n Ahimsa. Unfortunately we can't compare them with the kings.
    As u hv pointed out, it is said in Gita, that one should not hv any hesitation in asking anything frm,--- 1. God--2. one's father,--- 3. one's Guru. They r the ultimate Givers.
    I am extremely saddened by the Chittor war n impending Jauhar.We had seen this war even in JO-AK. , n also in the blog. But watching it in the MP serial, n knowing the results beforehand, is chilling. Feel like Could this hv been avoided :(

  18. Thank you Radhika :)

  19. Hi all........if you're not busy...please Abhay and u mind to discuss the recent track of Jodha Akbar serials...I can't stand watch them, dayan u find a folklore or maybe real story about Akbar being witched by a dayan? I read somewhere..may be it's one of fan fiction about it possible if Balaji make the story based on fan fiction??

  20. Thank you De, and thanks all of your for posting the wonderful thoughts here.
    It made me understand the topic of GREATness in a better manner, i can see, how all of us perceive the greatness of individuals through many parameters. It was a treat to read the opinions here. :)

  21. Mirah,
    There is no Folklore as far as i know, which says Akbar got in influence of a witch ever. It is a work of fiction only. :)

  22. Today, news in newspaper, NBT, 14 May,, King Akbar, Next generation, which is now now 12, NO, Prince, Yakub Mohammed Habibuddin Tussi, went Azmer,& prayed, he first time came, in Azmer.

    you can read here also