What Were the Nine Gems of Akbar?

The Nine Gems of Akbar were an advisory council for the Mughal Emperor Akbar. Their names were Abul Fazl, Faizi, Mian Tansen, Raja Birbal, Raja Todar Mal, Raja Man Singh, Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khan, Fagir Aziao Din and Mullah Do Piaza. Akbar intended that this advisory council enlighten and guide him during his reign. The Nine Gems were named so because of their intellectual prowess and talents.

The Mughal Emperor Akbar was illiterate but did not allow that to prevent him from satisfying his intellectual curiosity. Under his reign, music, architecture and art all flourished, attracting intellectual minds to his court. The Nine Gems weren't a homogeneous group, consisting of writers, singers, poets, finance ministers and warriors, with their talents often overlapping. They weren't restricted by class either; Raja Birbal began life as a poor Brahmin who entered Akbar's court by virtue of his wit and wisdom, working as a court jester and later as his minister.

Dr. Neria H. Hebbar hypothesizes that Akbar's difficulties with reading stemmed from dyslexia, while Gur Rattan Pal Singh of The Tribune regards the formation of the Nine Gems as a way of compensating for his illiteracy. Regardless, Akbar demonstrated powerful curiosity and tolerance, regularly assembling religious leaders to hear their competing ideologies and encouraging art and intellectualism to flourish.