The Razmnamah (Book of War) is a Persian translation of the Mahabharata. In Persian, “Razm” means “war” and “nama” means “tale” or “epic”; the name Razmnamah, therefore, means a tale of war. In 1574 Akbar started a Maktab Khana or a house of translation works in Fatehpur Sikri. He endorsed the work to a few officials to make translations of the Sanskrit books Rajatarangini, Ramayana and Mahabharata into the Persian language.
In 1582 an order was passed to translate the Mahabharata into Persian. The translation work of the Mahabharata which has one lakh Slokas was carried out during the period 1584–1586. Today a copy of this translation work can be found in the “City Palace Museum” of Jaipur. Mushfiq has contributed the paintings to this book. The speciality of this Razmnamah is the paintings of the events of Mahabharata in the book.
The second copy of the Razmnama was completed between 1598 and 1599. When compared with the first copy, the second copy is found to be more elaborate. the 161 paintings found in this copy provide illustrations of the Mahabharata. The paintings were the token of the excellence of the artists of Akbar’s time. It clearly shows the patronage of artists during Akbar’s reign.
The copies were sent to members of royal families as gifts to help them understand the Hindu religion better. According to Akbar’s courtier Abd al-Qadir Badayuni, Akbar ordered the copies to be sent to all the Amirs of his kingdom, with instructions to receive them as a gift from God. According to the preface written by Abul Fazl the historian in Akbar’s court, the intention behind these gifts and their distribution was very pious.