Dara Shikoh

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Dara Shikoh was the eldest son of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. He was born at Ajmer on 20 March 1615. When he was 19, he seriously fell ill and the physicians failed to cure him, he was taken to Mian Mir who prayed for him and recovered soon. Thenceforth Dara Shikoh’s faith exceedingly grew in the saints. His name is derived from the Persian word that means “The possessor of Glory”. His title was Shah Buland Iqbal and he was commander of 50,000 horses and the heir apparent of Shah Jehan. He was a secular-minded intellectual, open and trusting friend, translator of Sanskrit works and author of mystic themes. Though he had been appointed governor of more than one province in succession he like to remain at the capital with the result that he could not achieve maturity of character and necessary acumen in administrative and policy matters. Nonetheless, he was favored as a successor by his father as well as his sister princess Jahanara Begum.

Dara was a great patron of art and architecture. There is a town Shikohabad in Mainpuri district (U.P) named in the memory of Dara Shikoh. There were many buildings on his credit Pari Mahal in Kashmir, in Lahore Chauk Dara, Bagh-e-Dara was built in the east of Ghulabi Bagh in Lahore. As Dara was fond of Lahore, he often lived there and gained extreme popularity. He was a follower of Lahore’s famous Qadiri Sufi saint Mian Mir, who he was introduced to him by Mullah Shah Badakhshi (Mian Mir’s spritual disciple and successor). He built Mian Mir’s tomb in Lahore Cantt. and bought a village then called Haslimpur and bestowed it on his murshid Mullah Shah Badakhshi. Dara Shikoh tried hard to find a common mystical language between Islam and Hinduism. For this purpose he translated the Upanishads from its original Sanskrit into Persian. His Persian version was translated into French and Latin by a French traveler, Anquetil Duperron which profoundly influenced German philosopher Schopenhauer who launched Transcendental Movement in Germany.

His most famous work, Majma ul-Bahrain (The Mingling of the Two Oceans) was also aimed at exploring the commonalties between Sufism and Hindu Monotheism. His other works include Safinatul-Auliya (life of Mian Mir 1052), Risala-i-Maarif, Hajat-i-Shikoh, Bhagwat Gita (translation), Dialogue with Baba Lal, Yog Vashist, and Sirr-i-Akbar. He also wrote poetry under the poetic surname Qadiri; a manuscript of his Diwan is available in the Punjab Public Library. In 1659 after he was defeated by his younger brother Aurangzeb in the war of succession, Dara fled from Samurgarh towards Delhi, but after wandering in the Punjab, Sind, Gujrat and Rajputana, he was captured and put to death.

This article was last updated on Wednesday, Jan 04, 2006