Saturday, 10 October 2015

DARA SHIKOH - THE ENLIGHTENED PRINCE


DARA SHIKOH


Prince Shahab ud-din Muhammad Khurram's (Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan) prayers at the Dargah of great Sufi mystic Hazarat Kwaja Moinuddin Hassan Chisti at Ajmer, for a male heir, was answered on Safar 19, 1024 AH (March 20, 1615 AD) by the birth of a male child to his beloved wife Arjumand Banu Begam (queen Mumtaz Mahal) at Sagartal near Ajmer. Grand father Emperor Jahangir named the child Dara Shikoh,in Persian meaning "Darius the magnificent". His full name was "Sultan Mohammed Dara Shikoh"


Dara Shikoh was a unique personality among the Mughal dynasty from 1526 AD to 1827 AD. Like other Mughal princes,  he had his earlier education from Maulvis attached to the Royal Court, who taught  Al Qur'an, Persian literature and History. The chief instructor Mullah Abdul Latiff Shahranpuri a liberal Sufi muslim,  encouraged the young Prince  a thrist for gaining knowledge in metaphysics and speculative sciences.The mystical and intellectual environement of that Mughal times nurtured Prince Dara the deep interest in pursuit of gaining knowledge in arts and litereture. During this period, young Dara interacted with host of Islamic and Hindu mystics, Pundits and yogis, including Shah Muhibhulla, Shah Dilruba, Muhammad Nisanulla Rostaki, Baba Lal Das Bairagi and Pandit Jagannath Mishra ,  some of them excercised profound influence on him. The most noted among them was Hazrat Miyan Mir, the Quadri Sufi of Lahore, who had laid foundation stone of Golden Temple of Sikhs at Amritsar. Impressed by the teachings of Hazrat Mir, Dara got initiated to Quadri Sufi order.After the initiation into quadri order, Prince Dara spent more time with his preceptor Hazarat Mian Mir, Mulla Badakhashi and other Sufi saints which encouraged him in the deep study of mysticism. During this period Prince Dara published his major writings on Sufism. These are the Safinat-ul-Aulia (1640 AD), the Sakinat-ul-Aulia (1653 AD), both biographical sketch of Sufi Saints and three more books, exposition on Sufi fundamental doctrines, the Risala'i Haq Numa (1647 AD) the Tariqat-ul-Haqiqat and the Hasanat-ul-Arifin (1653 AD).


Dara Shikoh  was deeply interested in comparative religions, universal brotherhood and humanism, which he had imbibed from his great grandfather Emperor Akbar and deep interest in studies from Humayun. These influences played a notable role in developing his personality. Dara Shikoh had no liking for luxurious life  or sensual pleasures, instead developed refined tastes in life. His interests turned towards finding common grounds between Islam and Hindu thoughts. For this purpose Dara spent many years in the study of Sanskrit and employed a large number of Pandits from Benaras including contemporary scholars Pandit Jagannath Misra, Pandit Kavindracharya and Banvali Das. Pandit Misra has written a book "Jagatsimha" in praise of Dara. After his interaction with Baba Lal Das Bairagi, Dara brought out a summery of his teachings in a booklet "Makalama Baba Lal wa Dara Shukoh" highlighting similarities in the teachings of Hindu and Muslim Mystics. He found  common elements in Quadiri Ashghal and Yogic meditational techniques, which inspired him to bring out Persian tranlation of Yogavasishta in 1650 AD. followed by a Persian translation of Bhagavad-Gita.



In all,Dara Shikoh arranged for translation of fifty-two Upanishads into Persian, and had named it "Sirr-e-Akbar" (the Great Secret). In its forward Dara Shikoh writes " I had collected a large number of Hindu Pandits and Sanyasis from Benaras, the center of the Hindu lore and wisdom, with whose help I completed this work within six months in Delhi" (by June 28, 1657 AD).

Dara Shikoh's efforts to find commonality in comparative religions resulted in bringing out  an extremely remarkable book "Majma-ul Bahrain" - "The Mingling of two Oceans" (1656 AD) considered his magnum opus.He describes this book as "the collection of truth and wisdom of two truth knowing groups".

In the notes given in the book "Travels in the Mogul Empire 1656-1668 AD" by french traveller Francois Bernier, it is stated:

"Dara Shikoh, when Governor or Viceroy of Benares, in 1656,caused a Persian translation to be made from the Sanskrit text of the Upanishads ('the word that is not to be revealed'), which he called the Sarr-i-Asrar, or Secret of Secrets. This translation, which was made by a large staff of Benares Pandits, has been rendered into Latin by Anquetil-Duperron, and published by him at Paris, 1801, under the title of Oupnekhat {id est, Secreticm I'egendum) opus ipsain India rarissimum, etc. etc.."

This latin version got in the hands of German Philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, and was later translated into German by Friederich Max Muller for Philosopher Friedrich Schelling. Later this was translated into many European languages.


Dara Sukoh was a patron of fine arts, poetry and dance. He was well read in classical Persian literature. He himself had written poems in Persian. He had expressed his sufistic views in beautiful quatrains and Gazals. He was an accomplished artist and calligraphist. He had left a collection of his paintings and calligraphy collected from 1630 till his death in an album known as "Dara Shukoh Album", which is believed to be in British Library now.

On February 1, 1633 AD, Dara Shikoh married Karim-un-Nisa Nadira Banu Begum, his first cousin, daughter of his paternal uncle Sultan Parvez Mirza. They led  a happy and successful married life. Dara never took another woman as wife. Though the couple had eight children, only two sons and two daughters survived.


Emporer Shah Jahan formally declared his elest son Dara Shukoh as his heir on September 10, 1642 AD. and granted him the title "Shahzada-e- Buland Iqbal" Prince of High Fortune.

How ever, the spate of misfortunes overtook the life of the Prince when Emporer Shah Jahan fell ill in September 1657AD. A desperate power struggle triggered among the four Princes. Aurangzeb and Murad joined togather and defeated Prince Dara in the battle of Samugarh. Aurangzeb grabbed the throne in 1658 AD, and imprisoned his father in Agra Fort, where Shah Jahan died after eight years. Dara had to run away to Sindh to seek the help of Malik Jiwan, Afghan Chieftain. Later Dara was caught by Aurangzeb due to the treachery of the same Malik Jiwan, and brought to Delhi and humiliated. At the instance of Aurangzeb, Prince Dara was accused of infidelity and heresy by a religious court and put in prison and executed on August 30, 1659 AD. under Royal decree issed by Aurangzeb. It is said after his death his head was cut and sent on a platter to his father Shah Jahan lamenting in Agra fort.

Had this gentle and pious intellectual Prince ruled our Country, history would have taken a different course of religious tolerance and amity. Prince Dara Shikoh was a devout Muslim, it is said he used to chant Allah's name before translating Upanishads.

His body lies buried in a nondescript grave in the burial complex at Emperor Humayun's tomb in Delhi.

   
Brahmanyan,
Bangalore.


2 comments:

kasthuri keerthi said...

mahodhaya,
I need to read the book jagatsimha written in the praise of dara shikoh by jaganath mishra.will you please guide me where it is avalable?

Brahmanyan said...

Though I have referred the book written by Pundit Jagannath Misra in my blog on Prince Dara Shikoh, I have not come scross book on " Jagathsimha" written by him. How ever I shall pass on the information to you if and when I get the same.
Regards,
Brahmanyan.