8. Help for Dara Shikoh

Dara Shikoh (1615–1659) was the eldest son of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal. His name is from Persian and means "The possessor of Glory". He was favored as a successor by his father and his sister Jahanara Begum, but was defeated and killed by those seeking to please his younger brother Aurangzeb in a bitter struggle for the Mughal throne.

Ulema Jealousy of the Sikhs

Later, when Aurangzeb's forces chased Dara seeking his death before he could rally forces to retake the Mughal throne, Dara Shikoh came to the Punjab and sought the protection and help of Guru Har Rai. The Guru not wanting to defy his grandfather’s tenets would not allow the Sikhs to aid in an armed confrontation. But his tactical manoeuvres delayed the crossing of the river at Goindwal of Aurangzeb’s army, thus enabling Dara to escape. The Guru’s strong cavalry of 2,300 riders had removed all the boats which the Mughal army had needed to cross the river. The Sikhs aid in Dara’s escape had already developed bitterness in Aurangzeb’s mind against the Sikhs. The humane practices of Guru Har Rai as opposed to the atrocities of the Mughals, had led to many Hindus whether Dalit or Brahmin to turn to Sikhism instead of accepting Islam. Guru Har Rai’s accomplishments were angering the Muslim clergy around Aurangzeb. They incited the Emperor claiming that lines in the Holy Granth Sahib disparaged the Holy Qur'an and Muslim doctrine. They asked him to summon the Guru to Delhi to explain these phrases.

More About Him

In 1657, the illness of emperor Shah Jahan triggered a fierce and desperate battle for power among the four Mughal princes -Dara Shikoh, Shuja Muhammad, Aurangzeb, and Murad Baksh though realistically only Dara and Aurangzeb had a chance to emerge victorious. Shah Shuja declared himself emperor in Bengal. Despite strong support from Shah Jahan, who had recovered enough from his illness to remain a strong factor in the struggle for supremacy, and victories over Shah Shuja, Dara was defeated by Aurangzeb at the battlefield of Samogarh, 13 km from Agra on 8 June 1658. He attempted to rally support after this defeat, and sought refuge under Malik Jiwan, a Baluch chieftain, who had once been saved by the Moghul prince from the wrath of Shah Jehan. However, Malik betrayed Dara and and turned him over to his brother Aurangzeb. Marched through the streets of the capital in chains, he was at first held prisoner, and then cruelly killed by men seeking the favor of his brother. It is said that Aurangzeb beheaded the corpse of Dara Shikoh and had his severed head taken to their father. Dara Shikoh was a gentle and pious Sufi intellectual. He favored religious tolerance, and coexistence between Hindus and Muslims. Many historians have speculated how different India would have been had he prevailed over his fierce fundamentalist brother Aurangzeb. Dara Shikoh was a follower of Lahore's famous Qadiri Sufi Saint Mian Mir, whom he was introduced to by Mullah Shah Badakhshi (Mian Mir's spiritual disciple and successor). Shikoh devoted much effort towards finding a common mystical language between Islam and Hinduism. Towards this goal he translated the Upanishads from its original Sanskrit into Persian so it could be read by Muslim scholars. His translation is often called "Sirre Akbar" or The Greatest Mystery while in Arabic, the Upanishads are referred to as "Kitab al-maknun" or the hidden book. His most famous work, Majma ul-Bahrain ("The Mingling of the Two Oceans") was also devoted to finding the commonalities between Sufism and Hindu Monotheism. He was also a patron of fine arts, music and dancing, a trait frowned upon by his sibling Aurangzeb. In fact many of his paintings are quite detailed and compare well to a professional artist of his time. The Dara Shikoh album is a collection of paintings and calligraphy assembled during the 1630s until his death. It was presented to his wife Nadira Banu and remained with her until her death after which the album was taken into the royal library and the inscriptions connecting it with Dara Shikoh were deliberately, erased; however not everything was vandalised and many calligraphy scripts and paintings still bear his mark.