From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Dara Shikoh and his legacy
Mains level : Secular trends in Mughal Administration
The Ministry of Culture recently set up a panel of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to locate the grave of the Mughal prince Dara Shikoh (1615-59) nearby Humayun’s Tomb complex in Delhi.
Dara Shikoh’s legacy
- The eldest son of Shah Jahan, Dara Shikoh was killed after losing the war of succession against his brother Aurangzeb.
- Dara Shikoh is described as a “liberal Muslim” who tried to find commonalities between Hindu and Islamic traditions.
- He translated into Persian the Bhagavad Gita as well as 52 Upanishads.
Antithesis to Aurangzeb
- Some historians argue that if Dara Shikoh had ascended the Mughal throne instead of Aurangzeb, it could have saved thousands of lives lost in religious clashes.
- Dara Shukoh was the total antithesis of Aurangzeb, in that he was deeply syncretic, warm-hearted and generous — but at the same time, he was also an indifferent administrator and ineffectual in the field of battle.
The remains of Dara Shikoh
- According to the Shahjahannama, after Aurangzeb defeated Dara Shikoh, he brought the latter to Delhi in chains.
- His head was cut off and sent to Agra Fort, while his torso was buried in the Humayun’s Tomb complex.
- Italian traveller Niccolao Manucci gave a graphic description of the day in Travels of Manucci, as he was there as a witness to the whole thing. That is the basis of the thesis.