Sunday, May 6, 2007
Aurangzeb -- As he was according to Mughal Records -- Part I
Name - Aurangzeb (VI son of Shah Jahan)
Date of Birth – 24th October 1618
Place of birth – Dohad in Madhya Pradesh
Succession to throne
15th April 1658 -- defeated his brother Prince Dara Shukoh’s armies at Dharmat near Ujjain
29th May 1658 -- defeated Dara Shukoh’s armies led by Dara himself at Samugarh
8th June 1658 -- imprisoned his old father Shah Jahan in Agra fort
25th June 1658 -- The war of succession to the richest throne in the world was practically over with the victory on 29th May 1658, and Aurangazeb secured his position by making Murad, his brother and accomplice in his impetuous pursuit for power, his prisoner by treachery on 25th June.
Aurangzeb’s advent to the throne in his father’s lifetime was not welcome by the people of India because of the treacherous manner it was achieved in. Public opinion became all the more hostile towards him when Prince Dara Shukoh the favorite son of Shah Jahan, translator of Upanishads and a truly liberal and enlightened Musalman was taken prisoner on the Indian border as he was going to Persia.
Dara was paraded in a most undignified manner on the streets of Delhi on 29th August 1659. The French doctor Bernier was an eye witness to the scene and was deeply moved by the popular sympathy for Dara which so much alarmed Aurangzeb that he contrived to have a decree from his clerics announcing death sentence for the elder brother on the charge of apostasy.
Throughout the war of succession, Aurangzeb maintained that he was not interested in acquiring the throne and that his only objective was to ward off the threat to Islam, which was inevitable in case Dara Shukoh was in power. Many including his brother Murad were deceived by his posture. After his formal accession in Delhi (5th June 1689) he posed as a defender of Islam who would rule according to the directions of the Shariat and with the advice of the clerics or Ulma for whom the doctrines, rules, principles and directives as laid down and interpreted in the 7th and 8th C Arabia, Persia and Iraq were inviolable and unchangeable in all conditions, in all countries and for all times to come.
Prince Dara Shukoh the eldest son of Emperor Shah Jahan was like his great ancestor Akbar. He was a very liberal and enlightned Musalman and a true seeker of truth. Akbar respected all religions – Islam, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, Sikhism etc and gave their rotaries complete religious freedom. He was ever keen to discuss and understand their religious beliefs, practices and philosophy and in order to make the Musalmans familiar with the culture, philosophy and traditions of India. He had the great epics of India – Ramayana and Mahabharata translated to Persian. He also arranged for the translation of the Upanishads.
Continuing the unfinished work of Emperor Akbar, Prince Dara Shukoh too assisted by the Indian scholars translated Bhagwad Gita and Yog Vashisht. This show that Dara Shukoh had made an expansive study of the Epic poem, Mahabharata, claimed to be the fifth Veda by the Hindus, since Gita forms the last and eighteenth chapter of the epic. The translation of the Upanishads by him entitled Sirr-I-Akbar (The Grand Secret) was completed on the 28th June 1657 shortly before the commencement of the war of succession which he lost to his crafty and unscrupulous brother Aurangzeb who ruled India from 1659 – 1707.
Dara’s immense popularity and sympathy for him among the masses was evident when he along with his young son was taken out on the streets of Delhi on the 29th August 1659 in a degrading manner. The outburst of popular sympathy for Dara Shukoh and the contemptuous and sullen response which Aurangzeb had received from the people for his outrageous behaviour with his elder brother filled his dark heart with misgivings if Dara remained alive even as prisoner in the Gwalior fort or elsewhere. It was felt among his inner circle of confidants that Dara must be put to death without delay on the ground of apostasy.
Following a farcical trail in absentia the Ulma in pay of Aurangzeb decreed death for Dara for his infidelity and deviation from Islamic orthodoxy and because the pillars of the canonical law and faith apprehended many kinds of disturbances from his life. This was in reality a fraud on truth.
Prince Dara Shukoh was killed and his severed head was sent to Aurangzeb to satisfy him that his rival is really dead. By his orders, the headless corpse of his brother was placed on an elephant and paraded through the streets of Delhi a second time and then buried without the customary washing and dressing of the body.