Dara Shikoh

Dara Shikoh
A Forgotten Hero of Indian Cultural Synthesis
Need of Dara’s Spirit in contemporary world against terrorism

Dara Shikoh was born on 20 March 1615A.D. at Sagartal near Ajmer. It is said that his father, the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, visited the tomb of the great Chishti saint Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti and had prayed there with folded hands and down knees for a son since all his earlier children had been daughters.The prayer brought fruits and the child born had the influence of the teachings of the Sufi saint.

Dara’s was a unique and marvelous personality among the Mughal royal family. He was entirely distinct in all respects from other princes of the entire Mughal house since the establishment of the Mughal rule in 1526 till its ultimate extinction in 1764 or 1857. He had no likings for luxuries and sensual pleasures but had developed refined tastes in his life. In fact, he had combined in himself the qualities of his two great ancestors Humayun and Akbar. The habit of passing more and more time in the Library to acquire knowledge was inherites by him from Humayun who had lost his life while descending from the stairs of the royal Library, while the interest in comparative religions, universal brotherhood, humanism and peace came from the great emperor Akbar. These influences played a notable role in shaping his mind. His great mission in life was the promotion of peace and concord between the followers of Hinduism and Islam. It is true to say that at this moment when the unity of India, depends on the mutual comprehension of the two spiritual elements (Hinduism and Islam), attention can legitimately be paid to the figure of Dara Shikoh who attempted in the 17th century what Kabir and Akbar had done before him in the 15th and 16th century respectively, or what Raja Ram Mohan Roy did in the nineteenth (K.R. Qanungo).

Early Education: Formative Period of Dara:

Dara’s initiation into early education was not an exception and put like other Prices he was under the guidance of the royal teachers who taught him the Quran, Persian poetry and history. The credit goes to one tutor named Mulla Abdul Latif Saharanpuri who inculcated in him the habit of reading and unquenchable thirst for knowledge. The Sufi leanings of his tutor had great influence over young Dara. Besides this, the influence of contemporary Sufi saints had played a significant role in shaping young Dara’s mind.

Initiation in the Qadiri order and its Influence:

The prince witnessed change in his life after the initiation in the Qadiri order in 1640 A.D. and his close association with Mian Mir, Mulla Badakhashi and other saints. This was a remarkable phase of his life when he spent his major time in the royal Library busy in intensive studies in mysticism, the philosophy and the principles of the Qadiri order. This resulted in the publication of his major works on Sufism namely, the Safinat-ul-Auliya (1640 A.D.), the Sakinat-ul-Auliya ( 1643A.D.) the Risala’i Haq Numa (1647 A.D.), the Tariqat-ul-Haqiqat and the Hasanat-ul-Arifin (1653 A.D.). The first two books are biographical dictionaries of the Sufi saints and the last three contain his exposition of some of the Sufi fundamental doctrines. This was in fact a period of intellectual pursuits for Dara.

Another phase is marked by Dara’s quest for understanding of the Hindu religious systems. For this he spent many years in the study of Sanskrit and employed a large number of Pandits from Benaras. His patronage to the language brought applaud from the contemporary scholars. Prominent among them were Jaganath Mishra, Pandit Kavindracharya and Banwali Das. Jaganath Mishra even wrote a book named Jagatsimha in praise of Dara.

In his continuous search for the truth, his meeting with Baba Lal Das Bairagi proved quite enlightening. The diologues with this Hindu mendicant demonstrate his growing interest in comparative religion. Dara had compiled a summary of these teachings in Makalama Baba Lal Wa Dara Shikoh, which consists of seven long conversations between the Baba and the Prince held in 1653 A.D. This text focuses particularly on certain similarities in the teachings of Hindu and Muslim mystics.


Q-What is the beginningand end of a mendicant 

A- To attain life in afterlife                                        
    What is the preeminence of a mendicant
    To keep his head bowed
  What is the wisdom of a mystic 
  Not to befriend anyone  except God
 What is the strength  of a mystic    
  Being thin, emaciated
 What is the enlightenment of a mystic    
  To know oneself
What is the ornament/elegance of a  mystic 
     To know the greatness of God
What is the sign of a mystic   
  One whose heart is in a trance in meditation of truth
What covers the head of a  of a mystic  
    Shade of God  
What is in front of every person           
What is behind every person             
What are the two hands of a
mendicant and where  
                        Strength in spirituality and want in this world   
What is the foot of a mendicant            In the prison of mouth
What is the thought of a mystic            Service of spiritual Master
What is the internal doubt of  a mystic                Patience
What doubt nags the heart of a mendicant        That will my prayers be accepted?
How should the eye of a mendicant appear             Intoxicated
What is the carriage of a mendicant                        Belief in spiritual love
What is enjoined upon a mendicant                         Being alert day and night
Why is the mendicant passive                                  By overeating
What is the cleverness of a mendicant                 Eat and drink by rules , to be disciplined
What makes the mendicant comfortable
and gives him stability                                          To sit in a corner
What is there in renunciation                           Belief in God, the provider
Who is the guest of a mendicant                     His own body and life
What is the drink of a mendicant                     To imbibe knowledge and remain silent
Where is the door of a mendicant’s dwelling     Fear of the key to desire
Where does a mendicant stay                             The night of belief
Where is the mendicant’s court and his throne
 and pillow                                                          Movement of sky
Where is the lamp of a mendicant                      Moon, Sun
Where is the bed of a mendicant                        Earth
What is the morsel in a mendicant’s throat       Fruit of patience
What is the existence of a mendicant                To be always  prostrated
What is enjoined upon the mendicant               To offer thanks to God
What is the livelihood of a mendicant –    Eternal struggle allowed by physical capacity
What is the harm in getting livelihood with someone’s help-Creates restlessness
What is the comfort of a mystic                                          To remain single
What is the prayer of  a mystic                        To invoke the name of God and submission
What is the covetousness of   a mystic                   To aspire for ascetic exercise  
What is obligatory for mendicant                   To stay away from useless activities
What is the means of subsistence
How does he spend time                         Not to be materialistic and avoid greed
What is the path of a mystic               To know oneself as humble and belief
What is his possession                          To be silent
What is his desire              To espouse divine truth and stay away from worldly pursuits
 What is the spiritual intelligence                To remain strong in religion and faith
Which is a good attribute                        To be righteous
Who is kafir (infidel)and mulhid (heretic)   Both these titles are for one who conceals
What is the anger of a mendicant            To seek advice from others
What is the ability of a mystic                         Belief in spiritual guide
What is useless                                          To repent on what is already passed
What is concern/attachment and relevance/relationship
                                                                                              should be like camels’ bridle
Camels bridle is not good                      Important for animals but not human beings
Which instrument is good                     Which creates enthusiasm and ecstasy
Which is a good state of mind              To breed ecstasy, the state which  does not affect   
How is wine                                               Leading to ruin
How is opium                                  Harming reputation
How is poppy                                 misleading, deviating thing
What is the commandment for beer       interrupter, distraction
What is the command for decoction – if there is no opium good for the worldly but forbidden to mendicant
Does a mendicant need intoxicant          he drinks from fountain of truth, comforting intoxicant and fascinating wine, attractive blood-shot eyes, perfumed and musk-laden mind
What is the commandment for tobacco     fills up the mind with smoke
Smoking is allowed in yoga         if inhaled, without exhaling
What is attractiveness                  Heart wants to wander but good disciples stay away and turn towards God, without turning to others.

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