‘There’s no greater place to live as a human being than the subcontinent’

13 06 2008

Inset: Author Tarek Fateh

‘There’s no greater place to live as a human being than the subcontinent’

June 12, 2008

The Atelier Club in downtown Toronto was packed to capacity recently for the launch of Pakistan-born Tarek Fateh‘s book Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State.

Fateh’s book argues that Muslims have been force-fed lies about their history for over a millennium — not by Islam’s enemies, but by its imams.

‘Islam came to free humanity from the clutches of the clergy. Instead, the religion of peace has become a prisoner of war, held captive by the very priesthood it came to eliminate,’ Fateh, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, writes in his book.

In an exclusive interview Rediff India Abroad Senior Editor Ajit Jain, the prolific author, broadcaster and columnist pointed out that in India “Muslims, who are 12 per cent of that country’s population, thrive,” while “next door in Pakistan and Bangladesh,” which are Islamic States, “Muslims suffer.”

Through the book — written despite death threats against him — Fateh wants Muslims to understand that their future lies in “models that are based in India, South Africa and Canada.”

Many Muslims say Islam was supposed to be a way of life but it has become a dogma. That it has been politicised.

In some unfortunate way, it is correct. All the differences within the Muslim community, or the wars and the civil wars that have been fought, have never been about piety but about politics.

What is the solution to the increasingly political overtones to the perception of Islam?

We have to stand up to them (fundamentalists) and expose the ideology of hate. In the Indian context, this is the choice between Aurangzeb on the one side and Dara Shikoh on the other.

We know the catastrophe that happened after Aurangzeb weakened the whole of the subcontinent in his efforts to do what the Wahhabis (an ultra-conservative branch of Islam with roots in Saudi Arabia) are now doing. Aurangzeb killed his brother (Shikoh) who was the crown prince, because he (Shikoh) was very close to Hindus and Sikhs.

It is known historically how Dara Shikoh in the 16th century with the help of Hindu priests learnt Sanskrit and — again, with their help — he translated (50) Upanishads and the Bhagawad Gita into Persian, followed on what Akbar the great started, Din-e-Ilahi.

The entire thing became such a huge loss to India. Because of Aurangzeb and Islamic war, the whole country became feeble and the British were able to take over the country soon after his (Aurangzeb’s) death.

Wherever Islam has become synonymous with violence and hate, Muslims have suffered tremendously. Of course, non-Muslims have also died by the hundreds, but the main victims have always been Muslims.

The traditional orphans of the Iran monarchs or the Indians recognised this was politics. This was not seriously about religion. Religion was merely a tool that allowed them to stay in power, whether it is Saudis or ayatollahs or in the Indian context, Aurangzeb, we had catastrophes, and repression, and secular Muslims had to fight political battles against these fascists.

Also read: The average Indian Muslim wants room to survive

Image: Hundreds of Muslim faithful pray at a mosque in Toronto, Canada, September 14, 2001 for the victims of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, DC

‘Mosques have become places of politics’

June 12, 2008

You are making a distinction between such Muslims and secular Muslims.

About 50 to 60 per cent of the Muslim population is illiterate or semi-illiterate. They are not interested in political power. They barely exist, whether they are in Bihar or they are in Mauritius. They simply want to survive. This gain is for 1 to 2 per cent of the Muslim population. Through political power, they can send messages out.

Who are they?

Primarily the Saudi royal family, the ruling ayatollahs in Iran — some ayatollahs are in jails in Iran — and clerics everywhere.

Look at the structures of mosques in Toronto, or elsewhere in Canada. These are large properties. The imam is employed by the board and in many cases takes over the entire structures. I know one organisation that has a property worth $15 million accumulated by the congregation giving cash. Where does this money go? Anyone who controls that amount of money is in politics. He can manipulate lawmakers. He can buy memberships into political parties. He can hire buses and send them to demonstrations. This is what’s happening.

It is in the interest of these people to keep Islam politicised so that they can be self-appointed leaders who can communicate with the Western politicians. The ordinary Muslim who is driving a cab or (is) even a physician doesn’t have time for all this nonsense. These guys are taking advantage of it.

I have suggested, therefore, that donations given to religious institutions by Canadians shouldn’t be in cash but by cheques or credit cards. The money from outside comes in cheques anyway, except there’s no way for anybody finding out what’s happening in the mosques, as there’s no accountability of where this money goes.

There should be a maximum limit that an individual can donate in cash. He should give a cheque or a credit card, beyond that cash. The mosque will never accept that because it is then traceable.

Mosques have become places of politics, which is dangerous. Some mosques are openly defying their charters as charities because they indulge in politics. Every sermon is political because they invite politicians to speak and instead of looking after the affairs of the community and serving their spiritual needs, they [mosques] have become places of bargaining with political parties.

How do you distinguish between an Islamist and a Muslim?

An Islamist is someone who believes in invoking Islam for a political agenda. A Muslim, on the other hand, uses Islam as a moral compass for his betterment and the betterment of his family. An Islamist is also a Muslim but a Muslim is not an Islamist.

India’s first education minister, Abul Kalam Azad, a most respected statesman in the country, was not an Islamist. He was against Islamists. Similarly, there are many ayatollahs in Iran who are in jails — as they are not Islamists.

Also read: ‘Muslim fundamentalism simply has not played a significant role in Indian politics’

‘Saudi Arabia, sadly, is a racist State’

June 12, 2008

Some people say the Islamic world is divided into the privileged class of Saudis and ayatollahs and the ‘second class’ of ordinary Muslims.

It is more than that. The Saudi Muslim does consider a non-Arab Muslim as inferior. Saudi Arabia, sadly, is a racist State. It has salaries based on the colour of your skin, where an Indian Muslim is discriminated more than an Indian Hindu because a Hindu doesn’t pray five times a day but a Muslim does.

It is purely commercial and racial. There’s no element of spirituality. They have Kentucky Fried Chicken right around the house of god. It is an insult to the faith what the Saudis have done. And ayatollahs have become millionaires who are buying properties in Canada.

If you live in Pakistan, why should you care what the Saudis think of you?

Because I care what white people think of black people in the civil rights movement. It is an insult to me as a human being not to accept when racism, sectarianism and hatred of other human beings is being dressed up in my faith. It is an outrage.

Is Islamism confined within the borders of Saudi Arabia and Iran?

It is happening in Canada. It is happening because of Saudi money. The Islam of Indonesia, Malaysia or Bengal, Bihar, Punjab is different as the spiritual faith there is completely depoliticiced.

You go to any Muslim cemetery in Canada — you will not see a single tombstone. Why? This is a culture that celebrates the Taj Mahal, and in Canada we are not allowed to put a stone on the head of a child or a parent or a grandfather. Who decided that? The Saudi funded imams. This is contrary to all Islamic traditions. Go to any other country and you can see beautiful mausoleums, but here in Canada the imams, through Saudi influence, the city councils, have decreed that cemeteries here will have no tombstones. This is all Wahhabi influence.

In your book you discuss the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam and the United Nations’ human rights declaration.

The UN Declaration of Universal Human Rights, enacted unanimously in 1948, allows freedom of choice of religion — which means no coercion (on) who should believe in what faith. In many Muslim countries, they have decreed that if you choose to convert from Islam to any other religion, you should be punished by death. Second is the equality of man and woman. Such laws cannot be created from the divine text.

So, we have these 57 countries, members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, who are controlled by the Saudis. Their head office is in Saudi Arabia. They fund the entire organisation. So, nobody can object to anything they want to do. They are principally involved in keeping the Muslim world in the era of darkness. Many Muslim States argue that the UN Declaration of Human Rights is part of the Judeo-Christian traditions and so it shouldn’t be applicable to the Muslim world. It is astonishing.

In my point of view you are walking into a territory that’s divine, reserved for god. Who is someone to tell me I am coming to your house and so you should convert your faith or I will kill you? That’s what’s happening because the moment a Muslim says that I think there’s a problem here and what should we do, they issue a fatwa to kill you.

They expelled (Bangladeshi writer) Taslima Nasrin after pressure from Kolkata Muslims. It is horrible. It is a disgrace not only for Muslims but also for the Indian government to have done that. That woman had to run away and that shows how sometimes non-Muslims also become complicit, saying what do we care if one Muslim kills another Muslim.

mage: An aerial view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Photograph: Abdel Monaem Al-Keiyi/AFP/Getty Images

Also read: ‘Who is the ideological mastermind behind the new Taliban?’

Trying to make Pakistan into an Arab country is never going to work’ June 12, 2008

If Muslims can live in peace and harmony in India, why can’t they live in peace and harmony in Pakistan, a country supposedly created for them?

The movement for Pakistan was never by the people that comprise Pakistan today. The movement for Pakistan was essentially by upper class Muslims of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.

Right up to 1946, Balochistan and Sindh were not voting for the Muslim League. They were voting for the (Indian National) Congress party. Balochistan was an independent state and they declared their independence three days before India’s Independence. The coalition government headed by Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy in Bengal was the result of Direct Action Day of August 16, 1945, which led to the massacre — actually genocide — of Hindus in Noakhali (now in Bangladesh). It happened when in fact Muslims and Hindus there lived happily for hundreds of years.

Why would a Muslim find living in Pakistan problematic?

Because the idea that some sort of an Islamic state has to be created can never function. It will result in failure when you set impossible targets from the first day. That is the problem. Pakistan as a secular country, like (Mohammad Ali) Jinnah said in his opening speech, never functioned. It resulted in the cleansing of all Hindus and Sikhs from Punjab.

Punjab is primarily 60 to 70 per cent of Pakistan. It was left completely wounded and destroyed. It is only now West Punjab is reconciling with its close links with East Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. It was a living organism that was cut into two.

India was so large that it managed to take those wounds but Pakistan, being comparatively a smaller country, its heritage was linked with northern India. You are trying to make Pakistan into an Arab country. It is never going to work.

Image: An Indian bus driver is embraced by a Pakistani after arriving at the Wagah border post, March 24, 2006. The first bus bringing Indian pilgrims arrived in Pakistan on way to Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. Photograph: Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images

Also read: Pakistan: Geopolitical epicentre of Islamist jihad

In the heartland of Punjab and Sindh, no one says a negative word about India’ June 12, 2008

Your thoughts on the India-Pakistan dynamics.

It is in the interest of the armed forces to continue to raise the bogey of an Indian threat to exploit the whole country. So, from 1954 they have dissolved the constitution, they have raped the country, they have created wars with India that nobody wanted. It is an open secret that what General Ayub Khan did in 1965 is exactly what Pervez Musharraf did in Kargil. There’s no evidence of India ever attacking Pakistan. The people of Pakistan are quite aware of this.

The fact is that the army can only keep control over a large share of Pakistan’s budget if it can continue to say that it is India that has its eyes on Pakistan and it will finish it off. That fear of India has been hammered to such a degree that it (the bogey of India) has been able to survive.

I believe the people of Pakistan are smart enough, and they have realised that their future is in friendship with India rather than Iran or Saudi Arabia. They have lived in these two countries. Indians and Pakistanis are treated in a shallow manner there.

When a Pakistani is visiting India, people won’t let you pay for your meal. The same is true when an Indian is visiting Pakistan. Canadian Sikhs are going to Pakistan to visit Nankana Sahib. They come back and say that they couldn’t believe it felt like home. In the heartland of Punjab and Sindh, you will not find anyone to say a negative word about India.

In India you might find people who are less aware of Pakistan but in Pakistan everybody knows that their brothers and sisters are Sikhs and Hindus who are on the other side of the border.

In my book I have stated my ancestors are Hindus. We migrated from Rajasthan to Punjab after a famine in early 1800 and we converted to Islam and our family settled there.

Despite different religion, people of Pakistan are smart and resilient. Sixty to 70 per cent of Pakistanis are Punjabis. So, as long as in Lahore and West Punjab there’s goodwill towards India, the army cannot continue to create this myth that India is going to attack Pakistan.

Do you think one day Pakistan and India will be like the European Union?

Absolutely. I am 100 per cent sure it will happen because of goodwill. It will happen because of the laws of nature, because we are one people. We have common cuisine, common culture, common language, common clothes, common sense of humour, common geography, common weather — except, some believe in Bhagwan, some believe in Khuda, some believe in Namokar Mantra, and some don’t believe in anything.

There’s no greater place on this earth to live as a human being than the subcontinent. India as a subcontinent is a marvel of god’s creation. There should never be a communal clash because so much of Islam and Hinduism have been together. We need to bring Kabir’s Bhakti movement back, which the British crushed in such a crafty manner that we were left paralysed.

Image: Indian and Pakistani flags at the Wagah border post. Photograph: Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images

Also read: ‘If the LoC is opened, more harm will be caused to Pakistan’

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FACT Presentation and Dara Shikoh

10 11 2007

FACT Presentation Video

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.

Similarly, he found some common elements in the Qadiri ashghal and the yogic meditational exercises of the Hindus which made him translate the Yoga Vasistha into Persian in 1650 A.D. In the same vein to understand Indian philosophical thought he also translated the Bhagwatgita in the same year.

Dara’s sustained researches in comparative religions came out in the form of an extremely remarkable book known as Majma-ul Bahrain or the mingling of the two oceans. Here he employees the term ‘two oceans’ for Sufism and Hinduism. This book came to light in 1656, just three years prior to his execution. In fact it was a pioneering attempt to find out the commonalities between Sufism and Hindu monotheism. He describes this book as ‘a collection of truth and wisdom of two truth-knowing groups’. This book shows Dara Shikoh’s belief in the unity of all religions.

His spiritual quest for monotheistic strands in Hindu philosophy was a continuous process. This led him to study the Upnishads and with the help of some scholars of Benaras he translated 50 Upnishads from Sanskrit to Persian. The text he prepared, the Sirr-i-Akbar, ‘the Great Secret’ was completed in 1657. He was of the firm opinion that the ‘Great Secret’ of the Upnishads is the monotheistic message, which is identical to that on which the Quran is based.

The aim behind the translation of these Hindu religious works was to search common elements in Hinduism and Islam and he draws remarkable parallels between the concepts described in the holy Quran and the Upnishads with respect to tauhid or unity of God. The comparison led him to reach on the conclusion that the Quran and the Upnishads represented two different facts of God. In the introduction of this book he states with full boldness his speculatve hypothesis that the work referred to in the Quran as the “Kitab-al-Maknum” or the hidden book is none other than the ital. This annoyed the orthodox mullas who issued a fatwa (decree) against him. These statements were exploited by his political opponents also and provided them an execute to execute him with utmost cruelity in 1659. Though his search for the truth cost him his life, his was a pioneering effort at religious synthesis or syncretism.

The Diwan and the Quatraims of Dara:

The prince was a great poet in the eyes of his contemporary intellectuals. His Diwan known as the Iksir-i-Azam is extant which is described as “incomparable and heart-pleasing” by his spiritual guide Mulla Shah.The author of Khazinat-ul-Asfiyat remarks about his poetry that “his poetry is like the ocean of unitarianism, flowing out of his pearl scattering tongue; or like the sun of Monotheism, rising from the horizon in the manner of his luminous opening verse (matla’)”. He has expressed his Sufistic views in quatrains and ghazals. Besides his poetic accomplishments, he seems to have been very well-read in classical Persian literature.

Dara’s genius is also reflected in other fields such as fine arts, music and dancing. He patronized these artistic pursuits. His interest was also reflected in paintings. He demonstrated his genius by drawing many paintings which could be compared with those by a professional artists of his time. His album which he presented to his wife, Nadira Bano, was later deposited in the royal library.

The above description demonstrates that Dara was a gentle and pious Sufi intellectual and a true and perhaps the greatest representative of Indian cultural synthesis. It can be easily imagined as to how different India would have been had he emerged successful against his orthodox brother Aurangzeb. The defeat of Dara was in a sense, the defeat of liberal Indian ideas.





A Diwali for ALL Indians: Francois Gautier

8 11 2007

A Diwali for ALL Indians

Francois Gautier

(Reproduced from Rediff.com)
Source: http://www.rediff.com/news/2007/nov/07francois.htm

November 07, 2007

Diwali is the Festival of Lights. This Light is symbolic of the spread of Knowledge. What is this Knowledge that is still alive in this wonderful country which we call India?

Firstly and foremost: ‘I accept you; I accept that you may be White or Black, Red or Yellow, Christian, Buddhist, or Muslim. I accept that God may manifest at different times, under different names, using different scriptures. Thus God is Krishna, but also Jesus Christ, Buddha or Mohammad.’ This is an extraordinary statement and a marvellous instrument towards world peace, at a time where terrorism is striking everywhere in the world in the name of One God.
It is also a Knowledge that only the body dies, but not the soul, which is born and reborn again till it achieves perfection. A Knowledge that whatever you do bears consequences in this life or another. A Knowledge that all human beings are made out of Love, even beneath the hate and the killings.

And also: ‘I have inherited from my ancestors the tools to become a better man, whatever my religion, ethnicity and profession: a better Christian, a better Hindu, a better Muslim.’
What are these tools?

Hatha yoga, India’s gift to the world, which has been copied and imitated everywhere.

Meditation, this extraordinary technique of coming back to one’s Self, of settling the mind and the body, which is today practised by millions around the world — another bequest of India to humanity.

Pranayama, the science of respiration, perfected by Indians for three millenniums.

“Does the breath have any religion,” asks His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the Art of Living movement, which has spread today in 140 countries. “Is the air we breathe around us Muslim, Christian, or Hindu?”

This knowledge thus does not only belong to Hindus, but also to the Buddhists, Christians, Jains and Muslims of India.

Once upon a time, the Syrian Christians of Kerala [Images], though they remained faithful to the word of Jesus Christ, had incorporated some basic tenets of Hinduism such as reincarnation and karma.

Once upon a time, great Sufis such as Dara Shikoh, Shah Jahan’s eldest and preferred son (who should have become emperor instead of Aurangzeb), while remaining true Muslims (and not apostate ones), could translate the Upanishads and step into a temple without thinking they were committing a mortal sin.

Once upon a time, Sikhism was born out of Dharma, to defend the Hindu Dharma and neither Sikh nor Hindu saw any difference between themselves. Once upon a time, Buddha, although he did strike against ritualism and hereditary Brahmanism, did not found a religion, but a path that led to the same Ananda he came from.

This knowledge is unique to India. For the West has lost the truth. We have lost the Great Sense, the meaning of our evolution, of why so much suffering, why dying, why getting born, why this earth, who are we, what is the soul, what is reincarnation, where is the ultimate truth about the universe. And this will be India’s gift to this planet during this century: To restore to the world its true sense; to recharge humanity with the real meaning and spirit of life.

Thus, if you are an Indian settled abroad, whatever your religion, you should carry that identity in your actions and your aura, that you may shine without words, for it is a great privilege and responsibility to be born an Indian. Yet, too often, Indians in the US or Canada [Images], or even the UK for that matter, hide their identities and try to merge into the mainstream culture, becoming more American than Americans, more British than the British.

Sometimes Indians are even ashamed to say that they are Indians and it is a tragedy to themselves and to their children, who lose the connection with one of the most ancient cultures in the world, which is not a religion but the last living spirituality on this planet.

You should also know that today this Knowledge is under attack from all sides. Foremost, from the Globalisation and Westernisation which is taking place at the moment in India at a frantic pace. Television channels and advertisements must be the biggest culprits.

Is white the most beautiful colour, does having a white skin make you so hep? Do a cell phone, a suit or a fancy car really make you a man? This is what millions of innocent villagers or lower middle class viewers are enticed to believe.

There is also a rapid Christianisation of many villages in India, whether in Tamil Nadu post-tsunami, or in the North-East where innocent tribals are converted with the help of million of dollars.

What about the radicalism that seems to grip some Muslim youth? Nowhere but in India do they have so much freedom to practise their faith. And we know that the Pakistani or Bangladeshi bombers in Hyderabad or Mumbai could never function without the active participation of some Indian Muslims.

Lastly Hindu renegades, those intellectuals who want to cut off India at any cost from her past and make a copy — however brilliant — of a Marxism which has died everywhere else, or of the United States of America, where violence, divorce and depression are affecting three persons out of five, are extremely active at the moment, thanks to a government who chooses to close its eyes while this is going on.

Yet, it is for this Precious Knowledge that all Indians, be they Hindu, Muslim, Christian, or Sikh, should retain their dharmic identity, while being faithful to their Creed or Supreme God. This Diwali thus should symbolise for all Indians, the rekindling of this Light in their hearts.
Let Mother India protect shine in them and rekindle their common indentity beyond their religions.

A Happy And True Diwali to ALL Indians.

Francois Gautier





Dara shikoh A life sketch in brief

5 11 2007

Darashikoh:

Picture : Dara Shikoh Cured

Source: allaboutsikhs.com

Source from “A daydream By Khurram Ali Shafique. DAWN:
The Review, March 15-21, 2001″

Dara was born on 20 March, 1615. He was the eldest son of Prince Khurram (later Shahjehan), the heir apparent of the emperor Jehangir.

He was, however, about twelve years old when along with Aurangzeb (three years younger) he was sent as a hostage to his grandfather after the failure of Shahjehan’s revolt.

When Shahjehan took over the throne in 1628, he made no secret of his desire for Dara to inherit the throne from him.

he got married in 1637, he immediately developed an obsession for his wife that was to last till her death shortly before his own.

He was formally initiated in to Qadiriyya ?ufi silsila by Mulla Shah into the Qadiriyya silsila sometime in 1639 or 1640.

In 1640 he initiated formally into the Qadiri Order of Sufism, and the same year he came up with his first book, Sakinatul Auliya. It was a collection of biographical sketches of notable Muslim saints.

Dara’s intellectual pursuits took a steep turn upon his meeting Baba Lal Bairagi, a Hindu Gnostic. Dara has recorded his conversations with Baba Lal in a short book titled, Mukalama Bab Lal wa Dara Shikoh.

FAiled attempt invasion of Qandahar in 1655, where Shahjehan finally agreed to allow Dara to lead an army.

in 1657, Dara Shikoh came out with his greatest masterpiece: Sirr-e-Akbar (The great secret), a translation of the Upanishads into Persian. Completed in 1657 with the help of several pandits from Veranasi Dara Shikoh’s translation of Upanishads is usually regarded in high esteem by the scholars in that field. It is also suggested by some historians that the Persian translation of Upanishad probably made it most accessible to the Europeans of the time as they were more familiar with the Persian language than they were with Sanskrit.

In 1657, Dara Shikoh was 43, Shah Shuja 41, Aurangzeb 39 and Murad 33. All of them were governors of various provinces: Dara was the governor of Punjab, Murad of Gujarat, Aurangzeb of the Deccan and Shah Shuja of Bengal. Two of them emerged as clear frontrunners in the race: Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb.

In 1658, Shahjehan fell ill and Dara took over as the acting emperor, just as was expected of him. Aurangzeb quickly made a coalition with Murad and defeated Dara Shikoh at the famous Battle of Samogarh.

Once, Dara Shikoh (the eldest son of emperor Shah Jahan), came to Guru Har Rai asking for help in the war of succession with his brother the Murderous Aurangzeb. The Guru had promised his grandfather to use the Sikh Cavalry only in defense. He, never the less,helped him to escape safely from the bloody hands of Aurangzeb’s armed forces by having his Sikh warriors hide all the ferry boats at the river crossing used by Dara Shikoh in his escape.

Two months after his coronation in June 1659, Aurangzeb enacted a speedy trial of Dara Shikoh where the judges declared him a heretic and the unfortunate prince was condemned to death in August 1659.

It is said that when Dara saw his executioners approaching him he declared that a prince must never die without putting up a brave fight. A kitchen knife was all he could lay his hands on, and he went ahead fighting the swords of his aggressors with this pitful weapon. He was eventually assassinated and it is said that the city of Delhi was shrouded in official mourning when the body of Dara Shikoh was displayed in its streets. He was later laid at rest, quite aptly, inside the premises of Humayun mausoleum.

the elder son of Emperor Shãhjahan( r. 1627-1658 AD.) fell ill. Inspite of the best efforts of Hakims. he could not be cured. The rare medicine needed for his ailment was nowhere available. Information reached the Royal Hakim that required medicine was available with Guru Har Râi (1630-1661 A.D.). He came personally to the Guru Sahib and requestcd for the medicine. Guru Sahib gave him the rare medicine required for the treatment and also sent a pearl which was to be ground into fine powder and taken with the medicine.





FACT has started the commissioning of the next project after "Shivaji" Dara Shikoh

31 10 2007

Fact exhibition: Darashikoh translating vedas elder brother of aurangazeb

FACT EXHIBITION: Prince DARA SHIKOH parded as prisoner his guilt trying to translate vedas into Pesian

This image is from the online gallery of the British Library
One might ask Why Dara now ? The answer lies in his tolerence and rather more than that the respect for other religions a sufi himself, there was and is no doubt the History of India would have been completely richer and wonderful if he was the Emperor. The world needs more him and the world shall know much more after this exhibition…. about the Sufi student and saint.

Dara Shikoh (with Mian Mir and Mulla Shah) c.a. 1635

FACT has started the commissioning of the next project after “Shivaji” Dara Shikoh. A small intro courtesy WIKIPEDIA

For a detailed and analysed history of Dara one can always visit Beyond ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ – Dara Shikoh’s Quest for Spiritual Unity by Yoginder Sikand

Or this nice piece Sarmad the Armenian and Dara Shikoh By Majid Sheikh

Dara Shikoh (1615–1659) was the eldest son of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal. His name is from Persian داراشكوه meaning “The possessor of Glory”. He was favoured as a successor by his father and his sister Jahanara Begum, but was defeated by his younger brother Aurangzeb in a bitter struggle for the Mughal throne.

Dara Shikoh was a gentle and pious Sufi intellectual, one of the greatest representatives of that uniquely Indian synthesis sometimes referred to as the “composite culture”. He was an erudite champion of mystical religious speculation (which made him a heretic in the eyes of his more orthodox brother and the coterie around him) and a poetic diviner of syncretic cultural interaction among people of all faiths. Historians have speculated how different India would have been had he prevailed over his less enlightened brother Aurangzeb. Dara 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). He 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, where he states boldly, in the Introduction, his speculative hypothesis that the work referred to in the Qur’an as the “Kitab al-maknun” or the hidden book is none other than the Upanishads. 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.