Tag Archives: Mughals

Dara shukoH: i was not a terrorist

In the name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate. God is the first, the Last, the Manifest and the Hidden.

Praise be to the absolute existence. God’s essence manifests so that the seed of  Perfection, which lies latent within it, may become patent.

My friend, the human spirit has entered this framework of the body so that which is potential may become actual, and may return, enriched with all experiences, to its original source.

I was born on 11 March 1615 in Ajmer. I was the eldest son of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Begum. My father named me Dara Shukoh; Dara means wealth or star, it is interesting that second part of my name is spelled in two ways where “Shikoh,” stands for terror and “Shukoh,” means glory, splendour and grandeur in Persian.

I was Sufi natured and peace loving. I was a disciple of religious gurus like Baba Lal, companion of Saint Kabir, Mullah Shah Badakhshi; I was a friend of the naked mystic Sarmad Kashani of Jewish Armenian antecedents. I was also a friend of 7th Sikh guru Har Rai.

As part of Mughal norms, I studied Quran, Persian, history poetry and calligraphy. Compared to my father and brother Aurangzeb I have huge respect towards Hinduism. I have spent time with Hindu Pandits and Sadhus to know more about Hinduism. I spent time translating Upanishads in Persian language which was an attempt to reduce differences between Islam and Hinduism in Hindustan. I devoted much of the efforts towards finding a common mystical language between Islam and Hinduism. My spiritual incessant quest for monotheistic strands in Hindu philosophy led me to study the Upanishads, and with the help of some scholars of I managed to translate 50 Upanishads from Sanskrit to Persian.  

My parents Shahjahan and Mumtaz Mahal had 4 sons: Dara Shukoh, Shuja, Muhiuddin who later became Aurangzeb, and Murad. In terms of religious outlook, I was the otherworldly Sufi, with my apparent indulgence of all faiths other than my own, Shuja had distinct leanings towards the Shia faith, Muhiyuddin the orthodox Sunni, and Murad with no religious affiliations whatsoever, content as long as the pleasures of the senses continued unabated. 

One part of the palace comes alive with me reciting poetry and holy books of all religions. And the other parts, mainly the training ground, use to tremble with Aurangzeb’s Swords and Spears. I was an art lover, and my brother a seasoned warrior. Our extremely opposite ideologies kept us apart from each other, even when we both were brought up in the same atmosphere.

When my father suddenly got unwell, he formally announcesme as his heir, granting me the title of Shahzada e Buland Iqbal. This infuriated my brothers, especially Muhiyuddin.But my brothers refrained from publicly expressing their displeasure. All of them wished to see themselves on the throne, but there was just one Peacock throne. My father’s affection towards me and coldness towards my brotherMuhiyuddin grew with every passing day. My weakest link was that I seldom stepped out of the safe confines of the palace walls. My father kept me close to himself. Whereas Muhiyuddin was frequently sent by father to the battlefields. And he returned stronger every time.

In June 1658, Aurangzeb besieged father Shah Jahan in the Agra Fort forcing him to surrender unconditionally by cutting off the water supply. Jahanara the eldest sister came to Aurangzeb proposing a partition of the Empire, Punjab and adjoining territories for me; Shuja would get Bengal; Murad would get Gujarat; Muhiyuddin’s son Sultan Muhammad would get the Deccan and the rest of the empire would go to Aurangzeb. But Aurangzeb refused Jahanara’s proposition on the grounds that I was an infidel. 

Muhiyuddin changes his name to Aurangzeb after the coronation. And also adopts the title of Alamgir. Jahanara joined her father in imprisonment at the Agra Fort, where she devoted herself to his care until his death.

The armies of both of us faced one another in the battle of Samugarh, near Agra. I managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory when I stepped down from my howdah to come to the aid of my beleaguered soldiers. When they saw the empty howdah, the soldiers assumed that I have beenkilled and surrendered. I escaped to Thatta in Sindh and then to Gujarat. I sought refuge with a local chieftain Malik Jiwan on the escape route to Afghanistan, but he betrayed me to Aurangzeb.

I was brought to Delhi, placed on a filthy elephant and paraded through the streets of the capital in chains, my fate was decided by the political threat I posed as a popular prince with the common people. Aurangzeb was not expecting such enormous public sympathy for me from the citizens of Delhi. Convocation of nobles and clergy, called by Aurangzeb in response to the perceived danger of insurrection in Delhi, declared me a threat to the public peace and an apostate from Islam. I was assassinated by four of Aurangzeb’s henchmen in front of my son on the night of 30 August 1659.

Aurangzeb could’ve pardoned me, but he wanted to set an example to every rebel, of what could happen to those who challenge him. Aurangzeb ordered his men to have my head brought up to him and he inspected it thoroughly to ensure that it was mine indeed. He then further mutilated the head with his sword three times. After which, he ordered the head to be put in a box and presented to his ailing father, Shah Jahan.

The face of water can never be veiled by ice…

though a bubble might be seen, unveiled by ice.

Truth is reality’s ocean, both worlds inside it:

like water in ice, and water… concealed by ice

Bood abad dayam Shahr e Lahore

The Hindu realm of Loh-awar annihilated with the departure of last Rajput king, who was defeated by the powerful Ghaznavi forces. Lahore was plundered by Genghis khan’s army. Khilji and Tughlaq dynasties didn’t give any attention to Lahore. Then came the Moghuls, Babur’s invasion brought the end of Lodhi’s kingdom.

Lahore reached the peak of its architectural glory during the rule of the Mughals. During this time, the massive Lahore Fort was built. A few buildings within the fort were added by Akbar’s son, Jahangir. Jahangir’s son, Shahjahan was born in Lahore, who extended the Lahore Fort and built many other structures in the city, including the Shalimar Gardens. The last of the great Mughals, Aurangzeb, who ruled from 1658 to 1707, built the city’s most famous monuments, the Badshahi Mosque and the Alamgiri Gate next to the Lahore Fort.

Jalal ud din Muhammad Akbar was the third Mughal emperor, who moved his Capital from Fatehpur Sikri to Lahore and elevated the city from a provincial centre to a capital city of the Moghul Empire. The first residence prepared for Akbar was on an island in the River Ravi. At Lahore the Mughal Empire under Akbar and Shah Jahan was to reach its zenith.

The Lahore Fort is a citadel in the city of Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. It contains 21 notable monuments, some of which date to the era of Emperor Akbar. Lahore fort Built, damaged, demolished, rebuilt and restored several times before being given its current form by Emperor Akbar in 1566. The Lahore Fort was almost entirely rebuilt in the 17th century when the Mughal Empire was at the height of its splendour and affluence.

Shahi Mohallah which is located deep in the heart of the vibrant city, in the very pious location of Lahore surroundedby Badshahi mosque, Data Sahab Darbar and Imam Bargah Gam e Shah. Not far from the Taxali Gate, this was built when Akbar expanded the original Walled City while rebuilding Lahore Fort. Shahi Mohallah did not exist before 1575; it wasthe centre of the city’s courtesan’s culture for the Lahore’s Mughal era elite during the 16th century. By the time emperor Shah Jehan ascended the throne a lot of people connected to royal activities, because of its adjacency to the court settled here, and children of the court were being educated and cultured in the fine arts by people living here.

Akbar’s son, Jahangir, built the first Shalamar garden in the Kashmiri landscape and his son Shah Jahan who was born in Lahore witnessed the construction of Shalamar Garden in Lahore. Shalamar Gardens were built primarily to entertain guests. The origins of Shalamar Garden are directly attributable to another garden of the same name built by Jahangir in Kashmir. The waterworks in Lahore required extensive engineering to create artificial cascades and terraces. Ali Mardan Khan was given the task whose name is closely associated with the construction of several buildings. His most distinctive work is a canal which brought water from the Ravi River to the suburbs of old Lahore, contributing to the construction of the Shalamar Garden.

The Wazir Khan Mosque was also commissioned during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as part of an ensemble of buildings that also included the nearby Shahi Hammam baths. Wazir Khan Mosque is renowned for its elaborate embellishment in a style which draws from the decorative traditions from several regions. 

Moti Masjid, despite being a small mosque and having limited usage, is no less striking than any other Mughal Era mosque. The building has its own valour and splendour, and constitutes all the elements of a mosque in a limited space. Moti Masjid is situated in Lahore Fort behind the Clerk’s House. It is one of the two mosques built in marble by Shah Jahan. The second such mosque was built at Agra Fort.

Lahore was the beloved city of Dara Shukoh, where he was serving as governor before he engaged in a civil war with Aurangzeb to claim the throne. Under Dara Shukoh, one can argue that the Mughal throne was heading towards embracing not only religious tolerance but also religious pluralism. Towards the end of his stint as the Lahore governor, Dara Shukoh summoned red bricks from Jaipur. He sought to build a pathway from the Lahore Fort, which would lead halfway across the city to the shrine of the Sufi saint Mian Mir who had died in 1635. Before Dara Shukoh could complete his pathway from Lahore to the shrine of Mian Mir, he was captured and killed by Aurangzeb’s men. Aurangzeb ordered that a mosque be constructed out of the pile of red stones that Dara Shukoh had summoned for the task. This is how the iconic Badshahi mosque of Lahore came into existence. Aurangzeb, unlike the previous emperors, was not a major patron of art and architecture and instead focused, during much of his reign, on various military conquests which added over 3 million square kilometres to the Mughal Empire. As a symbol of the mosque’s importance, it was built directly across from the Lahore Fort and its Alamgiri Gate, which was concurrently built by Aurangzeb during construction of the mosque.

Shahdara Bagh is the site of several Mughal erasmonumentally, including the Tomb of Jahangir, the Akbari Sarai, Tomb of Asif Khan, Bara Dari of Kamran Mirza, and the Tomb of Nur Jahan. Jahangir who died in the foothills of Kashmir who is buried in the Dilkusha Garden. His body was brought in a funeral procession from Kashmir to Lahore. Nur Jahan is buried at her tomb in Shahdara Bagh too, which she had built herself. Upon her grave is inscribed the epitaph:

Upon my grave when I die,

No lamp shall burn nor jasmine be,

No candle with unsteady flame,

No bulbul chanting overhead,

Shall tell the world that I am dead.

The decline of Mughal Empire began after Aurangzeb’s death. Lahore was again ravaged by invaders. The last attack on Lahore was made by Shah Zaman Durrani who besieged the city…..

To conclude the glorious Mughal era, I couldn’t find anything better than the prayer of Dara Shukoh for my beloved city Lahore:

Khuda Punjab ra mehmur darad

Ba Khak e Auliya manzur darad 

Bood abad dayam Shahr e Lahore 

Waba wa Kahat Z bakha dur darad

__Dara Shukoh 

May God keep the Punjab prospering!

May He protect the land of the Saints!

Oh, may Lahore be always full of bliss!

May disease and famine never visit it!

__ Pran Nevile

Aurangzeb: The Vanquisher

There are two opposite sides of Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir;I would like to present both sides briefly before coming to a conclusion.

A Ferocious villain:

In 1660 Aurangzeb emerged as the undisputed Emperor of Hindustan. He outmanoeuvred his three brothers, Dara Shukoh, Shah Shuja, and Murad. He executed two of his brothers, driven the third out of Hindustan, and locked away his ill father Shah Jahan in Agra’s Red Fort. He had Sarmad Kashani arrested and beheaded, who was accused and convicted of atheism and unorthodox religious practice. He also punished those he believed had helped Shivaji escape. He had the Sikh guru Tegh Bahadur executed for taking up arms against the Mughal state. During his princely years he targeted the Ismaili Bohras, harassed them throughout his reign as king, and executed the 32nd Absolute Missionary of theDawoodi Bohra sect of Islam Syedna Qutubkhan Qutubuddin.Throughout his reign Aurangzeb crushed rebellions, waged wars of expansion.

Abul Hasan Qutb Shah, the last ruler of the Qutb Shahi dynasty refused to surrender. He and his servicemen fortified themselves at Golconda and fiercely protected the Kollur Mine, which was then probably the world’s most productive diamond mine, and an important economic asset. Aurangzeb and his army managed to penetrate the walls by capturing a gate prompting the army and the ruler to surrender peacefully and hand over the Nur ul Ain Diamond, Great Stone Diamond, Kara Diamond, Darya-e-Nur, making the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb the richest monarch in the world.

Aurangzeb changed the name of one of Hinduism’s holiest cities, Banaras, to Muhammadabad. After the Jaat rebellion in Mathura, Aurangzeb ordered the city’s Kesava Deo temple demolished. In 1679, he ordered destruction of several prominent temples that had become associated with his enemies, including those of Khandela, Udaipur, Chittor and Jodhpur. He ordered the destruction of Vishvanath Temple at Varanasi for being a centre of conspiracy against the state, and he ordered the destruction of the Jama Masjid at Golkonda after finding out that its ruler had built the mosque in order to hide revenues from the state. Aurangzeb robust festivities on Nauruz, cancellation of Eid celebrations on a grand scale, curbed the boisterous festivity associated with Holi, Diwali and Muharram. He once chastised his son Muazzam for participating in Nauruz festival. At times Aurangzeb persecuted specific Muslim groups whose doctrines ran afoul of his vision of Islam. He ordered Bohra mosques to hold five prayers. Nobody knows the exact numbers of temples demolished on Aurangzeb’s order. He introduced jizya in 1679 in response to several events shortly before its introduction: the great Rajput rebellion, the Maratha alliance with the Shia Golconda.

A Pious King:

Initially, Aurangzeb’s cultural and courtly activities followed earlier Mughal kings. He upheld many Mughal practices derived from Hindu customs. He appeared daily to his subjects in the palace window to give auspicious glimpse. On his birthdays he was publicly weighed in gold and silver, which was reportedly cancelled after few years. He erected a monumental tomb Bibi ka Maqbara in Aurangabad for his first wife, Dilras Bano Begum.

Aurangzeb built more temples than he destroyed. He allowed the repair and maintenance of existing temples, and even made generous donations of jagirs to many temples to gain the goodwill of his Hindu subjects. There are several orders in his name, supporting temples and gurudwaras, including Mahakaleshwar temple of Ujjain, Balaji temple of Chitrakoot, Umananda Temple of Guwahati and the Shatrunjaya Jain temples, among others.

He memorised Quran and sewed prayer caps and copied the Quran by his own hands. He prayed with greater regularity than his forefathers, and abstained from alcohol and opium.At different points he tried to bar the alcohol, opium, prostitution, gambling, and public celebrations of religious festivals. Aurangzeb compiled the Fatawa e Alamgiri, a synthesis of Hanafi legal judgements, and was among the few monarchs to have fully established Sharia law and Islamic economics throughout the Indian subcontinent. He sponsored the construction of Badshahi Mosque Lahore at the time it was built; it was the largest mosque in the world. Aurangzeb felt that verses from the Quran should not be stamped on coins, as done in former times, because they were constantly touched by the hands and feet of people.

Aurangzeb’s sovereign bureaucracy employed more Hindus than that of his predecessors. Between 1679 and 1707, the number of Hindu officials in the Mughal administration rose by half, many of them Marathas and Rajputs. His increasing employment of Hindus and Shia Muslims was deemed controversial at the time, with several of his fellow Sunni Muslim officials petitioning against it, which he rejected, and responded, “What connection have earthly affairs with religion? And what right have administrative works to meddle with bigotry? ‘For you is your religion and for me is mine. He insisted on employment based on ability rather than religion.(Aurangzeb by Audrey Truschke)


Aurangzeb struck hard against enemies who threatened the integrity or peace of the Mughal state, no matter their status or religion. He was not anti-Hinduism, Sikhism, or Shi’ism. Ram Puniyani states that Aurangzeb was not fanatically anti-Hindu, but rather continuously adapted his policies depending on circumstances. I totally reject the claim that he wanted to convert all Hindus and Sikhs to Muslims. If that was the case he would’ve accepted/acknowledged Ottoman Empire, instead he helped the rebellions and offered them asylum in his Kingdom. If he was against Shias, he wouldn’t have invited the most famous Shia scholar Mullah Baqar Majlisi of recent history to his kingdom thrice. I personally believe that they liked each other because of their common views about the implementation of Sharia and disagreements with Sufiism. Aurangzeb’s incursions into the Pashtun areas were described by Khushal Khan Khattak as Black is the Mughal’s heart towards all of us Pathans. Pashtuns were not Hindus or Sikhs, they were Muslims. Forget the brothers he did not even spare his own son. He was brutal, barbarous, callous and merciless to his enemies. He simply didn’t like any opposition against him. He was a notable expansionist who was widely feared not respected. The conquest of Shia Golconda by 1689, Mughal victories in the south expanded the Mughal Empire to 4 million square kilometres. But the supremacy was short-lived.

Deathbed notes:

I know not who I am, where I shall go, or what will happen to this sinner full of sins. . . . My years have gone by profitless. God has been in my heart, yet my darkened eyes have not recognized his light. . . . There is no hope for me in the future. The fever is gone, but only the skin is left. … I have greatly sinned, and know not what torments await me. . . .