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Dara Shikoh, Aurangzeb misunderstood: Pakistani-American expert

Friday December 30, 2011 12:18:59 PM, IANS

Islamabad: Lives of two Mughal princes, Dara Shikoh and his younger brother Aurangzeb, sons of emperor Shah Jahan, have been distorted by historians, a Pakistani-American scholar has said.

Munis Faruqui, assistant professor at the South and Southeast Asian Studies Department of the University of California, Berkeley, has presented a unique side to the brothers, in a discourse titled "New perspectives on the Mughals: The case of Dara Shikoh".

Faruqui discussed at length the two brothers' relationship, religious views and their bitter struggle over political control of the culturally and economically rich empire, Dawn News reported.

Focusing on the fact that neither of the brothers were "saints" or "devils", Faruqui said Dara had a deep interest in Sufism, and also attempted to find common language between Islam and Hinduism.

Not able to find the answers he was looking for, Dara went on to study the Upanishads, the philosophical texts considered an early source of Hindu religion, he said.

The Mughal prince came to the conclusion that the "hidden book" mentioned in the Quran was none other than the Upanishads and believed that in order to understand the Quran, one needed to study the Hindu text.

Dara even drew an equation between Adam and Brahma -- a view which, according to historians, branded him as a heretic and ultimately led to his execution.

Faruqui explored the relationship the "misunderstood" brothers shared and their struggle for the throne.

He said that while Dara almost never left the safety of the Mughal court, Aurangzeb was a skilled warrior -- a fact evident in the battleground where Aurangzeb triumphed over his brother.

Faruqui said that contrary to general perception, Aurangzeb cultivated even those who disagreed with him.

He was tolerant of other faiths and enjoyed strong military and political support from Muslims as well as non-Muslims, the professor said.

"Ultimately, it was nothing more or less than Dara's ability to antagonise friend and foe alike, compared to Aurangzeb's unequalled ability to paper over differences that enabled one prince to ascend the throne, while consigning the other to the grave," Faruqui said.









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