UPSC Exam Preparation: This Day in History – Mar 20

20 March 1615

Birth of Mughal prince Dara Shukoh


What happened?

Mughal prince and son of Emperor Shah Jahan, Dara Shukoh (also spelled Dara Shikoh) was born on 20 March 1615 at Ajmer in present-day Rajasthan.

Dara Shukoh

Dara Shukoh was an important figure in the history of the Mughal Empire. He was a great philosopher who was deeply spiritual too. Read about his life and times for a better understanding of history for the IAS exam.

  • Dara Shukoh was born to Prince Khurram (later Emperor Shah Jahan) and his wife Mumtaz Mahal at Taragarh Fort, Ajmer.
  • His father became the king when he was 12 years old. In 1633, he married his cousin Nadira Banu and did not marry ever again.
  • At a young age, he was made a military commander as every royal Mughal prince was. In 1652, he became the governor of Kabul and Multan. He was perhaps not as successful a military man as much as a philosopher and intellectual.
  • Dara Shukoh was interested to read about various religions apart from his own. He learnt from pandits and Christian priests about Hinduism and Christianity.
  • He learnt the Sanskrit language. He was inspired by the philosophy in the Upanishads that he translated them to Persian.
  • He was an ardent follower of Sufism and a model for tolerance. He was a mystic and a poet. He also nurtured a friendship with the 7th seventh Sikh Guru, Guru Har Rai. All this made him popular with the people but unpopular with the orthodoxy.
  • Dara Shukoh authored many books and his most famous one is “Majma-ul-Bahrain”. It means ‘The confluence of the two seas’ and is a comparative study of Vedanta and Sufism.
  • He established a library which is still standing in Delhi and maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. He also commissioned many paintings and architectural wonders.
  • Shah Jahan greatly favoured him over his other sons and this led to animosity between Dara and his brother Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb was a better military commander.
  • After Shah Jahan became ill, the power struggle for the throne commenced between his sons. At the Battle of Samugarh in May 1658, Dara Shukoh was defeated by his brothers Aurangzeb and Murad. Aurangzeb then deposed his father and assumed power.
  • Dara Shukoh retreated from Agra and then went to Kathiawar via Thatta in Sindh. He once again met Aurangzeb in battle at Deorai where he was again defeated. After this defeat, he went to Sindh and took refuge under an Afghan chieftain. Unfortunately for Dara, the chieftain betrayed him and handed him over to Aurangzeb’s soldiers.
  • Dara is supposed to have been brought to Delhi and humiliated in public by his brother. He was then declared a threat to peace and an apostate of Islam. He was executed on 30 August 1659.
  • In February 2017, the New Delhi Municipal Corporation renamed the Dalhousie Road to Dara Shikoh Road.
Also on this day

1602: The Dutch East India Company was formed. 1925: Death of Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905. He was the viceroy during the Bengal partition. 2013: The UN observed the first ‘International Day of Happiness’. 2014: Death of writer and journalist Khushwant Singh.

See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.

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