Dara Shikoh - Introduction, Historical Significance [UPSC Medieval History Notes]

Dara Shikoh (also spelt as Dara Shukoh) was the son of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and brother of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. He is an important part of Indian Medieval History and should be known to IAS Exam aspirants. On the day of 20th March 1615, Dara Shikoh was born.

This article will provide you with relevant facts about Dara Shikoh for UPSC examination. You can download the notes on Dara Shikoh PDF provided at the end of the article.

Context:

As of January 2021: The Central government has appointed a committee that will visit Humayun’s tomb complex to identify Dara Shikoh’s burial place. (As UPSC tends to ask rare questions from Indian history, aspirants should know the report that states Dara Shikoh’s grave is next to Akbar’s sons Princes Daniyal and Murad’s graves.)

As of August 8, 2021, the Archaeological Survey of India has reported that it still has not located Dara Shikoh’s grave inside Humayun’s tomb.

Candidates can revise the chronology of the Mughal Empire with the list of Mughal Emperors mentioned in the linked article.

Aspirants should learn about other Medieval and Modern Indian History topics which are important for Civil Services Examination. Check the following links to aid your history preparation:

Dara Shikoh – Facts about UPSC Prelims

Dara Shikoh – UPSC Facts  
Who was Dara Shikoh?

Dara Shikoh - UPSC History Notes

He was the son of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan 
Was he the eldest son of Shah Jahan? Yes, he was the eldest son of Shah Jahan and elder brother of Aurangzeb
What was the rank given to him in the Mughal empire? The rank of ‘Padshahzada-i-Buzurg Martaba’ (Prince of High Rank) was given to him
How is he related to princess Jahanara Begum? Dara Shikoh was the brother of princess Jahanara Begum
Who defeated Dara Shikoh? Aurangzeb defeated Dara Shikoh after Shah Jahan fell ill in 1657
When did Dara Shikoh die? He was executed on Aurangzeb’s order on 30th August 1659
How was he different from Aurangzeb?
  • He was a liberal Mughal prince in comparison to orthodox Aurangzeb
  • Dara Shikoh was inclined towards philosophy and mysticism over military pursuits in comparison to Aurangzeb
Who was Dara Shikoh’s mother? Mumtaz Mahal gave birth to Dara Shikoh
What was his role in the Mughal military? There were many posts, Dara Shikoh was promoted to. Some of them are:

  • He was the military commander
  • He was appointed as subahdar (governor) of Allahabad
  • He was appointed Governor of the province of Gujarat
  • He was appointed Governor of Multan and Kabul 
Was there any title given to Dara Shikoh? Yes, Shahzada-e-Buland Iqbal (“Prince of High Fortune”) was given to him by his father Shah Jahan

The other title was, ‘Shah-e-Buland Iqbal (“King of High Fortune”)’

Learn more about the Mughal lineage from the links provided below:

UPSC Notes on 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 that 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 has 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.

Dara Shikoh- UPSC GS-I Notes:-Download PDF Here

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1925: Death of Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905. He was the viceroy during the Bengal partition. Related articles can be found below:

2013: The UN observed the first ‘International Day of Happiness’. Related articles can be found below:

2014: Death of writer and journalist Khushwant Singh.

See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.

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