Information on Dara Shikoh (Eldest son of Shah Jahan)

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Information on Dara Shikoh (Eldest son of Shah Jahan)

Dara Shikoh was the eldest son of Shah Jahan. When Shah Jahan grew old, he too had to witness the painful drama of a war among his sons. The other sons of Shah Jahan were Shuja, Aurangzeb and Murad.

Dara Shikoh was born in 1615 and got his first mansab (12000 Zat and 6000 Sawar) in 1633. Shahjahan was an affectionate father and loved all his children. His dearly loved wife had also urged him on her death-bed that he should pay due regard to them.

Shahjahan was fondest of Dara Shikoh and honestly believed that Dara’s succession to the throne after him would redound to the credit of the dynasty and the welfare of the empire. He therefore deliberately adopted a policy which should leave no doubt in the mind of anybody that Dara was destined to be the next sovereign. He thought this would put an end to all unhealthy rivalry and avoid needless bloodshed. He, therefore, assigned to Dara to Jagir of Hisar Firuza which was looked upon as the appanage of the heir-apparent and his mansab made a steep rise.

Dara Shikoh was also appointed the governor of important provinces like Allahabad (1645), the Punjab (1647), Gujarat (1649) and Multan and Kabul (1652), but the Emperor generally kept him by his side while his duties as governor were carried out by deputies. In 1655, he conferred on him the title of Shah Buland Iqbal, offered him a sash that he himself had been using and fixed it himself to his turban, provided him with a gold throne in the durbar next to his own and publicly announced his decision to take no important step in the empire without his previous concurrence.

Thus the status, dignity and wealth of Dara Shikoh went on increasing. But it did not prove to be an unmixed blessing. Dara was liberal and tolerant by nature. He had been initiated by Mullah Shah Badakhshi, a Sufi saint of repute, and had established friendly contacts with the saints and learned pandits of Benares and other places.

Dara Shikoh wanted to be in the good books of the Hindus and in pursuance of this object had married his son Sulaiman Shikoh to the sister’s daughter of Mirza Raja Jay Singh, had secured a pardon for Maharana Raj Singh, and had interceded on behalf of Raja Prithwichand of Srinagar. Nor did he make any secret of his sympathies. In his generosity, he took up the cause not of the poor and the destitute.

However, he was also found to use his influence to secure a pardon for the criminals. Once even Shahjahan had been constrained to remark that the Prince was friendly to the wicked and hostile to the good. He was, therefore, regarded as weak and sentimental. Dara had no high office at the centre but as the favorite of the emperor he expected of central ministers and high officers the same respect as was due to the Emperor. Sadullah Khan (wazir) would not permit this. This led to the emergence of two parties at the court:

  1. The followers and flatterers of Dara, and
  2. The followers of the wazir.

Because of his constant presence at the capital, Dara became indolent and ease-loving and had no experience of war or civil government. Basking under the sunshine of royal favor, he lacked the opportunity to exercise tact and intelligence in winning friends and disarming opposition. That is why he could not pull on well with Sadullah Khan and other opponents.

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