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Dara Shikuh: Life and Works

Dara Shikuh: Life and Works
Item Code: NAD736
Author: Bikrama Jit Hasrat
Publisher: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Edition: 2013
ISBN: 9788121501606
Pages: 339
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 9.0 inch X 6.0 inch
weight of the book: 506 gms
About the Book

Indian tradition remembers Dara Shikuh not so much as an emperor's son, but as a mystic philosopher. The great dream of his life-a dream shattered by his untimely death-was the brotherhood of all faiths and the unity of mankind. After him the vision of unity was lost in the atmosphere of hatred and rivalry created by the warring sects and religious schools, and even today we are living in the age of religious disintegration.

The present volume is the outcome of long years of study and research. Life and Works of Dara Shikiih, the tragic philosopher-prince and inheritor of Akbar's tradition of broadmindedness and religious tolerance, are matters of interest for all serious-minded readers.

About the Author

Bikrama Jit Hasrat (b. 8 August 1915) was educated at Lahore, Calcutta, and Oxford universities, From 1938 to 1946 he served as Nizam lecturer at Visva-Bharati, Santinikctan; thereafter, he joined the Punjab Education Department working as professor of history / Principal in P.E.S. (I). In-between, he had been a British Council Scholar at Oxford (1955-57), a Colombo plan professor of history at Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu (Nepal), a visiting Fellow of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Simla, and a visiting professor at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

An eminent linguist and historian, Bikrama Jit Hasrat had spccialised in many fields-history, linguistics, and comparative religion. He was also considered as an authority on the political and socio-economic history of the Himalayan region. Amongst his notable works are: Indian Sufi Orders; Anglo-Sikh Relations; The Punjab Papers; Life and Times of Ranjit Singh; History of Nepal; and History of Bhutan.


Prince Muhammad Dara Shikuh was born in an age when Indian Islam having fully absorbed Sufism within its fold had developed strong streaks of pantheistic thought in the mystical theory and practice of its major silsilas, viz., the Chishti, the Suhrawardi, the Kubrawi and the Qadiri Orders. And yet although the active principles of the Unity of God, poverty and quietism, asceticism and saint-cult and the khanqah-organisation so readily accepted by Indian mystics from the Arab, Mesopotamian and Persian sufic tradition and profusely developed in Indian environment for almost four centuries, were now on the decline. Early Indian Sufism had always been sustained by an ubiquity of religious Law (shara') and had retained its energy and vigour; however, when it came into contact with Indian spiritual thought, some of the pantheism of the Vedanta and Yogic meditational exercises had infiltrated into it. It would almost be an exaggeration to assert that all pantheistic tendencies in the later Indian Sufism are of Indian origin. As elsewhere in the Islamic world, Sufism in India also had undergone its own transformations and tribulations; hilt irrespective of the persecutions of the heady Sultanate, opposition of the dogmatic formalists and the intolerance of the Sunni legalism. it had survived and its message had reached the common mass of the people.

Dara Shikuh appears to be a product of these difficult times. He does not claim to be a Sufi but a Faqir, having passed through a spiritual crisis at an early age and attained mystical illumination, he may well be regarded a free-thinker, who having become weary of the theological dogma and dialectics, sought relief in the doctrine of the unity of all religious belief and peace with all (Suluhkul). By far, his most original contribution to Indo-Muslim thought, it appears to me, was his comparative approach to both Hinduism and Islam. In his search for the Reality (Haqiqat), he turned towards the Vedas and the Upanishads wherein he discovered the same essence of monotheism as revealed in the holy Qur'an. But the most interesting part of his endeavours was his attempt to reconcile the theological concept and mystic terminology of both the religions. Thus on Apostleship and Saintship (nabuwwatu'Iwilaya), on the Unity of God (tawhid), on the Vision of God (ruyat), on the Devotional Exercises (ashghal), on the Soul and Soul of Souls (ruh wa abul-arwah), on the Infinity of Cycles (benihaiti'i-adwar) etc., he has endeavoured to point out a semblance of similarity in both the religions. He identifies the Dhat-i-Mutlaq with the Indian Brahma, the Tawhid with the Brahma-vidya, the Hat with Awastha, the Sufic Ashghal with Indian Upasana, the Nur-i-Dhat with Jyoti, the Muhammadan Logos-the Perfect Man or the Ruh-i-Muhammadi with the Kalpa-Jananin, the Tark'i-masiwa'I-Allah with the Sannayasa and so on. These comparisons are ingenious, indeed.

Such extraordinary exercises in the identification of parallelism betwixt Indian and Islamic mystic terminology in themselves were harmless enough, but Dara Shikuh's pantheistic pronouncements in his writings provoked 'ulamaic diatribes of free-thinking and aposrasy so commonly invoked against the mystics of Islam in the past since the days of Dhu 'i-Nun Misri and Husayn ibn Mansur Hallaj to Dara Shikoh's own times in India, when he and Sarmad Shahid suffered a similar fate.

Bikrama Jit Hasrat wrote this book under the guidance of my distinguished pupil, Professor Muhammad Zubair Siddiqi of Calcutta University. Even when I read it as a doctoral dissertation in 1940, I was quite impressed with it, and I am glad to write a foreword to it now in its improved form.


Materials for the study of the life and works of Prince Muhammad Dara Shikuh exist in abundance. As the present writer's main objective is a careful assessment of his works and their contribution to Indo- Muslim mystic thought, this volume does not concern itself with the political history of time, or for that matter, enter into the controversy whether Dara Shikuh was a Sufi, a heretic, or a victim of politics.

Dara Shikuh's works outline a two-fold intellectual and spiritual momentum in his life, the first phase of which commenced with his initiation into the Qadiri tariqa in 1640 AD and his Close association with Mi'an Mir, Mulla Shah Badakhshi and other contemporary saints of the order in' India. This phase is reflected by his intensive studies in mysticism in general and acquisition of practical knowledge of the Qadirism and its meditational exercises, in particular. The result soon appeared in his five works on sufism, viz., the Safinat-ul-Auliya' (wr. 1640 AD), the Sakinat-ul-Auliya' (wr. 1643 AD)-the Risala'i-Ifaq Numa' (wr. 1647 AD) the Tariqat-ul-Haqiqat (n.d.), 'and the Hasanat-ul-Ariftn (wr. 1653 AD) the first two are biographical dictionaries of the san saints and the last three contain his expositions of some of the Sufi fundamental doctrines. This phase also reflects his depth study of mysticism and a knowledge of standard Sufic manuals and works of Al-Ghazali, 'All Hujwiri, Shahab-ud-Dm Suhrawardi, Ibn al-'Arabi, al-Qushairi, 'Attar, Jami, Hafiz, Rumi and others. Obviously, this intensive study of Sufic literature created in him an urge to know the truth and experience spiritual illumination. He refers to this spiritual urge for association with the saints of God in the introduction to the Safinat-ul-Auliya': "If one cannot have the privilege and good fortune of their personal contact, he can at least take ecstatic pleasure by the knowledge of their good qualities."

Three years later in 1640. AD he wrote the Sakinat-ul-Auliya' a biographical work of Indian Qadiri saints-Mi'an Mir, Mulla Shah and their disciples. "God be praised," he writes, "due to my association with this glorious order, exoteric Islam has ceased to influence the mind of this faqir, the real esoteric 'infidelity' has shown its face." (Letter to Shah Dilruba). Further: "Now my speech is identical with their speech.... My spiritual aspirations are fulfilled." (Ibid). From a closer examination of the Sakinat-ul-Auliya' it appears that soon after his initiation into the Qadiri fold. Dara Shikuh received instruction into some of the meditational exercises of the tariqa, viz., the Dhikr, particularly the Sultan-ul-Adhkar, the Fanafil Shaikh, the Habs-i-Dam and the Pass-i-Anfas etc. He comments on these mystic disciplines, which contrary to the devotional exercises of the other tariqas, he asserts, involve no pain or difficulty. "There is no asceticism involved: all is gracious and falicitious; all is love, affection, pleasure and ease." (Risala'i-Haq-Numa',

It is, however, not possible to pinpoint the beginnings of his pantheistic tendencies to his association with the Qadiri saints Mr'an Mir and Mulla Shah. Indian Qadirism, notwithstanding its proclivities to some of pantheistic doctrines, was quite broadbased. It preached that the knowledge of God (mari'fat) was not the exclusive preserve of anyone religion, nor of the saints and other chosen people, but of common man. It pointed to the unity of all religious belief. A man of God had neither name, creed nor religion. Peace with all was the real essence of the Unity of God (tauhid). But irrespective of these pronouncements Indian Qadirism• was primarily Shari 'Is tic observing traditional norms of Islamic mysticism. It gave an emphasis to the doctrine of the Unity of Being (wahdat-ul-wujud) and that of the Part and the Whole (juz wa kul); its doctrines of contraction (qabd) and expansion (bas!), peace (rahat) and cheerfulness (khushwaqti) does not contain much of pantheistic ideology, though some of the aphorisms of its saints called the shathiyat verge on the dangerous borders of heresy. Dara Shikuh's next work the Hasanat- ul-'Arifin records that malicious tongues had started wagging, accusing him of heresy and apostasy. He dubbs his critics-"the 'ulama' as imposters (dajjals), who without any knowledge of God, had assumed the garb of Moses and the followers of the Prophet." (Ibid. p. 2) He further castigates them:" ... these 'ulama' are ignormuses to them and learned to the ignorant. Every prophet and saint of God had suffered at their vicious hands."


Scheme of TransliterationVI
Synopsis of ContentsVII
Part one : Introduction of the Work of Dara Shikuh
Risala'I Haq Numa121
The Diwan and the Rubaiyat129
Muraqqa and Dibacha'-i- Muraqqa158
Part Two: Studies in Hinduism and Translations From Sanskrit
Majma-ul Bahrain216
Yoga-Vasishta and Bhagwatgita233
Mukalama Baba Lal wa Dara Shikuh239
Select Bibliography293

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