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Prince Darashikoh and Indian Philosophy in light of his Literary Achievements

Among the Indian rulers, the Mughals enjoyed the most of the scholarly patronage. As many scientific and literary achievements could be observed in modern India, almost all of them mark their inception with the Mughals. Darashikoh, the eldest son of Shah Jahan affected the Indian philosophy extensively, as observed in his literary works.

It was during the Mughal era that the Urdu language was born, the Sanskrit language and literature reached its peak and the Hindi language began to emerge. In later days, the history and literature of India was developed in these languages, which caught the eyes of the whole world. The Mughal era also played an important role in promoting Bharati Darshan or Indian philosophy. Many kings and princes in the Mughal dynasty had academic tastes. The founder of the Mughal Empire, Zahir-ud-Din Muhammad Babur, his successor Nasir-ud-Din Muhammad Humayun, his son and great emperor Akbar-e-Azam, later Jahangir, Shah Jahan and besides his sons Mullah Mubarak, Abul Fazl, Faizi, Tan Sen, Abdul Rahim Khan-i-Khanan, Mullah Do-Piyaza, Raja Todar Mal and many others stand as academic scholars, orators and laureates within the Mughal court apart from being officials and military generals.

Credits: Getty Images

Howbeit, Prince Darashikoh received the most fame among them. Nature had awarded him the great knack of writing and compilation. Darashikoh was the eldest and most worthy son of emperor Shah Jahan, as compared to others on literary grounds. He was born on 20th March 1615 AD and enjoyed the opportunity to receive favours from the most worthy teachers and academicians of his time. Shah Jahan showed most of his affection towards Darashikoh among all his sons. However, a large section of the local masses did not show likeness towards the prince. Later he became a victim of the historic succession dispute after Shah Jahan. In this way, a scholarly personality ended up falling on the altar of politics.

King Akbar’s reconciliation policy left the greatest impact on Darashikoh. He was made the first governor of Punjab. For a long period, he also held designation as the governor of Allahabad and Multan. Prince Darashikoh’s court showcased a diverse bouquet of theologians and scholars. It used to remain occupied by a great presence of Hindu Pandits, Poets, Sadhu Saints, Sufis and Jogis. Apart from Hinduism, he was also influenced by Christianity. Initially, Darashikoh was a staunch Muslim, a follower of the Hanafi school and associated with the Qadri sect of Sufism, but later his inclination towards Hinduism increased. ‘Prabhu‘, a term used in Hindu culture to represent ‘God‘ was engraved on the ring that he wore all the time.

Darashikoh became an adept at Sanskrit language by the teachings of Pandit Jagannath. Pandit Jagannath also penned down a long-winded poetry compilation making Darashikoh as its center and called it ‘Jagad Ubharan‘. Another foremost Sanskrit scholar among his mentors was Ravindra Acharya.

Credits: the pioneer

Darashikoh was a good translator, historian and writer. He was a fine scholar of Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Braj Bhasha as well as Sanskrit and could have been more as Urdu and Hindi languages were not formally introduced till then. He translated several Sanskrit books into Persian himself and engaged other scholars to do the work. He translated Upanishad, Gita and ‘Yug Vashishtha‘ into Persian. Munshi Banwarilal, under his direction, translated ‘Parbodh Chandra Uday‘ into Persian as ‘Gulzar Mahal‘. Darashikoh got one of his court’s Hindu scholars, Har Karan, to translate ‘Ramayana‘ into Persian. By his orders, a writer, Mohsin Fani, penned down a noteworthy work ‘Dabistaan-e-Mazaahib‘ that mentions all the religious sects of India.

Darashikoh considered Islamic philosophy as another form of Indian philosophy or Bharatiya Darshan. He turned directly to the study of the Upanishads and the Vedas to understand Indian philosophy. He has written a total of 4 books in this regard. Before writing these books, he had written books such as Safinat al-Awliya, Sakinat al-Awliya, Hasanat Al Arifeen etc. While writing these books, he appears to be a true Muslim and a practical person who believes in Quran and Hadith, believer of the last prophet of Islam and admirer of his companions, intellectuals, Imams, Sufi saints and their followers. He seems to be proud of their achievements and appears to be a scholar who interprets Islamic principles, laws and Islamic philosophy. But in the course of authoring and compiling these books, he went too far in the paths of Islamic Sufism and ‘Indian Adhyatam‘. He began to feel that he had reached the stage of Sufism or Adhyatam where a man rises above the constraints of Shariah and divine as well as worldly rules and regulations. After that, his exemplary work ‘Majma-ul-Bahrain‘ got produced, which is considered to be the greatest book on understanding Indian philosophy and Hindu Darshan or Adhyatam in the seventeenth century AD. Ostensibly, Majma-ul-Bahrain is a comparative study of Islamic Sufism and Vedantic philosophy of Hinduism, but in fact, in this book, Darashkoh has tried to reconcile Hinduism and Islam. While writing the book, he had in front of him the philosophical and Vedic beliefs of Muslims and Hindus respectively. As he himself writes in the case:

“From the interaction and discussion of the Hindus, it was found that in relation to the knowledge of God (recognizing Ishwar) the difference between Hindus and Muslims is only about language and expression.”

Syed Ilham Jafri is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Ambrisha Zubeen

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Written by Syed Ilham Jafri

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