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Prince Darashikoh: His Understanding of Relationship Between Islam and Hinduism

Mughal King Shah Jahan’s son, Darashikoh, is remembered for his notable contributions to Indian philosophy and literature. A major part of his works seemingly shape the understanding of the Indian philosophy and specifically the relationship between Islam and Hinduism in his understanding.

Credits: Prahlad Bubbar

Darashikoh has described the unity of Kufr and Islam and temple and mosque in the case of Sakinat al-Awliya as follows:

“Praise be to the one God who has waved on His face the two tresses of Islam and disbelief opposed to each other. Not any one of them causes a veil to beautify His face.” He wrote in connection with Islamic Sufism and Vedanta: “The difference between Sufism and Vedanta is only of words; there is no difference in meaning. So I made them compatible.”

The Persian text of Majma-ul-Bahrain was translated into English by Maulvi Mahfouz-ul-Haq and published by the Asiatic Society of Calcutta in 1929. In 1335 Hijri, Syed Muhammad Reza Jalali Naini edited and published it from Tehran. In 1929, Sheikh Ahmad Jafari translated this book into Arabic.

This book was written by Darashikoh at a time when his consciousness had matured. He described Islam and Hinduism as two currents of the same ocean and tried to unite them. He believes that the difference between the philosophies of Islamic Sufism and Vedanta is merely verbal. The followers of Tawheed, i.e., Monotheism, can reach the destination of Haqq or Satya through whichever of these two paths they follow. After the publication of the same book, fatwas were imposed on Darashikoh, declaring him to be a disbeliever who had turned away from Islam. It was also alleged that he was influenced by Hindu philosophy, mathematics, and astrology, i.e., Ganit and Jyotish, to such an extent that he started giving them priority over the Quranic teachings and sciences.

Apart from these books, there are some other books translated by him or by his court scholars. The most notable book among them is ‘Sirr-i-Akbar‘, which is a Persian translation of fifty chapters of Upnishad by Darashikoh, with the help of Pandits of Benares. In the beginning of this book, unlike his other books, instead of writing Bismillah al-Rahman-al-Rahim, he has given a picture of Ganesha. In the preface, explaining the authorship of the book, it is written that:

“Allegories are used everywhere in the Qur’an. Therefore, subtle points about monotheism come to the mind, and a thirst arises in the heart. So I started studying all the divine books and came to the conclusion that explanations of all the divine philosophies and Qur’anic summaries could only be found in the Hindu scriptures. The research revealed that before the Qur’an, there were four divine books in India: the Rigveda, the Samaveda, the Atharveda, and the Yajarveda. The things that are not found in the existing Psalms, Torah, and Gospels are found in these books. These orders and teachings were revealed to the greatest prophet of that time, Brahma, i.e., Adam Safiullah, as is evident from these books. The prophets of that time have separated them and written commentaries on them in detail. I desired to translate Upanishad word for word, which is the treasure of Tawheed, to understand the secret why this group keeps it hidden from the people of Islam. I selflessly translated it in 1067 A.H., and the complex, deep, and difficult matters concerning monotheism, which I sought but could not solve, became known through this ancient book, which is undoubtedly the first heavenly book. It is a book and the source of the Sea of Tawheed; it is ancient; a verse of the Holy Qur’an; and a commentary.”

Academically, the benefit of this translation was that it ended the monopoly of the Pandits over the main sources of Hindu Darshanshastra, i.e., the Upanishad, Vedas, Ramayana, and Gita, etc., and all these things reached the common people. A beautifully written manuscript of this book is available in the library of Darul Musannifin Azamgarh, which was written by the hands of Darashikoh himself or one of his special minions. The book’s Persian edition was published in two volumes in Jaipur in 1910. In 1962, Iranian researcher Syed Reza Jalali Naimi translated it into English with the help of famous Indian researcher Dr. Tara Chand and completed the translation in English by adding an index at the end of the edition.

Among other outstanding works of literature of that period is Mukalama-i Baba Lal Das Wa Dara Shikoh (Dialogue between Baba Lal Das and Darashikoh). Whether this book was written by Darashikoh himself or compiled by someone else on his orders is not yet finalised. A great yogi and saint, Baba Lal Das, lived during the reign of Darashikoh. He was a Khatri Sufi as well as a scholar of the Vedas, and is said to be a disciple of the famous Sufi saint Kabir Das. Darashkoh posed many questions and had a debate with him. Thus, this book is actually a conversation between the two. It sheds light on the religious and social laws of Hinduism. Darashkoh mentions Baba Lal Das along with Muslim Sufis in Majma-ul-Bahrain. After Dara’s return from Kandahar in 1062 AD, he discussed Sufism, Islamic philosophy, Hindu Darshan, Yoga, Vedanta, and the fundamentals of Hindu Darshan with the sage in 7 sittings. According to Syed Sabahuddin Abdul Rahman, this conversation was recorded by Mir Manshi Chandra Bhan Brahman of Darashikoh. This book has been described as Darashikoh’s personal work by Muhammad Ali, a writer from Delhi. However, this claim cannot be confirmed by any evidence.

In other books of Darashikoh, Nadir-ul-Nikat, Risala Maarif, Risala Haqnama, etc., are also mentioned. A book by his name, ‘Nigaristan-e-Munir‘ exists in the Paris Library, France. A ‘Tuzak‘ of Dara is also mentioned in the Punjab Historical Society Journal (Vol. II, No. I). He translated the famous Sanskrit book ‘Yog Vashishta‘ into Persian as ‘Jog Bashisht‘. There also prevails the notion that this translation was not done by Darashikoh by one of his court scholars. This book was completed in 1650 A.D. In this book, Dara has expressed the view that the mantras of Yog Vashishta and the practical methods of yoga are similar to the actions and activities of the Qadri chain of Sufism. This book has been published by Noel Kishore Press in Lucknow.

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

Edited by: Moneera Aiman

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Written by Syed Ilham Jafri

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