Where is the final resting place of ‘real Hindustani’ Mughal? Govt forms panel to locate Dara Shikoh’s grave

Mayank Kumar

The Narendra Modi-led NDA government has constituted a panel to identify and locate the grave of Mughal Prince Dara Shikoh. The ‘favorite’ son of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, Dara Shikoh was elder to Aurangzeb, who later took charge of the Mughal Throne after a bloody battle at Samugarh near Agra. Dara Shikoh is considered as liberal among the Mughal ranks who are otherwise considered to be brutal and tyrant by many.

The panel has been set up by the Ministry of Culture and it comprises seven members of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). It is widely believed that Dara Shikoh was buried in one of the140 graves of the Mughal clan in the Humayun Tomb premise. The panel is headed by the Director-Monument at ASI, TJ Alone along with decorated archaeologists such as RS Bisht, Sayeed Jamal Hassan, KN Dikshit, B R Mani, KK Muhammed, Satish Chandra, and BM Pandey.

The government has set a timeline of three months to locate the grave. However, Culture Minister Prahlad Patel said that the timeline can be extended if the panel can show conclusive progress in the process. He also highlighted the possible methodology by ASI which ranges from architectural evidence from the time of Shah Jahan as well as recorded history.

Dara Shikoh – Promoter of Pluralism among Mughals

It is widely believed that Dara Shikoh was a 'liberal Muslim' among his ‘tyrant’ brothers. He had translated the Hindu Holy book Bhagwat Gita and 52 Upanishads into Persian to help spread inter-communal harmony in the age of Mughals. He was defeated in the war of succession by Aurangzeb at Samugarh and was subsequently beheaded. A school of thought opines that had Dara Shikoh taken over the reins of the Mughal empire in place of Aurangzeb, the history of India would've been quite different and it would have created a society representing pluralism in its true form.

ASI faces an uphill task to find out the real grave as most of the graves in the Humayun Tomb are without names. This may pose a challenge for the surveyors to zero-in on a grave to validate the Dara Shikoh's burying place.

The debate surrounding Dara Shikoh's legacy and his credentials as 'good Muslim' has ripened in the near past. Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) had set up a research chair to find out the whereabouts of Dara Shikoh during Shah Jhan's years. RSS office-bearers had called Dara Shikoh 'a real Hindustani' in one of the conclaves in New Delhi.