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The 'Ganga Jamuni Tehzeeb': A Look at Why Centre and AMU are Pushing to Institute a 'Dara Shikoh' Chair

In a symposium on Wednesday, Aligarh Muslim University Tariq Mansoor hailed the medieval philosopher Dara Shikoh for believing in the "commonality of all religions". RSS leader Krishna Gopal even referred to him as a 'true Muslim'.

Eram Agha | News18.comEramAgha

Updated:September 12, 2019, 11:58 AM IST
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The 'Ganga Jamuni Tehzeeb': A Look at Why Centre and AMU are Pushing to Institute a 'Dara Shikoh' Chair
File photo of Aligarh Muslim University campus.
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New Delhi: The Academic Council of Aligarh Muslim University has passed a proposal instituting a Dara Shikoh Chair to encourage studies around the topic of peace as was propounded by Akbar and later by the philosopher Dara Shikoh.

On Wednesday, the Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University Tariq Mansoor talked about the move in New Delhi during a symposium on Dara Shikoh that had been organised by “Academics for Nation”. The event also saw the attendance of RSS leader Krishna Gopal and Union Minister of Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

“This is a unique and timely initiative and Dara Shikoh can be used to project as an example of composite culture. With this a new beginning can be made. Aligarh Muslim University gives assurance of taking this message forward project and cooperating with Krishna Gopal. The Academic Council of AMU has cleared the proposal of Dara Shikoh chair,” Mansoor said in his address.

Krishna Gopal also concurred with Masoor's view and further called Dara a "true Muslim who tried to be a good Hindustani". “His father understood that Dara has got the idea of India well and will be able to rule better, but Aurangzeb created a hoax around him that if he succeeds Islam would be in danger,” Gopal said.

Dara Shikoh’s Legacy

Tariq Mansoor in his address spoke on the great works done by the eldest son and heir-apparent of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. He lost in the war of succession which ensued after Shah Jahan's illness in 1657. He was defeated by his younger brother Prince Muhiuddin, who was later called Emperor Aurangzeb. After fiercely resisting and struggling he was executed in 1659 on Aurangzeb’s orders. The imperial throne went to Aurangzeb.

Shikoh’s friendship with the seventh Sikh Guru, Guru Har Rai is much celebrated. He went to Benaras and learnt Sanskrit which he used for translating Upanishads in Persian and taking it to the European world. He made efforts towards finding a common mystical language between Islam and Hinduism.

“He completed the translation of fifty Upanishads from their original Sanskrit into Persian in 1657. Europeans knew Persian and not Sanskrit, with this they got to read the texts. He believed in the commonality of all religions” added Mansoor.

Dara’s translation is called Sirr-e-Akbar(“The Greatest Mystery”), in which he has stated that the work referred to in the Qur'an as the “Kitab al-maknun” or the hidden book, is the Upanishads.

He was a calligrapher, philosopher, sufi and his much-celebrated work is Majma-ul-Bahrain(“The Confluence of the Two Seas”).

Towards a “Secular Approach”

Nadeem Rezavi chairman and coordinator of AMU History department told News18.com that the proposal was designed by him after brainstorming on whether a chair should be instituted for modern or medieval studies. After much discussion, a consensus was reached on medieval Indian studies.

“The proposal for the Dara Shikoh chair was made by the Department of History a few months ago. We realised that we need to institute a chair in medieval India studies. Dara Shikoh was much preferred as after Akbar it is Dara who is responsible for developing the ganga jamuni tehzeeb."

The idea of Dara Shikoh Chair was based on that there should be "study of the policy of sule qul, (absolute peace), cultural religious exchange between the communities and how cultures started developing."

In this definition, "one of the best figures that fit is of Dara Shikoh. He took forward Akbar's Sule Qul policy, he represented the secular credentials of the country, as opposed to the religious views of Aurangzeb.”

Aligarh School stands for scientific secular approach, added Rezavi. The proposal has been passed and will be sent to the HRD Ministry.

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