An unfortunate heir to the throne of Emperor Shah Jehan
, Dara Shikoh (1615-1659 AD) was Emperor's eldest son who lost the battle of succession to his crafty brother Aurangzeb
The unorthodox and liberal views of the prince were important factors in the struggle for power. Prince Dara continued to be a professed Muslim, deeply imbued with the heretical mysticism of the Sufis.
He also associated gladly with philosophers and scholars of other religions. His relations with priests like Father Buseo were so intimate that he was believed to be within measurable distance of embracing Christianity. Dara spent long hours in the study and discussion of religions. He went so far as to take part in producing Persian version of Upanishads and Bhagvad Gita. Many are familiar with Dara Shikoh’s translation of the Upanishads, but few know that in the preface to the translation he speculates that Upanishads may well have been the secret book mentioned in the Quran. It was for this reason that he called the Upanishads, ‘The Great Secret’. Among his literary works is his book ‘Majmua-ul-Baharain,’ which aims at bringing Islam and Hinduism closer.
During the autumn of 1657, endless plotting and counter plotting went on for the succession game. Ultimately Aurangzeb triumphed and Dara had to flee westward towards the Rajput kingdoms.
Dara challenged Aurangzeb, relying on the promised support of Jaswant Singh of Marwar, but Jaswant then deserted him, and Dara was left to face Aurangzeb's superior army alone. Defeated after three days' resistance (April 12-14, 1659) at Deorai, in northeast India, he was captured.
Dara was soon beheaded and his corpse was paraded through the streets of Delhi and buried without ceremony in a vault around Humayun’s Tomb.