Prince Muhammad Dara Shikoh
The Forgotten Secular Prince: Muhammad Dara Shikoh (1627-1658 AD) The favorite Sufi son of Moghul emperor, Shah Jehan. Known the world over for his unorthodox and liberal views.
He was a mystic and a free thinker. Dara Shikoh’s most important legacy is the translation of fifty Upanishads, known under the title of Sirr-i-Akbar (“The Great Secret”).
It was completed in 1657, together with paraphrases and excerpts from commentaries which in various cases, though by no means throughout, can be traced back to Sankara.
He had learned Sanskrit and studied the Hindu scriptures in the original. He studied the Torah, the Gospels and the Psalms, but it is the “Great Secret” (Sirri-i-Akbar) of the Upanishads which, in his view, represents the most original testimony of the oneness of God or the Absolute.
His personal fate is well-known: in 1659, two years after the completion of the Sirr-i-Akbar, he was executed by order of his brother, Aurangazeb, and with the consent of the Islamic orthodoxy community (Ulama), who claimed that he was a heretic and a danger to the state, the faith and the public order.
(source: India and Europe: An Essay in Understanding – By Wilhelm Halbfass p. 34). He translated the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Yoga – Vashishta into Persian directly from Sanskrit and called it Sirr-e-Akbar (The Great Mystery).
Titled “The Upanishads: God’s Most Perfect Revelation” and then into Latin by Anquetil Duperron (1801 and 1802) under the title Oupnekhat, contained about fifty. This translation introduced Western readers to the Upanishads. Schopenhauer’s reaction to it is well-known.
The Quran itself, he said, made veiled references to the Upanishads as the “first heavenly book and the fountainhead of the ocean of monotheism.” Dara Shikoh, wrote in his Persian translation of the Upanishads.
“After gradual research; I have come to the conclusion that long before all heavenly books, God had revealed to the Hindus, through the Rishis of yore, of whom Brahma was the Chief, His four books of knowledge, the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda, the Sama Veda and the Atharva Veda.”
In his Majma al-Bahrain, he sought to reconcile the Sufi theory with the Vedanta. He was able to affirm that Sufism and Advaita Vedantism (Hinduism) are essentially the same, with a surface difference of terminology.”
And in introduction to this work he says that one finds in Upanishads the concept of tawhid (the doctrine of Unity of God, the most fundamental doctrine of Islam) after the Qur’an and perhaps the Qur’an refers to Upanishad when it refers to Kitab al-Maknun (The Hidden Book). His work Majma`ul Bahrayn (Mingling of the Two Oceans i.e. Hinduism an
d Islam) is very seminal work in the history of composite culture of India. Two years after the completion of the Sirr-i-Akbar, Dara was executed on the orders of his brother – Aurangazeb(Dara was placed on a filthy elephant and paraded through the streets of the capital in chains before execution)