Why was Dara
Shikoh not pardoned?
The number of
opportunities presented to Dara was
enormous compared to Aurangzeb.
- He was
fortunate from the beginning
with the love of his father and
elder sister at court.
- He was
mostly retained at court while
his other brothers were sent
away to govern troubling
provinces and put down
- He did not
have to toil and win wars in the
battlefield in order to gain
imperial favors from his father.
he was not as experienced a
warrior and military commander
compared to his other siblings.
Samugarh’s defeat and on
reaching Ahmedabad he managed to
raise another army this time
surprisingly with the betrayal
of Aurangzeb’s own father in law
Shah Nawaz Safavi who was the
newly appointed Viceroy of
- He planned
an alliance with Raja Jaswant’s
army near Ajmer to take on
Aurangzeb at Deorai 4 miles from
- However he
was betrayed by his Hindu friend
Raja Jaswanth Singh who had now
switched sides to Aurangzeb.
- He put up
a good fight due to geographic
advantage of the pass of Deorai.
Aurangzeb emerged victorious yet
again and Dara had to flee.
- He now had
no where to go except outside
the Mughal Dominions to Persia.
ambition was to reach Qandahar
and with the support of a
Persian army come back to fight
- Even this
dream would not materialize for
this time he was betrayed by the
treachery of Malik Jiwan.
- It is said
Dara had intervened with Shah
Jahan to have the life of Malik
Jiwan forgiven and rushed to the
execution platform of the Kotwal
to stop his execution with him
strapped up and ready to die.
Jiwan in hopes of rewards handed
him over to Aurangzeb.
troubling aspect for Dara had been
his heterodox religious ideas. In
the eyes of the ulema Dara was
indeed an apostate. Not just
Aurangzeb but all of his brothers
called him a Mulhid
(Apostate). Therefore as a prisoner
Dara was not executed without due
process. He was given a trial where
he had a chance to denounce his
ideology. However being a Mughal
prince his ego would not allow him
to bargain his life over principle.
Thereafter the Qazi (judge)
pronounced his death sentence. There
are two important events which
shaped the fate of Dara at the final
moments of his life.
- The public
support for Dara in the city of
Delhi was enormous.
- Since he
used to stay mostly at court he
was in constant touch with the
city dwellers and through his
enormous charities had
solidified a good support base.
- When he
was paraded in humiliation
through the streets the huge
outpouring of public support
alarmed Aurangzeb and his
Immediately thereafter he was
put on trial where he was
- In the
hope of mercy Dara finally
petitioned to Aurangzeb asking
that his life be spared.
- Looking at
the history of relations between
the two I find it very strange
that Dara would even expect to
gain mercy from a brother whom
he bitterly opposed from the
beginning and left no stone
unturned to defeat him
again was not a man of emotions
to get carried away. He wrote
with his own pen on the margins
of his petition in Arabic that
“You first acted as a usurper and
you were a mischief maker”
- There was
a period of time when it may
have been possible that
Aurangzeb toyed with the idea of
imprisoning him instead of an
the nobles Danishmand Khan
pleaded for his life but Shaista
Khan, Muhammad Amin Khan,
Bahadur Khan and Daud Khan
demanded his death for the good
of Islam and the state.
allegation that Roshanara Begum
played a key role in convincing
Aurangzeb to execute him is
doubtful. She may have offered
her advice since she alone was
the witness to all the acts that
happened in the court while but
the ultimate decision was made
the outburst of public anger and
the possible lynching of Malik
Jiwan who was mounted on a
procession in the city made
Aurangzeb extremely insecure and
all but certain to have Dara
executed as soon as possible
be the case the end of Dara was
- He had
never courted the support of
- He had
totally alienated the Islamic
orthodox lobby which cost him
- He had
relied about the selfish Rajputs
thinking his pro Hindu views
would win them over.
- He did not
realize that politics is devoid
of religious views or outlook.