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Friday, Oct 22, 2021
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A Miniature’s Hidden Figures

In this astute analysis, Dara’s popular image is replaced by a man influenced by complex political-religious pulls typical of his age

A Miniature’s Hidden Figures
A Miniature’s Hidden Figures
outlookindia.com
2021-08-06T15:33:55+05:30

I first heard about Dara Shukoh (1615-1659) from my mother. She was fascinated by his brilliance, his poetry. She was also mesmerised by the tragedy that befell him. I wondered why Dara was an enigma and a hero for many others of her generation.

Supriya Gandhi probes that very question, unraveling the ent­wined histories and memories of Dara. Through scholarly reading, Gandhi retrieves Dara as a historical personality with a pol­itical role. The relationship between Aurangzeb and Dara is a crucial discourse in our history, but Gandhi’s meticulous analysis shifts the focus away from Dara’s tragic end to his political ambitions and intellectual journey.

Gandhi captures the interconnected trajectories of Shah Jahan, Dara Shukoh and Jahanara. Dara’s spiritual world was shaped by Shah Jahan and Jahanara, his eldest sister, who remained his treasured confidante. Brother and sister were both inspired by Sufi literature. Jahanara was also peacemaker, who arranged Dara’s meeting with Aurangzeb in the face of their acrimonious relationship. At...

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