New Delhi, Feb 9 (IANS) The FACT foundation, started by French journalist Francois Gautier, on Friday inaugurated its two-day long exhibition on Mughal Prince Dara Shikoh, contending Indians “should know more” about him.
‘Aurangzeb & Dara Shukoh: A tale of two brothers’ was originally scheduled to be launched by Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu, but he was unable owing to his duties as Rajya Sabha Chairman.
The exhibition at the Indira Gandhi National Centre of Arts has a number of paintings depicting the eldest son of Shah Jahan, who was an author of religio-philosophical treatises and had translated many Upanishads as engaged in scholarly other such activities before he was executedat the order of his younger brother Aurangzeb at the age of 44 after his defeat in the succession battle.
Gautier, a journalist who has made India his home, reasoned that Dara Shikoh was one of the early doyens of practice of Sufism and that Indians should celebrate him more.
“I am a Frenchman, but I love India. I owe a debt to it… Western journalists always depict India in cliches of poverty but I find India a magnificent country,” he said at the inauguration.
“We want Dara Shikoh to come back”, he said, more so at a time “when all governments are looking for a moderate Muslim… Dara Shikoh while being a Muslim believed other religions too have a right to co-exist”.
“Islam owes greatly to Upanishads, Dara Shikoh believed… True Sufism is best of Islam with respect for all religions… We want Indians to look into their history, good or bad.. Western academics depicted Indian in a certain light, which suited their agenda. But that continued even after 1947…,” he said.
Also present at the occasion was former Iranian Parliament speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, who likened Dara Shikoh to a possible ‘philosopher king’ — the embodiment of an ideal ruler envisaged by Greek philosopher Plato.
“India is a country of miracles. Dara Shikoh was an great personality of this country… He, instead of constructing palaces, evolved a humanist approach between religions,” said Haddad-Adel, who is a philosopher himself.
He gave the latter part of his speech in Persian as a tribute to Dara Shikoh, whose mother tongue it was.
During these two days, many experts are slated to speak on various issues related to the legacy of Dara Shikoh.