ISLAMABAD, Ambition, lust for power that led Emperor Aurangzeb to brutally kill Dara Shikoh — and thereby one of the greatest historical crimes was committed.
Inevitably, Aurangzeb Alamgir, the conqueror of the world captured the Peacock Throne and the forces of bigotry, communalism and destruction prevailed.
The violent and devastating struggle between brothers Dara and Aurangzeb, the decisive role played by the sisters Jahan Ara and Roshan Ara and spiritual challenge posed by the Sufi Sarmad (Dara’s spiritual mentor) to the authority of the muftis and qazis of the Empire and the growing discontent among masses were elements which made Dara a gripping and a powerful play.
Ajoka’s new production Dara that hit stage Thursday night at the National Art Gallery was about the less-known but extremely dramatic and moving story of Dara, eldest son of Emperor Shahjahan and designated crown prince, who was imprisoned and executed by his younger brother Aurangzeb.
A poet, a painter and a Sufi, Dara wanted to build on the policies and philosophy of Akbar and bring the ruling Muslim elite closer to the local religions. His search for God and shared teachings of all major religions was reflected in his scholarly works such as Sakeena-tul-Aulia, Safina-tul-Aulia and Majma-ul-Bahrain. The play explored the conflict between the role of a crown prince and that of a poet and Sufi.
Dara with spirited dances, great looking costumes, and charismatic narrations, was without any lows. Whether it were Furqan Majeed as Dara Shikoh, Sarfraz Ansari as Aurangzeb or Usman Zia who played Sarmad Farsi, the actors created the best, most well-intentioned kind of impressions imaginable as lead characters.
And of course like all Ajoka plays, Dara had a powerful message for the contemporary conflicts and challenges.
It elaborated on the irony that Aurangzeb, the killer of his brothers, nephews, his own offspring, the destroyer of the Mughal Empire, had been projected as a Muslim hero, as a role model by partisan historians and biased scholars while Dara, was almost non-existant. Shown as a great scholar, a sensitive artist, a passionate and devoted Sufi, patron of arts, the prince of the people and visionary had almost been wiped out from the history books.
Writer and director of the play, Shahid Nadeem said that he wondered what would have been the course of Indian history had Dara Shikoh become the Emperor instead of Aurangzeb.
“If we want to reverse the retrogressive process of religious extremism and bigotry, we have to revisit that circuital and dramatic turning point in our history,” he said.
The drama was an attempt to relive the glorious, though tragic period, bringing back Dara into collective historical and cultural consciousness and redress a monstrous historical wrong.
Article Source: Dawn.com, By: Jamal Shahid