Dara Sukoh and Aurangzeb – Sibling Rivalry that destroyed the Mughal Empire

I was just reading a book titled “The Mughal empire” about the rivalry for the throne of Agra between Shah Jahan’s son’s Dara Sukoh(fighting to defend his father’s position as emperor) and the main contender Aurangzeb. The Mughals prince’s(sons) always had to fight between themselves for a throne right from the days of Humayun. The most capable prince who won would either banish his other brothers and family who did not die in succession war on Pilgimage to holy place(like Humayun did to his step-brother Askari), blind and keep them imprisoned(Jehangir did this to his eldest son Khusrau but later repented and released him and allowed him to come to court) or just killed them(Shah Jahan did this to his brother Khusrau whose custody he sought forcefully from Jehangir to end his rebellion and killed his two other brothers Parviz, Shariyar and kids too and Auragnzeb did to his brothers Dara Sukoh the crown prince, Murad and Shah Sujah). This set me thinking that the love of titles, power, property and money is so powerful that a human can easily put his aged father in prison till death or kill his siblings and their family without impunity or any consideration. Indeed Auragzeb hated his elder brother Dara Sukoh so much he had his head sent in a plate covered dish to Shah Jahan whom he belived loved his elder brother the most. What a sadistic scene that must have been for an 66 year old father to see his beloved son’s head in  a plate dish presented as a gift from Aurangzeb? Apparently Shah Jahan commented “Its good to see the upsurer has not forgotten his father” before opening the gift and fainting from shock.

Dara sukoh with mystics

Dara sukoh with mystics

But is this phenomenon changed in current times. Yes sibling rivarly may not be so intense because the prize of victory is not being the richest person in world(like for Mughal princes). But still intense sibling rivarly and hatred can be seen where more than one child is available to inherit the wealth, power, position of their ancestors. These are very commonly played out especially in families that are connected to politics and business and rich families. Previously a country’s throne held the lure of the future heirs but currently the lure for power(in politics and business) and wealth(in rich) takes the coveted position. Previously the race was usually limited to sons but now as the society is progressing even daughters/daughter-in-laws are involved in these succession race but are not as voilent as sons.

I was just wondering what is it that makes a human kill/humiliate an own sibling more brutally than they would do any of their worst enemies. How easily a brother forgets this is his own brother with whom he shared a bed in childhood, played with, shared his toys and clothes, shared their inner most secrets which they would never share with their parents and best friends too, helped in studies, saved each other from parents punishments by defending or hidding faults? Yet as soon as they become big and see an opportunity where if all inherit their share will reduce or if only one can inherit the same siblings will not hesitate even once to backstab or destroy or kill and snatch the power, position and wealth.

Many may argue the siblings already disliked each other or did not like each other in childhood hence it is not surprising that they will not hesitate to harm their brother/sisters once they are big and see them as competitors for life resources. Yes, i agree that if in childhood your parents do not give much attention and allow hatred and dislike to brew between siblings for small reasons the same hatred may continue in adulthood. But these are very rare cases.

Take the case of Dara Sukoh and Auragzeb. They were less than 5 years old when their father Prince Shah Jahan rebelled against his father Jehangir because he felt his step mother Nur Jahan was out to harm his claim to the throne.  Those were tough times when an all powerful Mughal army which consisted at one time more than 10 lakh soldiers was chasing the small boy’s family across the entire Indian subcontinent. There must have been days when they slept empty stomach, under open skies, without proper clothes to shelter them from cold. There must have been days when they felt they will be captured and killed any moment by their grandfather’s army. They both were taken as hostages to Jehangir’s court when they were very small 10 and 7 years old. This must have made their sibling bond stronger having faced so many trails and tribulations but it did not. They say that Aurangzeb was angry that his elder brother Dara was most loved by his father. But is that reason enough to justify Dara’s killing.

Everyone knows that all our parents have a favourite son/daughter whose place other siblings cannot take. This bond is formed at an young age especially during times of crisis. I am sure during his rebellion Shah Jahan must have spoken to his elder daughter(Jahnaara) and son(Dara Sukoh) about his rebellion and the tough times which lasted 4 years. Aurangzeb and his other siblings must have been too small to understand the gravity of the situation and hence been sheilded by their parents and elder siblings from grim details of the revolt. Even when Shah Jahan was grieving after becoming the emperor for his wife Mumtaz Mahal and could not take up his duties it was Jahanara who handled the palace duties and Dara Sukoh who handled court and rebellions in kingdom. It is but obivious a parent will love/spend more time a child who will help them in their duties. But is that not what every parent does whether in 15th century or the 21st century. That does not mean a child keeps grudge on the parent and sibling and use that as a reason to harm/kill that sibling/parent once it becomes big and has power(originally bestowed by that very parent).

But if a person is ambitious wants materialistic and worldly riches and power and he succeeds there is nothing stopping him from twisting events, facts and history even against his own family and siblings. And this fact is true not only for a royal prince but for a commoon man too. And remember no one hates and fights with as much hatred as a family member because they know all your faults, your weakness, your strength and use them effectively against you.

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