To properly understand the role played
by Mohammad Davood Hakim in the court of Aurangzeb (Mongol Emperor, reigned
India 1658-1707) one needs to understand the historical background
because of the power struggle raging at the time between the four sons
of Shah Jahan (Persian name meaning King of the World), and also appreciate
a little of the eastern culture and politics. I have tried below to provide
a summary of both aspects, describing Aurengzeb's fight with his brothers
to become the emperor and the tactics employed in eliminating his strongest
cempetitor which involved our ancestor. Aurengzeb has been described as one of
the two Mongol emperors under whose rule the Mongol Empire was at its zenith.
I have then quoted the relevant passages direct form Bernier as they relate to Mohammad
Davood as is, providing explanatory notes were warranted, marking such
notes with my initials. Because this involves political events many centuries
earlier than our time, one needs to keep a balanced
view and bear in mind that Bernier may not have been a disinterested obeserver.
The Europeans were mostly employed as physicians or mercenaries in the army
mostly as artillary men. Both Bernier and Manucci were originally employed
by Dara. Their veiws are clearly tainted by their loyalty to Dara and
because his linient attitude towards christianity.
Shah Jahan was the tenth in regular descent
from the great Mongol Emperor Teimour Lang (the Lame Prince in Persian)
corruptly called Tamerlan in the West. Shah Jahan is perhaps better known
for his beautiful wife's splendid mausoleum namely the Taj
Mahal. The four sons of the Mongol Emperor, Shah Jahan, all laid
claim to the throne when their father fell seriously ill in 1658.
Each had considerable administrative experience and military
skills, each commanded a considerable military force, and each
had a loyal following. Dara (or Darius) Shekoh (1615-58), the eldest son,
was resident at Shah Jahan's court as the designated heir; Sultan Shuja
(in Persian means Valient Prince) was Governor of Bengal, Bihar,
and Orissa; Aurangzeb (means Throne's Ornament) governed the
Deccan; and Murad was Governor of Gujarat and Malwa. Dara's forces were
defeated by Aurangzeb, who occupied the imperial capital of Agra;
and Aurangzeb took his own father prisoner. Shuja's army was routed in
battle; and Murad was lured into a false agreement and taken prisoner.
Dara eventually collected together another force, suffered defeat as before,
and once again he fled; but soon he was betrayed by one of his allies,
and handed over to his brother. Accused of idolatry and apostasy
from Islam, Dara was condemned to death, and the sentence was carried
out on the night of 30 August 1659, one year after Aurangzeb took
over the Fort at Agra and assumed the throne. Aurangzeb delivered
the head of his brother to their father. He also had two of his brothers
killed and afterwards had his son poisened when the latter was perceived as a
threat to his rule. Aurangzeb, who was favoured
by powerful men more inclined to turn the Mongol Empire into an Islamic
state. he was a stern puritan and a religious bigot who sought to impose
orthodox Islam on all of India. He dismissed Hindus from public service,
reimposed tax on them, and destroyed their temples.
A few words on the involvement of the
Persians in India as most of the chieftans or the senior members of the so
called Mongol court were Persians. The use of the term Mongol is very misleading
as the kings themselves were Persian/Turcomans descended from the Mongol
invasion centuries earlier. The first arguably 'Indian' Mughal [as Indian call
Mongols] ruler was Akbar, who was born of an Iranian mother at Umarkot in Sindh in 1542 during his father's flight toward
Iran. As Bernier says in his introduction: "To be considered a Mogol,
it is enough for a foriegner to have a white face and profess Mohometanism
[Islam]". The inaccurate application of the term 'Mughal' (that is, 'Mongol') to the
Timurids of India appears to have arisen from the common usage of the Indian subject population, who following the thirteenth century invasions
tended to see all invaders from Inner Asia as 'Mongols', just as Europeans
long persisted in applying the term 'Tatar' to all steppe peoples, and Middle Easterners that of 'Frank'
[Farangi in Persian] to all Western Europeans. In order to clarify this ambiguity, modern Uzbek scholars refer to the Mughal dynasty of India as
the 'Baburids', but this usage has not gained acceptance outside the former Soviet Union.
The most striking aspect of Bernier's
account of the governement of India during this period is the Persian
involvement as administrators, courtiers and military leaders. One of the
most interesting examples is Aurengzeb's powerful prime minister, a
Persian by the name of Mir Mohammad Saied Ardistani entitled as Emir Jumla
or Amir Jumala (Leader of All) and afterwards Muzzam Khan Khan Khannan Sepah
Salar born in Ardistan near Isfahan who migrated to India, trading
diamonds, presenting the most celebrated diamond which has been generally deemed
unparalled in size and beauty, namely the Koh-e-Noor (Persian: Mountain of Light
or Luster) to Shah Jahan in order to curry his favour against the King of
Golkonda and the Portugese. The diamond was later brought to England in 1850 and
is part of the English crown jewels. The other is the use of Persian as
the every day language in the court. Even Bernier quotes the great Persian poet
Sadie in parts of his narrative, and the quotes from the Kings or Princes are
all in Persian. For instance, Bernier and Manucci quote Dara before being put to
death saying the following in Persian, "Mohammad mara mikushad, ibn Allah
Maryam mibakhshad": Mohammad gives me death and the son of Mary will save
[forgive] me. The titles of Kings and the courtiers were the same as the
ones used at the Persian court (for instance: Sepah Salar, Bahadur, Alamgir).
In the following
excerpts Bernier mentions Mohammad Davood in connection with a meeting
held in Aurengzeb's court to decide Dara's fate. Bernier had just
described Dara's capture. Dara was paraded through the Bazars of Dehli
before being imprisoned in one of his own gardens in Heider Abad. Bernier
had earlier spoken of Dara's sympathetic attitude
towards Christianity and reliance on his Jersuit advisors. Indeed
another European of that time Signor Manouchi (Manucci)
who was for a time attached to Dara's court has said the following on the same
subject: 'no sooner had Dara begun to posess authority, than he became
disdainful and inaccessible. A small number of Europeans alone shared
his confidence. The Jesuits, especially, were in the highest consideration
with him. These were the fathers... and Henry Búsee, a fleming.
This had much influence over the mind of the prince, and had his counsels
been followed, it is probable that Christianity would have mounted the
throne with Dara'. What Bernier fails to mention or did not understand, is the
enormity and the significance of Dara turning his back to Islam in the eyes of
moslems which is punishable by death (to this day).
Bernier describes Data's
fate as monsterous. He alludes to the fears
of the courtiers of the indignation of the populace against Dara treatment.
At a meeting of Mongol ruling family and trusted aides, Dara was condemned
as a heretic (Kafar - an infidel) which carried a sentence of death.
Religion was often used to undermine or eliminate political rivals be it in the
East or the West.
Travels In The Moghul Empire AD 1656 -
Second Edition Revised by Vincent Smith
A second council was consequently convened,
and the question was discussed, whether it was more expedient to conduct
Dara to Goüaleor , agreeably to the original
intention, or to put him to death without further delay. By some
it was maintained that there was no reason for the proceedings to extremities
and that the Prince might safely be taken to Goüaleor, provided
he were attended with a strong escort: Danesh-Mand-kan [Daneshmand
Khan], although he and Dara had long been on bad terms, enforced
this opinion with all his powers of argument: but it was ultimately decided
that Dara should die, and that Sepe-Chekoh [Sepehr-Shekoh
Dara's son - HB] should be confined in Goüaleor.
At this meeting Rauchenara- Begum [Roshanara-Begum, Aurengzeb's
youngest sister -HB] betrayed all her enimity against her hapless brother,
combating the arguments of Danesh-Mand,
and exciting Aurengzeb to this to this foul and unnatural murder.
Her efforts were but too successfully seconded by Kalil-ullah-kan
[Khalil-Allah Khan: a courties and one of the local governors -HB] and
Chah-hest-kan [Shayesteh Khan - another Persian name, Aurengzeb's
uncle -HB], both of them old enemies of Dara; and by Tagharrub-kan
[Tagharrob Khan -HB], a wretched parasite recently raised to the rank of
Omrah, and formerly a physician. He was originally
distinguished by the appellation of Hakim Dauod, and had
been compelled to fly from Persia.2
This man rendered himself conpicuous in the council by his violent harrangue.
'Dara ought not to live', he exclaimed; 'the safety of the State
depends upon his immediate excecution; and I feel the less reluctant to
recommend his being put to death, because he has long since ceast ot be
a Musulman [Mussalman in Persian or Moslem in English -HB] and become a
Kafer [infidel -HB]. If it be sinful to shed the blood of such a
person, may the sin be visited upon my own head!' An imprecation which
was not allowed to pass unregarded; for divine justice overtook this man
in his career of wickedness: he was soon disgraced, declared infamous,
and sentenced to a misreable death.
(Doctor) Dauod was the principal medical attendant on Shah Safi I the king
of Persia from 1628 to 1641, but by his intriguing conduct was obliged
to fly to India, where he amassed great wealth, part of which he spent
building one of the principal mosques in Ispahan (the Hakim Dauod Masjid),
where his family lived in great style on the money he remitted to them
from Hindostan. Chardin says that he was called Areb Can [Arab
Khan -HB] in India, and that his end was a miserable one, his downfall
being brought by the failure of some of his political intrigues,
See page 462 vol. vii. of Voyages du Chevalier Chardin en Perse,
Paris 1811. Areb Can is probably intended for Tagharrub Khan, as given
by Bernier, as Chardin is not so correct in his transliteration of his
Omrah: from Umara,
the plural of the Arabic word Amir, a commander, a chief, a lord.
Here used as a single word for a lord or grandee, although properly speaking
it should be used collectively.
Persian title meaning Learned Knight, he was a Persian merchant called
Mohammad Shafi or Mulla Shafi, who went to Surat in 1646. He later becomes
a prominent member of Shah Jahan's court, he was made paymaster general
of the army (Bakhshi). Later he becomes in Bernier's words one of
the the most powerful and distinguished
Lords of the Court. During the reign of Aurengzeb he was appointed
governor of Shah-Jahan-Abad or New Dehli, where he died in 1670.
He employed Bernier as his physician after a penniless Bernier had
sought employment as a physician at the Mongol Court and became his patron.