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) a Venetian 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 - 1668
Francois Bernier
Second Edition Revised by Vincent Smith
Pages 100-101


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.

2 Hakim (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 friend Bernier.


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.

Goüaleor: a fortress, citadel

Daneshmand Khan: 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 Omrahs  or 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.