Dara Shikoh was the Mughal prince and eldest and the most favorite son of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan who wanted to make him his successor.
Shah Jahan always kept him at his court and lavished upon him unprecedented honors, titles and riches. Hence, although polite in manners and courteous in conversation Dara grew up to be proud and self-conceited and showed a contemptuous disregard for other men’s advice.
Because of his constant presence at the court, he had little opportunity to acquire practical experience as a politician or soldier. Shah Jahan associated him with the central government during the later part of his rule and allowed him to exercise most of the imperial prerogatives.
Dara used his power to thwart the Deccan policy of Aurangzeb of whom he was intensely jealous. When Shah Jahan felt ill and a war of succession began among his four sons, Dara was outmatched by Aurangzeb who was a veteran soldier and a seasoned politician.
Dara Shikoh suffered three successive defeats at Dharmat, Samugarh and Deorai. He was defeated and executed by Aurangzeb.
Dara Shikoh occupies a high place in the cultural life of the Mughal period in India. Dara Shikoh was a man of liberal views and scholarly tastes and acquired great proficiency in Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit.