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The Story of India -

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civilisations aspire to greatness. There are moments in history when India had done so in ancient times it did so again. and at the end of the Middle Ages phase of Indian history. that inspired the next great And it was the coming of Islam

to half of all the world's Muslims. Today the sub-continent is home has been shaped by the encounter The ebb and flow of its history of India and Islam. of the two civilisations there is no more dramatic tale. And, in all of history, in The Story of India. The next chapter

of the Prophet's lifetime, in south India within memory Muslim traders had settled to work profound change but the coming of Islam only began and settlements here in the north. in the Middle Ages, with invasions in the history of the sub-continent

exactly 1,000 years ago. of Multan, in what is now Pakistan, That story begins in the city a series of events began Here in Multan, the balance of history which would shift for ever in the sub-continent, Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni. and the key figure was aroused more violent disagreement. Few characters in history have

To some, he was a great prince, and a champion of the faith. a builder of empires a fanatic and an iconoclast. To others, an oppressor, the then Hindu city of Multan, in Afghanistan, Mahmud occupied The head of a great Muslim empire

for a series of raids into India. and used it as a base with Mahmud of Ghazni's family? So your family were connected of the city for nearly 1,000 years? Yes. And you've been in this quarter We're living here all the time. at the site where he is buried. and when he camped here, you see, When our ancestor came, you see, Mahmud's son in the 11th century.' 'The Gardezis' ancestor came with

riding on a lion. Oh, yeah. It's through those doors he came fluttering over his head. in his hand, and a pair of pigeons With a live snake as a whip came in the Middle Ages into India.' but a holy man, one among many who 'But their ancestor wasn't a warrior is it? This is from the 12th century then, 'This is his tomb. who are still loved across Pakistan and the Sufi saints, 'He was a Sufi, an Islamic mystic,

very important in this story. 'and north India, will be and the people of India together.' who first brought Islam 'For it was the Sufi saints I think Shah Yusef, our ancestor, Among the saints of Multan, to arrive in Multan. he's first of the Muslim saints the founder of Muslim Multan. I would call him of a meeting of minds. of violence, but also the beginning So the age of Mahmud was a time

For, like the Hindu holy men, should strive to be with God the Sufis taught that people without any attachment. of India. between Islam and the religions And there lay the common ground Ah, the old Gardezi library. I remember this place. my great-great-great grandfather... This was founded by

as a prince of high culture.' himself is remembered here 'And even the dreaded Mahmud musty old books. ..From an old manuscript type, Some of them are 400-500 years old. epic, Ferdousi's Book Of Kings.' 'He was the patron of the famous was commissioned by Mahmud of Ghazni This is the Ferdousi. The Ferdousi in poetry form, and Mahmud promised and this part of the world to write the history of Persia

one gold coin per couplet. that he would give him He wrote 40,000 couplets. For a couplet. For a couplet. 40,000 couplets! said, "Oh, a gold coin is too much. So Mahmud had a second thought and a silver coin per couplet." "I think I'll give you and wrote a satire against Mahmud and he went back home And he refused to accept it

Mahmud's ancestry and everything, in which he criticises which become so popular, especially his mother's side. He says at one point... His mother's ancestry. HE READS THE TEXT OUT of the countries, of the nations, "Oh, King Mahmud, oh, conqueror at least be scared of God". "if you are not scared of anyone

great expeditions into India. Mahmud led a dozen in November 1025. The most famous left Multan to get down from Multan to the sea. It took them a month this kind of terrain, To survive through to carry the water. they took 20,000 camels goal wasn't conquest, but plunder. In these early attacks on India, the Hindu temple town of Somnath, Their target in 1025, the famous in gold and silver. said to be incredibly rich public justification the invasion was given a different Though, as can still happen, as a war against the infidel. about why Mahmud attacked Somnath. There are many stories there was a goddess called Manat. Long, long ago in Arabia,

of the goddesses were destroyed. When Islam came, the shrines the story, the stone image of Manat But according to one version of was taken away from Arabia and Somnath became her temple. and brought here to India, Somanatha. led his expedition to the sea. of the prophet that Mahmud And it was to fulfil the work

THEY SING AND CHANT as a defender of the faith. look good with the Caliph in Baghdad That story no doubt made Mahmud to loot the wealth of India. But it was fantasy. He'd come in the border land of Rajasthan. the mythology of the people And these tales became part of Mahmud is still a bogeyman, To them, heroic battles in the Middle Ages and they still sing of their against the Afghans and the Turks. THEY SING

THEY CLAP CAMELS SNORT FARTING of grumpy camels Ah, nothing like that old sound and farting all night, is there? clearing their throats Well, there isn't!

750 miles south from Multan, Mahmud's attack on Somnath led him across the great desert of Thar, and down to the Arabian Sea. into Gujarat the rich pilgrim shrine of Somnath There on the seashore lay inside a fortified town. The Shiva temple here was destroyed and rebuilt several times before it was restored in the 1950s after independence. Mahmud reached here in January 1026,

sacked the city, destroyed the idol and plundered the temple's gold. In today's India, the tale is still remembered with bitterness.

Mahmud's expedition to Somnath was written up by his Persian and Turkic court poets as an emblematic clash between Islam and Hindu idolatry. The great historian Al-Biruni, who was no fan of Mahmud,

went with him to India and says the 12 great plundering expeditions engendered a hatred among Hindus for the Turks. By which he means, the Muslims. But, as always in history, and especially in the history of India, there's another story. And what appears to begin here as a clash of civilisations will become, over time, one of the most remarkable cultural crossovers in the history of civilisation.

What a great Indian Muslim prince will later call "The Meeting of Two Oceans". And it's Al-Biruni, a Muslim scholar who learned Sanskrit, who gives us the first signpost. "You must bear in mind," he says, "that the Hindus entirely differ from us in almost everything.

"And the barriers separating us are many - language, manners, customs, rules of purity. "And India is such a diverse land, from Kashmir in the north to the southern cultures - "Telugu, Kanada and Tamil. "In religion, the Indians totally differ from us, "as we believe in nothing in which they believe, and vice versa.

"India's hard to understand, though I have a great liking for it. "And our apparent differences would be perfectly transparent "if there were more contact between us." But in 1192, there came a new phase - military conquest by Afghans and Turks, who became Sultans of Delhi. Here, they built a giant minaret, which doubled as a tower of victory. 240 feet high, it's one of the wonders of the world, the Qutub Minar. It's called the Might of Islam. The Might of Islam. So this is a statement of conquest. This is foreign conquerors coming in and creating their base here. This base was very important for taking the conquest into other parts of India.

So you can imagine, the Qutub complex was the place which established Muslim rule in India. This was built around the end of the 12th century. There was a time when this Lal Kot area was taken over by the Afghans. This is the first Indo-Islamic mosque in India,

this particular mosque. This is the place. The first mosque. And all around us, the remains of Hindu columns. The inscription on the eastern gate says that 27 temples were actually dismantled to construct this mosque. It was as much a political as a religious statement. Since its first spread in the 7th century, the Islamic world had encountered many other religions,

but nowhere as big and diverse as India. The fact was, as the Delhi Sultans soon realised, they couldn't possibly convert India. Co-existence had to follow. The different dynasties of the Sultans of Delhi ruled here for 300 years, and you can still pick up their traces today in the back streets of old Delhi.

But the biggest meeting of minds was brought about by the Sufi saints. And these are really, really basic, the idea being that the people who came... 'For through the Sufis, the devotees of both faiths found their common ground.' You can see the pots in the trees really well from here.

So these are all successful wishes? These are wishes that have come true. 'And not just in folk beliefs, but in an idea deeply rooted in Islam's mystical traditions - 'the unity of all being and of all religions.' The person who lies buried here is Abu Bakar Sheik Haidery Tusi.

He belonged to the...Qalandariyah? Qalandariyah. Qalandariyah Silsila. This is a Sufi order that came from Iran or Iraq? Iran. Iran. This is not just a conquest, is it? It's an intermingling. A lot of people now increasingly see that, at least in North India, Islam didn't spread through the sword, but through men like the person buried here, these Sufis. And it sort of went on like a continuous stream, as it were,

for 300 to 400 years. And perhaps real change in history has to happen at the grass roots. The poet Amir Khusro grew up here in the Delhi Sultanate. He's still a household name in old Muslim families. He's typical of the age, a Muslim, whose parents were Turkic, who spoke Persian.

And this is his voice. "India is our beloved motherland, a paradise on Earth. "Intelligence is the natural gift of its people. "There can be no better guide to life than the wisdom of India." This cult is frowned on by the really orthodox kind of Islamic... Some Islam would find this sacrilege, almost all of it.

It is considered completely un-Islamic. So in the Middle Ages in the north, despite war and violence, forced conversion, discrimination against Hindus, the foundations were laid for the amazing events which would follow in the 16th century.

This is one of the most wonderful viewpoints in history. This is the end of the Khyber Pass, the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. This is the route taken by many of the great invaders in history who came into the Indian subcontinent - Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and Tamberlane.

In late 1525, new invaders come down this corridor of history from Afghanistan. Originally from Central Asia, the Moghuls had made Kabul their base from which to mount an invasion of the plains of India. After four failures, this was the final throw on which their leader, Babur, had staked everything.

It's April 1526. The heat already clamping on the Delhi plain. Temperature pushing up towards 40 degrees. The Moghul army, 12,000 men. Their leader, a grizzled veteran at 43 years old, inured to war since he was ten. Descendant of Genghis Khan and Tamberlane.

And ahead of him, at Panipat, the Sultan of Delhi, Ibrahim, with an army of 100,000 men and 1,000 war elephants. Babur's place of destiny, Panipat just north of Delhi, was the scene of several

great battles in Indian history going back to the legendary wars of the ancient epic of the Mahabharata. But now it was Muslim ruler against Muslim invader. Both sides had taken their positions a week before. Both sides were preparing. We know about Babur's preparation more than Ibrahim's because Babur has left a record behind.

He was outnumbered by one to five. Wow! He has commandeered, he says, about 700 carts and tied them together with fibre cables. What's he trying to do there to protect himself? He's tied cannons in these carts. There are several hundred cannons tied like this right in front. He shoots the enemy with his cannon, which is for the first time happening in India,

it's in the battle of Panipat, that it's happening in India. The use of artillery? The use of artillery on that scale.

Behind that, his cavalry and behind that, his infantry. And how does he win? Well... Is it the artillery that makes the difference? Partly, very largely it does make a difference because, you know... What do the elephants and horses do against the artillery?

So, like his contemporaries, Cortes and Pizarro in the new world, in one battle the Moghul conquistador Babur had gained the heartland of India. In thanksgiving, he built a little mosque overlooking the battlefield, the first mogul mosque in India.

So this place marks the start of a new age and of a new style that we now think of as quintessentially Indian. This is a palace built by Babur for his Queen, while he's saying it's a mosque built by Babur for his army to say their prayers. Wow!

So there are two different stories. In India, Babur is known as a warrior, as a conqueror, a great soldier. In his home, back home in Tajkan area, probably nobody even knows that he came to India and conquered, but they remember him as a great poet, a very, very great poet.

above all a very honest, sincere man, He's a man of many, many parts, and a very charming, loveable man. He was also a devout Muslim. dogmatic Muslim, but a devout Muslim, Not a very, what shall I say, five times a day. who said his prayers regularly he had a cup of wine, of course. After saying his prayers,

you know. So, it's a very human figure, He was a live man. Yeah, yeah. A regular guy. A regular guy, you said earlier. to what will follow. what Babur does next is another clue And after the battle, but doesn't plunder the city. He enters Delhi,

old Sufi Shrine of Nizamuddin, Instead, he comes here to the Delhiites of all communities, still a favourite among Hindu as well as Muslim. a cup of wine and write poetry. before going back to camp to have And here he offers a humble prayer Thank you very much.

of the story of India. of the next amazing phase 'And that will set the tone all of Babur's descendants. 'Devotion to the Sufis will mark back to Tamberlane.' marked his ancestors 'Just as respect for all religions Beautiful place. of Islam and India will move on 'Under the Moghuls, the story

has lessons for the world today.' 'to a different plane, which still thank you. Thank you very much. Oh, that's very, very kind, shrines of the saints in Delhi. Yes. This is the most important of the Great Sufi Saint. This is great Sufi Saint. is a family story - The tale of the Moghuls and gifted dynasties in history. one of the most remarkable by the British. before they were deposed They ruled India for 330 years

But immediately after Babur's death, was driven into exile, his son Humayun where his wife gave birth to a son of all Indian rulers, Akbar. who would become one of the greatest

first to Rajasthan, The tale of Akbar takes us where the local Hindu Rajas the Muslim conquerors. had always resisted

In the 16th century, in the north were still Hindus the majority of Indian people and the Goddess. of India - of Shiva, Vishnu who followed the old religions under the medieval sultans. intolerance and forced conversion They had often endured

Kushbu, I am Michael. and this is your brother? Mohit. My name is Michael, Mohit! Mohit. in Jodhpur. Thank you, this is the best place between Hindu and Muslim in India. Akbar would change the relations of the royal family of Jodhpur, in the house of relatives When he was born

his future greatness there were omens which foretold of history, like Alexander. just as there were for other giants the astrologers did his horoscope, So back in 1542, when in Akbar's line of life? what did they see astrologer to redraw his chart. I asked the present Maharaja's

Hello, Abhisekh. Mr Sharma, lovely to see you again. That's great. So? How did we do? the 25th of October 1542. What, um...first of all, the date, Sunday morning. It is Sunday morning. morning. 2am is the... 2am? Saturday night and the Sunday Sagittarius was in the fifth house. Yes. That at the time of his birth,

That's astrologically. here? Fantastic. So this is the Emperor Akbar's chart This is computer-made chart. He was born in the Leo Ascendant. In the Leo Ascendant? These people are very, very confident about they are doing are focused about their goals. and they are very keen and they it is the Kingdom, Yog, The aspect of Sun and Saturn,

which is the Maharaja Yog. as we describe in the astrology, the fourth house. That was why He was born when Scorpio was in a good and comfortable life, he was bound to have led though born at a different strata, he was not to get ancestral property but the horoscope indicates that because he later acquired kingdom. and this holds good

his birth chart. the astrologer must have calculated After the sixth day of his birth, the Goddess of Fortune comes Because we believe that on sixth day of the child. and he writes the fortune They saw the future fortune... Because the Sun and Saturn... who gives the kingdom. Saturn is the main planet it must have given the kingdom, If Saturn is on the highest state

they have thought. it will give at that time, And they were right! Akbar became king in 1556 down his library steps in Delhi. when his father died after falling was controlled by their enemies At that moment, much of north India

in the story of India. have been an unlamented blip and the Moghuls might just It's an unlikely place, isn't it? Moghul garden here in 1556. But there was a beautiful by generals loyal to his father. here at Kalanaur Akbar was proclaimed king Thank you. So where is it?

Here? This is it? Well, how about that? of the garden left, does it? doesn't look as if there's any Isn't that extraordinary,

in his later life. Akbar came back several times It's a beautiful spot. Gorgeous, isn't it, this evening? So this is the place where he was formally proclaimed king in February 1556. He would have sat on that. That was the throne platform there. he's only a 13-year-old boy. You have to remember

among tough warriors in Afghanistan. He'd been brought up in exile You can imagine the sort, I'm sure. preferred outdoor sports and games He played truant from school, all his life. and remained illiterate What is your name? Namke. Namke? Yah? And how old are you?

TRANSLATION: 12. 12. as Akbar. He was 13 and you are 12. So you are nearly the same age this age when he became king. isn't it, that he was only It's an incredible thought, and the mullahs had never got the intellectuals and the scholars Maybe because a wonderful capacity on him, he retained their intellectual straightjacket

unconventional connections. to make unexpected, to think outside the box. As we would put it, around Kandahar, Lahore and Delhi. had shrunk to a few small pockets At this point, the Moghul Kingdom his enemies and wins the kingdom. But young Akbar acts fast, defeats

he expands it across to Bengal And then over the next ten years, one of the world's great powers. and down to the Deccan to become unexpected skills in rulership young tough guy was showing And soon the illiterate, and an unsuspected interest in India's different philosophies. Akbar is not very religious,

he has attachments to Sufis, superstitious attachments, let us say, to the Ajmer Shrine and so on. India was what he experienced. He liked this language. He liked mixing with the people. As you know, he was a bit of a lover in the beginning, so he loved the people

and often went to gatherings even when he had become a king, without courtiers, incognito. He was a different type of sovereign altogether. In January 1575, Akbar came with his closest Hindu advisor here to the junction of the Ganges and the Jumna Rivers

at the time of the great bathing festival. What Akbar saw here was one of those great Hindu melas where millions of people come down to the junction of the rivers to take a holy bath. Akbar's advisor tells the story how a strange thing happens at that time.

He says, "When the planet Jupiter enters the constellation of Aquarius "and then a small mound - island rises in the middle "of the River Ganges and all the people go out to it to do worship." Akbar was so touched by his experience that he named the Hindu sacred place

Allahabad - The City Of God. So here having already lifted the hated tax on Hindus, Akbar begins to embrace all India's religions. The Sikhs were one of the radical religious groups who'd sprung up out of the interaction of Hinduism and Islam in the 16th Century. Their first guru, Nanak, who died in 1539, asserted, "There is no Hindu or Muslim,"

and laid stress on the worship of one God and works of charity. His legacy today is a world faith, singled out by the turban that all men must wear to enter their holy shrines. And it was Akbar who gifted them land here in Amritsar to build the Golden Temple,

the most famous landmark of Sikhism today. It would be under the later Moghuls that the Sikhs became a military sect, bearing the symbols carried by all practising Sikhs today, what they call the Five Ks. The first K is the Kesh which is unshown hair. You don't cut your hair? No. Hence, therefore the appearance...

you don't cut your hair. And second one is Kanga which is a wooden comb. Comb? Wooden comb, yes. And you keep that with you? We keep that in the hair here. And third one is bracelet... It is called Kara - starts with K. Fourth K is your Kachhera which is a baggy shorts, briefs.

Baggy briefs which you wear as undergarment. Right, and the fifth one, finally? Is Kirpan. Kirpan is actually... Now if I can take you through this. It's not a sword and it's not a knife either. May I look? Yes, sure. It is called Kirpan. It is to defend your respect. To stand against the tyranny of the time, so that we could defend the faith.

"Now it has become clear to me," said Akbar, "that it cannot be wisdom to assert the truth of one faith over another. "In our troubled world, so full of contradictions, "the wise person makes justice his guide and learns from all. "Perhaps in this way the door may be opened again whose key has been lost."

The New Age demanded a new capital. Fatehpur Sikri was built in the 1570s in the plain near Agra. Above the entrance is a quotation from the Christian saviour and Muslim prophet - Jesus.

This is the great gate of Akbar's city at Fatehpur Sikri. The inscription reads this, "Jesus, peace be upon Him, said this. "The world is a bridge, cross it but build no house upon it "for the world endures but a moment and the rest is unknown."

While the new city was being built and Akbar was beginning his philosophical enquiries, he also oversaw a great reform of Moghul government.

The administrative structure of Moghul Empire is practically complete. Provinces are established from 1580, the centralised administration is then already established. In 1574, he establishes his military service - bureaucracy and army are combined. He has the new land revenue system,

conquests are going on. Now Akbar is not personally involved. OK. So actually this philosophy is, the philosophy of politically leisure hours, let us say. Partly leisure hours. Personal search. But he's seeking for a justification of sovereignty. And how to justify sovereignty. To create an allegiance in a nation of such diversity, that was the question.

Akbar's big idea was very simple. No one religion can claim absolute knowledge, absolute authority. He'd already had discussions with Muslim wise men, Sunni and Shia, but he'd been shocked by how quickly they'd come to blows with each other.

Now he summoned leaders of all the religions of the world. Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Parsees, Jains - to find the common ground of all religion. And in those weekly seminars here at Fatehpur, perhaps for the first time in human history,

the absolute claims of religion itself were put under scrutiny. THEY TALK HINDI Every religion is wrong but all differences have to be tolerated.

He says in India there are so many religions and therefore the sovereign should not identify with one. He's the... Just as God can't identify himself with one religion, so the sovereign can't identify, as sovereign. From Moghul India to Christian Europe, it was a Renaissance world

and Akbar even received a letter from his contemporary, Elizabeth I. In her letter to the Emperor Akbar, Queen Elizabeth of England says something very interesting. She says that, "The singular report of your majesty's humanity "has reached even these most distant shores of the world." Humanity? Not power, glory, riches. But it's right to talk about Akbar's humanity still.

It's what makes him one of the most engaging figures in history, but it's not the whole story. The other side is his rationality. Don't think for a moment that his dream of one religion was some New Age whim. It was conceived as rationally as all his other great policies. His drastic overhaul of the land revenue and taxation system of his great Empire,

his overhaul of the Moghul Civil Service, his effort to make his Hindu subjects more equal under the law. These were all big ideas, the sort of big ideas that would become part of the mainstream in Europe in the 18th-century Enlightenment. But in 16th-century Europe, no Renaissance prince, not even the brilliant Elizabeth Tudor, tried so consistently as Akbar to bring in the Age of Reason.

After a reign of nearly 50 years, Akbar died in 1605, two years after Elizabeth I. He would be succeeded by his son, Jahangir and his grandson, Jahan, both men of high sensibility but with inner demons drawn to dissipation.

Akbar had laid the foundations - administrative, fiscal and moral, for Moghul India's future greatness. At his death, India had the largest GDP in the world. Before it, lay the possibility of an Indo-Islamic enlightenment.

So what went wrong? Why did it fail after Akbar's death? Why did the Age of Reason not come? It wouldn't be the first time in history and it certainly wouldn't be the last that an Empire lost its way because of over-consumption, extravagance, bad leadership and unwise foreign wars.

Through the 17th century, the Moghuls pursued their futile dream of regaining their ancestral homeland in Central Asia. And at home they engaged in vast building projects. The most famous was the Taj Mahal.

Now you might have thought that the best-known building in the world had no more secrets. The Taj is told in all the tourist guides as a monument to love, the tomb of Shah Jahan's favourite wife, Mumtaz, and later of Jahan himself. A teardrop on the face of time. But new discoveries suggest the design may go back to the Moghuls' beloved Sufi saints,

that the key to the Taj may be a mystic map of a Sufi's dream. It's a map of the Day of Judgement. The cosmos is seen as a rectangle. On one side, the fields of paradise, on the other side, the path, a serat - the way - the bridge over which the righteous must pass and be judged on Judgement Day.

In the middle, a pool and the congregation grounds for the faithful on that day of judgement. And in the centre, the throne of God himself. But that's not the last point in the journey.

Across the river there's a walled paradise garden. In it were night-scented trees and flowers, red cedars and magnolias. There were fruits and nuts, jujubes, mangoes, sugar palms, chironjis whose sweet kernel tastes like pistachio.

in his pavilion in the moonlight Here the great Moghul could sit and look at his creation. of the Hindu-Muslim synthesis So the Taj is a product much of India in the 17th century. that took place over

had begun to decline. But the world's richest economy of the rural workforce accounts of the shocking poverty British visitors give graphic the cities were still wealthy, in Jahangir's day. Even though the size of London. Agra here three times income was spent on the Court elite, But more than 20% of the national at a higher level of consumption on an upper class who lived

than any European aristocracy. richness of Moghul art You can still glimpse the incredible in Jaipur. in the jewellers' workshops

The Kasliwal family in the 17th Century. were jewellers to the Moghul Court to be a symbol of power. Jewellery was always considered A ruby. Ruby. And what stone is this? quite treasured were the spinels, And also with the Moghuls what was which are quite rare stones. you know,

What is spinels? spinels were confused to be rubies. Spinels, for a long time like rubies, it's probably these. Moghul emperors often with what look So when we see those pictures of the Yeah, spinels. God, how amazing. went from the scale of the Taj These exquisite Moghul arts to the smallest turban pin. and then you open it inside. You see that's the base of the box

See there are various... Oh, yeah. So you can see through it. Gosh, now look. It's just like a filigree. It's almost like lacework in gold. It's all cut work. So it's perfect from each angle. that actually made these things. It was your ancestors I like this one here, like an opium box.

calibrated to fit into this shape. All these are rubies which have been his opium in something like this So the great Moghul would have kept Laced his wine with it? and what? Or put it in their wine? Did they smoke it? We used to have opium ceremonies No, opium was, you know... to your guests. where you would offer opium

as conquerors but bearing The Moghuls had come to India of their ancestors the tolerant views for more than 300 years. they ruled North India Hindu-Muslim synthesis, creating an extraordinary At their best, almost healing the wound of history. after the British And now with hindsight,

and the partition of India in 1947, and creations their wonderful buildings for the story of India. have become memory rooms symbols of what might have been. And also perhaps,

like Lahore in Pakistan today, But go to great cities the most romantic of Moghul cities, presence of that lost world. and you still feel the living and its refinement. Its poignant beauty BELLS JANGLE, MUSIC PLAYS

the extravagance of the Court, But in the mid-1650s, behind

discord was looming. was imprisoned The ailing Jahan, now incompetent, to fight for the kingdom. and his sons prepared about faith as about empire. The civil war was as much

wanted to return to orthodox Islam. The younger son, Aurangzeb, following in Akbar's footsteps The elder, Dara, had translated Hindu sacred texts. written? This was written in 1655. It's gorgeous. When was this He explains in the introduction that to find out about the wisdom having become a Sufi, he wanted

mentions that he's written this work of the Indian religions and he also not for the general public. for his family only, and embraced him. Rama had met him in a dream Dara even tells how the Hindu God in his own time, Dara's project was bold

on terror, almost inconceivable. but now in the age of wars Sufi idea of the unity of being He took his lead from the God had sent messengers to earth and the Koran's revelation that before the Prophet Mohammed. for the unity of religion. And he argued he said, hairs of the same head. Islam and Hinduism were twins, "I talked to the Hindu holy men, He tells us,

level of spiritual enlightenment, "people who had attained the highest that were free and open, "and in our conversations were verbal differences, "I detected, although there on our understanding of God. "no essential disagreement about that, about the religions "And so I decided to write a book "of the two communities, Of The Two Oceans." "and I called it The Meeting Place

It was a project that was heroic, him his life and his crown. quixotic even, and it would cost The decisive battle between Dara and Aurangzeb was fought outside Ajmer in 1658. Now the story unfolds with all the momentum and awful sense of destiny of a Shakespearian tragedy.

The battle was fought here, in this wide valley, just outside Ajmer, on the railway line to Rajasthan. Dara and his European artillery officers had chosen a good position, with their wings anchored on the hills on either side of us, but there was one weakness to the position. A secret path led over the mountains

and round to the back of Dara's army and he was betrayed to Aurangzeb. The issue now was what should be done with Dara. To gauge the public mood, Aurangzeb decided to humiliate him. Strip him of all marks of office and mount him on a clapped out old female elephant driven by a slave in rags,

parade him here, down the great market street of Delhi. But the onlookers were all horrified by Dara's fall. Many of them burst into tears. With that, Aurangzeb decided that Dara should die.

The killers came that night to his prison by Humayun's Tomb. There they found Dara cooking lentils with his little boy, Prince Salim. His son clung desperately to his father's legs but was dragged away. Dara was overpowered and they cut his head off and sent it to his brother.

"Ugh," said Aurangzeb, "I wouldn't look the Kaffir in the face while he was still alive, and I won't now." And he sent his head in a box to their father, Sha Jahan, in his prison in the palace in Agra. Jahan opened it at table while he was eating and collapsed, fainting, broke his front teeth. As for Dara's little boy, he was given a draught of opium

and then strangled. The father and the son were buried here, in the tomb of Humayun. Dara's death marks the end of that story. But for all the ebb and flow of India's history since then, the quest for Hindu-Muslim unity has never been abandoned.

Religions still, from that time till today - religions are the same, the teachings are the same, and it is the misinterpretation which takes the...brotherhood apart.

Whether it is Hindu or Muslim or Sikh or Christian, if that person follows his religion correctly, so I don't think there will be any problem. Because you are doing, you will do correct, each and every thing correct. We are talking about specially India

and in India it's so diversified as far as religions are concerned. I think the most diversified country in the world. I think so. As far as the religions are concerned, as far as the cultures are concerned, as far as the languages are concerned. Can we judge the past by the standards of the 21st century?

Should we judge our time by theirs? The Moghul Empire began and ended with war. In a few decades, they created a civilisational wonderland here in India, a kind of Indo-Islamic synthesis. Their rulers were not only practical men but visionaries.

Babur's imperial dreams, Akbar's utopian visions, but waiting in the wings with ominous patience were the British who had a very different idea of what bringing in the Age of Reason could mean.

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd


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Live. Good evening. 10 quarantined student in New

Zealand have tested positive

from Influenza A an indicator

of the deadly swine flu which

has spread from Mexico to the US. Samples will

US. Samples will be sent to

the World Health Organisation in Melbourne to confirm if it

is the new strain. It comes

as Mexico closes all public

venues in a bid to stop the spraetd of the difficult see.

81 are dead and 1300 infected there. Australian authorities

are on high alert We have

sent letters to GPs and

departments the alert them of

this possible issue with

travellers coming back from

Mek Coe in particular The

World Health Organisation has

declared it an international

public health emergency.

South Africa's next president

Jacob Zuma has promised