Uncomplaining endurance

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Soulveda

The Mughal Prince, Aurangzeb, came into conflict with his father, Shahjahan, over certain political matters. He, therefore, dethroned Shahjahan and imprisoned him in the fort at Agra in 1658, where he was kept in close confinement and deprived of even the common necessities of life. He could only while away his time by contemplating the Taj Mahal from the fort and reciting poems.

An Advanced History of India compiled by Dr RC Majumdar, Dr HC Raychaudhuri and Dr Kalinkar Dutta describes the final days of Shahjahan in these words: "He found solace in religion, and, in a spirit of resignation, passed his last days in prayer and meditation in the company of his pious daughter, Jahanara, till at last death relieved him of all his miseries." (p. 477)

It is said that Shahjahan, weary of this life of confinement, con­veyed to Aurangzeb this message in the form of a verse: 'Kill us or pay us or set us free.' Aurangzeb sent another verse in reply: 'When the wise bird is caught in a net, it should remain patient.'

These lines exchanged between father and son might be fiction rather than fact. There is, however, a lesson to be learnt from this. Sometimes, by accident, or due to some mistake, one is enmeshed in circumstances which are unbearable and from which it is not possible to extricate itself. It is foolish in such situations to take action on impulse without considering the consequences. Just as when a bird is caught in a net, the more it flutters its wings, the more it enmeshes itself. Likewise, when in such a situation, if one loses pati­ence, one becomes more and more entangled. This is true, both for individual and for nations.