Prince Dara Shukoh, the eldest son of Emperor Shah Jahan, was like his great ancestor Akbar, a very liberal and enlightened Musalman and a true seeker of truth. Akbar respected all religions – Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, Sikhism, etc., and gave their votaries complete religious freedom. He was ever keen to discuss and understand their religious beliefs, practices and philosophy and, in order to make the Musalmans familiar with the culture, and universal values, philosophy and traditions of India, he had the great epics of India – Ramayana and Mahabharat – translated into Persian. He also arranged for the translation of the Atharvaveda.
Continuing the unfinished work of Emperor Akbar, Prince Dara Shukoh too, assisted by the Indian scholars, translated Bhagvad Gita, Prabodha Chandrodaya (a philosophical drama written in 1060 A.D.), and Yoga Vashishtha into Persian. He also translated the Upanishadas, which are the fountain-head of Indian philosophy, with the help of learned Pandits from Banaras, well versed in the Vedas and the Upanishadas. The translation of the Upanishadas by him entitled Sirr-i-Akbar (The Grand Secret) was completed on the 28th June 1657, shortly before the commencement of the War of Succession, which he lost to his crafty and unscrupulous brother, Aurangzeb who ruled India from 1659-1707.
In the painting, Dara is shown translating the Upanishadas, assisted by Indian scholars.