Eternal Garden: Mysticism, History, and Politics at a South Asian Sufi Center

Eternal Garden: Mysticism, History, and Politics at a South Asian Sufi Center

Eternal Garden: Mysticism, History, and Politics at a South Asian Sufi Center

Eternal Garden: Mysticism, History, and Politics at a South Asian Sufi Center

Synopsis

Ernst's research, based on rare Persian manuscripts preserved in Sufi shrines in the medieval town of Khuldabad, a major centre of pilgrimage in the Indian Deccan, reveals the mystical teachings and practices of the Chishti Sufi order as taught by the ecstatic Shaykh Burhan al-Din Gharib (d.1337) and his disciples. This second edition has a preface in which Ernst details the advances in the study of Sufism since the appearnance of this path-breaking book.

Excerpt

Khuldabad . . . the name conjures up a sunny day in early November, one of those days when everything seems to be in perfect order. We had reached the small town in the morning and were walking around in the vast cemetery with its impressive mausoleums and modest tombs. the huge trees were slowly shedding their golden leaves as though they were preparing to become real dervishes, opening their arms in prayer. Our Indian friend, Dr. Zia Shakeb, led us through the softly undulating area until we reached the cave on top of Kūh-i Shāmikh, where Muntajibuddīn Zarzari used to meditate in the early fourteenth century.

For a few moments we rested near the small mosque on the very top of the hill. the landscape showed steep slopes and some sharp edges, and extended to a hill range. One could well understand that the elite of Delhi's population who were sent here in 1327 felt unhappy in this area, which was so different from the wide plains of the Ganges-Jumna doab. But the air was strong and healthy, so it seemed to us, and we walked to pay our respects to one of those who had left Delhi to settle here, and who had died soon after his arrival: perhaps from longing for his lost home, for the mausoleum of his beloved master Niẓāmuddīn Auliyā in Delhi. It was Ḥasan Sijzī Dihlawī, the first to compile malfūẓāt, the sayings of his master, to preserve his words for future generations. At the same time he was, like his friend Amīr Khusrau, a poet who expressed his love in sweet and tender words, less sophisticated than Amīr Khusrau, but moving. Their music seemed to permeate the peaceful morning. and Ḥasan Dihlawī's model of compiling malfūẓāt had triggered off a whole literature, which, to this day, tells of the feats, the daily life, and the miracles of Sufi saints and which, properly sifted, constitutes an important source for Indo-Muslim history.

We turned to another tomb, modest like his, which is the depository of the earthly remnants of a man whose importance for the history of Muslim India comes to light only slowly--a man who was not only an excellent historian of his beloved Deccan, and especially of Khuldabad, but also a poet who can easily compete with, and perhaps surpass, most Indo-Persian writers of the eighteenth century: Ghulām 'Alī Āzād Bilgrāmī. We had visited his library in . . .

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