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The Identity of a Mystic: The Case of Sa'id Sarmad, a Jewish-Yogi-Sufi Courtier of the Mughals

Nathan Katz
Numen
Vol. 47, No. 2 (2000), pp. 142-160
Published by: Brill
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3270192
Page Count: 19
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Identity of a Mystic: The Case of Sa'id Sarmad, a Jewish-Yogi-Sufi Courtier of the Mughals
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Abstract

Sa'id Sarmad's dargah (saint's tomb) dominates the entryway to Delhi's imposing Jama Masjid. But Sarmad was a Jew, both by birth and affirmation. He was also, according to his Rubaiyat, "a follower of the Furqan (i.e., a Sufi), a (Catholic) priest, a (Buddhist) monk, a Jewish rabbi, an infidel, and a Muslim." Indeed, it is hard to imagine a mystic with a more complex confessional identity. This paper explores both Sarmad's apparently contradictory religious self-identification and the complex religious context which Sarmad found in seventeenth-century North India. It will trace Sarmad's spiritual path as it meandered between Judaism, Islam and Hinduism, as recorded in his poetry and in the hagiographical (taskira) traditions which surround him, and will contribute to the discussion of the relationship between the mystic and his or her religion of birth or adoption.

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