Thursday, January 11, 2007

Thomas Dahnhardt's Book On Indian Sufism (SRCM)

Thomas Dahnhardt Book

Change and Continuity in Indian Sufism :
(A Naqshbandi-Myjaddidi Branch in the Hindu Environment)
by Thomas Dahnhardt

Series : Islamic Heritage in Cross-Cultural PerspectivesNo. 3 -
Year of Publication : 2002ISBN : 8124601704 -
Edition : 1st Edition -
Place : New Delhi -
Book Details : 23 cm; xvi, 447p

From an E-mail by Alexis on Elodie's blog, Jan 10, 2007...

Alexis said:

I believe that Madeleine has brought us one of the last stones we were missing for the building. Sahaj Marg is one of the many branches of the bulky tree of Indian Sufism. And this time, it is Dr. Thomas Dähnhardt, a "not very likely biased" university researcher, who in fact makes a masterly demonstration. He studied the "hinduisation" of Sufism while focusing on chalk-lining about Naqsbandiyya Mujaddidiyya Mazhariyya, with a particular interest in the figures of Maulana Shah Fadl Ahmad Khan de Raipur and of Mahatma Ramchandra de Fatehgarh, as their multiple successors.

In his opinion, Hujur Maharaj and Lalaji, together carried out a islamo-hinduist synthesis of their spiritual teaching. Between them, they lived nearly one century (1838-1931), in a context of very violent religious tensions. The range of their action thus exceeded largely only the spiritual aspect. They voluntarily crossed the barriers of their religions to highlighted a multitude of common points to build a synthesis.

Their successors completed this "hinduisation" of Sufism, without modifying the practices (role of the spiritual guide, dhikr or invocation of the name of God, meditation centered on the heart, etc). Only the terms in Arabic or Persan were replaced by the Sanskrit or the Hindi, the references to the Koran and the Prophet left their place to the Upanishads and the Bhakti. Dähnhardt thus presents Hujur Maharaj & Lalaji as great visionaries, more anxious to unite men than to divide them, at a crucial moment in the history of India and of its religions.

The multiple regional branches of Hindu Sufism which developed then proceeded in this way, as those which it presents at Delhi, Mathura or Sikandarabad. It's a pity that Babuji, the usurper of name (Ram Chandra), is the only one to have disavowed this heritage!
Did Chari ever think of buying this very instructive book and to make it appear in a prominent place in the CREST library? He would be happy if each abhyasi read it…

2 small notes:

-Dähnhardt gives birth to Hujur Maharaj in 1838, as opposed to what one had learned from RK Gupta who spoke of 1857

-The line Mazhariyya Na' imiyya mentionned by Dähnhardt which makes Mohan Lal Ji, the successor of Lalaji, whereas NaqshMuMRa (Mazhariyya Ramchandriyya) continues with the children of Lalaji. One is there vis-a-vis one of the many regional ramifications about which Dähnhardt speaks: Na' imiyya in Kanpur with the nephew of Lalaji, Ramchandriyya with Fatehgarh with his son and grandsons.

References :

Change and Continuity in Indian Sufism : (A Naqshbandi-Myjaddidi Branch in the Hindu Environment) by Thomas Dahnhardt
Series : Islamic Heritage in Cross-Cultural PerspectivesNo. 3 - Year of Publication : 2002
ISBN : 8124601704 - Edition : 1st Edition - Place : New Delhi - Book Details : 23 cm; xvi, 447p

About the Book :

The common heritage of India is an active concept expressing itself in the myriad forms of integration of diverse cultures and traditions. Change and Continuity in Indian Sufism explores this common heritage through a study of the esoteric relationship between India`s two major religious traditions, Hinduism and Islam as expressed in the sufi tradition.

Dr. Thomas Dahnhardt focuses on the evolution of the Indian lineage of the Naqshbandiyya, generally known as the Mujadidiyya, in Indian sufism as an example of the intense spiritual symbiosis between the Hindu and Muslim communities. Based ona field study among the Hindu and Muslim representatives of the Naqshbandiyya lineage, he presents a social and historical study of the Naqshbandiyya Mujaddidiyya, surveying the various masters of the tradition and taking up specifically the establishment of a new khanaqah of the Mazhariyya branch of the Mujaddidiyyal in old Delhi, one of the most important Naqshbandi centres of the tradition in the Indian subcontient. The work goes in detail into the emergence, doctrines and methodology of and Hindu offshoot of the Mujaddidiyya Mazhariyya along with creation of regional sub-Hindu branches.

The book would be useful to scholars of inter-religious studies, Sufism and Indian religious traditions as well as general readers interested in the process of integration and communities.

About the Author :

Thomas Dahnhardt (PhD), a scholar dedicated to exploring the contact between Islamic and Hindu spirituality over centuries of their co-existence, is currently a research fellow at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies and a lecturer of Urdu literature and the Islamic civilisation on the Indian subcontinent at Venice University.




I. The Masters of the Naqshbandiyya Mujaddidiyya Mazhariyya Na‘imiyya
1. Shaikh Mirza Jan-i Janan (1111/1701-1195/1781)
2. Mirza ‘Mazhar’ Jan-i Janan : Life and Thought
3. Shah Na‘im Allah Bahraichi (1153/1740-1218/1803)
4. Shah Murad Allah Thanesari Faruqi Mujaddidi (1166/1752-1248/1833)
5. Sayyid Maulana Shah Abul Hasan Nashirabadi (1198/1784-1272/1856)
6. Maulana Khalifat al-Rahman Ahmad ‘Ali Khan Mau Rashidabadi (d. 1307/1889)
7. Maulana Shah Fadl Ahmad Khan Ra’ipuri (AD 1838-1907)
8. Mahatma Ramcandraji Fatehgarhi (AD 1873-1931)
9. Mahatma Paramsant Brija Mohan Lal Kanpuri (AD 1898-1955)

II. The Naqshbandiyya Mujaddidiyya Mazhariyya at Delhi: Continuity in the Tradition
1. Man and his Role in the Universe
2. The Constitution of the Human Being in the Light of the Science of the Subtle Centres
3. The Stages of the Path in the Light of the Science of the Subtle Centres
4. Methods and Techniques for Spiritual Realisation in the Light of the Science of the Subtle Centres
- Dhikr — Muraqaba
5. The Master-disciple Relationship

III. The Doctrine and Methodology of the Hindu Sufis at Fatehgarh and Kanpur: Continuity and Gradual Assimilation
1. Socio-Political Circumstances and Religious Environment
2. The Perception of Metaphysical Reality
3. The Coming into Being of the Universe
4. The Realms of the Universe
5. The Constitution of Man and the Science of the Subtle Centres
6. The Higher Stages of Spiritual Realisation
7. The Techniques of Spiritual Realisation

IV. The Emergence of Regional Hindu Sub-Branches: A Kayasth Path to Liberation?
1. Mathura: Personal Cult or Pathway Towards Liberation?
- The Teachings
2. Shahjahanpur: A Universal Movement
- The Teachings
3. Sikandarabad: Santmat or Tashawwuf?
- The Teachings
4. Delhi: Continuity in Diversity


Glossary of Technical Terms
Appendix I & II
Place Index
Index of Names of Individuals
Technical Terminology Index (Islamic)
Technical Terminology Index (Hindu)

On this Site:

"Change and Continuity in Indian Sufism"
By THOMAS DÄHNHARDT (Delhi: D. K. Printworld, 2002), 461 pp.
Price HB $37.50. ISBN 81–246–0170–4.

Dr. Dähnhardt has studied a distinct branch of the [Naqshbandi] Mujaddid; order, forged by the followers of Mirza Mazhar Jan-i Janan (d. 1780) in and around Delhi. This branch was open to the initiation of Hindus into the predominantly Muslim Sufi order, despite the stereotype of the Naqshband; order being orthodox or championing Islamic purism and dominance. In fact, in the late nineteenth century, a Hindu follower of a Muslim Shaykh was granted the authority of mastership, khilafat, and attracted a circle of primarily Hindu followers; this branch subsequently became a Sufi order populated by Hindus, in which mode it continues until today.

This reality, which contradicts many stereotypes, is the subject of Dähnhardt’s study. The author’s challenge isboth historical, to document this unusual configuration of a ‘Hinduizing’ Sufi order, and theoretical, to find ways to analyze this synthesis, which defies conventional categories such as ‘Islamic’ or ‘Hindu’.

The most interesting figures within this branch of the Naqshbandi Mujaddidi Sufi order are Maulana Shah Fadl Ahmad Khan and Mahatma Ramchandra Fatehgarhi who — as master and disciple — were most responsible for the order’s unusual Hindu–Muslim synthesis. Taken as a pair, their lives stretch from 1838 to 1931 — over a century of radical change in India, characterized by increasingly violent communalist interpretations of religion. Yet these two men engineered a synthesis of spiritual values, passing spiritual guidance and meditation techniques over the boundaries of formal communal allegiance, whether Islamic or Hindu. They did not simply ignore the boundary between religions, they intentionally and articulately drew equivalencies between the two in order to downplay any such boundary. (...)

In order to make sense of the synthesis between a Sufi system of mystical discipline rooted in the Islamic tradition and a Bhakti system of mystical practice rooted in the Hindu Sant tradition, Dähnhardt in effect compares Islam and Hinduism as religious traditions. (...)

Dähnhardt does not see religious traditions as hermetically sealed categories defined by distinct theologies; rather, he proposes that religious traditions are divided into theory and practice, the former understood as theological discourse and the latter as ritual practice. Dähnhardt makes sense of the ‘Hinduization’ of the Sufi order by saying that the practice stayed relatively constant, while the theory explaining that practice was more open to change. The theoretical framework changed as Muslim practitioners initiated Hindu practitioners and they created an all-Hindu environment for the spiritual practice. Arabic and Persian terms were replaced by Sanskrit and Hindi terms; references to the Quran and the Prophet were replaced by references to the Upanishads and Ram-Krishna mythology, as understood within the tradition of nirguna-bhakti in the style of Kabir. However, at a level deeper than this theoretical superstructure, the practical techniques of meditation remained quite constant: ‘The practical aspect comprising methods and specific techniques was largely deemed applicable to Muslims and non-Muslims alike since they are meant to act on thecommon ground represented by a human constitution subject to universal laws and principles’ (p. 269). (...)

Dähnhardt’s study is clearer on how the synthesis happened than on why it happened. He cites Sayyid Abu l-Easan Nasirabadi (d. 1856) as the key figure who ‘entrusted one of his disciples with the task of opening up the tariqa to Hindus’ (p. 200); while he tells us that this was ‘an unprecedentedly bold step’, he gives no explanation of the Sufi leader’s motivation or goals.The reader is left wondering whether Sayyid Abul Easan was simply making explicit the ecumenical understanding of the order since Mirza Mazhar Jan-i Janan (who seemed to be open to Hindus though he was very harsh against the Shia), or whether he was setting out a new course for the order based on his own, radically new vision that Hindus and Muslims needed to join together in spiritual practice as the Mughal empire fell under British colonial domination."

1 comment:

Elodie said...

I'm not really happy with you.
You ask us to add link with your website without saying who you are and what you want, you don't add link from your site to my blog ande you don't answer to my questions.
I recall you that I would like to know where we have to post you our comments (orkut, srcmcultofindia blog ?), where we can read the differents posts (you have many mirror websites or blogs)and it could be better if you say in some words what was your relation with SRCM.
Please tell us a little bit more.