Sufi Saints and Sages of Indian Subcontinent

"India has always been a land of great saints and free thinkers, which has been assimilating in its fold various cultures and thoughts from time to time. It is the land of ancient wisdom, where Sufism in its true spirit has flourished from time immemorial.  However, in the current context of Sufism, it could be worthwhile to mention that Islam entered into India through the Sea route, through the land route from Persia into Sind and through the Khyber Pass.  It is believed that the Sufis must have also used these routes, which were used by the Arab traders and military commanders.

The first great Sufi saint to visit India (undivided) was Ali el-Hujwiri popularly known in India as Data Ganj Bakhsh. He was a disciple of Muhammad al-Hasan al Khuttali who was connected with Junayad of Baghdad.  He came to be known as Data Ganj Bakhsh after being addressed so at his tomb by Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti, the great Sufi saint of the Chishti order. Ali el-Hujwiri is considered to be the first authoritative Sufi writer who wrote several books on Sufism. His most famous book is Kashfu’l Mahjub, the first book on mysticism in the Persian language. Born in Ghazna in Afghanistan, around 1000 AD, he travelled from Syria to Turkistan and from the Indus to the Caspian Sea. During his journeys, he came across many saints and had deliberations with them. He received knowledge both from Abul Qasim Gurgani, a great Sufi Master of the Naqshbandi Order and Khwaja Muzaffar.

His Shaikh asked him to go and settle in Lahore. According to the description in Fuwaidu’l-Fuwad (a compilation of the sayings of great Sufi Master Khwaja Nizamuddin-Auliya of the Chishti Order) he was initially reluctant to go to Lahore as one of his co-disciples Shaikh Hasan Zanjani was already there. On insistence by his Master, he proceeded to Lahore. On entering the city of Lahore he witnessed the burial of Shaikh Hasan Zanjani, who had just passed away. He settled near Bhati Gate in Lahore, where his tomb is situated.

Ali el-Hujwiri continued to be greatly revered by all the saints of India, even after his death.  Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti is believed to have paid a visit and offered prayers at his tomb on his arrival to India. It was during this visit that he paid respects to Ali el-Hujwiri by addressing him as ‘Ganj Baksh’ i.e. the munificent one which also meant ‘Data’ (giver) in Hindi, thus he came to be popularly known thereafter as ‘Data Ganj Baksh’..."

Courtesy of Sufi Saints of India and Sufi Shrine of India

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Sufism in India
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Impact of Sufism in India
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"This book studies the veneration practices and rituals of the Muslim saints. It outlines the principle trends of the main Sufi orders in India, the profiles and teachings of the famous and less well-known saints, and the development of pilgrimage to their tombs in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. A detailed discussion of the interaction of the Hindu mystic tradition and Sufism shows the polarity between the rigidity of the orthodox and the flexibility of the popular Islam in South Asia. Treating the cult of saints as a universal and all pervading phenomenon embracing the life of the region in all its aspects, the analysis includes politics, social and family life, interpersonal relations, gender problems and national psyche. The author uses a multidimensional approach to the subject: a historical, religious and literary analysis of sources is combined with an anthropological study of the rites and rituals of the veneration of the shrines and the description of the architecture of the tombs."

"Sufism is often regarded as standing mystically aloof from its wider cultural settings. By turning this perspective on its head, Indian Sufism since the Seventeenth Century reveals the politics and poetry of Indian Sufism through the study of Islamic sainthood in the midst of a cosmopolitan Indian society comprising migrants, soldiers, litterateurs and princes. Placing the mystical traditions of Indian Islam within their cultural contexts, the study focuses on the shrines of four Sufi saints in the neglected Deccan region and their changing roles under the rule of the Mughals, the Nizams of Haydarabad and, after 1947, the Indian nation...  Indian Sufism since the Seventeenth Century is essential reading for scholars with interests in Sufism, Islam, India and cultural studies."

"Sufism, Its Saints and Shrines is the first authoritative and detailed account of Sufism as it exists in India and Pakistan, and as such fills a colossal gap in the study of Sufi mystical movement. The author was at one time member of the Qadari order, a well known Sufi order. He compressed in this book a fascinating material starting with the early history of Sufism and ending with an account of its religious order and some of its principle saints. The highlight of this comprehensive work is the detailed account of the main Sufi traditional orders which have not been covered with the same authenticity in any other book. It provides information about the saints, their practices and thoughts. It is an effort to place before the readers, in systematic form, the varied and extensive thought from the original sources of Urdu and Persian literature."

"The book, Yogis in Silence, the Great Sufi Masters provides a glimpse of the life and conduct of some of the great Sufi Masters from 8th Century AD onward. These great Masters lived like ordinary family persons, hiding their true self from the public. They believed, Perfection is not in exhibition of miraculous powers, but perfection is to sit among people, sell and buy, marry and have children; and yet never leave the presence of the Almighty even for one moment. The essence of their teachings is: desires are the world. Desires cause the worries and worries result into instability of mind." 

"The book, Sufism Beyond Religion is an attempt to distinguish between spirituality and religion, not by compring the two, but by describing how one could acquire spirituality, no matter what religion one follows. Sufism is the ancient wisdom, which is not confined to any particular religion and, therefore, Sufism cuts across the barriers of religion. The author has thrown a great deal of illuminating light on various points on the mysticism free from religious limitations, with special reference to certain such saints, who meditated for human integration and opposed every division of humanity in the name of God."

  1. Sufism: Historiography and Literature
  2. Experiencing Qawwali: Sound as Spiritual Power in Sufi India
  3. Sufi Folk Literature and the Expansion of Indian Islam
  4. Pīr-Murīd Relationship and Silsila in Medieval India
  5. Stories of Saints and Sultans: Re-membering History at the Sufi Shrines of Aurangabad
  6. Muslim Saints and Hindu Rulers: The Development of Sufi and Ismaili Mysticism in the Non-Muslim States of India
  7. Reconfiguring the relation between religion and world: Sufism and Reformist Islam in South Asia since the 18th century 
  8. Reconfiguring South Asian Islam: From the 18th to the 19th Century
  9. Sufi Saints and State Power: The Pirs of Sind, 1843–1947
  10. Post-colonial Theory, India and 'The Mystic East'
  11. Role of Mysticism in Socio-Political change in Sub-Continent: A case study of Ali Hujwiri’s Impact on History of the Punjab
  12. Muslim Shrines in India: Their Character, History and Significance
  13. An Indo-Persian Guide to Sufi Shrine Pilgrimage
  14.  Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and the Making of the Nizamuddin Basti
  15. Sufi Saints in Karnataka
  16. Situating Sufism and Yoga.
  17. Sufism and Yoga according to Muhammad Ghawth
  18. Coming to One through the Many (Sufi Yogi connections)
  19. India as a Sacred Islamic Land
  20. The Interpretation of the Classical Sufi Tradition in India: The Shama'il al-atqiya' of Rukn al-Din Kashani.
  21. Two Versions of a Persian Text on Yoga and Cosmology, Attributed to Shaykh Mu`in al-Din Chishti.
  22. From Hagiography to Martyrology: Conflicting Testimonies to a Sufi Martyr of the Delhi Sultanate 
  23. Accounts of Yogis in Arabic and Persian Historical and Travel Texts
  24. Being Careful with the Goddess: Yoginis in Persian and Arabic Texts
  25. "The Islamization of Yoga in the Amrtakunda Translations
  26. Muslim Studies of Hinduism? A Reconsideration of Persian and Arabic Translations from Sanskrit
  27. The Mughals, the Sufi Shaikhs and the Formation of the Akbari Dispensation
  28. Shi'ism, Sufism and Sacred Space in the Deccan: Counter-Narratives of Saintly Identity in the Cult of Shah Nur
  29. The Songs of Kabir  By Ravindranath Tagore
  30. Sikh and Muslim Understandings of Baba Farid
  31.  Sufism in the Punjab
  32. The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam by Iqbal Lahori 
  33. Complete Works of Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan [India-born Sufi sage & founder of Sufism in America]
  34. The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan
  35. Sai Baba of Shirdi – A Sufi Saint of the Chisti Order
  36. Sai Baba and Sufism (Journey of Love)
  37. Autobiography of a Sufi - Paramsant Samarth Sadguru Mahatma Ramchandraji Maharj  alias  Janab Laalaaji Maharaj
  38. Sufis: The People of the Path, Vol 1 [by Osho]
  39. Sufis: The People of the Path, Vol 2 [by Osho]

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