“fooker Daruces ve tehaungeshta hastam”: English engagement with Sufi ideas of famine and dearth in early modern India
Thursday 4 February 2021, 5.15PM
Speaker(s): Ayesha Mukherjee (University of Exeter)
This paper argues that the discourse of dearth was a fundamental part of Sufi doctrines of embodiment and community in early modern India. It was not an abstruse but an active philosophy, historically grounded in the lived experiences of contemporary Sufis and their activities in times of famine. English and European travellers, who witnessed famine and food shortage in their own national contexts and in India, engaged with these ideas, and a cross-culturally informed understanding of moral response to dearth thus emerged. The paper aims to chart some of the complex ways in which ideas of dearth travelled, through Sufi tazkirahs (hagiographies) and malfuzat (dialogues), through interregional networks of Sufis, dervishes, and fakirs, and, not least, through the movements and writings of early English travellers and chaplains in India.