Laxmi Dhaul

Published Works

THE SUFI SHRINE OF AJMER
Published by Rupa & Co / 95 pgs / Rs. 595

The shrine of the 12th century Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer in the western Indian state of Rajasthan is by far the most popular and deeply revered Sufi centre of pilgrimage in the whole of South Asia. The eleventh century Khwaja is credited with having introduced the Chishti Sufi order into India. Being relatively liberal in their attitudes to people of other faiths, the Chishtis emerged as among the most successful Islamic missionaries in the region.

In part, the successes of the Chishtis owed to their willingness to employ local Indic concepts, customs and practices, such as devotional hymns or qawwalis as well as yogic meditational techniques, to propagate the message of Islam in a manner that their listeners would find intelligible. This legacy still lives on till today people of different faiths gather together in common devotion at the shrines of Chishti Sufis scattered all over the country.This well-designed illustrated text provides a fascinating glimpse the shrine of the Sufi of Ajmer.

Intended for those who have little or no prior knowledge of Sufism or Islam, it gives an introduction to the doctrines of the Sufis of the Chishti order. It details the life and times of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, from his birth in Iran, his travels in Central Asia and Arabia in the company of learned mystic masters, to his arrival in Ajmer towards the end of the twelfth century. More than eight centuries after his death, the tradition that he established continues to flourish.

A series of fascinating photographs depict various Sufi rituals performed at the shrine is accompanied by a commentary explaining their inner import in simple terms, bereft of complicated jargon so characteristic of medieval Sufistic texts. The story is then rounded off with a pictorial tour of the various buildings of this most scared of South Asian Sufi shrines, several of which, Dhaul tells us, were constructed by Hindu as well as Muslim rulers. While making no claims of being an academic treatise, this book is a joy to read. The text itself is compact and neatly condensed and well adapted to the impressive set of photographs that accompany it. A rich documentary source on contemporary South Asian Sufi practices. it serves a valuable purpose as a general introductory volume