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She also highlights the private petitioning of saints, the Prophet, and God performed by poor women of low social standing in Bihar Sharif. These women are often perceived as being exceptionally close to God yet are compelled to operate outside the public sphere of major shrines.

Throughout this groundbreaking study, Pemberton sets observed practices of lived religious experiences against the boundaries established by prescriptive behavioral models of Islam to illustrate how the varied reasons given for why women cannot become spiritual masters conflict with the need in Sufi circles for them to do exactly that.

Thus this work also invites further inquiry into the ambiguities to be found in Islam's foundational framework for belief and practice. Insightful field research into the complexity of women's roles in a subset of Islamic culture Women Mystics and Sufi Shrines in India combines historical data with years of ethnographic fieldwork to investigate women's participation in the culture of Sufi shrines in India and the manner in which this participation both complicates and sustains traditional conceptions of Islamic womanhood.

Women at the shrine of Yahya Maneri in Maner Sharif. The historical evidence, however, does not support such a narrow conception of mysticism. Under the influence of Perennialism , which was popularised in both the west and the east by Unitarianism , Transcendentalists and Theosophy , mysticism has been applied to a broad spectrum of religious traditions, in which all sorts of esotericism and religious traditions and practices are joined together.

In the contemporary usage "mysticism" has become an umbrella term for all sorts of non-rational world views, [50] parapsychology and pseudoscience. Based on various definitions of mysticism, namely mysticism as an experience of union or nothingness, mysticism as any kind of an altered state of consciousness which is attributed in a religious way, mysticism as "enlightenment" or insight, and mysticism as a way of transformation, "mysticism" can be found in many cultures and religious traditions, both in folk religion and organized religion.

These traditions include practices to induce religious or mystical experiences, but also ethical standards and practices to enhance self-control and integrate the mystical experience into daily life. Dan Merkur notes, though, that mystical practices are often separated from daily religious practices, and restricted to "religious specialists like monastics, priests, and other renunciates. According to Dan Merkur, shamanism may be regarded as a form of mysticism, in which the world of spirits is accessed through religious ecstasy.

Shamanism is a practice that involves a practitioner reaching altered states of consciousness in order to perceive and interact with a spirit world and channel these transcendental energies into this world. The term "shamanism" was first applied by western anthropologists to the ancient religion of the Turks and Mongols , as well as those of the neighboring Tungusic and Samoyedic -speaking peoples.

The term is also used to describe similar magico-religious practices found within the ethnic religions of other parts of Asia, Africa, Australasia and the Americas. Neoshamanism refers to "new"' forms of shamanism , or methods of seeking visions or healing, typically practiced in Western countries. Neoshamanism comprises an eclectic range of beliefs and practices that involve attempts to attain altered states and communicate with a spirit world, and is associated with New Age practices. The apophatic theology , or "negative theology", of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite 6th c.

The Orthodox Church has a long tradition of theoria intimate experience and hesychia inner stillness , in which contemplative prayer silences the mind to progress along the path of theosis deification. Theosis , practical unity with and conformity to God, is obtained by engaging in contemplative prayer , the first stage of theoria , [65] [note 16] which results from the cultivation of watchfulness nepsis.

In theoria , one comes to behold the "divisibly indivisible" divine operations energeia of God as the "uncreated light" of transfiguration , a grace which is eternal and proceeds naturally from the blinding darkness of the incomprehensible divine essence. Symeon the New Theologian , embraced by the monastic communities on Mount Athos , and most notably defended by St. Gregory Palamas against the Greek humanist philosopher Barlaam of Calabria.

According to Roman Catholic critics, hesychastic practice has its roots to the introduction of a systematic practical approach to quietism by Symeon the New Theologian. Symeon believed that direct experience gave monks the authority to preach and give absolution of sins, without the need for formal ordination. While Church authorities also taught from a speculative and philosophical perspective, Symeon taught from his own direct mystical experience, [68] and met with strong resistance for his charismatic approach, and his support of individual direct experience of God's grace.

The High Middle Ages saw a flourishing of mystical practice and theorization in western Roman Catholicism, corresponding to the flourishing of new monastic orders, with such figures as Guigo II , Hildegard of Bingen , Bernard of Clairvaux , the Victorines , all coming from different orders, as well as the first real flowering of popular piety among the laypeople. The later post- reformation period also saw the writings of lay visionaries such as Emanuel Swedenborg and William Blake , and the foundation of mystical movements such as the Quakers. Catholic mysticism continued into the modern period with such figures as Padre Pio and Thomas Merton.

The philokalia , an ancient method of Eastern Orthodox mysticism, was promoted by the twentieth century Traditionalist School. The allegedly inspired or " channeled " work A Course in Miracles represents a blending of non-denominational Christian and New Age ideas. Many western esoteric traditions and elements of modern spirituality have been regarded as "mysticism," such as Gnosticism , Transcendentalism , Theosophy , the Fourth Way , [69] and Neo-Paganism. Modern western spiritually and transpersonal psychology combine western psycho-therapeutic practices with religious practices like meditation to attain a lasting transformation.

Nature mysticism is an intense experience of unification with nature or the cosmic totality, which was popular with Romantic writers. In the common era, Judaism has had two main kinds of mysticism: Merkabah mysticism and Kabbalah. The former predated the latter, and was focused on visions, particularly those mentioned in the Book of Ezekiel. It gets its name from the Hebrew word meaning "chariot", a reference to Ezekiel's vision of a fiery chariot composed of heavenly beings.

Kabbalah is a set of esoteric teachings meant to explain the relationship between an unchanging, eternal and mysterious Ein Sof no end and the mortal and finite universe his creation. Inside Judaism, it forms the foundations of mystical religious interpretation. Kabbalah originally developed entirely within the realm of Jewish thought.

Kabbalists often use classical Jewish sources to explain and demonstrate its esoteric teachings. These teachings are thus held by followers in Judaism to define the inner meaning of both the Hebrew Bible and traditional Rabbinic literature , their formerly concealed transmitted dimension, as well as to explain the significance of Jewish religious observances. Kabbalah emerged, after earlier forms of Jewish mysticism, in 12th to 13th century Southern France and Spain , becoming reinterpreted in the Jewish mystical renaissance of 16th-century Ottoman Palestine.

It was popularised in the form of Hasidic Judaism from the 18th century forward. Sufism is said to be Islam's inner and mystical dimension. The origin of the word "Sufi" is ambiguous. One understanding is that Sufi means wool-wearer; wool wearers during early Islam were pious ascetics who withdrew from urban life. Another explanation of the word "Sufi" is that it means 'purity'.

Sufis generally belong to a khalqa , a circle or group, led by a Sheikh or Murshid. Sufi circles usually belong to a Tariqa which is the Sufi order and each has a Silsila , which is the spiritual lineage, which traces its succession back to notable Sufis of the past, and often ultimately to the last prophet Muhammed or one of his close associates. The turuq plural of tariqa are not enclosed like Christian monastic orders; rather the members retain an outside life. Membership of a Sufi group often passes down family lines. Meetings may or may not be segregated according to the prevailing custom of the wider society.

An existing Muslim faith is not always a requirement for entry, particularly in Western countries. The aims of Sufism include: the experience of ecstatic states hal , purification of the heart qalb , overcoming the lower self nafs , extinction of the individual personality fana , communion with God haqiqa , and higher knowledge marifat. Some sufic beliefs and practices have been found unorthodox by other Muslims; for instance Mansur al-Hallaj was put to death for blasphemy after uttering the phrase Ana'l Haqq , "I am the Truth" i.

God in a trance. Rabia Basri was the most prominent female Sufi. Sufism first came into contact with the Judeo-Christian world during the Moorish occupation of Spain. Sufism has also long been present in Asian countries that do not have a Muslim majority, such as India and China. In Hinduism, various sadhanas aim at overcoming ignorance avidhya and transcending the limited identification with body, mind and ego to attain moksha. Hinduism has a number of interlinked ascetic traditions and philosophical schools which aim at moksha [78] and the acquisition of higher powers.

Yoga is the physical , mental , and spiritual practices or disciplines which aim to attain a state of permanent peace. Classical Vedanta gives philosophical interpretations and commentaries of the Upanishads , a vast collection of ancient hymns.


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At least ten schools of Vedanta are known, [86] of which Advaita Vedanta , Vishishtadvaita , and Dvaita are the best known. The best-known subschool is Kevala Vedanta or mayavada as expounded by Adi Shankara. Advaita Vedanta has acquired a broad acceptance in Indian culture and beyond as the paradigmatic example of Hindu spirituality.

Various Shaivist traditions are strongly nondualistic, such as Kashmir Shaivism and Shaiva Siddhanta. Tantra is the name given by scholars to a style of meditation and ritual which arose in India no later than the fifth century AD. It can also include sexual and other antinomian practices. Mysticism in the Sikh dharm began with its founder, Guru Nanak , who as a child had profound mystical experiences.

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The goal of Sikhism is to be one with God. According to Oliver, Buddhism is mystical in the sense that it aims at the identification of the true nature of our self, and live according to it. Buddhism aims at liberation from the cycle of rebirth by self-control through meditation and morally just behaviour.


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Some Buddhist paths aim at a gradual development and transformation of the personality toward Nirvana , like the Theravada stages of enlightenment. Others, like the Japanese Rinzai Zen tradition, emphasize sudden insight , but nevertheless also prescribe intensive training, including meditation and self-restraint. Although Theravada does not acknowledge the existence of a theistic Absolute, it does postulate Nirvana as a transcendent reality which may be attained. Jones, Theravada is a form of mindful extrovertive and introvertive mysticism, in which the conceptual structuring of experiences is weakened, and the ordinary sense of self is weakened.

Chinese and Japanese Zen is grounded on the Chinese understanding of the Buddha-nature as one true's essence, and the Two truths doctrine as a polarity between relative and Absolute reality. Suzuki noted similarities between Zen -Buddhism and Christian mysticism, especially meister Eckhart. The Tibetan Vajrayana tradition is based on Madhyamaka philosophy and Tantra. It holds that "mind-nature" is manifested when one is enlightened, [] being nonconceptually aware rigpa , "open presence" of one's nature, [] "a recognition of one's beginningless nature.

Taoist philosophy is centered on the Tao , usually translated "Way", an ineffable cosmic principle. The contrasting yet interdependent concepts of yin and yang also symbolise harmony, with Taoist scriptures often emphasing the Yin virtues of femininity, passivity and yieldingness. Today there is also occurring in the West what Richard Jones calls "the secularization of mysticism". Zaehner distinguishes three fundamental types of mysticism, namely theistic, monistic and panenhenic "all-in-one" or natural mysticism. Walter Terence Stace , in his book Mysticism and Philosophy , distinguished two types of mystical experience, namely extrovertive and introvertive mysticism.

Stace argues that doctrinal differences between religious traditions are inappropriate criteria when making cross-cultural comparisons of mystical experiences. This may result in different accounts of the same phenomenon. Since the 19th century, mystical experience has evolved as a distinctive concept. It is closely related to "mysticism" but lays sole emphasis on the experiential aspect, be it spontaneous or induced by human behavior, whereas mysticism encompasses a broad range of practices aiming at a transformation of the person, not just inducing mystical experiences.

William James ' The Varieties of Religious Experience is the classic study on religious or mystical experience, which influenced deeply both the academic and popular understanding of "religious experience". Under the influence of William James' The Varieties of Religious Experience, heavily centered on people's conversion experiences, most philosophers' interest in mysticism has been in distinctive, allegedly knowledge-granting "mystical experiences.

Yet, Gelman notes that so-called mystical experience is not a transitional event, as William James claimed, but an "abiding consciousness, accompanying a person throughout the day, or parts of it. For that reason, it might be better to speak of mystical consciousness, which can be either fleeting or abiding.

Most mystical traditions warn against an attachment to mystical experiences, and offer a "protective and hermeneutic framework" to accommodate these experiences. The theoretical study of mystical experience has shifted from an experiential, privatized and perennialist approach to a contextual and empirical approach. The contextual approach, which also includes constructionism and attribution theory, takes into account the historical and cultural context. The term "mystical experience" evolved as a distinctive concept since the 19th century, laying sole emphasis on the experiential aspect, be it spontaneous or induced by human behavior.

Perennialists regard those various experience traditions as pointing to one universal transcendental reality, for which those experiences offer the proof. In this approach, mystical experiences are privatised, separated from the context in which they emerge. Zaehner, William Stace and Robert Forman. In contrast, for the past decades most scholars have favored a constructionist approach, which states that mystical experiences are fully constructed by the ideas, symbols and practices that mystics are familiar with.

Richard Jones draws a distinction between "anticonstructivism" and "perennialism": constructivism can be rejected with respect to a certain class of mystical experiences without ascribing to a perennialist philosophy on the relation of mystical doctrines. For example, a Christian can reject both constructivism and perennialism in arguing that there is a union with God free of cultural construction. Constructivism versus anticonstructivism is a matter of the nature of mystical experiences while perennialism is a matter of mystical traditions and the doctrines they espouse.

The perennial position is now "largely dismissed by scholars", [6] and the contextual approach has become the common approach. That is, mystics project cognitive content onto otherwise ordinary experiences having a strong emotional impact. She incorporates both neurological and cultural approaches in the study of mystical experience. Neurological research takes an empirical approach, relating mystical experiences to neurological processes. The most common positions are that neurology reduces mystical experiences or that neurology is neutral to the issue of mystical cognitivity.

Interest in mystical experiences and psychedelic drugs has also recently seen a resurgence. The temporal lobe seems to be involved in mystical experiences, [web 9] [] and in the change in personality that may result from such experiences. The anterior insula may be involved in ineffability , a strong feeling of certainty which cannot be expressed in words, which is a common quality in mystical experiences. According to Picard, this feeling of certainty may be caused by a dysfunction of the anterior insula , a part of the brain which is involved in interoception , self-reflection, and in avoiding uncertainty about the internal representations of the world by "anticipation of resolution of uncertainty or risk".

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A philosophical issue in the study of mysticism is the relation of mysticism to morality. Albert Schweitzer presented the classic account of mysticism and morality being incompatible. Richard King also points to disjunction between "mystical experience" and social justice: []. The privatisation of mysticism — that is, the increasing tendency to locate the mystical in the psychological realm of personal experiences — serves to exclude it from political issues as social justice.

Mysticism thus becomes seen as a personal matter of cultivating inner states of tranquility and equanimity, which, rather than seeking to transform the world, serve to accommodate the individual to the status quo through the alleviation of anxiety and stress. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about mystical traditions. For mystical experience, see mystical experience.

Practice of religious experiences during alternate states of consciousness. History Timeline. Christian Catholic Mysticism. Buddhist modernism New religious movement " Spiritual but not religious " Syncretism. Spiritual experience.

Women Mystics and Sufi Shrines in India

Mystical experience Religious experience Spiritual practice. Spiritual development. Ego death Individuation Spiritual development Self-actualization. Other non-western. Animism Shamanism Totemism. Humanistic psychology Mindfulness Positive psychology Self-help Self-realization True self and false self. Mystical psychosis Cognitive science of religion Neuroscience of religion Geschwind syndrome Evolutionary psychology of religion. Moral universalism Universality Universalizability. Other religions. Mysticism Nondualism Perennialism Theosophy. See also: Christian contemplation and Henosis.

See also: Hesychasm , Contemplative prayer , and Apophatic theology. Main articles: Religious ecstasy , Altered state of consciousness , Cognitive science of religion , Neurotheology , and Attribution psychology. Main articles: Enlightenment spiritual , Divine illumination , and Subitism.

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Main articles: Spirituality , Spiritual development , Self-realization , and Ego death. See also: Middle Ages. See also: Early modern period. Main article: Shamanism. Main article: Greco-Roman mysteries. People by era or century. Desert Fathers.

Contemporary papal views. Aspects of meditation Orationis Formas , Main articles: Christian contemplation , Christian mysticism , Mystical theology , Apophatic theology , and German mysticism. Main articles: Western esotericism , Spirituality , and New Age. Safed School Cordoverian. Main articles: Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah. Sufi orders.

Research and Scholarship

List of sufis. Notable early Notable modern Singers. Topics in Sufism. Main article: Sufism. Main article: Hinduism. Main article: Tantra. Main articles: Sant religion , Nirguna Brahman , and Sikhism. See also: Presectarian Buddhism , Buddhist meditation , and Subitism. Main article: Taoism. See also: New Age. Main article: Scholarly approaches of mysticism. Main articles: Attribution psychology and Neurotheology.

See also: Neurotheology. Cook's translation "way of conviction" is rendered by other translators as "way of truth. In Hinduism, in Neoplatonism, in Sufism, in Christian mysticism, in Whitmanism, we find the same recurring note, so that there is about mystical utterances an eternal unanimity which ought to make a critic stop and think, and which bring it about that the mystical classics have, as been said, neither birthday nor native land.

Margery Kempe's tears and Teresa of Avila 's ecstasies are famous examples of such mystical phenomena. But many mystics have insisted that while these experiences may be a part of the mystical state, they are not the essence of mystical experience, and some, such as Origen, Meister Eckhart, and John of the Cross, have been hostile to such psycho-physical phenomena. It is a movement of the heart, as the individual seeks to surrender itself to ultimate Reality; it is thus about being rather than knowing. For some mystics, such as Teresa of Avila, phenomena such as visions, locutions, raptures, and so forth are by-products of, or accessories to, the full mystical experience, which the soul may not yet be strong enough to receive.

Hence these altered states are seen to occur in those at an early stage in their spiritual lives, although ultimately only those who are called to achieve full union with God will do so. Although it is difficult to differentiate which forms of experience allow such understandings, mental episodes supporting belief in "other kinds of reality" are often labeled mystical [ This factual, minimal interpretation depicts mysticism as an extreme and intense form of the insight seeking process that goes in activities such as solving theoretical problems or developing new inventions.

It is much to be hoped that it may be restored sooner or later to its old meaning, as the science or art of the spiritual life. To accomplish this, the re-formation is oriented at a mold, which represents the original shape: in Judaism the Torah , in Christianity Christ , in Buddhism Buddha , in the Islam Muhammad. Different translations are possible: transformation, re-formation, trans-mutation. Waaijman points out that "spirituality" is only one term of a range of words which denote the praxis of spirituality.

Research and Scholarship — Kelly Pemberton, PhD

In his poems, proclaims over and over that, while beholding the uncreated Light, the deified man acquires the Revelation of God the Trinity. Being in "theoria" vision of God , the saints do not confuse the hypostatic attributes. The fact that the Latin tradition came to the point of confusing these hypostatic attributes and teaching that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son also, shows the non-existence of empirical theology for them. Latin tradition speaks also of created grace, a fact which suggests that there is no experience of the grace of God.

For, when man obtains the experience of God, then he comes to understand well that this grace is uncreated. Without this experience there can be no genuine "therapeutic tradition. For the union with God in contemplation which is the highest object of our life he required a regular system of spiritual education beginning with baptism and passing through regulated exercises of penance and asceticism under the guidance of a director.