Colonial Chishtis

  • Carl W. Ernst
  • Bruce B. Lawrence


It is often supposed that as we approach the modern period, we enter into a realm of greater factual certainty, offering richer analytical insight, because we come closer to our own time and to people more like us, less like the ancients or medievals, who are at once remote from us in time and sensibility. This temporal provincialism can be an obstacle, however, to the appreciation of either modernity or the premodern past. Assuming an absolute break between past and present ignores powerful continuities and the influence of tradition. Yet there are new realities that appear in the field of our investigation over the past two centuries, which introduced radical changes into South Asia during the period of British colonial rule. Colonialism, a massive process whose impact is still poorly understood, looms over the history of much of the non-European world like an immense shadow. Its existence is a fact that must be accounted for.


Colonial Period Spiritual Practice Twelfth Century Mystical Experience Religious Scholar 
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© Carl W. Ernst and Bruce B. Lawrence 2002

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  • Carl W. Ernst
  • Bruce B. Lawrence

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