[Reader-list] secret history of delhi

Shuddhabrata Sengupta shuddha at sarai.net
Wed Apr 26 16:35:43 IST 2006

Dear Siddharth,

I read with great interest your post on the secret history of Delhi, 
especially the description of Suhagpura.

May I point out that the person you call Sarhad is actually a sufi poet 
of Armenian Jewish extraction who went by the name of Sarmad. And yes, 
it is indeed his grave (together with that of his preceptor, Hare-Bhare 
Shah) that rests at the foot of the Jame Masjid.

Incidentally, the apocryphal story of the reasons for Sarmad's trial and 
execution goes beyond the question of Sarmad's nakedness and open 
homosexuality. It also includes his somewhat heterodox theological 
views. It is said that Sarmad (although he claimed he was a devout 
Muslim, following his conversion to Islam) would only recite one half of 
the first segment of the shahada or the Islamic confession of faith. 
Meaning instead of saying 'La Illaha il-lallah...', (there is no god but 
god) he would stop after the La Illaha, implying the statement, 'there 
is no god'.

When asked how he reconciled his claim that he was a devout Muslim with 
the incomplete recitation, Sarmad was reported to have said -

"the incompleteness of my recitation is a mark of my devotion. As of 
now, I have gotten as far as being able to understand the 'La-Illaha' or 
'There is no god' part of the statement. When I am able to comprehend 
and understand the rest of the statement, I will definitely say it."

It is said that the decaptitated head of Sarmad did make the complete 
recitation after the execution as Sarmad walked up the steps of the 
Jamae Masjid with his head in his hands.

I have always found this figure very fascinating, because for me he 
represents the possibility of a spirituality of robust unbelief. And 
though I have never been blessed with faith, I have always considered 
myself to be a distant (in time) shagird of Sarmad. Which means, that 
whenever I go to Jame Masjid, I try and find the time to spend some time 
in the small red cube at the foot of the stairs that looks towards the 
Red Fort.

Hope to read more secret histories from you,



Here below are two links that I found on Sarmad on the net.



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