"The Bhagavad-Gita" has been a vital textual content of Hindu tradition in India because the time of its composition within the first century A.D. one of many nice classics of worldwide literature, it has encouraged such various thinkers as Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi, and T.S. Eliot; such a lot lately, it shaped the center of Peter Brook's celebrated creation of the "Mahabharata."

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While I agree with this sentiment, I take it not as a conclusion but rather as my point Introduction | 19 of departure, since a simple coincidence of forms of religious expression alone cannot explain why it is that, if there is no shortage of Hindu temples, shrines, and religious professionals, so many Hindus and other nonMuslims continue to regard patronage of dargāns in particular as desirable and necessary. In subsequent chapters I will show that the ambiguity inherent in musain §ekrī’s culture and the use that all of its pilgrims make of this ambiguity— in both their own self-presentation and their interaction with others—are central elements in pilgrims’ healing processes and experiences.

Specifically, a discourse-centered approach to the study of Islam ought to address all of the following: 1) whether a discourse references Islamic names or objects; 2) whether a discourse contains stories, themes, values, or worldviews that historically have been emphasized in founding Islamic texts; 3) whether elements of foundational Islamic texts are introduced into a culture and maintained within that culture by means that have precedent in Islamic communities; and 4) whether the elements of foundational Islamic texts derive their legitimacy in a community in ways that have precedent in the Islamic tradition.

E culture I am describing is not, it is important to note, syncretism, which by definition involves the “synthesis” of elements of various traditions into a harmonious whole. Rather, I suggest that for pilgrims, the power and legitimacy of musain §ekrī derive in large part from the op- Introduction | 7 portunity it affords them to encounter others in ways that are dangerous and transgressive on the one hand, and built around shared expressions of submission, devotion, and remembrance on the other.

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