The Mughal jogi
This chapter has shown that the Mughal rural jogi identity is multi dimensional. Only a few are itinerant experts in liberation and salvation. The jogi became an ascetic warrior and a part of a roaming Lumpen-proletariat. The gates to the cultural field of liberation were partly opened up by monotheistic monastic orders themselves. The end result was that the poor landless peasant not only took over the clothings, habits, practices and supernatural powers of the itinerant ascetic jogi, but actually took over most of the field. So where the elite holy men had for centuries been able to a large degree to control and dominate the peasants, under the Muslims it seems that they lost control. So in this way the menacingjogi’ we hear about in mediaeval tales – the fictional figure of a wizard with bad intentions who misused his supernatural powers – was actually slowly brought to real life under Muslim rule.
Or to put it another way, the fictional mediaeval jogi character was probably not pure fantasy but had always had some correspondence in reality. As the yoga discourse – similar to discourses of other holy men – had created the identity of the super human yogi, it should be no surprise if mad men and criminals, impostors and opportunity seekers from all social ranks, landless peasants and despairing runaway teenagers, semi-nomads and warrior communities exploited this identity throughout history. That is, they found a way of living as a mendicant holy man’ offering services and racketeering to the rural population. Until the Mughals these outcasts in Sadhus’ clothingâ might only have been relatively few in number and restricted to the countryside. However, under the new conditions of Muslim rule – increased exploitation, the displaced town elites, the market of professional soldiers, escalation of violence; increased Hinduisation in the south, – we can surmise that these ranks of impoverished people exploded in numbers and found new opportunities as jogis and fakirs (and countless other identities) in the countryside.
We might here have an explanation as to what led to the emergence of a specific group of jogis. It is the Nath jogis who emerged under the Muslims; a whole new social community, class or even caste roaming the countryside offering services and trade. Some of them took over the identities of the alchemist Siddhas. Hence early sources from this period were fascinated by their magical and alchemical skills. Marco Polo travelling in India in the 13 Century marvelled about the jogis, who he calls ciuigis:
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