Sunday, January 15, 2012

Understanding the Sufis with William Dalrymple (video)

William Dalrymple (Wikipedia) (born 1965) is a remarkable scholar and traveller.

I first knew of him through his excellent travel book In Xanadu (1989), recounting a journey he undertook in 1986, during his second summer as an undergraduate (senior history scholar) reading history at Trinity College, Cambridge, that retraced the path taken by Marco Polo from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem to the site of Shangdu, famed as Xanadu in English literature, in Inner Mongolia, China.

From the Wikipedia article on Dalrymple:

"Dalrymple has lived in India on and off since 1989 and spends most of the year at his farmhouse in the outskirts of Delhi, but summers in London and Edinburgh.

"Dalrymple's interests include India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Middle East, Mughal rule, the Muslim world, Hinduism, Buddhism, the Jains and early Eastern Christianity.

"All of his seven books have won major literary prizes, as have his radio and television documentaries. His first three books were travel books based on his journeys in the Middle East, India and Central Asia. His early influences included the travel writers such as Robert Byron, Eric Newby, and Bruce Chatwin. More recently, Dalrymple has published a book of essays about South Asia, and two award-winning histories of the interaction between the British and the Mughals between the eighteenth and mid nineteenth century. His books have been translated into more than 30 languages."


I just came across Dalrymple's excellent 2005 TV documentary, Sufi Soul, that investigates Sufi music and spirituality (in Syria, Turkey, Morocco, Pakistan, and India), a subject that has received scant attention in the West. For me, it has opened a new door onto a fascinating vista.

Sufi Soul (High video quality. No subtitle)

Another copy of Sufi Soul (of lower quality, with English subtitle)

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