The term mendicant refers to begging or relying on charitable donations, and is most widely used for religious followers or ascetics who rely on charity to survive. Plate & Co.
[Original back of advertising card] Alastor-Mystic-The Astrologer, Handreader and Clairvoyant from England. May be Consulted Daily at the Great Eastern Hotel, Calcutta, Room 59. (Hours 10 A.M. to 7 P.M.
A very early postcard printed in India. Gosavi is a Marathi word that refers to someone who has renounced worldly pleasures and wears garments of the "brick-dust" color shown here.
A curious case of an Italian word finding itself stamped upon a postcard of a characteristic type in India (the fakir, in this case a mendacious one). Mountebank is an old word for a charlatan, or salesman of quack medicines.
An rare French postcard of Benares [Varanasi], featuring fakirs debating and listening with the ghats in the background.
A fourth card in Rossler’s 1897 lithographic series of Calcutta features a fakir, the male counterpoint to the nautch dancer. Above the fakir is his spiritual guide along lifelong wanderings, Lord Shiva.
A mendicant is a beggar, one who depends on the goodwill of others to survive. Looking at this short gentleman, one can imagine that he probably had little choice with at least one club foot and two walking sticks to get around, slowly.
John Campbell Oman (1841-1911), author of The Mystics, Ascetics and Saints of India (1903) describes the incident that made him take it upon himself to write this encyclopedic work towards the end of his life.