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.
Hobson-Jobson defines fakir as "s. Hind. from Arab. faḳīr ('poor'). Properly an indigent person, but specially 'one poor in the sight of God,' applied to a Mahommedan religious mendicant, and then, loosely and inaccurately, to Hindu devotees and