Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Fakir (Arabic fakir, beggar), properly a member of a mendicant Mohammedan religious order, devoted to contemplation and contempt of this world. Strictly, therefore, the term is identical in significance with Dervish (q.v.), but in India the term is applied to any religious mendicant, though these are mostly Mohammedans. There are many orders of them. They are often half-insane, and not unfrequently impostors; but are maintained by a certain love of idleness, buffoonery and storytelling, which is a feature of many Eastern countries. Of the fakirs of India, some (the Mudaria) are often jugglers, or have performing bears or monkeys; some (the Sohagia) dress like women, play, sing, and dance; others (the Kafai) cut and wound themselves apparently without inconvenience; others beg at night only, carrying a lamp (Kaye and Watson: Peoples of India). There are cases on record, apparently well authenticated, in which fakirs have been buried alive for a considerable period at their own request.