AskDefine | Define fakir

Dictionary Definition

fakir n : a Muslim or Hindu mendicant monk who is regarded as a holy man [syn: fakeer, faqir, faquir]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. a faqir
  2. (Hindu) an ascetic mendicant, especially one who performs feats of endurance or apparent magic

Extensive Definition

A fakir or faqir is a Sufi, especially one who performs feats of endurance or apparent magic. Derived from faqr (فقر Arabic), Lit: poverty.
The word is usually used to refer to either the spiritual recluse or eremite or the common street beggar who chants holy names, scriptures or verses. Its current idiomatic usage developed primarily in Mughal-era India, where the term was injected into local idiom through the Persian-speaking courts of Muslim rulers. When used referring to somber spiritual miracle-makers, fakir is applied primarily to Sufi, but also Hindu ascetics.
Many stereotypes of the great fakir exist, among the more extreme being the picture of a near-naked man effortlessly walking barefoot on burning coals, sitting or sleeping on a bed of nails, levitating during bouts of meditation, or "living on air" (refusing all food). It is also used, usually sarcastically, for a common street beggar who chants holy names, scriptures or verses without ostensibly having any spiritual advancement.
It has become a common Urdu and Hindi word for a beggar. When applied to Hindu mystics, the term is essentially a non-Indian word for Sadhus, Gurus, Swamis, or Yogis.
Sir. Winston Churchill once contemptuously criticised Mahatma Gandhi for posing as a half naked fakir, "[i]t is alarming and also nauseating to see Mr. Gandhi, a seditious middle-temple lawyer now posing as a fakir of a type well known in the East, striding half-naked up the steps of the viceregal palace, while he is still organizing and conducting a defiant campaign of civil disobedience, to parley on equal terms with the representatives of the king-emperor."


In the Fourth Way teaching of G. I. Gurdjieff the word fakir is used to denote the specifically physical path of development, compared with the word yogi (which Gurdjieff used for a path of mental development) and monk (which he used for the path of emotional development).


fakir in Arabic: فقير
fakir in German: Fakir
fakir in Modern Greek (1453-): Φακίρης
fakir in Spanish: Fakir
fakir in Esperanto: Fakiro
fakir in French: Fakir
fakir in Italian: Fachiro
fakir in Hebrew: פקיר
fakir in Luxembourgish: Fakir
fakir in Malay (macrolanguage): Fakir
fakir in Dutch: Fakir
fakir in Norwegian: Fakir
fakir in Polish: Fakir
fakir in Portuguese: Faquir
fakir in Russian: Факир
fakir in Finnish: Fakiiri
fakir in Swedish: Fakir

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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