The Chahār ʿunṣur “Four Elements”, completed in 1704, is the philosophical autobiography of the most important Indo-Persian poet and thinker of the Mughal times, Mīrzā ʿAbd al-Qādir Bīdil (ʿAẓīmābād 1644-Delhi 1720). More than the teleological narration of “a life”, the text is a, collection of memoirs and first-hand accounts organically interwoven with wide-ranging poetical and philosophical reflections, not following a strict chronological order and using an intensively metaphorical prosimetrum as a meaningful tool for expressing a complex and original vision of the world and the writing subject. Wandering masters and dervishes of various kinds play a fundamental role of modelization in the text. Engaging with both classical and recent views on Bīdil, in this paper I will show how, in the Chahār ʿunṣur, the author descriptions of his meetings with some wandering masters in Awrangzeb’s Hindustan are essential to make sense of the poet’s theory of language and imagination, which is methodically developed in the text. This articla is divided in two parts: a first, more descriptive, where a few significant encounters between Bīdil’s and his masters are presented and briefly discussed; and a second, more theoretical, where his theory of language (in the Chahār ʿunṣur is reviewed, and put in connection with the ascetic models.
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