This comparative study of the religious life of the Jewish communities of Kaifeng, China, and Cochin, India, contributes to our understanding the mechanisms by which a religion becomes acculturated into its environment. Borrowing the metaphor of foregrounding/backgrounding from Gestalt psychology, both the plasticity and tenacity of Judaism are emphasized.
Sa'id Sarmad's dargah (saint's tomb) dominates the entryway to Delhi's imposing Jama Masjid. But Sarmad was a Jew, both by birth and affirmation. He was also, according to his Rubaiyat, "a follower of the Furqan (i.e., a Sufi), a (Catholic) priest, a (Buddhist) monk, a Jewish rabbi, an infidel, and a Muslim." Indeed, it is hard to imagine a mystic with a more complex confessional identity. This paper explores both Sarmad's apparently contradictory religious self-identification and the complex religious context which Sarmad found in seventeenth-century North India. It will trace Sarmad's spiritual path as it meandered between Judaism, Islam and Hinduism, as recorded in his poetry and in the hagiographical (taskira) traditions which surround him, and will contribute to the discussion of the relationship between the mystic and his or her religion of birth or adoption.
Through a series of in-depth interviews asking individuals about their decisions to adopt special-needs companion animals, we discovered that a combination of anthropomorphism and empathy are at play when individuals decide to adopt them. This tendency is explained using David Blouin’s typology of guardians: humanistic and protectionistic guardians anthropomorphized their companion animals, exhibited greater empathy, and were more willing to adopt animals with special needs.