THE MIRACULOUS POWERS OF JOGEES (YOGI)
TRAVELS OF IBN BATUTA TRANSLATED BY THE REV. SAMUEL LEE, B.D.
FROM THE ABRIDGED ARABIC MANUSCRIPT COPIES PRESERVED IN THE PUBLIC LIBRARY OF CAMBRIDGE, WITH NOTES…
D.D. of the University of Halle; Honorary Member of the Asiatic Society of Paris; Honorary Associate of the Royal Society of Literature; Member of the Oriental Translation Committee, and of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland; Fellow of the Cambridge Philosophical Society; and Professor of Arabic in the University of Cambridge. London: Printed for the Oriental Translation Committee, 1829
Qui est Ibn Battuta?
Écrivain arabe et l’un des plus grands voyageurs de tous les temps, Ibn Battuta est l’auteur d’un récit de voyage (Rihla en arabe) qui, par l’ampleur du champ parcouru et les qualités du récit, constitue une des œuvres de la littérature universelle. Né à Tanger, Ibn Battuta est voué à un exil qui lui fera parcourir 120 000 kilomètres pendant vingt-huit ans d’absence
Le premier voyage, comme il se doit pour tous bon musulman, a pour but La Mecque par l’Afrique du Nord, l’Égypte, le Haut-Nil et la Syrie ; Ibn Battuta y arrive en 1326. Il se rendra par la suite en Irak, puis en Iran avant de revenir en Irak (Bagdad, Mossoul) et un retour en Arabie où il reste trois ans (1327-1330) et accomplit, chacune de ces trois années, le pèlerinage à La Mecque. Il part ensuite pour la mer Rouge, le Yémen, la côte africaine, Mogadiscio et les comptoirs d’Afrique orientale, revient par le ‘Uman (Oman) et le golfe Persique et accomplit un nouveau pèlerinage à La Mecque en 1332.
Le voyage suivant mènera Ibn Battuta en Égypte, en Syrie, en Asie Mineure, dans les territoires mongols de la Horde d’or en Russie du Sud, à Constantinople, en Transoxiane (approximativement l’Ouzbékistan moderne et le sud-ouest du Kazakhstan) et en Afghanistan d’où il gagne la vallée de l’Indus en 1333 et séjourne à Delhi jusqu’en 1342. De là, Ibn Battuta gagne les îles Maldives, y reste un an et demi (on le comprend) avant de repartir pour Ceylan, retour aux Maldives, puis le Bengale, l’Assam, Sumatra, la Chine. Dans un septième voyage il retourne par Sumatra et Malabar (1347), jusqu’au golfe Persique, puis Bagdad, la Syrie, l’Égypte et nouveau pèlerinage en Arabie. De retour en Égypte, à Alexandrie, Ibn Battuta s’embarque pour Tunis (1349), d’où il gagne la Sardaigne sur un bateau catalan ; il rentre par l’Algérie, Fès, le royaume de Grenade et, de nouveau, le Maroc, le pays natal. Un neuvième et dernier voyage : en 1352, le Sahara, les pays du Niger (actuel Mali).
Définitivement installé au Maroc, Ibn Battuta dicte à un lettré (en 1356), sur l’ordre du souverain mérinide, Abu ‘Inan, le « Cadeau précieux pour ceux qui considèrent les choses étranges des grandes villes et les merveilles des voyages » (Tuhfat al-nuzzar fi ghara’ib al amsar wa-‘adja’ib al-asfar). Il meurt en 1368 ou en 1377. Pendant ses voyages, Ibn Battuta a mené une vie professionnelle et familiale presque normale (il se marie et exerce une fonction de juge très écouté), restant fort identique à lui-même et sans jamais douter de son adhésion à un islam très sûr de lui. Ibn Battuta partage avec avec Ibn Khaldun une place cruciale dans l’histoire de la géographie arabe. Mais à la différence d’ Ibn Khaldun, intellectuel fin et lettré qui étudie les évènements en profondeur (ce qui le fait considérer comme un précurseur de la sociologie moderne), chez Ibn Battuta, au contraire, la réflexion en profondeur cède la place au mouvement, qui s’étale, pourrait-on dire, sur toute l’horizontalité du monde.
Le texte que nous proposons ici est évidemment issu des récits relatifs aux voyages en Inde (qui n’est pas encore Moghole et qui n’a pas été islamisé pendant l’expansion arabo-islamique qui s’est terminée aux IXe siècle et Xe siècle).
Pour en savoir plus sur Ibn Battuta : l’article de Wikipédia  est pas mal.
THE MIRACULOUS POWERS OF JOGEES
We next arrived at the city of Merwa, which is a large place, inhabited for the most part by infidels, who pay tribute to the Emperor. We next arrived at the city of Kalyur, which is large, and which has a fortress on the top of a high mountain. In this the Emperor imprisons those of whom he entertains any fear. We next arrived at the city of Barun, which is small, and inhabited by Moslems: it is situated in the midst of the infidel districts. In these parts are many wild beasts, which enter the town and tear the inhabitants. I was told, however, that such as enter the streets of the town are not wild beasts really, but only some of the magicians called Jogees, who can assume the shape of wild beasts, and appear as such to the mind. These are a people who can work miracles, of which one is, that any one of them can keep an entire fast for several months.
Many of them will dig houses for themselves under ground, over which any one may build, leaving them only a place for the air to pass through. In this the Jogee will reside for months without eating or drinking anything. I heard that one of them remained thus for a whole year. I saw too, in the city of Sanjarur, one of the Moslems who had been taught by them, and who had set up for himself a lofty cell like an obelisk. Upon the top of this he stood for five and twenty days, dining which time he neither ate nor drank. In this situation I left him, nor do I know how long he continued there after I had left the place. People say that they mix certain seeds, one of which is destined for a certain number of days or months, and that they stand in need of no other support during all this time. They also foretell events.
The Emperor of Hindustan very much respects them, and occasionally sits in their company. Some of them will eat nothing but herbs: and it is clear from their circumstances that they accustom themselves to abstinence, and feel no desire either for the world or its show. Some of them will kill a man with a look: but this is most frequently done by the women. The woman who can do so is termed a Goftar. It happened when I was Judge of Delhi, and the Emperor was upon one of his journeys, that a famine took place. On this occasion, the Emperor ordered, that the poor should be divided among the nobles for support, until the famine should cease. My portion, as affixed by the Vizier, amounted to five hundred. These I sustained in a house which I built for the purpose.
On a certain day, during this time, a number of them came to me, bringing a woman with them, who, as they said, was a Goftar, and had killed a child, which happened to be near her. I sent her, however, to the Vizier, who ordered four large water vessels to be filled with water, and tied to her. She was then thrown into the great river (the Jumna). She did not sink in the water, but remained unhurt: so they knew that she was a Goftar. The Vizier then ordered her to be burnt, which was done; and the people distributed her ashes among themselves, believing that if any one would fumigate himself with them, he would be secure from the fascinations of a Goftar for that year. But if she had sunk, they would have taken her out of the water: for then they would have known that she was not a Goftar.
I was once in the presence of the Emperor of Hindustan, when two of these Jogees, wrapt up in cloaks, with their heads covered (for they take out all their hairs, both of their heads and arm-pits, with powder), came in. The Emperor caressed them and said, pointing to me, « This is a stranger, show him what he has never yet seen », they said, « we will ». One of them then assumed the form of a cube and arose from the earth, and in this cubic shape he occupied a place in the air, over our heads. I was so much astonished and terrified at this, that I fainted and fell to the earth. The Emperor then ordered me some medicine which he had with him, and upon taking this I recovered and sat up: this cubic figure still was remaining in the air just as it had been.
His companion then took a sandal belonging to one of those who had come out with him, and struck it upon the ground, as if he had been angry. The sandal then ascended, until it became opposite in situation with the cube. It then struck it upon the neck, and the cube descended gradually to the earth, and at last rested in the place which it had left. The Emperor then told me, that the man who took the form of a cube was a disciple to the owner of the sandal: and, continued he, had I not entertained fears for the safety of thy intellect, I should have ordered them to show thee greater things than these. From this, however, I took a palpitation at the heart, until the Emperor ordered me a medicine which restored me.
We then proceeded from the city of Barun to the stage of Kajwara, at which there is a lake about a mile in length; and round this are temples, in which there are idols. At this place resides a tribe of Jogees, with long and clotted hair. Their colour inclines to yellow, which arises from their fasting. Many of the Moslems of these parts attend on them, and learn (magic) from them.