Have you seen this man? He seems to crop up in photo collections worldwide – a Kathmandu sadhu with a relaxed attitude towards tourist photography and, subsequently, an international profile!
Given his elaborate changes in costume, it’s perhaps not too far-fetched to wonder whether this particular sadhu indeed cultivates his profile – his ever-shifting paintwork and robes seem to reflect an awareness of his worldwide exposure and a desire to create a varied portfolio – is he vain or just giving good value for money?
For a small fee he will bless you while in a traditional yoga pose –one more great shot in a country of mind-blowing photos. (Imagine how mind-blowing it is in real life?!) He hangs out at Pashupatinath Temple with three of his sadhu mates, all similarly photogenic, just near the cremation ghats on the sacred Bagmati River. However, you will see sadhus everywhere you travel in Nepal and India (where they are commonly referred to as baba), and all of them are dream subjects for photographers.
Sadhus are Hindu holy men, their name synonymous with mystic, ascetic, yogi or monk. A sadhu is dedicated to realising liberation, or moksha, the fourth and final Hindu goal of life, through meditation and the contemplation of Brahman (the eternal, unchanging and infinite reality which is the Divine Ground for everything in the universe).
Sadhus regularly wear ochre-colored clothing, which symbolises renunciation. And they have renounced a lot more than worldly goods…Indeed, sadhus are considered legally dead in India and are ‘dead’ unto themselves – some sects and masters require sadhus to attend their own funeral before they begin tuition under a guru, under whom they serve for many years until they acquire the necessary experience to strike out on their own.
In India, Varanasi is perhaps the top spot to experience the devotion of sadhus and get some amazing photographs, while in Nepal, Kathmandu can’t be beat, especially somewhere in the vicinity of Pashupatinath Temple…
Our top trip for Sadhus, and a whole lot more: Spiritual India – including time spent in Varanasi, Amritsar, Rishikesh, Dharamsala, and Delhi.