India is a land of eccentricities! Call them Sadhus, Yogis and sometimes even glorified beggars you are sure to find them in the every corner. No journey in India is complete without a glimpse, experience (both good and bad) or interaction with a sadhu.
My first real interaction with a sadhu was when I was around 8 years old when on a visit to Maihar devi ( a religious place where you have to climb 500 + stairs to reach a devi temple) while climbing the stairs my dad gave me a 50p coin and signaled towards an assumably beggar looking sadhu.
I happily walked towards him, handed the coin and turned back to leave. The sadhu called, “Beti you are a devi roop and you have given me something. How can I let you go empty-handed”. He opened a book, took out a 2 rs note and thrusted it into my hands. I hesitated. This is not how it is supposed to work (my stereotype mind revolted).
My dad who was seeing all this from a distance came to my rescue. He touched the sadhus feet, looked towards me and said; “beti, yeh babaji ka ashirwaad hai, isko rakh lo”.
He was a very learned sadhu.
I have guarded that Rs 2 note very carefully since then.
Sadhus Breaking Stereotypes
We always put Sadhus into one broad stereotype basket. However, the truth is that there are sadhus who are breaking stereotypes and doing interesting stuff.Well, here are a few of my memorable experiences with sadhus, as I travelled across India.
The Techno Baba With Satellite Receptor
He is lovingly called the techno Baba! Name a gadget and trust him to have it or know about it. And all this in a place where there is no electricity. He has a solar system in place to keep his MacBook Pro, up and running. Do visit him if you are in Uttarakashi and you will be floored.
Matajis Walking With a Broom
These woman sadhus from Jainism sect are leading an extremely tough life as per the principles laid down. I met them while driving from Delhi to Bikaner. When the temperature was soaring around 40 degrees and we were sitting in our Duster with AC set on full. These ladies were walking towards their destination in heat. We stopped to give them lift, only to be denied politely. They had to travel only on foot, making sure that no insects gets killed under their feet. So they were carrying a broom. Sweeping the road and then taking the next step.
It was a 5 days walk to reach their destination.
Hats off to them!
Bed Of Thrones For Him
This sadhu has a unique style of doing tapasya. He lays on a bed of throne and believes that only through penance will God come to him.
Well, don’t know about that but call it acrobatics or sadhugiri he is definitely doing it in an interesting way.
If You Are A sadhu, You Must Make Sacrifices
She was quietly sitting outside Vishwanath baba temple in Uttarakashi. She was the only sadhavi (lady sadhu) amidst a long line of male dominated profession arena of sadhugiri. Her hair caught my attention instantly. A bit reluctant to speak initially, after a bit of cajoling she told that during transition from normal life to becoming a sadhu, she was asked to forgo one thing she loved the most. She loved her hair (which women doesn’t)! So to lead an ascetic life she decided to stop caring for her hair and thus the tresses kept on growing and she would just round it up yet again in a bun.
Well, she redefined sacrifices.
The Kumbh Mela and Sadhus
Talking about sadhus and you don’t take inferences from the quintessential Kumbha Mela of Allahabad. One event that sees a swarm of sadhus all across of India and abroad. I personally call it, the fashion parade of Sadhus.
Here, you can find sadhus of all sorts and types. A mix of fake and real sadhus. Some dressed up to grab attention. Some glorified beggars. Most of them drugged.
Babaji Who Lives Alone On A Secluded Mountain Top
He was a central government employee who had come to Uttarkashi on a project and then never left. He got the call and decided to walk the path of sadhu life. He stays on the top of Shikhar Varnavat (a 8,000 feet mountain), all alone besides a Kunti temple. I was so intrigued by stories that people told about him that I trekked to Shikar Varnavat to meet him and it was an exciting experience. Read all about it here: Trekking in Uttarakhand to Shikar Varnavat.
In winters his place gets covered in around 6-7 feet of snow. He is an ardent believer of Maa Kali and has her small temple besides his bed. He travelled to Tibet on foot. He has written book on Tibetan mystics and is an established author who though has a laptop but prefers to write on paper. His enigmatic smile and deep knowledge in the world of mysticism can make you sit with him for hours chatting and conversing. The stories, infact the experiences that he shares made me sit in utter disbelief for hours. I never knew such a world existed but it surely does.
The Photo-Op Sadhus
Yet another classic photo op case from Kumbh Mela, Allahabad. Fake or real, I don’t know. I am nobody to comment.
Were you ever duped by a trickster under a garb of a sadhu?
Or you met the divine soul that inspired you?
Do share your experiences of connecting with a Sadhu?