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Not for them the cynical conclusion, "life is a bitch, and then you die," and but for them the lure of India would surely diminish. Of course, not everyone in India thinks so, and it has become the habit of those who label themselves "progressive" to write mockingly about whom and what Hindus think of as sacred.


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Thus, taking pot shots at Indian gurus and godmen, sadhus and monks, Manu Joseph, the author of Serious Men, baits the reader saying, ". It is a strange challenge because Manu Joseph should know that men and women have traveled to India not just since the Beatles made the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi famous but for millennia past, in search of the exotic, the esoteric, and the enlightening. A story is told of Alexander the Great meeting a naked sadhu who declined all the riches offered by the world conqueror.

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Recounting this story in Swami Rama Thirtha told an audience in San Francisco that the enlightened ascetic gave a vision of the cosmic wonder to an emperor who thought he had conquered the world. Ram Dass, now venerable, continues to hold his followers enthralled in Hawaii. Of more recent vintage is Baba Rampuri, who went to India in the s and has stayed there and is now one of my Facebook friends! Hardwar: The Ground of Space 4. Allahabad: The Community in Time 5. Privacy Notice Accessibility Help. Skip to services menu. Search by title, author, keyword or ISBN.

Sign Up. View Larger. Author Bio Sondra L. Customer Reviews Comments There are currently no reviews Write a review on this title. Related Links. Their activities are directed at different gods. Many sadhus light sacred fires when they camp in the monasteries and pilgrimage shrines they stay in. Before sadhus are initiated into a higher level they are symbolically cleansed by clay oil lamps. Some sadhus spend their entire lives on pilgrimages or even a single pilgrimage.

Indra, the god of travelers, once said: "All his sins are destroyed by his fatigues and wanderings. As an act of devotion some sadhus put a lime at the end of a spear and then dip the spear in the Ganges. Others chant the name of the monkey god Hanuman a thousand times before a holy fire.

After giving advise many sadhus give a banana, a sweetmeat, and a spoonful of Ganges water. Why, for instance, is it written, and what does it mean, that the Ganges washes away sin? Can I give any scientific interpretation? Only by committing my own body and mind to this research can I hope to find the answer. Often when I sit by the Ganges I slowly open my heart and pour one after another my doubts. Mother Ganges always answers. Others are involved in environmental activities. Sadhus have demonstrated in Allahabad, for example, demanding that the Ganges be cleaned up.

Hindu acetic do things like spend years with their left hand raised into the air, standing on one leg or lying on a bed of cactuses. Often have a blanket next to them to collect coins or food. Some bury themselves neck-deep in sand, pierce their tongues with spikes, stare at the sun, sleep standing up, mediate for hours while suspended from a rope, lay between fires, live in trees and refuse to talk for years. Hindus believed that severe penance will liberate them from the endless cycle of death and rebirth.

Many of sadhus smoke marijuana or hashish to ease their suffering. Sadhus sometimes bury their head, a feat of breath control that requires mastery of yoga techniques. In , a yogi named Hari Das war buried alive without air, food, liquid or any attention, After being excavated he was easily revived and went on to live a long life. One sadhu at the Pushkar Fair became famous for lifting a kilogram brick with his penis. Some sadhus are said to have the ability to talk with monkeys. Sometimes they are sought out by people for help keeping monkeys from raiding their gardens.

According to the Guinness Book of Records, the silent Indian fakir Mastram Bapu stayed in the same spot by a road in the village of Chitra for 22 years, from to When sleeping, he leaned against a plank. According to the Guinness Book of Records, Radhey Shyam Prajapati stood motionless for world record of 18 hours, 5 minutes and 5 seconds in January Rajikumar Chakraborty did the static wall sit Samson'c chair for 11 hours and 5 minutes at the Panposh Sports Hostel in April To gain merit Hindus sometime roll sideways through the dirty, cobblestone streets of Kathmandu while in a praying position.

Followed by a procession of saffroned-robed devotees the rollers sometimes keep it up for hours. He wore bandages on his legs and sweat bands on his arms and was able can move at a fast walking pace and cover 30 kilometers a day.

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The political as a practice: the sadhus' art of self-fashioning

On a typical day he rolled from am to noon and pm to pm, stopping occasionally for a rest or to give blessings. On some down hill sections he said he reached speeds of 15mph. Devotees swept glass and other obstacles out his way but he rolled through cow dung and garbage. One of his biggest obstacles was pavement that melted in the 50 degree C heat.

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At night he slept in camps with his devotees. Rolling Baba said he became a sadhu at the age of 12 after he touched a drying boy and saved his life. He said he lived for several years in a cave and ate nothing but grass and spent seven years standing up, leaning against a swing when he slept. He began rolling in as a way to earn more merit by making his journeys from one pilgrimage site to another more demanding.

By , he figured he had rolled more than , kilometers. On his trip to Lahore, Das often rolled with cigarette in his mouth. He smoked five packs of cigarettes a day and got energy from drinking countless cups of tea. I think of God. I think of Mother Earth and then I roll and roll and roll.

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At night I eat fruits, roti, whatever I can lay my hands on. The most extreme sadhus, the aghoris , turn normal rules of conduct completely upside down. Rajesh and Ramesh Bedi, who have studied sadhus for decades, estimate that there may be fewer than fifteen aghoris in contemporary India. In the quest for great spiritual attainment, the aghori lives alone, like Lord Shiva, at cremation grounds, supping from a human skull bowl. He eats food provided only by low-ranking Sweepers and prostitutes, and in moments of religious fervor devours his own bodily wastes and pieces of human flesh torn from burning corpses.

In violating the most basic taboos of the ordinary Hindu householder, the aghori sadhu graphically reminds himself and others of the correct rules of social behavior.

Wandering with sadhus : ascetics in the Hindu Himalayas, Sondra L. Hausner

Holy men of the 1,year-old Aghor sect of Shiva worshipers in Varanasi drink whiskey from human skulls, have sex with corpses and eat the charred remains of the dead from funeral pyres on the banks of the Ganges. They eat corpses in the belief that ingesting dead flesh will make them ageless and give them supernatural powers. By breaking humanity's strict taboos they claim to transcend society and come closer to enlightenment.

They say human meat tastes good and identify the brains as the best part. Unlike other Hindu holy men, most of whom are vegetarian teetotalers, the Aghoris consume alcohol and meat. But it is their consumption of human flesh — a practice whose origins remain a mystery — which has earned them the condemnation of other Hindus and relegated most Aghori sadhus to living around crematoriums in the hills around the holy city of Varanasi. Singh and three cameramen waited with an Aghori sadhu — whose name is not mentioned in the film — for 10 days in June before finding a floating corpse.


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  7. Hindus generally cremate the dead, but bodies are sometimes ceremonially disposed of in the Ganges. Singh did not see any of those powers on display. By the restraint of his senses, by the destruction of love Or, affection, passion, raga , and hatred, and by the abstention from injuring the creatures Ahimsa, non-injury , he becomes fit for immortality. Let him reflect on the transmigrations of men, caused by their sinful deeds, on their falling into hell, and on the torments in the world of Yama, 62 On the separation from their dear ones, on their union with hated men, on their being overpowered by age and being tormented with diseases, On the departure of the individual soul from this body and its new birth in another womb, and on its wanderings through ten thousand millions of existences, On the infliction of pain on embodied Limits , which is caused by demerit, and the gain of eternal bliss, which is caused by the attainment of their highest aim, gained through spiritual merit.

    By deep meditations, let him recognize the subtle nature of the supreme Soul, [Source: Translation by G. Buhler in Sacred Books of the East, xxv Oxford, , pp.

    Wandering with Sadhus: Ascetics in the Hindu Himalayas by Sondra L by Sondra L. Hausner - PDF Drive

    Sadhus Hindu holy men dominate the melas. They arrive from all over India and set up camps near the Ganges, where they pray, meditate, give blessings, do yoga, chant mantras and engage in discourses on various matters. Not all the sadhus fit the image of stereotypical holy men.