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 My friend Baba Balakdas. 42 years old. A devotee of Shiva. Sadhus are known as 'babas' in Nepal. The word 'baba' means father or uncle in most Indian languages  The term 'sadhu' derives from the Sanskrit word meaning 'accomplish'  This sadhu is a devotee of Lord Rama. You can tell by the markings on his forehead. This marking represents a trident  Baba Basakdas smoking his chillum  Sadhu dancing during Shivaratri festival, Pahupatinath  Wonderfully intricate body markings, painstakingly applied every day  Baba Balakdas. I visited him every Saturday for tea  Baba Basakdas with his handheld mirror. The instrument on the left, just creeping into the picture, is a pair of metal tongs. Sadhus often carry metal tongs for removing burning embers from their sacred fires in order to light their chillums.  Sadhus come from all walks of life. Some have been sadhus all their lives, others only in their latter years, even after careers and families.  Many sadhus practice yoga which is closely linked with meditation. Sadhus believe that spiritual enlightenment is achieved through transformation of the mind and the body.  Sadhus traditionally cover their bodies in ashes from holy fires. This symbolises death and regeneration.  Many young Nepali men are attracted to sadhus as they think it's a safe and ready haven to smoke hashish. Not all sadhus approve of this as it attracts unwelcome attention from the police.  In the past there were times of intense rivalry between the various sects of sadhus, mirroring the rivalry of Shiva and Vishnu for the supreme position in the Hindu pantheon; in some cases this even lead to battle.  A little heavy on the foundation. Baba Basakdas ponders over his reflection.  Many sadhus do not have a home and are wandering nomads, however this is a particularly well-stocked sadhu who has tea and curry on the go (and very tasty it was too).   Sadhus perform ceremonies and rituals for ordinary Hindus, perhaps to bestow good fortune, remove evil eyes or bless a marriage.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  Sadhu practicing yoga, Pashupatinath.  Sadhus live an ascetic life on the fringes of society. They abstain from sex, cut all family ties, have no possessions, no house, wear few clothes and eat little food.  Holy man, Kathmandu  Sadhus are amongst the most visually striking human beings, I think you'll agree.  Some sadhus believe that they can see meaningful signs and symbols in smoke patterns.  Sadhu, Pashupatinath, Nepal  Holy man waking up, Kathmandu  Look into my eyes. This sadhu was an expert musician and had a compelling presence.  Sadhus have been around for thousands of years. Today there are around 4 million, mainly in India.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  Sadhu holding the skull of his teacher, which bears the markings of Shiva. Some sadhus keep company with ghosts and will live in cemetaries as part of their spiritual journey. Sadhus are buried and not cremated like other hindus as they are considered to already be dead unto themselves.  Lord Shiva was closely connected to cannabis, a sacred herb in Hindu religion. He smoked it and is often pictured with his eyes half-closed and meditating. The clay pipe is called a chillum and the little cloth covers the opening, acting as a filter.  Family requesting alms during Shivaratri festival (Shiva's birthday), Pahupatinath Temple.  A well fed sadhu. It is becoming increasingly common for beggars or poor people to pose as sadhus for material gain.   Holy man napping, Kathmandu  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  Holy man, Kathmandu    The 6th chillum of the day finally hits the mark.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  This sadhu is a devotee of Lord Rama. You can tell by the markings on his forehead. This marking represents a trident.  Sadhus perform ceremonies and rituals for ordinary Hindus, perhaps to bestow good fortune, remove evil eyes or bless a marriage.  We were listening to the BBC World Service, which was a little incongruent, and unintelligible to everyone apart from myself.  Many Hindu men wear a sacred thread over their left shoulder next to the skin. At each full moon the thread is replaced by a new one as a form of spiritual renewal. Practical uses include an impromptu key chain during bathing and a handy back scratcher.  Sadhu applying his tilaka at Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu. Pashupatinath is the holiest hindu site in Nepal.  There are naked Naga sadhus and Jata sadhus who carry swords. There are many paths which lead to spiritual enlightenment, reflected in the many varieties of sadhu.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  This sadhu showed me photographs of himself from 15 years ago. Smart side-parting, neatly trimmed beard. The long hair, which can reach the ground, is in emulation of Lord Shiva, whose long locks were said to bring him supernatural powers.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  Sadhus often wear necklaces consisting of 108 beads, representing the 108 elements of material creation.  Sadhus spend a great deal of time meditating and devoting themselves to their chosen deity.  Sadhu practicing yoga, Pashupatinath.  Although Baba Balakdas has a youthful face for a 40 year old his rasping cough was that of an 80 year old coal miner. I did fear for his health as he regularly complained of chest pains. However, smoking pipe after pipe is part of a sadhu's daily routine.  Sadhus, holy men, Nepal.  This sadhu is a Vaishnava. Vaishnavas worship Vishnu in one of his incarnations, notably Rama or Krishna. There are literally millions of Hindu deities, which can be confusing for the uninitiated.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.   A necklace consisting of old coins from around the world.  A sadhu with his mirror.  Many sadhus take life a lot easier than tradition dictates.  Baba Balakdas with a packet of Shikar cigarettes. In between smoking chillums many sadhus chain-smoke cigarettes, affording their lungs no respite.  Sadhu at Pashupatinath temple. A goat horn hangs from his hair.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  A sadhu at Pashupatinath wearing that just-woken-up look so common amongst the sadhus there.  A freshly packed chillum.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  The polished root from a holy tree; worn as a lucky charm by this sadhu.  In the background you can just make out the straw mats that the sadhus sleep on. This was a cloister around a central courtyard and shrine.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  Somebody stop me! This sadhu appears to approve of his morning transformation.  Sadhu, Pashupatinath.  This sadhu is a disciple of the famous 'milk baba'. Milk baba survived solely on milk for 30 years, he is a recognised authority on the Ramayana (the great spiritual text of India) and is currently touring America.  The extreme self-denial practiced by sadhus often deters many from pursuing that path, however this sadhu has managed to acquire a few accoutrements of material success.  Sleeping in the shade during the heat of the day.  Many contemporary sadhus now apply chalk to their bodies and faces instead of the more traditional ash.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  Smoking hashish is illegal in Nepal but sadhus stand outside the law in this regard. A curse from a sadhu is not something a Hindu policeman would welcome.  Baba Balakdas on his 5th chillum of the day, and it's barely 10am.  Sadhus are revered by Hindus as representatives of the gods.  A devotee of Lord Shiva. The white lines on his forehead symbolise the lines of ash on Shiva's forehead which variously signified that people should try to destroy the impurities of egoism, karma performed with the expectation of fruits, and maya or illusion, as well as the desires for property, husband or wife, and money.  Sadhu at the Shivaratri festival, Pahupatinath temple.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  A devotee of Lord Rama.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  Sadhus at Pashupatinath.  Dreadlocks and prayer beads.  Sadhus, holy men, Nepal.  Holy man smoking, Kathmandu  Sadhu covering himself with ash during the Shivaratri festival, Pahupatinath temple.  Sadhus, holy men, Nepal.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  The women are chanting 'Sita Ram'. The couplet chant lasted for half an hour and was entrancing. Hindus believe the chant helps to unite our masculine and feminine sides and glorifies the divine couple Sita and Ram. This sadhu was an expert bongos and squeeze box player and had the place rocking later that day.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  A sadhu's hand after applying his makeup.  Sadhu displaying his impressive hair.  Sadhu dancing during Shivaratri festival, Pahupatinath Temple.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  Sadhu, Pashupatinath.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  Sadhu in contemplation, Nepal.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  Sadhu smoking his chillum, Nepal.  Sadhu smoking his chillum; it almost looks like a fairy leaving his pipe.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  Sadhus after breakfast, Nepal.  Sadhus, holy men, Nepal.  Sadhu smoking his chillum, Nepal.  Sadhus smoking, Nepal.  A devotee of Lord Rama.  Sadhu with his squeeze box.  Sadhu and trident, Nepal.  Sadhu smoking a chillum.  Sadhu applying chalk to his face, Nepal.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal. This sadhu is a devotee of the famous Milk Baba, famous for survivng on just milk for 30 years. Milk Baba is known as Ramayena -one who awakens the power and secret inner teachings of RAM.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  A baby receiving a blessing at Dakshinkali temple, Nepal.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal.  Pashupatinath temples, Kathmandu, Nepal  Sadhu's hair  Sadhu applying chalk to his face  The temples at Pashupatinath, Nepal. One of the World's holiest Hindu sites  A sadhu on his mobile phone; some are more ascetic than others  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal  A temple at Pashupatinath; the holiest hindu site in Nepal and temporary home to dozens of sadhus  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal  Sadhu dressed as Hanuman, the monkey god  Sadhu, Pashupatinath temple  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal  Morning! A sadhu at Pashupatinath  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal  A sadhu attends to his fire at Pashupatinath  Sadhu, Pashupatinath  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal  Sadhu at Pashupatinath  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal  Sadhu at Shivaratri festival, Pahupatinath Temple  Sadhu, holy man, Nepal


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