Whilst interviewing people for this book, several people asked me before agreeing to co-operate
whether I would use their real names in my book. I assured these people I would not reveal their
names. Therefore the names of people and places in this book are at times true, at times fictitious and
any coincidences are purely by chance.
The Hindi and Sanskrit words have been transliterated with agreement in the plural. One will find
them in italics or with the sign “*" which refers to the glossary. However, commonly used words that
have been adopted in the English language, such as maya, karma, yoga, ashram, Upanishad, baba,
atman, brahmin, etc., will not be italicized.
It is told that Tupala was a great king who was devoted to his subjects, generous towards the
brahmins*, gentle with children, respectful of wise men and wisdom and who followed the rules of
On one hunting night, leaving his retinue far behind, he ventured far and deep into the forest and lost
At dawn, he arrived in front of a hut where an untouchable was cleaning out the carcass of a bull. As
he was surprised to find himself there, the King was about to ask where he was and in which
province and hamlet he had arrived, when he caught sight of a dazzlingly beautiful young girl. She
was simple and smiling. The very embodiment of grace. And of course he fell in love with her.
At the speed of an arrow piercing through space, he forgot about the hunting, his kingdom and
government. He was treated with familiarity as if he had been long awaited. He married the girl, and
with her came the tannery, the livestock and the forest, the adobe house which had to be patched up
after rain, the herd of buffaloes that need taking to the pasture in the morning and bringing back at
night, the harvests and monsoon seasons, rough clothes and rope beds". He embraced the worship
of the forest Gods and joined with the villagers in prayer. He experienced the peace that follows a
hard day’s work, and suffered the anxieties of waiting for rain.
His wife gave him a son, then a second one, and then a third. He lived through seasons of happiness
and years of misfortune. Sickness took away his eldest son, then his father-in—law, whom he
replaced as a tanner. Then came a year of scarcity after a year of drought, and another year there
was a great flood, -which swept away the cattle. During one monsoon, his beloved wife drowned in
the lake. Years had passed, and yet more followed.
One evening, exhausted, he fell asleep in the grasslands and dreamed a’ strange dream that he was a
just and good king, governing his kingdom. One hunting night, he lost his way in the forest, arrived in
front of a hut, saw a stunningly beautiful girl, forgot his palace and married her, became a tanner after
the death of his father-in-law, lost his eldest son to sickness, then his cattle in a flood, and then his
wife drowned in a lake...
One day, his Prime Minister appeared there, in his courtyard, and threw himself at his feet.
'Majesty, we have been searching for you unceasingly all this time; we have scoured the entire
kingdom, from North to South and even the outer provinces to the smallest hamlets; we have
covered and searched this vast jungle without rest! Thank God we have finally found you!’
As the king was returning to his capital, escorted by his guards and his Prime Minister, he woke up,
astounded to find himself in his palace bed.
It had been a dream. It had all been nothing but a dream, but this dream had had the taste, colour,
texture and charm of reality. During this sleep, the king felt perfectly awake, exactly as he was now.
At this moment who was he? A king in his palace, the tanner in the dream or the sleeping tanner now
dreaming that he is a king? Or perhaps even someone else, sleeping somewhere in a distant universe
about which he had forgotten everything, and who was dreaming that he was dreaming that he was
dreaming... And what of the small house in the forest, and the untouchable, his wonderful wife, the
buffalo herd, the rough bed, and his sons, the sickness and the drowning? Were these last years
merely a few hours in one night? And is life just a moment of dreaming in eternity? Are we but
characters in the dream of a sleeping man? When can one know what is true? When does one wake
up? Is truth just a word to be found in the humdrum of confusion or is it the continual and indivisible
flow of thoughts and dreams?
In the morning, he left his palace in a palanquin carried by four strong brahmins. One of them,
uncaring and unconcerned, carried it so roughly, bumping here and stumbling there, that the king
could bear no more of it and leapt out to scold him;
"Who are you? And why are you so clumsy?" "My King, I am tall and fat and rather ugly and I am a
brahmin, but tell me, who am I really? And you, who are you? What can you be called? Are you
your body? Are you your birth? And why are you a king? Where does this palanquin come from, do
you know? Which kind of wood is it made of? Was the tree already a palanquin in the forest? And
was the cotton flower already this robe that you are wearing? The air is everywhere, and yet when
one blows a little of it in a flute, as it passes through the holes, it produces a 'la’, a 'so' or 8 're' and
finally a melody. In just the same way, there is neither a ‘me' nor a 'you', but only one existence in the
endless flow of life."
Having heard this, the king felt the power of truth in his heart, beating faster and harder, and was
instantaneously freed from birth and the belief in an existence.
The instant of a flash of lightning is all it takes to awaken to truth. Then, all we have to do is go there,
where there is neither identity nor the possibility of losing it, neither existing nor the memory of
existence, neither birth nor the fatality of death, as if one is endlessly awakening from having passed
out and incessantly asking oneself; where am I?
Back of the Book
There are millions of them-these wandering Indian renunciants, begging monks, mystical walkers,
roaming philosophers, miracle-workers, hashish smokers, holy men…but little is known about them.
They are often photographed yet there are seldom heard.
Some began this way of life from childhood, others were civil servants, shopkeepers,
real estate agents, thieves….they left their families and jobs to become renunciants, sadhus. They
refuse to work. And vow not to accept any wages. They pursue the path of liberation.
Patrick Levy recounts their everyday lives, the respect they are given and how they
make use of it, their teachings, their philosophy and the way they transform it into a lifestyle.
‘Sadhus-going beyond the dreadlocks’ is a novel written in the form of a road movie. It
is a spiritual journey into the world of sadhus.
About the Author
Patrick levy is a French writer who lives six months a year in Uttar Pradesh, India - his second
mother - as he likes to say.
He is a strange phenomenon amongst authors on the spirituality scene. He claims to be
an atheist but is greatly interested in religions and spirituality, “Everything that belongs to humanity,
belongs to me,” he says to justify his broad curiosity.
He has traveled the world in search of spiritual masters and experiences; practiced
Kabbalah, Sufism, Buddhism and Vedanta, and has published books about his explorations.
‘Does God believe in God?’-his first book, established the direction of this spiritual
globetrotters’ atypical course. He recounted his ten year long spiritual quest in the study and practice
of five different religions. His approach to religions and spiritual practices has been one of caution but
also depth, going beyond dogmas and beliefs with humour and candour.
His previous book, ‘The Kabbalist’, (also translated in Hebrew) is a bestseller in France
and was awarded a Special distinction by the panel of judges of “Spirituality Today” prize in
Praise for ‘The Kabbalist’-An exhilarating initiation! (Anne Durocq-Actualite des
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