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Books > Hindu > Festivals & Rituals > Sadhus - Holy Men of India
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Sadhus - Holy Men of India
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Sadhus - Holy Men of India
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Back of The Book

Spiritual adventurers, philosophical monks or religious transvestites, the Sadhus of India are worshipped by Hindus as representatives of the gods. Liberated from physical concerns, these mystics form a vital and unbroken link from the birth of yoga millennia ago to its present-day expression. Through meditation, rituals, pilgrimages and `austerities, each follows a personal path in quest of enlightenment, hoping, amid silence and solitude, renunciation and fasting, divine intoxication and bodily mortification, to cast off all earthly desires, transcend this mortal world and achieve lasting mystic union. An evocative text covering their ancient origins, beliefs and behaviours is illuminated by over loci spectacular colour photographs of India's holy men.

Dolf Hartsuiker, artist and traveller, holds a doctorate in psychology from the University of Utrecht.

Preface

When I visited India for the first time, I stayed for a year and travelled all over the subcontinent, fascinated and bewildered by the total 'otherness' of Hindu culture, the magic of its living religion, the wisdom of its philosophy, and the architectural marvels of its splendid heritage - feelings that contrasted with my dismay at the poverty and misery prevailing in large parts of the country. I have returned many times, for long periods, and the 'magic' is still there - in certain places. It is not yet submerged by the deluge of gross materialism and conspicuous consumerism that is swamping the West, and which is now heading east as well.

In the perplexing confusion of India, a foreigner would at first hardly notice its 'holy men', mystics and ascetics: the Sadhus, as they are collectively designated. Although there are four to five million of them, it took me several voyages to differentiate them from the surrounding overload of strange, beautiful, ugly, magical, brutish, spiritual impressions. They do not constitute more than about half a percent of the total population. Moreover, although Sadhus can be found all over India, they usually live in far-off places and a little hidden from everyday life.

Of course, I knew of a few singular, famous 'Gurus' who were preaching in the West, but like most fellow Westerners, I had never heard of Sadhus. Somehow their presence seems forgotten, though they have been known to the West since at least 30o BC, first as the 'naked philosophers' when the Greeks visited India, and later by European travellers as the `fakirs' However, in the popular image of India and even in Indological studies, their existence - fundamentally shaping Hinduism since remote antiquity, and 'living' it today - hardly plays a role.

When I first met with Sadhus, I was amazed, even a little frightened, by their powerful and earthly 'otherworldliness, which seems a paradox and is not at all comparable to the pious, humble holiness of Christianity. I admired their choice of a free life, without possessions, comforts, sensual pleasures - and responsibilities. But above all, I was struck by their beauty.

I wanted to record it before it vanished, before the Sadhus became extinct in this increasingly consumerist and secular world. I'm a bit more optimistic now, having seen their vitality, knowing that they have survived the millennia and various adverse invading cultures. Nevertheless, change seems inevitable - and probably for the worse. Besides, there were more than enough reasons to photograph them, one being that, strangely enough, nobody had ever systematically done so.

On my photographic quest I visited many holy places, attended religious festivals, and encountered and photographed thousands of Sadhus. With some Sadhus I became closely acquainted and over the years met them time and again; with most, quite naturally, I had more superficial contacts.

It soon became apparent that in order to understand what I was seeing and photographing, it was necessary to study the available literature on Sadhuism - which is not as extensive, thorough and detailed as one would hope for - and on the wider cultural context. Needless to say, the subject matter is vast and complex, though extremely interesting, and even now, having spent years in India and in studying its culture, I cannot say that I have seen the end of it. To really comprehend it all demands a lifetime, or better still, leading the life of a Sadhu oneself.

I thank all Sadhus for their darshan and ashirvad, and all my friends for their cooperation and support.

Contents
Preface 9
1Inner Light 15
Holy Men16
The 'Horned God'16
The Long-haired Sage19
Bearers of Skulls 21
2Shiva 27
The God of Destruction27
The God of Creation31
The Great Goddess32
That art thou38
The Ten Names40
Warrior Ascetics43
Other Shaiva Sects48
3Vishnu 53
The Pervader53
The Creator54
The Lotus Goddess54
Rama and Sita 58
Krishna and Radha60
Surrender and Devotion63
The four sects67
Dispassion 68
Fighting Ascetics68
Subsects72
4The Life80
Rebirth84
The Brotherhood89
The Way93
Right Action98
At the Foot of Trees100
Happiness loo 101
5Living Idols 105
Icons105
The Body106
Paraphernalia118
Performances127
Power of Sound127
Worship130
Sacred Fire133
Festivals141
6Inner Fire149
The Fire of Passion149
Enlightenment164
Notes 170
Bibliography171
Pronunciation173
Names of the Sadhus173
Index174

Sample Pages






Sadhus - Holy Men of India

Item Code:
NAP437
Cover:
Paperback
Edition:
1993
Publisher:
ISBN:
9780500291603
Language:
English
Size:
9.0 inch x 6.0 inch
Pages:
176 (Throughout Color Illustrations)
Other Details:
Weight of the Book: 510 gms
Price:
$29.00   Shipping Free
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Back of The Book

Spiritual adventurers, philosophical monks or religious transvestites, the Sadhus of India are worshipped by Hindus as representatives of the gods. Liberated from physical concerns, these mystics form a vital and unbroken link from the birth of yoga millennia ago to its present-day expression. Through meditation, rituals, pilgrimages and `austerities, each follows a personal path in quest of enlightenment, hoping, amid silence and solitude, renunciation and fasting, divine intoxication and bodily mortification, to cast off all earthly desires, transcend this mortal world and achieve lasting mystic union. An evocative text covering their ancient origins, beliefs and behaviours is illuminated by over loci spectacular colour photographs of India's holy men.

Dolf Hartsuiker, artist and traveller, holds a doctorate in psychology from the University of Utrecht.

Preface

When I visited India for the first time, I stayed for a year and travelled all over the subcontinent, fascinated and bewildered by the total 'otherness' of Hindu culture, the magic of its living religion, the wisdom of its philosophy, and the architectural marvels of its splendid heritage - feelings that contrasted with my dismay at the poverty and misery prevailing in large parts of the country. I have returned many times, for long periods, and the 'magic' is still there - in certain places. It is not yet submerged by the deluge of gross materialism and conspicuous consumerism that is swamping the West, and which is now heading east as well.

In the perplexing confusion of India, a foreigner would at first hardly notice its 'holy men', mystics and ascetics: the Sadhus, as they are collectively designated. Although there are four to five million of them, it took me several voyages to differentiate them from the surrounding overload of strange, beautiful, ugly, magical, brutish, spiritual impressions. They do not constitute more than about half a percent of the total population. Moreover, although Sadhus can be found all over India, they usually live in far-off places and a little hidden from everyday life.

Of course, I knew of a few singular, famous 'Gurus' who were preaching in the West, but like most fellow Westerners, I had never heard of Sadhus. Somehow their presence seems forgotten, though they have been known to the West since at least 30o BC, first as the 'naked philosophers' when the Greeks visited India, and later by European travellers as the `fakirs' However, in the popular image of India and even in Indological studies, their existence - fundamentally shaping Hinduism since remote antiquity, and 'living' it today - hardly plays a role.

When I first met with Sadhus, I was amazed, even a little frightened, by their powerful and earthly 'otherworldliness, which seems a paradox and is not at all comparable to the pious, humble holiness of Christianity. I admired their choice of a free life, without possessions, comforts, sensual pleasures - and responsibilities. But above all, I was struck by their beauty.

I wanted to record it before it vanished, before the Sadhus became extinct in this increasingly consumerist and secular world. I'm a bit more optimistic now, having seen their vitality, knowing that they have survived the millennia and various adverse invading cultures. Nevertheless, change seems inevitable - and probably for the worse. Besides, there were more than enough reasons to photograph them, one being that, strangely enough, nobody had ever systematically done so.

On my photographic quest I visited many holy places, attended religious festivals, and encountered and photographed thousands of Sadhus. With some Sadhus I became closely acquainted and over the years met them time and again; with most, quite naturally, I had more superficial contacts.

It soon became apparent that in order to understand what I was seeing and photographing, it was necessary to study the available literature on Sadhuism - which is not as extensive, thorough and detailed as one would hope for - and on the wider cultural context. Needless to say, the subject matter is vast and complex, though extremely interesting, and even now, having spent years in India and in studying its culture, I cannot say that I have seen the end of it. To really comprehend it all demands a lifetime, or better still, leading the life of a Sadhu oneself.

I thank all Sadhus for their darshan and ashirvad, and all my friends for their cooperation and support.

Contents
Preface 9
1Inner Light 15
Holy Men16
The 'Horned God'16
The Long-haired Sage19
Bearers of Skulls 21
2Shiva 27
The God of Destruction27
The God of Creation31
The Great Goddess32
That art thou38
The Ten Names40
Warrior Ascetics43
Other Shaiva Sects48
3Vishnu 53
The Pervader53
The Creator54
The Lotus Goddess54
Rama and Sita 58
Krishna and Radha60
Surrender and Devotion63
The four sects67
Dispassion 68
Fighting Ascetics68
Subsects72
4The Life80
Rebirth84
The Brotherhood89
The Way93
Right Action98
At the Foot of Trees100
Happiness loo 101
5Living Idols 105
Icons105
The Body106
Paraphernalia118
Performances127
Power of Sound127
Worship130
Sacred Fire133
Festivals141
6Inner Fire149
The Fire of Passion149
Enlightenment164
Notes 170
Bibliography171
Pronunciation173
Names of the Sadhus173
Index174

Sample Pages






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