A postcard from Nepal: Sadhus
At Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu
Sadhus are holy men who have left behind all material attachments.
We came across a number of Sadhus in the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu. In return for a small donation to support them, they will pose for a few photos and if you are fortunate give you a blessing. Theirs isn’t an easy life. They are solitary men, often using intoxicants as a path to spiritual insight. Their lives are dedicated to achieving enlightenment through meditation and contemplation of Brahman. They are considered dead to themselves, and may even be required to attend their own funeral before seeking out a guru who will guide them on the path to their transformation into a holy man.
I think we have a picture os the older one on the left! Similar looking anyway. Looks like you had an amazing trip! Maggie
Yes, a really amazing trip! Maybe the saddhus all look a little similar but on the other hand I’m sure some of them have been hanging around this temple for many years!
Interesting and obviously more complicated than we can comprehend at first glance – there’s sacrifice and dedication, yet they look very clean and wear beautiful things. Regardless, if they’re not harming anyone or anything intentionally then it’s all good with me, and what a fabulous sight that color is! Thanks for the photo and text.
I don’t think they’re harming anyone and I think devout Hindus respect these holy men and are grateful for their intercessions, the way a devout Catholic is grateful for the prayers of monks and nuns. But I also suspect they’re not as clean as they may appear in this photo – the colourful clothes are perhaps misleading.
Thank you 😊
Great portraits and nice to know about them.
Thank you Teresa, and sorry for not replying sooner. My notifications have been a bit patchy here.
That’s alright… it happens!
I didn’t know much about them. Wonderful photo and thanks for the background info.
Thanks so much Ruth 😊
Incredible postcard moment from Nepal! 🙂
Thank you 😊 We’re having so many special moments!
Interesting. These guys are a newer addition to the Pashupatinath Temple. They were not there or at least not visible when we were there in 1986/88. Although I do remember being harangued by children selling me bracelets with the three metals. I still have those. Were they still there?
That is interesting. It seemed they were pretty much a permanent fixture, although the numbers increase during festivals. There were certainly a few women at the entrance trying to persuade us to buy stuff but as I wasn’t interested in buying I didn’t look closely so as not to raise their hopes!
When you take their photo for a small donation, are you allowed to ask questions or hold conversations with the Sadhus? I’d be so interested in knowing what their life was like before they chose this path, and what they’ve learned since. Many times I’ve thought living a life of solitude in search of healing or spiritual insight, seems very appealing.
No we didn’t get a chance to talk to them. I’m not sure that they do engage with anyone properly, beyond giving the brief blessing. I didn’t observe anyone talking to any of them, neither locals nor tourists.
Well, they may “be dead to themselves”, but they certainly not shying away from bright colours (for others to see them)!
Ah yes, I see what you mean, they’re hard to miss!
Nice portraits, Sarah, but I have to say that I don’t really see the point in them. It’s all a bit self indulgent.
I guess it depends on your beliefs. Not so very different in principle from Christian monks and nuns who renounce normal life to live in seclusion?
And pose for photos for money? Perhaps not! 🤔💟
Very true, although they do raise money to support themselves and their communities in other ways and some have had to develop a fair amount of commercial sense to survive.
As ever, great people portraits.
Thank you 😊 As you can imagine, I’m finding plenty of opportunities for them here!
Mike and Kellye Hefner
Wow. Can you imagine. The photo is intriguing, but so are these words: “left behind all material attachments” and “for a small donation.” I am enjoying your trip through your posts here and on Facebook.
That contrast struck me too Kellye, but I guess they still have to eat! Glad to have you following along on Facebook too 😃
Though I’ve often seen photos of Sadhus, I never knew the name for them, much less the story surrounding their life’s mission and dedication. Thanks for bringing that to light for me! Assuming they did give you their blessing! Fascinating photo!
Thank you Sylvia – yes, they did indeed, although the one in the middle first tried to get more money from us than we’d been told was reasonable by our guide!