In this hundred and eight archive story by Kristian Bertel, we meet a holy man also known as a Baba in the town of Pushkar in Rajasthan, India. Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
Found throughout India, they are seen in towns and cities and walking along roads with begging pots and staffs. They are respected by Hindus and given food in return for their blessings and prayers and they are also known as babas. Sadhus are wandering ascetics affiliated with a wide range of Hindu religious orders and schools as seen in this photograph from Pushkar in Rajasthan.
Found throughout India, they are seen in towns and cities and walking along roads with begging pots and staffs. They are respected by Hindus and given food in return for their blessings and prayers and they are also known as babas. Sadhus are wandering ascetics affiliated with a wide range of Hindu religious orders and schools as seen in this photograph from Pushkar in Rajasthan.

Holy man in India portraiture

It is very difficult to determine the exact number of Sadhus. According to various assumptions, there are 4 to 5 million sadhus in India today. Sadhus are widely respected for their holiness and it is also thought that the austere practices of the sadhus help to burn off their karma and that of the community at large.

Outstanding historical sites in India
A Sadhu in India is also referred as Baba by common peoples and most sadhus rely on the donations of lay peoples and tere are female sadhus as well known as Sadhvis. A saint, yogi, beggar, even if of younger age may be called Baba but you should be cautious while calling anyone Baba because few people may not like it, as it refers old and poor people in general and unlike skilled and professionals, there is no certification for Sadhus. Thus seen as benefiting society, sadhus are supported by donations from many people. However, reverence of sadhus is by no means universal in India. For instance, Nath yogi sadhus have been viewed with a certain degree of suspicion particularly amongst the urban populations of India, but they have been revered and are popular in rural India.
There are naked Digambara, or "sky-clad" sadhus who wear their hair in thick dreadlocks called jata. Sadhus engage in a wide variety of religious practices. Some practice asceticism and solitary meditation, while others prefer group praying, chanting or meditating and they typically live a simple lifestyle, have very few or no possessions, survive by food and drinks from leftovers that they beg for or is donated by others.

"Many sadhus have rules for alms collection, and do not visit the same place twice on different days to avoid bothering the residents. They generally walk or travel over distant places, homeless, visiting temples and pilgrimage centers as a part of their spiritual practice. Celibacy is common, but some sects experiment with consensual tantric sex as a part of their practice. Sex is viewed by them as a transcendence from a personal, intimate act to something impersonal and ascetic"

The process of becoming a sadhu
The processes and rituals of becoming a sadhu vary with sect and in almost all sects, a sadhu is initiated by a guru, who bestows upon the initiate a new name, as well as a mantra or sacred sound or phrase, which is generally known only to the sadhu and the guru and may be repeated by the initiate as part of meditative practice. Becoming a sadhu is a path followed by millions in Hinduism. It is supposed to be the fourth phase in a Hindu's life, after studies, being a father and a pilgrim, but for most it is not a practical option. For a person to become sadhu needs Vairagya. Vairagya means desire to achieve something by leaving the world cutting familial, societal and earthly attachments. A person who wants to become sadhu must first seek a guru and there, he or she must perform Guruseva, which means service. The guru decides whether the person is eligible to take Sannyasa by observing the Sisya the person who wants to become a sadhu or sanyasi and if the person is eligible, Guru Upadesa which means teachings is done. Only then, the person transforms into sanyasi or sadhu. There are different types of sanyasis in India who follow different Sampradya. But, all sadhus have a common goal attaining Moksha, which means Liberation.

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More archive stories

India is a land full of stories. On every street, on every corner and in the many places in India, life is rushing by you as a photographer with millions of stories to be told. In the archive story above, you hopefully had a readable insight in the story that was behind the photo of a Baba in Maharashtra. On this website of Kristian Bertel | Photography you can find numerous travel pictures from the photographer. Stories and moments that tell the travel stories of how the photographer captured the specific scene that you see in the picture. The photographer's images have a story behind them, images that all are taken from around India throughout his photo journeys. The archive stories delve into Kristian's personal archive to reveal never-before-seen, including portraits and landscapes beautifully produced snapshots from various travel assignments. The archive is so-far organized into photo stories, this one included, each brought to life by narrative text and full-color photos. Together, these fascinating stories tell a story about the life in India. India, the motherland to many people around the world, a land of unforgetable travel moments. The archive takes viewers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in the photographer's archive collection. The photographer culled the images to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty and everyday life in India. By adding these back stories the photographer's work might immensely enhanced the understanding of the photographs.