Sadhus are Hindu holy men with specific spiritual goals. Pictured is one sadhu, just after sunrise, on the sandy eastern side of the River Ganges in the holy city of Varanasi. This area is a relatively open space within the city centre, in contrast to the western side with its many temples and ghats.
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At the Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj, India, 2019. Around 240 million people visited this event. An eclectic mix of the old, the new, the religious, and the curious. Most notable here were the thousands of sadhus (or holy men). Here is one I pictured, making his way through the confines of the festival. He reminds me of William Blake’s depiction of god in his “The Ancient of Days”. It’s unusual, I know, comparing a Hindu holy man with the Blake’s Judeo-Christian god. The visual comparison is striking; both are the Ancient of Days.
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Wandering around Hpa An in Myanmar, we made our way through the courtyard into the large Hindu temple. Dark but brightly decorated inside, with the main door overlaid with intricately patterned brass or bronze, this was likely the main (perhaps only) Hindu temple in town. It was quiet and I was pretty much free to walk around the place. Here, a Hindu priest relaxes by a window, reading a magazine.
There we were, travelling along the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan. A journey through mountain passes and dry valleys, along dried river-beds and empty places on lonely roads, with nothing more than dust-devils keeping us company. Low temperatures and the glare of the sun added to the harshness of the landscape.
However, it was a challenge that I enthusiastically seized in my quest to reach the fabled Minaret of Jam, a place that only a few travellers reach. But here, in the middle of nowhere, there was human activity; a rest-stop for truck drivers hauling their goods across the country, a place to stretch the legs and take shelter from the elements.
Although it was August, the place was cold, and I couldn’t imagine what this place would be like in winter. A hardy landscape creates a hardy people. This man tendered to our needs with chai and food, his face betraying the challenges of the environment.