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15 Photographs Of Aghori Sadhus Showing The True Meaning Of Asceticism

Published on 23 November, 2015 at 5:00 pm By

When people are still trying to find the meaning of asceticismJoey L, a Brooklyn-based photographer, gets us face to face with religious ascetics in Varanasi who have dedicated their lives to the pursuit of spiritual liberation.


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A sadhu standing over a sunken temple in Varanasi, India.

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They stay away from all the worldly pleasures.

Left: The Aghoris have a profound connection with the dead. Death is not a fearsome concept, but a passing from the world of illusion.

Right: When he was young, Lal Baba’s parents arranged a marriage for him. Uncertain about his future, he ran away from home in Bihar Siwan and took up the lifelong task of becoming a sadhu.

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They cover themselves with human ash, which is a product of the cremation of a material body.

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To sadhus, dreadlocks are a sign of renunciation and a life dedicated to spirituality.

Lal Baba has dreadlocks (jatas) several meters long, which have been growing for over 40 years.

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River Ganges, is most sacred to them.

This is the holiest river where they perform their rituals

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They start learning the rituals and devoting their life at a very early age.

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Batuk students in Varanasi, India

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Aghori puja being performed by sadhus.

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Baba Vijay Nund on the steps of Chet Singh Ghat on the banks of the Ganges River.



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They leave behind all the temptations of life.

Right: Magesh left a well paid job as a computer consultant to pursue to the path of Aghora. After years of practice, he finds no temptation to return to his old life.

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Setting examples to live life in the simplest way possible.

Ram Das stands beside a boat wreckage.

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Their life don’t have any materialistic pleasures.

Not even clothes! Left: Baba Mooni conducting Aghori Puja.

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Each one of them have their own stories to tell.

Aba Yohannis monastery: A 74 years old sadhu, “I came from my village, from the countryside to learn. I didn’t go home. I preferred to stay here. I’ve been here for 43 years.”

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Right: “Perhaps I will live even longer than 101, maybe 101 years more. I know a monk who is 80 years old, but he acts very old. He is not like me.” 

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River Ganges, Varanasi is their holy home.

This is where they get the strength to live such a religious life away from the worldly pleasures.

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Credit: Borepanda


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