What’s a Sadhu?
Traditionally, Sadhus and Babas are
holy men who have left behind all material possessions and sexual attachments in their quest to achieve nirvana: the fourth and final goal of Hindu life.
However, in today’s modern
India, these men often congregate in touristic locations posing for photos in exchange for bakshish (a tip or bribe).
While I do worry that supporting this might be sending the wrong message, the photographer part can’t help but shell out some rupees from time to time.
Sometimes, all a Sadhu wants to do is get a little shuteye. Even if it’s alongside the Ganges River in Varanasi: the holiest destination in India and one of the loudest too.
Babas and a Bovine
Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India
All around India, Sadhus pose for photographs and hope for a tip in exchange.
I came across the above man in an alleyway in the desert town of
Jaisalmer, India. There only was a brief moment to take the photo, and I didn’t even realize that the cow was up on a ledge behind him until I looked at it later.
Today, this is one of my all-time favorite portraits.
A Baba in Jaisalmer Alleyway
Sadhu on the Shore
A familiar face to Hampi’s visitors, this Sadhu man spends his days wandering the town blessing tourists and locals and posing for photographs before asking for a small donation.
He is usually surrounded by several other men in the same traditional clothing his family and friends, all dressed in similar outfits and all looking for a handout.
A baba on the shores of the Hampi River, posing in exchange for a tip