Story Behind the Lens #7 – Sadhu’s ‘The Silent Ones’

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Sadhu’s ‘The Silent Ones’

The first time I ever got to see a Sadhu was when I went to Varanasi in India. Varanasi is a city with incredible contrasts, its one of the oldest, holiest cities in the world. Its a place where reality and a fantasy world are infused together.  The city creates a very surreal and unfamiliar surrounding to visitors from the western world.

This was a spiritual journey for me. After a little research, Varanasi was one of the first places that was on my list. I read about it briefly and booked the trip, however I had no idea of the culture shock I was going to receive. I have always been open minded and I was drawn to India. The contrast of this city was exciting and full of life changing experiences.

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While walking along the Ghats of the Ganges River one chilly afternoon, I had my first encounter with a Sadhu. First impressions can be a little scary as there are many different types of Sadhu’s and some use very extreme atheistic practices. Luckily this was not the case for my first meeting. I noticed a strange little man draped in orange cloth and prayer beads, sitting in the Lotus position while staring out onto the Ganges. We exchanged a brief moment and I realised what an incredible journey he has been on so far and he let me take this picture.

Sadhus live fascinating lives as they renounce all worldly possessions in search for spiritual  liberation. They have been around for over 2000 years and they are well respected in the Hindu faith. Hindu’s believe that being a Sadhu is one of the stages of life that a person is expected to pass through. They are given food in return for prayers and blessings. The Ganges River plays an important role to Hindu’s so it attracts Sadhu’s across India and Nepal.

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Coming from the western world we don’t often hear of people who completely severe ties with their homes and families, take vows of chastity, poverty and survive purely on charities…. all in search for enlightenment. My fascination comes in where on the opposite side of the world you find people working 24/7 to buy the latest car or the biggest house. It is incredible how completely different the two extremes are. We all search for something, for some people its wealth, others fame and for some it’s simply something spiritual.


Have you ever met a Sadhu?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Sadhus live fascinating lives as they renounce all worldly possessions in search for spiritual  liberation. They have been around for over 2000 years and they are well respected in the Hindu faith. First time I ever got to see a Sadhu was when I went to Varanasi in India. Read more about the Sadhu's life here. #varanasi #india #sahu #hindureligousman #ghats river @photographyvaranasi #picturesofvaranasi #travelblogvaranasi #varanasi #religous #spiritual


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Liza Williams

Born in South Africa, fascinated with culture and loves wood fire pizza. “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away” Follow me on twitter: @soul_drifters

9 thoughts on “Story Behind the Lens #7 – Sadhu’s ‘The Silent Ones’

  • May 1, 2018 at 7:54 pm
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    Your post reminds me of my visit to Varanasi an year back. It is definitely an amalgamation of reality and fantasy, life and death, loud and tranquil – all at the same time. We came across a lot of Sadhus – some of them silently praying and some interacting with people. I agree being a Sadhu takes a lot and not everyone can renounce one’s family, possessions and worldly desires to achieve spiritual knowledge and enlightenment. That’s why sadhus are much revered. Love your picture – very well captured. 🙂

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  • May 1, 2018 at 2:24 pm
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    Its actually quite common for us (from India) to hear a lot of people who have given up everything in search of enlightenment, but I completely understand your awe. It’s not the most common thing in the west, people tend to be slightly more realistic. Having said that, not all ‘sadhus’ are also as genuine as the ones you’re talking about, there are ‘fake’ sadhus who pretend to be men of God, only to extract some money from their followers and buy homes and other materialistic things with that. Varanasi is a lovely place, isn’t it?

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  • May 1, 2018 at 10:00 am
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    Thank you for sharing this, I’ve often dreamt about visiting Varanasi and seeing the sadhus along the banks of the Ganges. You’re right, that kind of dedication to a spiritual life is something very rare in the Western world nowadays, but it’s wonderful to see it’s an ancient tradition that hasn’t yet died out. Your photo is amazing and captures his spirit perfectly!

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  • May 1, 2018 at 8:33 am
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    I loved reading your post and how you experienced different life style / culture in Varanasi. I can understand coming from the world of materialism to the world of spiritualism is very different experience. This is what the beauty of Hinduism and India is though people believe to stay away from materialism as we grow older and we go through path of spiritualism. Searching inner peace is more important and that is what Varanasi is known for.

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  • April 30, 2018 at 2:04 pm
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    That is so interesting, the fact that they can live like this is awe inspiring as well. I have been contemplating if I wanted to move overseas or not, and I just decided that it was too much work and I wouldn’t have retirement etc…. So to see someone who trusts in the universe and that it can bring good things to you if you bring good things to it, is pretty impressive.

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  • April 30, 2018 at 10:28 am
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    I’ve actually never heard of Varanasi until my favourite travel vloggers visited the city recently. It seems to be a city rich in ancient cultures and traditions that still live on and are going strong even in this modern-day world, offering a unique experience of new-meets-old.

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  • April 29, 2018 at 5:20 pm
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    I had no idea what a sadhu was before reading this. I totally agree that us in the west are looking for the next material item, but ultimately, where does it get us, or give us in the end. I’d love to see India one day, and find out more about cultural traditions like this.

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  • April 29, 2018 at 12:32 pm
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    Varanasi was our first stop in India coming with public transportation from Nepal (it was hell as a journey!). As we were in Nepal before India, we saw a few Sadhu but we never got the chance to exchange words with any of them. We saw a documentary movie ( Sadhu) about a life of a Sadhu, if you havent seen it you should! The hinduism is so complexe and so powerful with full of beliefs but so beautiful!

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