Friday, 13 December 2013

Jeremy Snell | Portraits Of A Sadhu

The staff at Vimeo picked Jeremy Snell's Portraits of a Sadhu, and it garnered over 7,000 views at the time of my writing this post.

The (almost) 3 minutes video introduces us to Rada Baba, a sadhu currently living at the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu. It's the oldest Hindu temple in Kathmandu, and is about 3 miles from Nepal's capital city. Sadhus, such as those shown in Jeremy's video, are common at this temple, especially as it's considered as one of the subcontinent’s four most important Shaiva pilgrimage sites.

It's said that some of these sadhus who are present at Pashupatinath, are members of the Gorakhnath cult, who follow a tantric path, practicing to free themselves of sensual passions and go beyond the attractions of the physical world.

Like Shiva, sadhus use of intoxicants as a so-called path to "spiritual insight". Shiva supposedly discovered the merits of ganja (cannabis), which grows wild in Nepal. They consume the weed in the form of bhang (a liquid preparation) or hashish smoked in a vertical clay pipe known as a chilum.

In a recent post POV: Sadhus, Charlatans or Not, I wrote that I thought most sadhus were a cross between homeless charlatans and spiritual ascetics....but the more difficult question to answer is whether they became ascetics because of poverty or because of some form of inherent spirituality. Charlatanism is an integral part of many of them, but they may have resorted to this activity because of need.

This issue was discussed at some length on my Facebook page. Whether you side with the more plausible view that there are many more fake sadhus than real ascetics, or not, you'll enjoy this short documentary video. I've seen and photographed these sadhus, and I know first hand that they know how to be photogenic. I recall sitting in Durbar Square in Kathmandu, watching two rather flamboyant sadhus, milking tourists who wanted to take their picture. When the light was gone, they hailed a rickshaw...and went home.

Jeremy Snell is a commercial & fine art, portraiture photographer/filmmaker based in Honolulu(Hawaii).