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Sadhus: India's Wandering Monks

There is then my favorite, Patrick Levy, who begins his journey as a journalist seeking to document the life of sadhus, and ends up a student of Anand Baba, a wandering ascetic. The story, told in Sadhus: Going Beyond the Dreadlocks, is an antidote to the smug dismissal of the cynics, skeptics, and the reductionists who see the world as merely matter writ large. Levy is no starry-eyed romantic. He sees the dirt and squalor of India and describes them as any good journalist would. His description of Varanasi/Benares is scorching in its indictment of the mess and squalor, but if we stopped reading him there, we would miss him telling us that it is India that "bestows the title of saint on renunciants, where contemplation is a divine attitude, non-action a goal and idleness a vision," and that it is Indians who recognize "rapture in humility and the superiority of equanimity over the passions."

There is absolutely no place on earth that can match India as a destination for those thirsting for "truth." My friend, a student of Swami Rama, tells me of his esoteric experiences up in the Himalayas and down on the small campus of a little school he runs for village children near Bangalore. So, those in search of truth—with a capital 'T' or a small 't'—will continue to make their way to India, and one hopes that their deity of choice will bless them, and their choice of a guru will lead them to bliss.

9/25/2011 4:00:00 AM