Spiritual adventurers, ascetic warriors, religious transvestites or philosophical monks, the Indian Sadhus are worshipped by the Hindus as representatives of the gods. Dolf Hartsuiker has spent many years in intimate study of these mystics, who form a vital and unbroken link between the birth of yoga many millennia ago and the present day. This is a world of ancient rituals, symbols and ascetic practices ranging from meditation and yoga exercises to penance and austerities that are sometimes taken to the extremes of years of self-imposed silence, mortification or even ritual suicide. It is also a lifestyle with a secret language, which may involve celibacy, poverty and solitude, as well as a vocation as healer and teacher - or sorcerer. In this account, the author traces the historical and mythological roots of the Sadhus and examines the substantial differences between the many Sadhu sects. His colour photographs show not only their remarkable, disparate appearance, but, above all, their otherworldly beauty. According to Hindu beliefs, just by looking at these living idols - in the flesh or on the page the onlooker will receive their spiritual energy. Dolf Hartsuiker, artist, psychologist and traveller, divides his time between Utrecht and India. He holds a doctorate in psychology from the University of Utrecht.
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"At first, the reader might feel a sense of superiority, the kind of spiritual pride that C.S. Lewis describes where you are amazed that the whole world does not do things the way they do it in your church. Relentlessly, the calm prose, with its descriptions of the different Hindu sects and the intentions of the practitioners, wears away at your prejudice. You notice the twinkle in the eye of one elderly man, the peace on the face of another. The word "holy" takes on new meanings. An amazing book in every sense of the word."
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