No sex, no family, no money…but plenty of consolations, including considerable flexibility and a liking for a giggle. Ian Winstanley photographs the Sadhus of Kathmandu. Introduction by Simon Long.
From INTELLIGENT LIFE magazine, Spring 2010
Caked in ash and make-up, high as Himalayan kites and fond of posing—for a price—for tourists’ cameras, the sadhus of Pashupatinath also show evidence of the self-discipline with which they have pursued their spiritual mission. Their yoga technique is such that they can tie themselves, almost literally, in knots. “Legs are forever going round behind their heads,” says Ian Winstanley, who took these pictures. The man shown in here especially puzzled him: “I couldn’t work out if it was a granny or a reef knot.”
Winstanley, who makes his living as a commercial photographer, was in Kathmandu working on a forthcoming book on Nepal and other countries of the Himalayas. Visiting the Pashupathi complex of Hindu temples, one of the largest and holiest outside India, he was captivated by the sadhus. The complex houses a dozen or so of these resident sanyasi, or renunciates, who have relinquished earthly attachments—money, family, sex, ambition—to devote themselves to spiritual truth, and the attainment of moksha, or enlightenment, breaking the endless chain of reincarnation which our karma dictates for us.