Holy men of Varanasi

Holy men of Varanasi

To continue his photo series of holy men from different religions around the world, Brooklyn based photographer Joey L , takes us on a journey to India, to meet the holy men of Varanasi.

Varanasi is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world; it’s thought that people may have lived in Varanasi for about 3,000 years or longer. It’s the epicenter of Hindu faith, similar to Jerusalem for Christians and Mecca for Muslims.

The holy men of Varanasi, also known as sadhus, are the featured subjects of this project.

There is something special about Joey’s process, and mainly because of its based goal.
“Whenever I photograph somebody, one of the main challenges is always presenting them with a sense of dignity.” said Joey. Instead of focusing on presenting the subjects from a journalistic point of view, where you find out what they are doing, he goes for the portrait view, where we get to see what they are about.

A sensitive observer of endangered cultures and traditions, Joey travels the globe creating dramatic portraits while giving the viewer a powerful insight into his subjects lives. He reminds me of Jimmy Nelson’s project, Before they pass away, where we also get to see that focus on tradition with an clear observant eye.

Also, we manage to have a look behind the camera and see the actual events that lead to this adventure in Varanasi. Just scroll down for the video.

Holy Men of Varanasi
When he was young, Lal Baba’s parents arranged a marriage for him. Uncertain about his future, he ran away from home in Bihar Siwan and took up the lifelong task of becoming a sadhu
Holy Men of Varanasi
Magesh left a well paid job as an IT computer consultant to pursue to path of Aghora. After years of practice, he finds no temptation to return to his old life
Holy Men of Varanasi
Baba Vijay Nund outside his ashram on the banks of the Ganges River
Holy Men of Varanasi
Lal Baba’s life is to travel. Even at 85 years old, he will continue to travel from holy place to holy place in India and Nepal
Holy Men of Varanasi
Magesh left a well paid job as an IT computer consultant to pursue to path of Aghora. After years of practice, he finds no temptation to return to his old life
Holy Men of Varanasi
Ram Das beside boat wreckage
Holy Men of Varanasi
Portrait of Ram Das
Holy Men of Varanasi
Portrait of Shiv Ji Tiwari
Holy Men of Varanasi
Batuk Student
Holy Men of Varanasi
Shiv Ji Tiwari
Holy Men of Varanasi
Vijay Nund performing morning rituals in the Ganges River, the most sacred river in Hinduism
Holy Men of Varanasi
Baba Mooni conducting Aghori Puja.
Holy Men of Varanasi
Baba Vijay Nund on the steps of Chet Singh Ghat on the banks of the Ganges River
Holy Men of Varanasi
Lal Baba has dreadlocks (jatas) several meters long, which have been growing for over 40 years. To sadhus, dreadlocks are a sign of renunciation and a life dedicated to spirituality
Holy Men of Varanasi
Aghori sadhus cover themselves with human ash, which is the last rite of the material body
Holy Men of Varanasi
Baba Mooni conducting Aghori Puja
Holy Men of Varanasi
Baba Mooni conducting Aghori Puja
Holy Men of Varanasi
Batuk Students
Holy Men of Varanasi
The Aghori have a profound connection with the dead. Death is not a fearsome concept, but a passing from the world of illusion
Holy Men of Varanasi
Aghori sadhus inside a sunken Shiva temple at Scindia Ghat, on the banks of the River Ganges

Created by: Cale Glendening, Joey L., Ryan McCarney
Directed by: Cale Glendening
Edit/Color: Chris Dowsett, Cale Glendening, Joey L., Megan Miller, John Carrington
Graphic/Titles: James Zanoni
Original Score: Stephen Keech,Tony Anderson
Photography: Joey L.

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