Autobiography of a Sadhu: Excerpts

Excerpts from Autobiography of a Sadhu

“I dreamed India into existence.

Not that it was my personal private dream, but a believable movie reasonably constructed from the group psyche.

It was comforting this dream, cushioned, as it were, with familiarity. It tamed the wild profusion of things, using the sights, sounds, and faces of India as its raw material. Everything might appear different from my ordinary world back home, but I knew that this was the way it was supposed to be. It was a good dream, it made me feel happy.

I recognized India immediately, like meeting a blood relative for the first time, because I carried with me, deep inside, images corresponding to what I saw on the outside.”


Read and enjoy the excerpts:



Meeting Cartouche … chapter 1

Meeting Cartouche THE THREE-DECKED STEAMSHIP HAD BEEN FOLLOWING the contour of the palm-lined Indian coastline since sunrise, weaving its way through flotillas of fishing boats and other small ships until it reached Bombay. The voyage from […]


Children of the Revolution … chapter 1

Children of the Revolution We were pilgrims, refugees, children of the revolution! We came from North America, South America, Asia, the Middle East, and every country in Europe. We had encountered one another at every stop […]

Che Guevara

Spiritual Che Guevara … from chapter 1

Spiritual Che Guevara The last name was of a sadhu in Rajasthan. “Hari Puri Baba is a bit more modern. He speaks English, which my baba doesn’t. I studied with my guru the traditional way, in […]

Le Marchand d'eau

I Dream India into Existence … from chapter 2

I Dream India into Existence I dream India into existence. Not that it was my personal private dream, but a believable movie reasonably constructed from the group psyche. It was comforting this dream, cushioned, as it […]


Stories of Gods, Yogis, & Shamans, chap. 2

The Stories of Gods, Yogis, & Shamans I became enchanted listening to stories of gods, yogis, shamans, and other sometimes bizarre sages. I heard of sadhus performing great austerities, acquiring superhuman powers, called siddhis, attaining great […]


Rajasthan … chapter 3

Rajasthan My dream of India fully matured in Rajasthan, the land of kings. Leaving the pink city of Jaipur, the bus entered the scrub desert heading north on the Bikaner Road, negotiating right-of-way with camel caravans, […]

Amloda Devi

The Goddess Amloda … from chapter 3

The Goddess Amloda I looked up at the hill and was shocked by what I saw. How can I describe it without risking that you will think me perverted? But I do feel obligated to tell […]

Naga Baba Hari Puri

Hari Puri Baba … chapter 3

Naga Baba Hari Puri Ji Maharaj Hari Puri Baba sat like a general on his tiger skin, his fragile body appearing much larger than it actually was. He shared his throne with a much larger sadhu, […]

Amloda Kund

Amloda Kund – the waters … from chap 3

An Old Madman Like Me “And why have you come so far to meet an old madman like me?” he asked, “Or is it that you just came for the waters?” He laughed and pointed to […]

Hanuman and Ram

Hanuman’s Signet Ring … from chap 6

“Lord Ram presented Hanuman with his signet ring, explaining that there was no difference between him and his ring, and that once he had found Sita, he was to show her the ring and she would know without a doubt that Hanuman was truly Ram’s representative.”

Naga Baba Initiation

“I gave them initiation” … from chapter 3

“I made them naked” “You, of course, want to know if I can teach you the secrets of the soul, the atma vidya, you want to know if I can show you who you really are, […]

Juna Akhara lineages

Guru Shishya Parampara … from chapter 3

Guru Shishya Parampara This is the guru shishya parampara, the path of discipleship: Perform service to the guru, please him, and if you are lucky, then perhaps he will give you his blessing, an ashirvad.  Let […]


Hanuman … from chapter 6

Hanuman “Now,” he continued, because all Indian storytelling begins with “now,” “Vayu, the God of Winds, he who carries sound and the breath, the pranas, the father of Agni, the God of Fire, was in the […]

guru mantra

Guru Mantra … from chapter 3

Guru Mantra Pointing to the altar, Hari Puri Baba told me that, in fact, he was not becoming my guru but only my shakshi guru, a “witness guru” to my becoming the disciple of the lord […]

Names of Gods

Names of Gods … from chap 6

O, the names of gods! There are hundreds of millions of them. Brahma Vishnu Shiva Hanuman Ram Sita Indra Vayu Agni Ganga Yamuna Saraswati Vishwanath …

Shahi Snan

My First Kumbh Mela … from chapter 8

My first Kumbh Mela. A World Series, World Cup match, or Mardi Gras pales in comparison. One million people spread out before my eyes.

Crow Language

Crow Language …. from chap 6

Many babas used to know the language of birds but now there few. Crow Language, Ka Bhasha, among bird languages, is the easiest to learn.”

Sacrament of Knowledge

The Sacrament of Knowledge … from chap 8

He told me that my initiation into the Great Renunciation, the Virja Havan, would take place on the dark moon, about two weeks later, in a grand mass ceremony. He instructed me that my time should be spent in preparation for receiving the Sacrament of Knowledge, the Vidya Sanskar

Adi Sankara

Adi Shankara Debates Madana Mishra … chap 6

Adi Shankara faced one final test before his Victory of the Four Directions could be proclaimed to the three worlds. He had to win a debate with Madana Mishra, and it was said that the gods themselves would come to hear Madana Mishra and even they would learn a thing or two. He was revered as the most learned man in India.

Kashi Varanasi

Varanasi aka Kashi Puri … from chapter 7

There is no city in the world as old as Kashi Puri, also referred to as Kashi, Varanasi (where the Varan and Asi rivers meet), or Banaras.

Ram Nath Aghori

Baba Ram Nath Aghori … from chapter 7

Baba Ram Nath Aghori also had invisible servants. One day he called all the local babas for a feast, a bhandara, he would prepare on Dashashwamedh Ghat.

churning of the ocean of milk

Churning of the Ocean … from chapter 7

“Hear the story of the churning of the Ocean of Milk by the Gods and Demons for obtaining the nectar of immortality:”

Soham Giri

“Take it, Take it All!” … from chapter 7

“Dis money, dis good. Dis no money, dis no good,” Sohan Giri said to me from behind, emptying his entire warehouse of English vocabulary in one shot.


“Alakh! Hey, You with No Eyes” … Chap 8

“Alakh” – a name of Shiva, “He with No Eyes.” Shiva is blind, his eyes unfocused and turned up in meditation on the Supreme Void.

Funerary Fires … from Chapter 8

Funerary Fires We had come to the most ancient place of sacrifice on the Earth, and were now instructed to find this sacred geography within our own bodies. When we reached that inner place of sacrifice, […]

Foreigner … chapter 9

Foreigner Amar Puri knew that the threat was very real, so he called a few sadhus in for consultation. He asked two of his old devotees, who were merchants from Ujjain to go out in the […]

Planting a Healing Mantra … chapter 11

Planting a Healing Mantra The following Monday, the day of Shiva, which falls on every Moon-day, my instruction began in a mantra that could save Hari Puri Baba’s life. I showed up half an hour early […]

Sword of Knowledge

Testing the Guru … from chapter 3

Testing the Guru “Come inside,” said Hari Puri Baba, standing up. He led me to room in the ashram and sat down on a wooden bed with a cotton mattress. He had me sit on the […]

Forty Days Later … chapter 11

Forty Days Later Exactly forty days after we began the Mahamrtyunjaya mantra, while I massaged Hari Puri’s fingers, his eyes opened. He looked at me blankly, as though he were trying to focus, and his lips […]

Pir Sandhya Puri

Sandhya Puri … chapter 12

Pir Sandhya Puri Maharaj Sandhya Puri was a nineteenth-century man. He was a siddha, who remembered all his past lives and Datt Akhara from previous ages, so when he first arrived in the present life, he […]

The Nectar of Immortality … chapter 13

The Nectar of Immortality He taught me about the greatest yogis, and singled out Shiva, Dattatreya, Ravan, Patanjali, and Panini. I found it very curious, even disturbing, that he emphasized that they were also the master […]

Sacred Geography … chapter 13

Sacred Geography “Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Ay, Bee, See are different. They are only the names of signs called ‘letters’ which are written down. They approximate the sounds they represent but we are making asanas. Each […]

Banished … chapter 13

Banished …. but still his legs didn’t work. “I’d like to be able to take you with me where I go…” he said. “when you and the rest of the world are asleep. If I were […]

Gangotri Baba … chapter 14

Gangotri Baba I crisscrossed India visiting temples and babas during a year of wanderlust that finally deposited me at the dhuni of Ganga Giri Baba, known as Gangotri Baba, in the Kumaun Himalayas, near the eastern […]

Baba’s Ayurveda … chapter 14

Baba’s Ayurveda I asked Baba if he could give me something for my flatulence. Perhaps it was the unfiltered river water I was drinking. He showed me the boils on his legs. “I can’t cure my […]

Timothy Leary

Waiting for Timothy Leary … chap 14

Waiting for Timothy Leary After I left Gangotri Baba I was lucky enough to find a small abandoned temple, not far from the old Eppworth Estate, just north of Almora, that an old friend, Donny M., […]

The Samadhi … chapter 15

The Samadhi Amar Puri Baba forced a smile as I performed my omkars and placed dakshina under his foot. I put my forehead on his feet and I felt his little tap, an espresso hit of […]

Kundalini … chapter 16

Kundalini I was practicing—meditating. I would imagine, visualize, as they say, my true self, my inner self, as a shining light, pure emptiness, or pure consciousness (whatever that might be). I would say the word kundalini […]

UNBECOMING … chapter 16

UNBECOMING We soon discovered that the task was formidable because I was illiterate. I had to rely on a newspaper and a watch to know the month, the day, and the time. The sky, which broadcasts […]

Three qualities … chapter 16

Three qualities Diet became an easy entry into the knowledge of the body and with it Ayurveda, the knowledge of longevity, and also Yoga cosmology. A simple sermon to local villagers when Amar Puri would describe […]

Hidden plays of the Universe … chapter 16

Hidden plays of the Universe “But, how can we see these hidden plays of the universe?” I asked Baba. “Because they are marked,” said Amar Puri. He explained that the body is covered with marks that […]


Hanuman Darshan … from chapter 18

Hanuman Darshan I performed my omkars in front of the shiny orange Hanuman, then I sat in front of him, and with great humility and shame, repeated my guru mantra, counting one hundred and eight repetitions […]

Deconstruction … from chapter 18

Deconstruction “What’s so funny this time?” I asked. “It’s just that you think you’ve made a deal with Mephistopheles, you’ve swapped yourself for knowledge, and yet you degrade the knowledge by reformatting it and trying to […]

Pilgrimage … from chapter 19

Pilgrimage Magic happens anywhere worlds meet. This includes airports, crossroads, the seashore, graveyards, hospitals, and temples but the places where the Ordinary World meets the Extraordinary World requires pilgrimage, either internal or external. The act of […]

Haridwar … from chapter 20

Haridwar Hardwar, some seven hundred miles north west of Allahabad, is a bustling pilgrim center nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, where the Ganga leaves the mountains and enters the expansive plains of north India. […]

Mirror Game

Hari Puri Baba’s Mirror Game

Hari Puri Baba’s Mirror Game That night Hari Puri Baba appeared to me in a dream, the first time since he had left his body. As in many of my dreams about him, we were sitting […]

Initiation by the Five Gurus

Initiation by the Five Gurus A small troop of children followed me to a shaded area in the rocks where the barber would practice his art on my scalp as I considered my options. Should I […]

Pir Shams

Multani Baba

Shri Keshav Puri Maharaj “Multani Baba” — Pir Shams


Saraswati Saraswati is the Mother Goddess of Creation. She is often known as Vagdevi, VAK DEVI, for she is Speech, Herself. From Her primordial articulation, not yet manifest, not yet sound, arises the Little Mothers, the […]


About the Author

Baba Rampuri, author of "Autobiography of a Sadhu, a Journey into Mystic India," and frequent commentator on Oral Tradition, Sacred Speech, and Consciousness, is an American expatriate,  the first foreigner to be initiated into India's largest and most ancient order of yogis, the Naga Sannyasis of Juna Akhara.  He has lived in India since 1970, where he practices and teaches the oral tradition of the Sanatan Dharma, conducts sacred ceremony and rites, and hosts workshops and retreats.

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