Autobiography of a Sadhu – a Journey into Mystic India
Review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Rampuri was the first foreigner to be initiated into the ancient Indian society of yogis and shamans known as the Renunciates of the Ten Names, or Sannyasis. He has been a Naga Baba since 1970. The sect was organized in the 5th century B.C., and they see themselves as the ultimate protectors of the Sanatan Dharma or what we call Hinduism.
The author grew up in Beverley Hills and kept hidden his yearning for secret knowledge, magic, and buried treasure. He drops out of high school and sets off on a quest for truth. On a voyage from Karachi, Pakistan, to India, he meets a young man named Cartouche who recommends that he get in touch with Hari Puri Baba, a guru who speaks English and knows how to read the world. Landing in India, the American feels like he is meeting a blood relative. He is fascinated by ascetics called sadhus and sannyasis, marginal characters who have dropped out of society and spend most of their time practicing various spiritual practices and disciplines.
In his first encounter with Hari Puri Baba, the author is astonished to learn that this holy man has been expecting him and has prepared a homecoming celebration for him. Hari Puri Baba has achieved mastery over a handful of intellectual and spiritual traditions including astrology and is considered by many of his peers as a genius in language and mantra. He renames the American Rampuri and promises him that he will teach him so that he may be initiated in the Tradition of Knowledge. It is a long and arduous process, and the author takes us through it step-by-step. Rampuri also shares his experiences at his first Kumbh Mela (a religious fair for Hindus that is held every 12 years), his efforts to discipline his body, his duties as keeper of the dhuni (fire), his troubles with some sadhu members who oppose him joining their order since he is not from India, his learning to give up attachments, and his pilgrimage to the source of the Ganges.
Rampuri seeks the ability to read the book of the world but there are too many obstacles in his way. He marvels at the way Hari Puri Baba talks the language of crows and doles out advice, cures, and blessings to the people who come to him. After his guru’s death, Rampuri feels that he has possessed him. At the end of this compelling autobiography, the author says that he hopes readers will be edified and entertained by his quest for Truth and his adventures in the Extraordinary World.
BABA: Autobiography of a Blue-Eyed Yogi
Bell Tower, February 1, 2005
California native Rampuri’s unprecedented account of his discipleship and adventures among holy men in India, reveals more about the yogi/shaman tradition than any previous work of this kind. In this fast-paced Rashomon-like adventure story, the reader is treated to a rare insider’s perspective and a unique insight into the ancient path of yoga and India’s sacred traditions. Rampuri was the first foreigner to be initiated into the mystical and sometimes dangerous world of India’s most ancient and mysterious order of yogis and shamans. Thirty-five years later he is a guru.
Rampuri gives us an in-depth view of many of the common elements of Yoga and Indian spirituality, religion and culture, as well as an immersion in those areas normally hidden from Western eyes. In questioning his own pre-conceived perceptions, he contradicts the Western view of India and Yoga and reveals cultural constructions that hide deeper and more compelling knowledge.
New book about Traditional Indian yoga and yogis debunks modern clichs
Ujjain, India, November 16, 2004
“I’m a spiritual subversive”, Baba Rampuri, an American expatriate from California, said in a recent talk to a curious audience, “these days it seems like the closer you get to the truth of things, the more subversive you become.”
In his book, BABA, AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A BLUE EYED YOGI, Rampuri narrates the last thirty five years he has spent as an initiate of one of India’s most ancient and exclusive orders of mystics, the Naga Babas, or Naked Yogis, into a compelling adventure story in the arcane world of yogis, replete with ancient teachings.
Rampuri, who says he feels like Rip Van Winkle when he visits the United States, salutes the “New Age” with its alternative experiments in spirituality, health, diet, fitness, and human development, but feels that those elements which reference India only scratch the surface, at best. “Somehow, I entered a doorway into the “Ancient Age,” where the rules, language, and the way of seeing were different from what I grew up with,” he explains. “So, for example,” he says, “I tend to see a Yogi as one who bestows blessings, who makes common peoples’ lives better, or even charmed, rather than one whose focus is his own perfect body.”
…gripping memoir of how an American teen with wanderlust became heir to a 5,000-year-old Indian tradition in his book…a book that any spiritual seeker, or anyone even vaguely curious about India or the yogic tradition that emerged there, will find fascinating. It will challenge your assumptions about Hinduism, about yogis, about a country that enjoyed thousands of years of rich tradition before being colonized by a Western power.
~ Conscious Choice
…this autobiography joins the ranks of such illustrious Eastern biographies as Paramhansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi and will likely become a standard for those who follow Hindu, New Age, and Eastern shamanic traditions.
~ Library of Congress
Rampuri’s story of a wide-eyed American nineteen-year-old on a quest for truth in India is both enchanting and enlightening. Gurus who make bets and are willing to loose their lives to win, random synchronistic meetings, poison, drugs, thieves, possession and a climb to the top of a holy mountain are all part of this travel adventure story. As Rampuri becomes the first foreigner to be initiated into the sacred traditions of the yogis, he remains stubbornly a Westerner till the very last: questioning, misunderstanding, desiring and then, in one glorious moment, it all becomes one. As he says, “Pilgrimage is a story: Each pilgrim is a hero, and every hero has a quest.”
– Vision Magazine