One of the joys of Facebook is that one can receive messages from gurus who are on Facebook and are in far-flung places. I have recently recently received a message from Baba Rampuri in India – a wonderful guru of the naked sect of Naga Babas whose autobiography I read while researching A Brief History of Nakedness. He writes:
Inner Traditions has published a new edition of my book now called AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A SADHU: A Journey into Mystic India. which now has 32 photos (some of them quite rare), a Glossary, and an Afterword, with which I’m very pleased. For those of you who haven’t read it – please read it – it’s the foundation of my work.
After traveling at age 18 from his native California to India in 1969, Rampuri was drawn to the Naga Babas, an ancient and wild order of naked yogis whom he calls the “Hell’s Angels of Indian Spirituality.” Organized into a sect by Adi Shankara in the 5th century BC, the Naga Babas see themselves as the ultimate protectors of the Sanatan Dharma, or what we call the Hindu religion. Rampuri became a disciple of a Naga Baba–a master shaman sadhu–from Rajasthan and, as foretold by astrological prophecy, soon found himself the first foreigner to become an initiate of the Juna Akhara, the oldest and largest grouping of Naga Babas with more than 50,000 sadhu members.
From drinking the “Nectar of Immortality” at the source of the Ganges River to allegations of tantric murder, this autobiography is filled with true accounts of magic, miracles, ghosts, and austerities, with lessons on Hindu gods, ayurveda, mantra, and Indian culture woven throughout. Through his journey of extremes, Rampuri takes us into the mystic heart of India.
It’s a great read and full of atmosphere and information and I quote from it in A Brief History of Nakedness which was recently featured in The New Yorker – a million miles it seems from the world of Naga Babas, but ‘we are all connected’ as I hope the book demonstrates. You can see the feature here.