There’s a great book, “Baba, Autobiography of a Blue-Eyed Yogi”, that is the true story of an American that went to India in the 60’s and later became a sadhu, a chillum baba. So American sadhus do exist. A sādhu (sanskrit साधु sādhu, “good man, holy man”) denotes an ascetic, wandering monk. A sanyasi, or renunciate, who has left behind all material attachments and live in caves, forests and temples all over India and Nepal and now parts of Colorado and the West Coast.
The majority of sādhus are yogīs, but not all yogīs are sādhus. The sādhu is solely dedicated to achieving mokṣa (liberation), through meditation and contemplation of brahman and smoking the chillum pipe. They are the original dreadlocked rastas and have been around since the man’s early history staying relatively unchanged up until the last half of the 20th century. While their way of life is becoming harder to maintain in this modern world, they are still with us today.
At the 2013 Maha Kumbh Mela, the cyclical mass pilgrimage of faith in which Hindus gather to bathe in a sacred Ganges river, the Sadhus were out in full force. Far from being a dying tradition, there were estimates of 80 millions people in attendance, making it the largest human gathering on a single day in the history of the world.
In our chaotic 9-5 world of cell phones and internet, rush hour 24-7, it’s nice to know somewhere a chilum baba is chilling out, puffing some ganj and giving us blessings. And now the tradition seems to be catching on here in America. I swear there’s one that lives behind 7 -11. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
a 17th century drawing of an Indian sadhu