Holy Smoke

Holy Smoke

If a man wishes to rid himself of a feeling of unbearable oppression, he may have to take hashish.

Fredrich Nietzsche

Smoking-SadhusThe wandering Sadhus or Holy Men of India find a higher level of enlightenment by smoking hashish or cannabis.

A Sadhu is a mystic, an ascetic, the one who knows all and is liberated from the materialistic world of humans. He is a wandering monk whose singular goal in life is to achieve ‘moksha’ or nirvana. and he gets it through tough penance and an uncommon lifestyle. The ascetics have renounced their worldly life and lead a life of celibacy, ascetic yoga, and a search for enlightenment. Many start their day by getting high to attain a state of mind, they say, that is conducive to the worship of their Hindu god, usually Shiva or Vishnu.

Smoking Sadhus-2

Smoking Sadhus

The Sadhu’s devotees are often more than happy to share a chillum. Getting stoned clears the mind of rational thought thus clearing the way for the journey to a higher plane.


Chillum, the small conical clay pipe is the preferred way of smoking.

Click here for more Weekly Travel Theme: Smoke and Mirrors.

Ron Mayhew

Fine Art Photographer specializing in Still Life and Commercial Photography.

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Ron, your portraits are great – these men, no matter what, have great character and you’ve captured them so we too can sit and talk with them (chillims and all 🙂 )

    1. Thanks. It was fascinating to see. And, obviously, they were approachable.

  2. after barb laughed (very hard!) when she read your comment, i took her on a little cyber trip to your blog and to lynne’s. she agrees, your photos are stunning! z

    1. I’m glad Barb enjoyed the tour. 🙂

  3. Great portraits and creative interpretation of the theme 🙂

  4. This is amazing information. A total life of sacrifice in every facet of their lives. It requires great inner fortitude. They look like they are knwoledgable in their study of nirvana.
    Very good photo’s …..

    1. I believe most all are very sincere in what they are doing.

  5. Oh I have so many questions, like … How close were you accidentally standing in order to take these shots? Hehehe! 🙂

    1. Generally, they were happy to be photographed or they were oblivious to my presence. But my, what a cast of characters!

  6. It isn’t easy to understand religion, more so a religion as complex and deep as Hinduism. The license for the sadhus or mendicants to smoke hashish stems from their belief in Shiva. It is not so much about getting high to “clear” their minds. If I may suggest a few searches for Shiva, part of the Hindu Trinity, and some reading on Him, it might be clearer as to what their beliefs are and why these sadhus do what they do.

    I wonder if you saw my series from there Ron: http://debeshsharma.com/photography/incarnations/

    I wish we’d connected before you went there – for all you know, we might have been standing adjacent to each other!

    Thank you for sharing.

  7. Fantastic portraits, Ron 🙂

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