An Extraordinary Existence

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Aaron Hooper Aaron Hooper is a Phuket-based photographer and RL Phuket contributor. Contact Aaron for sale of limited edition prints or for private or business photography shoots bookings on

Indian Holy Man by Aaron Hooper

Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu Valley, Nepal 

Sadhus, or wandering Hindu holy men, live a life inconceivable to most. After education, they choose to cut ties with all societal norms, absolutely severing themselves from family, firends and all possessions. They often choose to live in caves, deep in the jungle or at high elevations in the Himalayas, wandering between India and Nepal. Many embrace the role of the Hindu god, Shiva the destroyer, and smear themselves with ash, as Shiva is said to reduce all to ash in order for creation to begin anew. 

Pashupatinath Temple where I took this image, is a sacred gathering place for Sadhus, who embrace the cremation ceremonies, practiced there daily - bodies are burned on funeral pyres and pushed into the Bagmati river, which runs through the temple grounds. This Sadhu spoke some English and I spoke with him for a short while. He carried with him a conch shell that, he explained, he used to blow calls across the cosmic ocean to other connected Sadhus. Suffice to say that the combination of a language barrier and the wildly incoherent subjects he touched on, left me strangely in awe of this man. Living outside of all touch with society must certainly make for an extraordinary existence.

Follow Aaron Hooper’s work on @ahooperphotography on Instagram and on @AaronHooperPhotography on Facebook. Contact Aaron for sale of limited-edition prints or for private or business photography shoots bookings on