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Sadus, Gurus and Tantrums

Summer is a time when sadus from across the southern border trek north, searching  for herbs and flowers which grow in the Nepalese hills.

Our journey through the western hills was at the beginning and our guide, K., who mistook himself to be a guru, was still in high spirits. Not only was he going to show off his knowledge of how to transit from Hinduism to Buddhism, but he would also explain all minutiae in rambling detail to us. This display, however, was not to last.

Shortly after Gorkha, we had our first encounter with a talkative guru,  yearning for a bit of company. K. fulfilled his mission by translating our questions and the sadu’s explanations, mostly on the nature and spirituality of herbs in the Nepalese hills. His stock was destined for India where he would stretch out healings and mystical promises to believers.

Summer days were busy in the hills for in the winter he could neither find these herbs nor could afford the time to travel north. Winter was spent in his homeland across the southern border.

Unlike other sadus who we met along our travels, he did not stretch out his hand expecting money. On the contrary, he was chirpy, welcoming us to his world of hoarded herbs and insisted that we chew some his precious collection.

With courteous smiles we slowly chewed the bitter leaves, crossing fingers that no unpleasant side effect would occur until we had arrived at a clean guesthouse. Crossing fingers while chewing a sadu’s hoard filled our karma with protective vibrations and to top it off, before leaving I smuggled some money into his hand. Gifted with a sadu’s grateful grin, we proceeded on our roads to the West.

With the warm sun, my mind lulled back to the temple.

Was it the altitude? Perhaps the ending of the day? The incoming mists?

Whatever the reason, my presence in that temple  left me feeling uncomfortable, dizzy, transporting my mind to past times. I pushed back these thoughts as K. once again began his deep monologue on the differences between Hinduism and Buddhism.

I glanced back at Susan, stifling giggles as she closed her eyes and lay back her head. K. was not telling us anything we did not know, with the added pace of speaking to us as if we were difficult children. At this point in time, still blessed by the sadu’s holy weeds, we kept quiet, politely accepting K.’s explanations.

The time would come when he would throw tantrums, much to the delight of the driver, and sneakily snatch Susan’s Lonely Planet before she decided where we were staying that evening.

Just as K. did not heed words of wisdom of  the far west, neither did he know Susan…

Tempting tantrums, contemporary gurus and sad sadus were still to come full circle.


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