Raju Baba

2007-09-11 – 19:24

I was walking back to my hotel after an extremely good day (it was Shiva festival) when I saw this man dressed up in white and orange robe in one of those narrow streets. I always feel respect to them (I always feel respect to all kinds of people strictly following their believes, whatever they are). I always look in their eyes and greet them with a nod. Surprisingly they almost always greet me back. “Namaste.” “Namaste.” “You speak Hindu?” “No.” This is how I met Raju Baba. This is how my biggest adventure in Varanasi began. So simply.


Instead of turning to my hotel I just continued walking with the guy having a polite conversation. He was surprisingly open-minded with a great knowledge and a great attitude. We went down by the Ganges river and set at an empty at this time ghat. Smoked a cigarette and talked, talked, talked.

He started to tell me about Hindu religions. So he was a Sadhu – a holy man dedicated to the search for God. He lived in the mountains to the North from Varanasi in an ashram (holy sanctuary, usually a little commune gathered around a guru).

We climb up a dark tower to see a burning ghat (a place by Ganges where families bring human bodies to burn them). Only 4 kind of people are not being burnt according to the traditions: Sadhu – because they are already pure, children – the same reason, pregnant women – because they have a kid inside which is pure and people bitten by cobra – because cobra is a Shiva’s necklace and its kiss is considered as a blessing. These bodies are thrown to Ganges. After spending some time at the top of the tower we walked around through narrow streets. In the end I was invited to his brother’s house. I bought some small textile souvenirs (mostly for myself). His brother was angry with him because he offers me good price (which are almost nothing compared to Europe anyway). We set up a meeting for tomorrow to go to the other side of Ganges.

The following day he was waiting for me at 6 in front of my hotel as agreed. We went to one of the bathing ghats and took a rowing boat. It is funny to see tourists in fully packed boats going the standard route up and down the ghats (as I did the day before) giving us a strange look as we – a white guy and a guy with long beard and an orange scarf – take the not common direction to the other side of the river. When we arrive to the other bank we find a human skull on the sand. I make some pictures of Raju holding it on a stick. We went there to visit a small Krishna ashram. As Krishna was a helper of a cow they were also doing this work in this ashram. They also had a nice garden to meditate. Pilgrims can come to ashrams and stay for free (donations or work is appreciated).


Raju told me the story of his life. He is in his thirties now. When he was a teenager he lived in Goa (the most touristic beaches in India). He made quite a lot of money on selling drugs to tourists. He had a gangsta-style life. That’s when he learnt languages. But then he lost everything and dedicated his life to God.

After the trip we visited a Nepali temple and then went to a rooftop restaurant in his brother’s hotel. Raju has two brothers. One of them owns a manufacturing business of textile, musical instruments and more. The other one owns a hotel with this rooftop restaurant (the best view in Varanasi) and a few other buildings. They also do some other businesses, not always completely legally. They are unhappy. The one that owns a hotel rarely goes out on streets. Raju kept telling them to go with him to the mountains and leave their problems behind. But they were too much into it to be able to do that.

Sitting on a rooftop some tourists were coming to Raju to make a pic. He was playing jokes on them – we had so much fun.

This was my last day in Varanasi. I went back to my hotel to pack up my stuff. I met with Raju again after check out. He gave me some shirts I ordered to be sewn for me. For the last time we go to sit by a ghat. Some people come around to bath in Ganges.

– You can give a donation for my ashram if you want. Just do what you feel like. Do it for your karma. If you are happy I am happy. And this is important. Money is never important.

I give him a donation. He was the best guide I could have. Good karma.

PS. I take a cycle-rickshaw to the railway station. I almost have tears in my eyes – I’ve had so many great moments in this place. The man who’s riding a rickshaw has a bandage around his ankle and then wrapped it in a plastic bag. On a crossroad he points his finger at a lying cow. “Bite! Bite!” he says and points at his ankle. “God’s blessing!” I reply (as cow is a holy animal). “Double blessing!” the man replies. This is Varanasi.


  1. 3 Responses to “Raju Baba”

  2. Czytam sobie i przeglądam tego bloga i jestem naprawdę pod wrazeniem, niekoniecznie zdolności w kwestiach belly dancing ale ogólnie spojrzenia na życie. Widzę, ze ciągnie Cię tez w miejsca nie udeptane przez hordy turystów…I miło, że czasem ktoś “nasz” ma opanowany angielski w stopniu niemal perfekt ;) A na pewno na poziomie szeroko-komunikacyjnym.
    A ta historia z tym Hindusem to juz w ogóle kosmos!

    By Ola on Apr 28, 2008

  3. chciałam napisać komunikatywnym, ale pisanie tej magisterki po szwedzku i płynne wysławianie się po polsku mi idzie razem kiepsko

    By Ola on Apr 28, 2008

  4. hi, i also met baba raju in march 2012, i stayed for 3 weeks. was stunning. thanks for your share. you are allways aloud to contact if you want to know…namasté

    By Marcel on Jan 22, 2013

Post a Comment