header print

The Astonishing Lives of Holy Men

It is hard to understand why someone would give up all their possessions and live in reclusion, especially today when everyone is obsessed with technology. New York-based photographer Joey L delves into the world of religious ascetics who devoted their lives to find spiritual liberation.

Joey has taken vivid portraits of monks and spiritualists starting in Northern Ethiopia all the way to Varanasi, India. His portraits are mainly of Aghoris, who live on burial grounds in India and are known to engage in postmortem rituals such as smearing human ashes on their bodies and crafting skull bowls from actual corpses. “The Aghori have a profound connection with the dead. Death is not a fearsome concept, but a passing from the world of illusion,” says filmaker Cale Glendening who travelled with Joey L and captured behind-the-scenes moments that eventually turned into a fascinating documentary called "Beyond". You can watch it below below.

Aghori Monks
Morning rituals in the Ganges River, the most sacred river in Hinduism. Varanasi, India
 
Aghori Monks
Aghori sadhus smear themselves with human ash, which is the last rite of the material body. Varanasi, India
 
Aghori Monks
Left: The Aghori worship the dead. Death is the next step after the illusion of life . Varanasi, India  Right:  Lal Baba ran away from home in Bihar Siwan to avoid a fixed marriage . Uncertain about his future, he r took up the lifelong task of becoming a sadhu. Varanasi, India

 
Aghori Monks
Lal Baba has grown his deadlocks for 40 years. Dreadlocks are a sign of spirituality and renunciation.
 
Aghori Monks
Baba Mooni conducting an Aghori Prayer (Puja) in Varanasi, India
 
Aghori Monks
RightMagesh used to be an IT computer consultant. He left to devote himself to Aghora. He's been practicing for many years and does not miss his old life. Varanasi, India
 
Aghori Monks
Ram Das standing next to a wrecked boat in Varanasi, India.
 
Aghori Monks
Right: Baba Mooni conducting Aghori Puja in Varanasi, India 
 
Aghori Monks
Right“Perhaps I will live even longer than 101, maybe 101 years more. I know a monk who is 80 years old, but he acts very old. He is not like me.”
 
Aghori Monks
Baba Vijay Nund n the banks of the Ganges River
 
Aghori Monks
Sunken temple in Varanasi, India
 
Aghori Monks
Batuk Students, Varanasi, India
 
Aghori Monks
Batuk Students, Varanasi, India
 
Aghori Monks
”I came from my village, from the countryside to learn. I didn’t go home. I preferred to stay here. I’ve been here for 43 years.” Aba Yohannis monastery – 74 years old
 
Aghori Monks
Baba Vijay Nund rows a boat along the Ganges River. Varanasi, India
 
Cale Glendening's documentary, "Beyond":
Sign Up Free
Did you mean:
Sign Up Free
Did you mean: