Book Review: Autobiography of a Sadhu

I recently had the great pleasure of reading Rampuri’s Autobiography of a Sadhu: A Journey into Mystic India. In it he tells his story of being the first foreigner to become “a member, and later an elder, of the Juna Akhara, the oldest and largest grouping of Naga Babas” or sanyasi.

Rampuri is an incredible storyteller and I gained so many insights from his story.  Here are a few of the passages I highlighted while reading on my Kindle:

  • there is no search, you are already there at that place where you hope to arrive, but it takes time to discover that.
  • “Shouldn’t I be doing yoga asanas?” I asked him.“It depends,” he answered. “It’s an interesting issue, this hatha yoga business. You are correct in your idea that if done properly, asanas can give health, strength, and longevity to the body, so it is very good, no? But suppose the entire Chinese army practiced these asanas. Would they hesitate to cross our border and slaughter our population? It would just make them more effective killers and their maintenance would be considerably less.My point is that our tradition emphasizes knowledge, and as long as you can see the world (and that means also the human body) as illusion, and understand how we create illusion, then by all means, perfect your body. But the moment you become attached to your body, you fall into the trap of maya, and all is lost.
  • If you keep your back straight all the time, you will be almost there
  • Time is merely an illusory stage on which the theater of repetition is performed.
  • I, like Shiva, attract marginal beings, outsiders..
  • Mantra: “Supreme Victory Over Death”
  • The more a mantra is repeated, the more it unfolds.
  • What do you know of sin? You are much too young. It’s the sounds one makes during his life. The actions that follow are only remnants of those sounds, pieces that fall off, like chopped-off hands, but once those sounds are articulated, once they leave the lips, they never return but become an inseparable part of a harmony or a dissonance that is the world. Sin is mispronunciation.
  • Nature is filled with marks and flags that may capture our perception and point us toward a hidden connection.
  • I was no longer concerned with what things meant, the magical spring, the dhuni, the tree of spirits, nor what their purpose was. Now I focused on their grammar, syntax, and commentary.
  • Storytelling is a boat transporting knowledge across the Ocean of Story.

This book came at a perfect time for my spiritual path and I encourage others who feel drawn to read it to do so and let it deepen your journey as well.

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