After traveling at age 18 from his native
California to India in 1969, Rampuri was drawn to the Naga Babas, an ancient
and wild order of naked yogis whom he calls the “Hell’s Angels of Indian
Organized into a sect by Adi Shankara in the
5th century BC, the Naga Babas see themselves as the ultimate
protectors of the Sanatan Dharma, or what we call the Hindu religion.
Rampuri became a disciple of a Naga Baba—a
master shaman sadhu—from Rajasthan and, as foretold by astrological prophecy,
soon found himself the first foreigner to become an initiate of the Juna
Akhara, the oldest and largest grouping of Naga Babas with more than 200,000
But the spiritual path isn’t quite what the
young Rampuri expected, as the tantric murder of his guru presents a riddle to
the young man that he must solve, requiring an inner journey of self-discovery,
as well as the outer “Journey of the Hero,” in order to know who he really is.
From drinking the “Nectar of Immortality” at
the source of the Ganges River to allegations of tantric murder, this
autobiography is filled with true accounts of magic, miracles, ghosts, and
austerities, with lessons on Hindu gods, ayurveda, mantra, and Indian culture
woven throughout. Through his journey of extremes, Rampuri takes us into the
mystic heart of India.
The storytelling in Autobiography of a Sadhu
derives from Baba’s travels in India, making pilgrimages to a ‘crossing point
between worlds’, the hidden entrances to these other worlds, the meaning of ‘darshan’
the beholding, achieving immortality, the transformational mission of the
alchemist, being both subject and object of the alchemical experiment,
expanding one’s articulation, Indian scriptures and words: their relevance to
experience, Indian culture and the oral tradition of naga babas the ‘yogi
shamans’, the search for new meanings, gurus and their communication of
self-knowledge, the distortion of Hinduism by India’s colonizers, the book of
the world, the mother goddess and her fruits spread across the world, the
uncluttered mind of the yogi and his connection with the goddess, and amrita
the elixir of immortality.