Reader's letters


Reading this book literally transported me into other states of consciousness ... the story of ants, among others, was particularly challenging to me. This book is one of those I’ll need to reread from time to time. B.

I finished this book and want to say "thank you for having written it". This testimony literally transported me in India, in this country that I deeply love because when I am there, living beings and things talk to me, work inside of me, and stir me up through a full range of reactions, from revolt to blissful peace, from disgust to admiration... It often gave me a darshan (if I dare say) through the words of Ananda Baba, and others, as well as those of Avadhuta. B.

Hi, I just wanted to say how greatly I enjoyed your book on your life as a sadhu. Beautifully written, evocative, and with so many sentences and descriptions which had me nodding in affirmation. It's one of the best books on India I've ever read, and I'm pretty sure I've read most of them. Actually I've written a couple of travel books myself, both of which took me to India, and I have one on Varanasi coming out next year. What really attracts me though is to penetrate and live the kind of truth you write so well about. That seems to me to be the only journey of any kind worth taking. Even a few sentences about the presence of your guru Ananda Baba seem to envelop me in silence somehow, and to make me smile. Warm wishes. P M-E.

Dear Patrick, Thank you for your book about sadhus. I read it during a three week fasting-retreat in my room here in Germany. I found it very transporting, interesting and most of all inspiring. Practicing Yoga and Meditation has been the most important thing in my live for the last twenty years or so. Often I had an intense longing to take it all a step further and do something like what you write about in your book about sadhus. But I never found the courage so far and I never knew how to start. Thank you and much love, Oliver.

Hello Patrick, This is the second time I’ve been reading your book ‘Sadhus –Beyond the Dreadlocks’. It’s a wonderful personal account and deep philosophical quandary of both western and Hindu philosophies. Here are certain aspects that inspire me to read the book once again like your daily conversation with Sadhus and how easily you grew faith on them. Thanks again for your wonderful insights through the book. SC

Dear Patrick levy, Thanks for giving introductions of real sadhus of India. Your book Sadhus is great. We know the mixed culture of sadhus of India, but you got the best guru, Anand baba. I got your book from one spiritual master. Dr R P.

Monsieur Levy: Sadhus is one cool read! Looking forward to the further adventures of Prassad Baba. Om shanti. N.

I read Sadhus and am greatly impressed. For the first half of the book or so, I did not realize and believe that it is a novel. I am impressed by your knowledge of the philosophy of Vedanta as you appear to have really immersed yourself in Ashtavakra Samhita. SM.


Great Book for people who are interested in understanding the Life Style of Sadhus.

Though this book is a slow starter, after initial couple of pages it literally throws you off guard with its out of the box (dare I say out of the world) philosophies. It forces you to introspect your own thoughts, preferences in life and about your own life style and thoughts. I salute Mr Levy's braveness. I can't imagine how much guts it takes to come to a foreign land and completely surrender yourself to a stranger. He has tried his best to explain the life cycle of a Sadhu and reason out what the behavior of these sadhus which is almost incomprehensible to the society with its narrow perspective of things and judgmental mind. I appreciated the authors unbiased writing, describing how easy it is for a sadhu to loose his track and jump right back into society and possession. This book is enticing and informative at the same time and I've more respect for these brave sadhus than ever before.

This book for those that have something of an understanding of eastern mysticism already. You may find yourself a little bit lost if you go into this book without an basic knowledge in eastern thought. The author takes up with sadhus in India, wandering to holy sites and speaking with all kinds of mystics, devotees and average Joes. He is like a quiet observer mostly, watching so much strangeness, and only speaking to ask the occasional question. Each person's story is outlandishly fascinating. The conversations are always insightful, and will bring you to a place of peace and holy understanding. I cannot recommend this book enough. Enjoy.

Not an easy read, but a good book. As they in India, a saint's past should not be probed. But laymen like us do have a curiosity of the daily lives of saints and sadhus. The author, a Frenchman, travels with his Guru and experiences the life of the wandering sadhus. His master comes across as an easy-going, practical, jovial, yet a very kind and realized soul, who is always in a cheerful mood no matter what. The author is fortunate. I loved the way the Guru advised a villager who was ill-treating his daughter after the death of his wife. While there is always a variation in a human nature, and the Sadhus are no exception, the author's portrayal of them made me respect them for the choices they had made in life, and their carefree life with very few possessions and a life of wandering is so different from our lives. The devotion of the ordinary Indians to them is also very moving, and this wonderful relation of house-holders supporting sadhus, and they in turn blessing the house-holders and not exploiting their hospitality is so Indian. Such sympathetic accounts of this vanishing culture makes me admire the ancient culture of India even more.


This is an exceptional book which deserves a much better, subtler title than its been given. I was genuinely blown away by this insightful, moving and thought-provoking account of living as an Indian holy man. Hard to know whether it's fact or fiction, especially during the last section, but that doesn't really matter. Read it as one of the best books about India you're likely to encounter, as a treatise on Advaita Vedanta, as a superb travelogue, as anthropology, or a combination of all these. If someone can show me a better book about spiritual India I would like to read it. PME.

A beautiful story-line, well explained theories and articulate explanation of different aspects of a way of life lesser known to us average humans. A good read for anyone who wants to know about the what, why, how and thoughts of those revered stalwarts whom some of us have come to despise because of our ignorance and assumptions. SS

It was an interesting read. The author doesn't necessarily say this is right and this is wrong. But he manages to bring out conversations that shows the different kinds-thoughts of the sadhus. While some sounded wise, some were crooks and some were just sadhus. It was a good read! dEstInEdnOmAd

Good Book. Good insight to Hindu religion. T.


Hari Om Tat Sat! I found this coverless book in the trash at my home stay in India which they use to burn to heat water to take a hot bucket shower… I pulled it out from amongst the twigs and old children's school books soon to be Agni… and while I was not so into the title at first I found some interesting passages and decided to read it at a later date. I am very thankful that I came across this book, having just finished it today… An inspiring first person point of view transitioning from western philosophical student to living and awaking within the renunciant's dream. A good reminder for those of us who have spent cherished times with babas, and amazing introduction for those who are curious about what it means to give up everything in the search for nothing. Bravo Prasadji… Thank you… Oliver Jnan Prakash NY baba

This is an exceptional book, ranking in the first tier as a treatise on advaita vedanta, a superb Indian travelogue, a philosophical road-novel, and piece of spiritual autobiography. The title is a strange choice - in my opinion - because this book is far subtler, more witty, more rich than such a bog standard title intimates! Levy writes with genuine grace, combining a perceptive eye for natural beauty and human character, with a wonderful ear for dialogue. Genuine spiritual wisdom may be the hardest thing of all to write about, and convey with authenticity but he pulls it off effortlessly. Really can't say enough good things about it, just finished it for the second time. If someone can show me a better book on Indian spirituality I would like to see it.....

An interesting read. A fun story with gems of truth. If nothing else, get it for the tidbits of sublime freedom that are scattered throughout the book. I personally looked up and bought the scriptures that he was quoting. A mind blowing world opened up for me.

By Dennis York: I don't write very many reviews,but this very excellent book deserves as positive a review as possible. I would give this book 10 stars if I could. Patrick Levy has done for those of us who are unable to travel to Varanasi in the flesh the great service of taking us there through his very lucid discussions with the various sadhus he encountered on his long journeys throughout India. This book should be read by far more people than it has. It is essential reading. I can't praise it enough! Thank you very much,Patrick Levy!!!

By Rob Rideout: I loved this book, as I too hung out with many sadhus in India during 1994-95. I can relate to everything the author describes in such perfect expressions of what India is really like- especially with the sadhus. I was delighted to see that Mahavatar Babaji was included, but blown away by how He was described- with dreadlocks and a light beard. Most accounts of Babaji do not fit this description. But of course, Babaji can appear in any disguise. However, I too had Babaji's darshan at Christmas 1994, in a cave in Haidakhan, and He too appeared to me the same way! I wrote all about this, and much more, in my inspirational memoir, Still Singing, Somehow. Patrick Levy's descriptions of the daily scenes in India are some of the best I've ever read. He knows India very well, and has laced his dialogue between characters with much esoteric and metyaphysical knowledge. This book can boggle the mind about what is real and what is not. I see too that the character of the French writer is the author's alter ego, before his semi transformation into a western sadhu, as the one telling the story. Having written a book myself, I really respect the way Patrick Levy put together his fascinating jig saw puzzle of sadhus conversations and dialogue, India's complexity, the physical and mental challenges of renunciation, and the real feeling of what it's like to be there. The greatest truth I gleemed from his experience, is "There is nothing to do". "A Course In Miracles" states the same truth as, "You dont't have to do anything. You are already there". Why the sadhus do what they do, and choose their distinct lifestyle is the big question, and well worth reading about in this one of a kind book. I plan to re-read it again, for the inspiration that it gives me to meditate! Thank you Patrick Levy for such a truthful look into the world of sadhu spirituality, described so beautifully. You're a great writer!


Have you read book 'Sadhus' by Patrick Levy How many people here have read the book Sadhus by Patrick Levy? If not why not? This is an excellent book. No gobbledegook and no bullshit. Just clear beautiful prose and ideas. And a great memoir. I make no apology for promoting this book. I have not connection to the author but i feel it deserves a lot more attention from anyone with an interest in Indian religions, and Indian religious culture and Indian derived spirituality. I'd always been skeptical about sadhus. I tend to keep a wide berth from them. I decided to buy this book after I saw it because I'd met a lovely man in Amarkantak who told me he used to be a sadhu. I don't usually hang around town for a long time but I was in Amarkantak for one month. Many of you will know its a holy town. Before I met the lovely ex-sadhu, i stayed in an ashram where I observed the sadhus over the course of my stay but this only gave me an external impression. I didn't know anything about them still as mostly they seemed not to speak English and I wasn't very interested in getting to know them anyway. From the book, I learnt a great deal about sadhus and the non-establishment part of Hinduism. The writer, a french man who seems to have been a student of philosophy beforehand, becomes a disciple of a sadhu who is very wise and intelligent. He lives the life of a sadhu, travelling all over and learning the philosophies of hinduism. Most of the content of the book is devoted to the meatier and more meaningful aspects of the lives of sadhus however he does mention those sadhus who are less pure. Its an excellent portrait of sadhus as a "tribe" is you will. I feel it must cover the breadth of sadhu experience. Once again its a beautiful book. Newislander, Autralia. Indiamike

One book i strongly urge all western seeks going to india to read is Sadhus by Patrick Levy. It is beautifully written. He becomes a sadhu for a while and we get a wonderful insight into the lives of Sadhus in all their variety and also into hinduism. I STRONGLY recommend this book. You can buy it in delhi. Indiamike

There is then my favorite, Patrick Levy, who begins his journey seeking to document the life of sadhus, and ends up a student of Anand Baba, a wandering ascetic. The story, told in Sadhus: Going Beyond the Dreadlocks, is an antidote to the smug dismissal of the cynics, skeptics, and the reductionists who see the world as merely matter writ large. Levy is no starry-eyed romantic. He sees the dirt and squalor of India and describes them as any good journalist would. His description of Varanasi/Benares is scorching in its indictment of the mess and squalor, but if we stopped reading him there, we would miss him telling us that it is India that "bestows the title of saint on renunciants, where contemplation is a divine attitude, non-action a goal and idleness a vision," and that it is Indians who recognize "rapture in humility and the superiority of equanimity over the passions." There is absolutely no place on earth that can match India as a destination for those thirsting for "truth." My friend, a student of Swami Rama, tells me of his esoteric experiences up in the Himalayas and down on the small campus of a little school he runs for village children near Bangalore. So, those in search of truth—with a capital 'T' or a small 't'—will continue to make their way to India, and one hopes that their deity of choice will bless them, and their choice of a guru will lead them to bliss. Hafsite

Read Sadhus by Patrick Levy on my way back from India: Humbling tribute to Advaita. Bit

Read the book called Sadhus by Patrick Levy. It will give you great insight into the wisdom of sadhus. Boardreader

This last month i read SADHUS by Patrick Levy - a frenchman, atheist and probably a philosophy graduate. (In English) It was an excellent. This was published in India so I am not sure how easy it would be to find it elsewhere. Lonely Planet

If anyone is interested the book i am currently reading is called "Sadhus : Going beyond the dreadlocks" by Patrick Levy. Bit heavy going at first but very very interesting when it gets going. KP Travelblog


Article in Spice Route, July 2010.

“As a model of the superhuman, the Greeks came up with the athlete, the Americans created a flying superhero dispensing justice and the Indians chose the ascetic. If stillness was an Olympic discipline, they would win all medals.” Writes Patrick Levy, as he discovers the unique life of Indian ascetics or sadhus. One look at the cover and you might be inclined to think of this book as one of the many exotic encounters of foreigners, who come to discover the ‘real’ India. But this is one book that justifies the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. France based writer and spiritual enthusiast, Levy gives a sincere, first hand insight into the lives of the sadhus he meets in his spiritual voyage with his guru, Ananda Baba. The book is honest, quirky and thought provoking. Be it Balaknath baba, who possessed the power to heal just by touching or the perfectly sane Paagal baba; the meetings offer awe, mystery and intense philosophy. The best part of the book, undoubtedly, is the discussions Levy has with his mentor Ananda Baba about concepts like the samsara (the world), ajamna (the unborn), ajagat (without universe), jnana (knowledge), manas (the mind function of the brain) etc. Read this book for a rare picture of a group of people who have represented Indian spirituality for a long time in coffee table books, but have never been conversed with, so intently.