Sadhus at the Rubin Museum

Whatcha got there, buddy?

This exhibition is going to be up for a while (January 28, 2011–July 4, 2011), and worth checking out.

For youngsters into the yoga, into the spiritual stuffs, into the video games, looking at pictures of sadhus is like crack to a baby (AKA goji berries to a Lululemon model): Just. Can’t. Get. E. Nuff.

While, like most of my experiences at the Rubin, I find the exhibit to be a bit small, maybe a bit short on the photos, the photos themselves are gorgeous and covered in all that good good ocher.

Much of what you’ll find here is in the Vaishnava camp (Vishnu/Krishna sadhus), though there’s maybe one or two Shaivites (Shiva) hanging around, and at least one elusive aghori (smack talkin’) sadhu in the mix. You’d think I’d remember since I was there just yesterday, but I didn’t have anything to write on to take notes, I immediately became super tired as I always do in museums, and then practically fell asleep on a bench looking at the book that goes along with the exhibit that has way more colorful (if dark) photos of sadhus than you could ever need in one lifetime.

Some mental notes I did retain:

  1. All the sadhvis (lady sadhus), with the exception of one, are relegated to an interactive computer screen on the wall. Bummer.
  2. Some of the sadhus featured are bbbbbblack! This makes me want to read Wendy Doniger‘s The Hindus, or anything on the supposed Aryan invasion of India—about as sensitive a topic as you can get—which I admittedly know too little about. This also made me think back on the Kemetic Studies argument that yoga (however it is being defined) actually comes from Africa/Egypt/Kemet. Read about it here and here.
  3. I still think it’s a little weird to take glamorous photos of mendicants, sadhus, and fakirs even though I can’t take my eyes away from them. Maybe that’s why I feel weird.
  4. Always a pleasure is seeing how when sadhus take yoga asanas “alignment” and “correct posture” are supplanted with “intense devotion” and “commitment to the practice,” which are (imagine that!) infinitely more inspiring than all the jibber-jabber on “core,” “loops,” “cosmic play,” “free expression,” and “lotus flow.”

Anyway, since I mentioned sadhvis, I think it’s only right to give them some space. Like they say, if you want something don’t right, gotta do it yourself. Here are two photos of sadhvis not on display at the Rubin.

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