Photo report | A Maoist Abductee’s Quest for Enlightenment

Shri Pancha Satya Sanathan assumes Padmasana (lotus posture) with closed eyes for her morning meditation. The loincloth that surrounds her waste is the only piece of clothing hiding her modesty. A Janai (sacred thread) hangs from his shoulder and runs over his bare chest, two large silver rings shine on his earlobes, his long jet black hair tied in a bun. He is strangely motionless while I photograph him. The calm of the room is punctuated by the sound of my camera shutter and the crackle of sticks burning above a pile of ashes on the hearth that separates us.

Such is the daily morning routine of this sadhu (holy man) who has lived for six years in a small bamboo and mud hut inside the Pashupati temple area.

Shri Pancha Satya Sanathan was born to Dhana Bahadur Simha and Jasmati Simha in Jajarkot district of Karnali province 30 years ago. When he was young, he claims, he was kidnapped by the then Maoist rebels and taken to Ladakh, India. He remembers when he had to eat monkey meat with the insurgents to survive in the woods. For three years he remained with the Maoists before returning home at the end of 1998.

“I had my spiritual awakening when I was eight,” he says. He regards his way of life as a legacy from his ancestors who, like him, were Maha Siddha Purus (the enlightened ones).

After completing his tenth year of Durbar High School, he came in contact with Nagar Guru Shri Rama Tripali and Dr. Swami Rama Krishna Prapannachrya. For years he was their disciple, their spiritual gurus, learning Sanatan Dharma. He renounced his family and all material possessions and adopted the name Shri Pancha Satya Sanathan.

“I came to Pashupati when I was 19. Before that, I lived in a cave for almost six years. Most of the time I was meditating,” he says. These days, he spends most of his time in his hut, meditating and performing rituals. In the evening, he joins other sadhus for dinner. He is a respected figure among his peers, all seeking enlightenment.

About Shirley A. Tamayo

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