Shri Pancha Satya Sanathan assumes Padmasana (lotus pose) with eyes shut for his morning meditation. The loincloth around his waste is the only piece of garment hiding his modesty. A Janai (sacred thread) hangs from his shoulder and runs across his naked torso, two large silver rings gleam on his earlobes, his long jet-black hair tied in a bun. He is eerily still while I photograph him. The quiet in the room is punctuated by the shutter noise of my camera and the crackling of the sticks burning above a heap of ash on the hearth between us.
Such is the daily morning routine of this sadhu (holyman) who has been living in a small bamboo-and-mud hut inside the Pashupati temple area for the past six years.
Shri Pancha Satya Sanathan was born to Dhana Bahadur Simha and Jasmati Simha in Jajarkot district of Karnali province 30 years ago. When young, he claims, he was abducted by the then Maoist rebels and taken to Ladakh, India. He recalls the time when he had to eat monkey’s meat with the insurgents in order 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 considers his way of life a legacy of his ancestors who, like him, were Maha Siddha Purus (awakened ones).
After completing his tenth grade from Durbar High School, he came in contact with Nagar Guru Shri Rama Tripali and Dr Swami Rama Krishna Prapannachrya. For years, he served as their disciple, his spiritual gurus, learning about the Sanatan Dharma. He relinquished his family and all worldly 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 nearly six years. Most of the time, I meditated,” he says. These days, he spends most of his time in his hut, meditating and performing rituals. In the evening he joins fellow sadhus for dinner. He is a respected figure among his peers—all of them searchers of enlightenment.