Algis Kemezys

Algis Kemezys
Location
Ste Adele, Québec, Canada
Birthday
June 28
Title
Co-Director
Company
BAK
Bio
Internationally exhibited Photographer/Documentary filmmaker, Sculptor, Dowser, Scrabble enthusiast, Geomancer, Iatromant, gourmet chef

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Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 3, 2010 10:52AM

Two Hundred Sacred Sadhus @ the Maha-Kumbh Mela 2010

Rate: 21 Flag

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 I wanted this collection of Sadhu Portraits to be like going to the Kumbh Mela Festival itself. When walking around Haridwar, you will see thousands of sadhus in one day, but in the end  you'll  remember only a handful.  It is these few that will make a difference to you when  looking deeply into the image you feel attracted to by breathing deeply and clearing your head of all the chatter , then  see what thoughts enter your mind.  A sadhu's image reaches beyond space and time  and will always have a soothing effect. 

Women Sadhus can be seen Here and below 

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                                                                            Women Sadhus 

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Most of the women sadhus have been culled for a previous post: See

http://open.salon.com/blog/alkeme/2010/02/01/women_sadhus_the_maha_kumbh_mela_2010 

 

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I met Amarnath Giri twelve years ago when I spent 6 weeks at the Kumbh Mela. He was a tall formidable sadhu and I spent a lot of time at his tent around his campfire where  he commanded a lot of respect from the locals who visited him for advice and solace from their worries. I also made many photographs of him and gave them to him for which to keep in his photo-album.

When I returned now 12 years later, HE WAS MISSING and all of the tent city that had formed was now gone with only a few powerful sadhus or Naga Babas remaining. I asked about him and was told that he had died. Later another sadhu  I knew from back then told me  that  he was now disabled and was in fact the old man sitting under the tree over there.

At first I couldn't believe it was him. A mere shawdow of himself and I thought they were pulling my leg and using a substitute to get my extra rupees. He now needed a  metal walker in order to get around.  I kept wondering if this were truly him and if so where were all his possessions?

Well, I got my answer six weeks later when he eventually got back to where his old campfire was and set up home, which is where I visited him often always wondering if it was really him. Then at my final visit, from a  pile of clothes  he pulled out the photo album he had all these years and there I was in a number of images that I had given him back in 1998.  I finally could confirm that he was the real thing. Yes , I had indeed been here with him alongside  the Ganges River in the HOLy CITY of HARIDWAR and perhaps it was his spirit that helped me overcome adversity and ward off disaster over the years.

I was so pleased ...all my images that I had handed out where still prized by their owners and it was a great pleasure to look at them again.  Below is a current image of us both together again with his arm around me durning the making of this photograph.

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                                                                   BELOW 

ShapeShifter: An old man remembers visiting  Kumbh Mela  in his youth:

Actual footage from the 2007 Allahabad Kumbh Mela: 

                                             Music by Guthrie Lowe 

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Comments

Type your comment below:
Wonderful photos, wonderful faces. You've been busy! (r)
What an amazing group of people . . . such variety of expression, mode of dress (or not), ornamentation . . . beautiful work.
I would love to have each and every one of these on my wall - I think it would totally change my day.
Wonderful and fabulous.
Each individual is distinctly different. Some are into the earth, some into actual sartorial style!
What a magnificent collection. I hope you're going to a book publisher with it.
Could you explain the significance of orange? And also the light-colored mud on some of the Sadhus? What is it? What does it signify? Does it benefit their skin? Is it just on kind of Sadhu style out of many? If someone does it, does he do it all the time? Is it special?
Are these in preparation for a book? I particularly like the shots with the subject holding a print of a previous portrait. They remind me that I have my mother's tan woolen wrap, like those that many of the sadhus wear, from India. Nothing warmer.
Some of the photographs have a painting-like quality- and the prominence of the warm orange and reds add a certain calmness to the backgrounds as well as to the expressions on the faces you captured. Wonderful work! Rated.
vah! wonderful.

I would love to see more images of the sadhvis (female sadhus) and also the aghoris. :)
Once again you've managed to bring me to a place of visual serenity. I spent some time watching a few of your documentaries last night.My eyes welled in the magical beauty you set forth. I was fixated, I was enthralled, I was calmed. I am amazed at the power of your expression. But you knew that. :-)
I have been following your pic posts with much appreciation. These are stunning. The faces tell so many stories. Reminds me of what a big world this is! Thanks.
My daughter leaves for India next week. This post seems extraordinarily timely for me.
Algis, these are mesmerizing. They'll look great on your Ipad.
amazing work. every face a story...and the colors. wonderful.
Algis, you are stunningly good at capturing a person in a portrait. Thanks for taking the time to make and posts these photos.
I want to know the stories
That go along with these faces:
Where did they come from
Why did they don these robes
Letting their beards grow out
To challenge their hair
What mysteries are hidden there
Where have they travel
With whom did they visit
What did they learn there
How did they live in the before times
How do they live today
When did they reach these stations
How long will they stay
Where will they go when they leave here
How will they get there
Can we come along too?

I want to hear the voices
That go along with these faces:
Are they melodious or gruff,
Lilting, lyrical, lingering with longing
Or stuttered with pauses and stops
As thoughts pass from the heart to the lips
Do they sing their songs or chant their chants
Or sit silently letting smiles and frowns speak
Do they speak so softly you must put
Your ears to their lips or thunder
Like the orator in the ampitheater,
Is their speech so simple and sweet
Or do they challenge your intellect;
I want to hear their voices in my ears
I want them to put their lips to my heart.

I want to know the stories
That go along with these faces:
What work did they do
Before they took up their robes
What education did they have to overcome
Which of the 10,000 paths did they choose
How does one choose one path over another
Are they steadfast or backsliding
Going over old ground or breaking new paths
Stumbling over cultural boundaries
Or ignoring the thistles in the bouquet
Are they posing for the mind’s camera
Fooling the gullible with their poses
Or do they use their auras
To draw the needy to their thoughts
Do they succor the weary
Healing the ill
Reassuring the fearful
Enriching the impoverished
Commiserating or confrontational
Soothing the mourner’s sorrows
Celebrating the occasional acolyte
Commemorating achievements
With a smile, a nod, a mudra
Or do they frown at competition’s intrusions
Would they even allow me to sit at their feet?

Oh, how I ache to throw off the bounds
And rush across the world to meet them
10,000 sadhus all in one place at the same time
Wouldn’t there be one for me
Wouldn’t one of them choose me
How I long to throw off the shackles
Of my own personality
And adopt another not so badly worn
By sins of commission and omission
That I have gathered like garlands
And toll like the beads the finger
As they praise the 10,000 manifestations
Of the one truth that consumes us all
But then a small still voice answers me
That you don’t need 10,000 sadhus
All gathered together on these rare occasions
All in the same place all at the same time
You don’t need 10,000 sadhus
You just need the right one.

When Kali beckons do you stay or flee
When the tiger roars, do you walk or run?

(I will cross post this on my blog to draw more people here.)
Each one tells a story. Simply extraordinary.
Unbelievable pohotgraphs--these faces are incredibly powerful and terrifying and mysterious and life changing all at once. This kind of energy is just not seen in the west--we have no idea what it takes to devote one's life to the spiritual quest without trying to make it into something like "prosperity consciousness." Westerners are entrenched in 3-dimensional material reality. These people are scary precisely because they have transcended that! Your photographs are superb, and of course, it is sad that each of these sadhus will suffer their demise perhaps alone on the streets where they reside, however I know all of the, believe in reincarnation and many of them know they are done with the wheel entirely, so let us pity ourslves, not them! At any event, how good of you to go back and reconnect with your teacher and your friend!
These are so wonderful. Curious though, where are the women?
Just gorgeous. I am amazed at the wonderful photos and thank you for posting them.
Thank you for sharing your inspiring gift with us.
Great Men, all. Many Hindoos are indeed wise, such as my friend Dr. Bhammajadhor, who is learned in the many arts of ancient practice. He can make a fly land on his tongue and dance there. Do you know him?
Wonderful photos, wonderful faces. You've been busy! (r)

Dear ClarkK,

Thanks for the wonderful comments !

xxx
algis
FEBRUARY 03, 2010 11:10 AM
What an amazing group of people . . . such variety of expression, mode of dress (or not), ornamentation . . . beautiful work.

Dear Owl_Says_Who,

Thanks for the comment and your fine support.
xxx
algis

FEBRUARY 03, 2010 11:42 AM
I would love to have each and every one of these on my wall - I think it would totally change my day.

Dear mamoore,

Your wish could come true..

xxx
algis

FEBRUARY 03, 2010 12:29 PM
Wonderful and fabulous.
Each individual is distinctly different. Some are into the earth, some into actual sartorial style!
What a magnificent collection. I hope you're going to a book publisher with it.
Could you explain the significance of orange? And also the light-colored mud on some of the Sadhus? What is it? What does it signify? Does it benefit their skin? Is it just on kind of Sadhu style out of many? If someone does it, does he do it all the time? Is it special?

Dear JOY MARS,

Thanks for the continued support. It would be nice if a book came of it. I don't have all the answers for you yet but am working on it. The mud is from the sadhus fireplace which is the ash from the burnt wood. They cover themselves with that and apparently it does help keep you warm. I could not get any further info on this yet but will yet you know when i can.

best regards
Algis

FEBRUARY 03, 2010 02:32 PM
Are these in preparation for a book? I particularly like the shots with the subject holding a print of a previous portrait. They remind me that I have my mother's tan woolen wrap, like those that many of the sadhus wear, from India. Nothing warmer.

Dear Julie Delio,

I don't know about a book yet let alone getting one published these days. Yes indians love their wool wraps. Glad you had such a nostalgic visit too.

xxx

algis
FEBRUARY 03, 2010 02:55 PM
Some of the photographs have a painting-like quality- and the prominence of the warm orange and reds add a certain calmness to the backgrounds as well as to the expressions on the faces you captured. Wonderful work! Rated.

Dear FusunA,

Yes i found the same quality about some of the images and that always kept me inspired to take more and more.. They say just looking at a sadhu is calming and relaxing.

Best wishes
Algis

FEBRUARY 03, 2010 08:11 PM
vah! wonderful.

I would love to see more images of the sadhvis (female sadhus) and also the aghoris. :)

Dear Gourmet Goddess,

Thanks for visiting and commenting. More female sadhus can be seen a few posts back..

Thanks again and again

algis

FEBRUARY 03, 2010 10:07 PM
Once again you've managed to bring me to a place of visual serenity. I spent some time watching a few of your documentaries last night.My eyes welled in the magical beauty you set forth. I was fixated, I was enthralled, I was calmed. I am amazed at the power of your expression. But you knew that. :-)

Dear ThroughMyEyes,

Oh you have truely made my year with you fine comments. Thanks for every last word.

best regards
algis

FEBRUARY 04, 2010 06:15 AM
I have been following your pic posts with much appreciation. These are stunning. The faces tell so many stories. Reminds me of what a big world this is! Thanks.

Dear grif -,

Thanks for you good support and comments. Yes the stories are endless and so are the sadhus too.

Best always
Algis


FEBRUARY 04, 2010 09:52 AM
My daughter leaves for India next week. This post seems extraordinarily timely for me.

Dear fingerlakeswanderer,

I too love the fingerlakes. Yes this is the best send off for your daughter and you as I could muster..

All my best
algis

FEBRUARY 04, 2010 10:10 AM
Algis, these are mesmerizing. They'll look great on your Ipad.

Dear Juliet Waters,

Thanks for dropping bye and commenting. I hope one day they are on your ipod too.

best regards
algis

FEBRUARY 04, 2010 10:22 AM
amazing work. every face a story...and the colors. wonderful.

Dear lorianne,

Wow great ! Thanks for commenting.

Best wishes
Algis

FEBRUARY 04, 2010 10:40 AM
Algis, you are stunningly good at capturing a person in a portrait. Thanks for taking the time to make and posts these photos.

Dear kh3333,

I found this the most difficult making a good image with the situations at hand but a few of them really work. Thanks for commenting.

best wishes
algis

FEBRUARY 04, 2010 10:47 AM
I want to know the stories
That go along with these faces:
Where did they come from
Why did they don these robes
Letting their beards grow out
To challenge their hair
What mysteries are hidden there
Where have they travel
With whom did they visit
What did they learn there
How did they live in the before times
How do they live today
When did they reach these stations
How long will they stay
Where will they go when they leave here
How will they get there
Can we come along too?

I want to hear the voices
That go along with these faces:
Are they melodious or gruff,
Lilting, lyrical, lingering with longing
Or stuttered with pauses and stops
As thoughts pass from the heart to the lips
Do they sing their songs or chant their chants
Or sit silently letting smiles and frowns speak
Do they speak so softly you must put
Your ears to their lips or thunder
Like the orator in the ampitheater,
Is their speech so simple and sweet
Or do they challenge your intellect;
I want to hear their voices in my ears
I want them to put their lips to my heart.

I want to know the stories
That go along with these faces:
What work did they do
Before they took up their robes
What education did they have to overcome
Which of the 10,000 paths did they choose
How does one choose one path over another
Are they steadfast or backsliding
Going over old ground or breaking new paths
Stumbling over cultural boundaries
Or ignoring the thistles in the bouquet
Are they posing for the mind’s camera
Fooling the gullible with their poses
Or do they use their auras
To draw the needy to their thoughts
Do they succor the weary
Healing the ill
Reassuring the fearful
Enriching the impoverished
Commiserating or confrontational
Soothing the mourner’s sorrows
Celebrating the occasional acolyte
Commemorating achievements
With a smile, a nod, a mudra
Or do they frown at competition’s intrusions
Would they even allow me to sit at their feet?

Oh, how I ache to throw off the bounds
And rush across the world to meet them
10,000 sadhus all in one place at the same time
Wouldn’t there be one for me
Wouldn’t one of them choose me
How I long to throw off the shackles
Of my own personality
And adopt another not so badly worn
By sins of commission and omission
That I have gathered like garlands
And toll like the beads the finger
As they praise the 10,000 manifestations
Of the one truth that consumes us all
But then a small still voice answers me
That you don’t need 10,000 sadhus
All gathered together on these rare occasions
All in the same place all at the same time
You don’t need 10,000 sadhus
You just need the right one.

When Kali beckons do you stay or flee
When the tiger roars, do you walk or run?

(I will cross post this on my blog to draw more people here.)

Dear sagemerlin,

My lips are saying the best mantra that I can say for you directly from the Kumbh Mela's Heart. Your my greatest treasure and I am glad my stream has run into your river. I love your every letter and every word it's meaning and more....

BesT OM in the universe 4 YOU !
Algis

FEBRUARY 04, 2010 11:45 AM
Each one tells a story. Simply extraordinary.

Dear Lea Lane,

Your wonderful for saying this...
Thanks so much

Algis
FEBRUARY 04, 2010 11:46 AM
Unbelievable pohotgraphs--these faces are incredibly powerful and terrifying and mysterious and life changing all at once. This kind of energy is just not seen in the west--we have no idea what it takes to devote one's life to the spiritual quest without trying to make it into something like "prosperity consciousness." Westerners are entrenched in 3-dimensional material reality. These people are scary precisely because they have transcended that! Your photographs are superb, and of course, it is sad that each of these sadhus will suffer their demise perhaps alone on the streets where they reside, however I know all of the, believe in reincarnation and many of them know they are done with the wheel entirely, so let us pity ourslves, not them! At any event, how good of you to go back and reconnect with your teacher and your friend!

Dear Poet of Logan Square,

Your words have made such a good addition to this post.
Thanks so very much !

Yours truly
Algis

FEBRUARY 04, 2010 12:22 PM
What a stunning array of peaceful humanity....I would love to sit at their feet and hear them tell their stories. SageMerlin put it perfectly in his poem.

Dear WalkAwayHappy,

Your name got you your wish then ! Thanks so much again!

best regards
Algis


FEBRUARY 04, 2010 02:01 PM
Very special photos.

Dear Brelin Bischofberger,

And your special too.

Thanx plus

Algis
FEBRUARY 04, 2010 02:39 PM
These are so wonderful. Curious though, where are the women?

Dear Donna Sandstrom,

Hello, the women are a few posts back with their own page.http://open.salon.com/blog/alkeme/2010/02/01/women_sadhus_the_maha_kumbh_mela_2010 Thanks for commenting elt el.

Best
Algis

FEBRUARY 04, 2010 03:03 PM
Just gorgeous. I am amazed at the wonderful photos and thank you for posting them.

Dear sueinaz,

just trying to make a few peoples days brighter. Best regards alway and Thanks again.

algis

FEBRUARY 04, 2010 04:41 PM
Thank you for sharing your inspiring gift with us.

Dear Dr. Susanne Freeborn,

Thanks for pointing that out and it was a pleasure reading your post.

Best regards


algis
Algis
FEBRUARY 04, 2010 05:09 PM
Great Men, all. Many Hindoos are indeed wise, such as my friend Dr. Bhammajadhor, who is learned in the many arts of ancient practice. He can make a fly land on his tongue and dance there. Do you know him?

Dear Harold T. Ruffman,

Hee hee hee Hee !! thanks for dropping bye and leaving such a funny message.

Om from India
Algis

FEBRUARY 04, 2010 11:37 PM
a culture that you've never encountered is a culture waiting to be discovered. Algis discovered and we are the most deliciously better informed because of him. Great work. Worth a major exhibition.
Dearest Algis,

what comes through clearer than any focus and brighter than any of the colours you managed to capture during your relentless pursuit of the unusual and the humane as they coexist so admirably in the "less developed" universe is your own exquisite humanity and sensitivity. "Outside the box" has never been so graciously and invitingly explored. PBS, National Geographic, and The Discovery Channel should be alerted, soon.
Hi this was interesting. I loved it. Thx .
a culture that you've never encountered is a culture waiting to be discovered. Algis discovered and we are the most deliciously better informed because of him. Great work. Worth a major exhibition.

Dear Byron Ayanoglu,

I am in agreement with you brother...

best
algis

FEBRUARY 05, 2010 06:11 AM
These photos take my breath away. They are colorful, mysterious, and a little frightening. The video and the pictures of you with your friend brought tears to my eyes. Your words and how much you longed to see your friend...your search for answers, knowledge, for love I think - echoes in my own heart and soul. Thank you for taking the time to post these. Awesome.

Dear lumina59,

Your statement brings tears to my own eyes in retrospect. thanks for sharing.

Om from India

Algis
FEBRUARY 05, 2010 09:10 AM
Dearest Algis,

what comes through clearer than any focus and brighter than any of the colours you managed to capture during your relentless pursuit of the unusual and the humane as they coexist so admirably in the "less developed" universe is your own exquisite humanity and sensitivity. "Outside the box" has never been so graciously and invitingly explored. PBS, National Geographic, and The Discovery Channel should be alerted, soon.

Dear amdad44,

Your words bring great clarity and good goals for me to achieve. Thanks for sharing...

best ever
Algis

FEBRUARY 05, 2010 12:11 PM
Hi this was interesting. I loved it. Thx .

Dear Rolling,

Glad to have made your viewing so good.

best regards
Algis
FEBRUARY 07, 2010 03:51 AM
What an astounding collection of images. Thank you for these!
I came back and visited again. Great story about Shiv Raj Giri. Thanks.
What an astounding collection of images. Thank you for these!

Dear Caroline Hagood,

Thanks for the wonderful comment ! Hope the show really worked.

Best regards
Algis
I came back and visited again. Great story about Shiv Raj Giri. Thanks.

Dear grif -,

Glad you came back and
enjoyed the changes. Still fixing things so check back later.

Cheers
Algis
hi great photos. just a few things. the story you have with the old sadhu you call shiva raj giri...well his name is amarnath giri. yes a few yrs ago he had a bike crash and is somewhat troubled walking. he also shaved his jata and well he is not doing so well...he stil stayes at the same place on the ghat. shiva raj giri is the other sadhu you photographed naked applying ashes, and another time holding a conch shell and looking into the lense. he is also the star of the documentry "naked in ashes". i have much love for shivaraj and amarnath. one other sadhu you have is ganash giri. you have 2 photos of him naked cross legged with a smile and looking regal. very happy to see them all again. all the best with the photos. om
Hi AK,

Thanks for touching base. Yes, your right about the names. Most of my notes got soaked by the Ganges and I had mixed up a few names having hung out with so many sadhus. After awhile names started to overlap but as one sadhu told me...this doesn't matter because we are all one in spirit and purpose. Yes, Shiv Raj Giri was continuously after me to convert and take the colors of a sadhu. Maybe I will someday because this way of life has always fascinated me.

best regards
AK
Amazing collection !!!! We have a saying in India that Recognizing an enlightened one among sadhus is a really difficult task, owing not only to the gimmick and many dishonest one around but rather the true one's tendency to hide the glow in themselves. You seem to have the touch (or GOD's gift) to catch many rare ones although taking the photos of others as usual. I am bit envious but ofcourse with admiration to your work. Keep up the good work and I pray you fnd the rare one who will guide you to eternity.
Just a few queries:
Are the sadhus and Akhras near the South Kankhal or they are distribute everywhere?
Among all those whom you have pictured, please name a few who touched you the most