Joseph Anthony Lawrence, best known as Joey L., is a Canadian-born photographer and director based in Brooklyn, New York.

 Joey has traveled the world searching for wandering monks and spiritualists. This instalment of his Holy Men series features holy men, or sadhus, living in Varanasi, India.

Most of the portraits focuses on ‘Aghori’, a sect known for engaging in postmortem rituals such as covering themselves in human ashes, meditating on corpses or crafting jewellery from human bones. “The Aghori have a profound connection with the dead. Death is not a fearsome concept, but a passing from the world of illusion,” says the photographer.

His work inspired me to go to India and see these incredible people for myself.

Be sure to check out the rest of his work HERE.

hinduism-ascetics-portraits-india-holy-men-joey-l-3Left: The Aghori have a profound connection with the dead. Death is not a fearsome concept, but a passing from the world of illusion. Varanasi, India  Right: When he was young, Lal Baba’s parents arranged a marriage for him. Uncertain about his future, he ran away from home in Bihar Siwan and took up the lifelong task of becoming a sadhu. Varanasi, India
 hinduism-ascetics-portraits-india-holy-men-joey-l-4Lal Baba has dreadlocks (jatas) several meters long, which have been growing for over 40 years. To sadhus, dreadlocks are a sign of renunciation and a life dedicated to spirituality. Varanasi, Indiahinduism-ascetics-portraits-india-holy-men-joey-l-2Aghori sadhus cover themselves with human ash, which is the last rite of the material body. Varanasi, Indiahinduism-ascetics-portraits-india-holy-men-joey-l-5 (1)Right: Baba Mooni conducting Aghori Puja in Varanasi, India hinduism-ascetics-portraits-india-holy-men-joey-l-6 (1)Right: Magesh left a well paid job as an IT computer consultant to pursue to path of Aghora. After years of practice, he finds no temptation to return to his old life. Varanasi, Indiahinduism-ascetics-portraits-india-holy-men-joey-l-7Ram Das beside boat wreckage in Varanasi, India.hinduism-ascetics-portraits-india-holy-men-joey-l-8 (1)Left: Baba Mooni conducting Aghori Puja in Varanasi, India Right:hinduism-ascetics-portraits-india-holy-men-joey-l-15Aba Yohannis monastery – 74 years old  “I came from my village, from the countryside to learn. I didn’t go home. I preferred to stay here. I’ve been here for 43 years.”hinduism-ascetics-portraits-india-holy-men-joey-l-21Ascetic priest Baba Vijay Nund rows a boat along the Ganges River. Varanasi, India

The documentary filmmaker Cale Glendening followed Joey and his assistant Ryan as they shot the photo series. Check out the video here !

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