Kumbh, the largest religious gathering in the world, offers a platform to experience the beauty of Indian traditions and culture. It has many great things to explore. Be it the spiritual beauty of Sangam or the saffron clad sadhus with tridents, swords and kamandalam with long dreadlocks. But this time it has more to offer to its visitors.
Meet Swami Ram Shankar, popularly known as ‘Digital Sadhu’. The 32-year-old sadhu, a graduate in commerce, is known for his tech savviness, which makes him different from usual sadhus. He left his home at a very young age for spiritual pursuits.
Clad in a saffron jacket with an iphone attached to a tripod, he is seen roaming around interacting with young people asking their perceptions about the Kumbh Mela 2019. Following are excerpts from a brief interview Indus Scrolls had with Swami Ram Shankar at Kumbh.
How did you come to be known as Digital Sadhu? Tell us about yourself.
After graduation in commerce from Gorakhpur University, I began to focus on my inner abilities and passion in life. When a close friend advised me to take this route and live a peaceful life declining all worldly pleasures of the world, I sought to take sanyas for rest of my life. I went to Gurukul for my further studies in Gujarat, Haryana then to Himachal Pradesh. I have travelled to many states in India. I came to stay at Ayodhaya but here when I saw how things are forced on people who wish to adopt Sanyasis life. They are made to believe certain things forcefully. Later I decided to follow my own journey by spreading the importance of spiritual knowledge and richness of Indian tradition through social media especially to our younger generation. So people started calling me ‘Digital Baba’.
What are your perceptions on Kumbh?
I am attending Kumbh for the first time. It’s a huge platform to experience spiritualism and sea of religious humanity. I am using this platform to spread the importance of spiritualism and our rich tradition our culture to million other people through social media. Here at kumbha many sadhus have come up with their makeshifts setups. They have spent crores of rupees in decoration of their mandapams, on lights stage and other pomp show activities which I think is not right. The message is clear that money should be spent for the good cause.
How do you manage everything? Is there any team working for you?
No. I do all things alone. I keep travelling. I am seen here carrying my five kg bag on shoulders inside the mela premises daily. I roam with my iMac and iPhone attached to a tripod for interacting with people on their thoughts and notion, about our holy books and spiritual practices. I love this job. I am not like other sadhus moving in SUVs. I travel in an auto. I am not a spendthrift.
What are your future plans? What are your interests in life?
I once dreamt of becoming a Bollywood actor. I am a theatre artist. I learnt many skills in life — art and communication. Music is something that interests me a lot. I sing, dance and talk. I enjoy life on my own terms. I have got an offer to act in a film ‘I am the God’ directed by Kaadir Khan. But I don’t want to. I plan to stay as a Digital Sadhu for the rest of my life. I will come up with some good ideas and projects for interacting with youths. I want to use digital platforms for imparting spiritual knowledge to our youth.