Even though the opening snan of the Ardh Kumbh didn’t see a bevy of sadhus like the Nagas or those from the Juna akhara who add glitz and exoticism to the festival, the Ardh Kumbh till now has seen a few unique characters like the Golden baba, a sadhu who came with his followers decked in golden ornaments, to take a dip in the Ganga on Friday. The baba, believe it or not, according to his chelas, walks around wearing 15.5 kg of gold worth almost Rs 3 crore on his person.
At the ghat where the baba landed with his disciples for a dip, he was the cynosure of all eyes with his glittering golden lockets, armbands and heavy rings on all fingers, not to mention his specially crafted diamond watch worth Rs 27 lakh. Ask him about his fascination for gold, and the baba’s disciples are quick to point out that “just like gold is a precious and rare commodity, so is our guru which is why he is adorned with golden ornaments which befit his personality.”
Incidentally, the baba, whose real name is Sudhir Kumar Makkad, was in the garments business in Delhi before he took sanyas. When queried about his reasons for renunciation, the 53-year-old told TOI, “I must have made mistakes, done wrong things as a businessman. It is to atone for those sins that I took to an ascetic’s life. Now, I spend my time helping people especially by getting poor parents marry their daughters as well as other acts of charity.”