India's 'Rolling Saint' comes to UK: Holy man wants to see his name in 'Guinness Book of Records'
Thursday 11 August 1994
With his arms and long hair windmilling wildly, Lotan Baba, India's famous 'Rolling Saint' will be thumping down Grosvenor Road, heading for the peace pagoda in Battersea Park. He is a wiry ascetic from Gujarat who has the willpower to roll half way across India but who cannot quite kick his cigarette habit.
It is doubtful that in today's roll for peace across London the sadhu - holy man - will encounter anything that he has not banged into before. Herds of camels, elephants, crazed lorry drivers - 'one lorry was coming straight at me in Rajasthan, but, thanks be to the Mother Goddess, it overturned in the last minute,' he says - have all swerved from the holy roller's path.
He recently finished an exhausting and bumpy 1,700- mile roll from his native village of Ratlam to the famous Hindu shrine of Vaishno- Devi in the Himalayan foothills.
He rolled - at a smart pace - across Rajasthan's burning deserts and survived Delhi's surreal traffic. He splashed along roads oozing with monsoon rain and mud, and, finally, ground himself into a low rolling gear for the uphill ascent to Vaishno-Devi.
'When I was rolling, I felt that each turn of my body was like the earth revolving in the universe,' said the holy man, who has long hair, a beard and whose forehead is caked with white and red paste in the shape of a plough or a Cadillac's fancy grillwork.
He was banging along through New Delhi's rush- hour traffic when he was spotted by Naresh Bedi, a prominent Indian film-maker. 'I couldn't believe my eyes. It was 115 degrees out, and there was this frail man rolling along in the lane with scooters and buses all over him, honking and belching smoke,' said Mr Bedi, who decided to follow the sadhu with his camera.
His reputation as a devout holy man preceded him along his way across India, and when he finally rolled to a stop after completing up to 10 miles a day, Lotan Baba was often kept awake trying to heal sick villagers who believed his extreme devotion had given him mystical powers.
This saint is rolling into Battersea, he claims, for 'World Peace and Harmony'. But Lotan Baba has another, more private reason for visiting London: he wants to see the Guinness Book of Records people. 'My only wish now is for my feat to be recorded in the Guinness Book,' he beamed.
Lotan Baba's readiness to roll may perhaps have another explanation: he has also, as penance, spent seven years standing upright, rooted to one spot under his village banyan tree.
- 1 Moscow voted the world's unfriendliest city
- 2 The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
- 3 I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality
- 4 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches, it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don’t change Europe’s attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...
£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...