Indian holy men, 1809.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving by J Chapman, of 'Purana Poori, an Oordhbahu Saniassy' (1); 'Purrum Soatuntre Perkasanund, a Ser-seja Saniassy' (2); and 'A Yogey' [sic] (3). A sannyasi, or sanyasin, is a wandering Hindu fakir or holy man, or Brahmin in the fourth stage of life. Here Purana Poori (top) relaxes on a bed of nails; Purrum Soatuntre Perkasanund (bottom left) holds his arms above his head; some holy men keep limbs immobile for years, so that they eventually atrophy and become useless. A yogi, or practitioner of yoga, (bottom right) sits cross-legged in the lotus position, holding the trident symbolic of a follower of the god Shiva. Illustration from 'Encyclopaedia Londinensis, or, Universal Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Literature' published in London, 1810-1829.