This photo is taken from the boat of the burning Ghats. It is hard to see from a distance, but photos are not allowed of this area where bodies are cremated. It is a sacred ritual that occurs for every Indian except very holy men and women.
We left the boat just beyond this area and walked to one of the small brown towers where we looked down on a funeral procession. (You can see these in the center of the photo.) The body was wrapped in cloths and flower garlands, carried on a wood and cloth litter by male family members. Following them were other men each carrying a large log for the fire. Following them were the women dressed in their colorful saris. The scene brought to mind scenes from Lord of the Rings. Very ancient images: men splitting wood, large stacks of different sizes of wood, smokey fires, dogs, cows, monkeys.
This man was chanting from the large book. I am guessing that he is a devotee of Shiva as you can see from the picture behind him as well as his hair. The term Sadu describes a man who has devoted his life to God and renounced attachments to most aspects of material/worldly life.
As we walked away from the river and ghat area into Varanasi’s streets, another sadu was sitting on this raised platform.
I got lucky with this photo. He turned to look at me just as I was ready to snap the photo! He tried to sell us a flute.