Canadian author Ishwar Sharan is a Smarta Dashanani sannyasi called Swami Devananda Saraswati, who took his Vedic initiation from a renowned mahamandaleswar at Prayag in 1977. His purvasrama family were middle class professionals and God-fearing Protestant Christians. He did not complete high school and is self-educated through reading books on all subjects, with a special interest in religion and history. He has travelled extensively in Canada, USA, Europe, North Africa, West Asia and India. His experiences during these wandering years include service in a communist kibbutz during the Six Day War in Israel and some months spent in retreat in a Franciscan hermitage near Assisi, Italy. En route to India by road in 1967, he visited the places that his child-hood hero, Alexander the Great, had visited on his expedition to India in the 4th century BCE. Later he tried without success to visit Babylon near Baghdad, where Alexander had died, and Ctesephon on the Tigris where his beloved spiritual hero, Julian the Apostate, had been martyred by a trusted Christian officer.