My personal opinion -after having met many such characters- in India; either in Varanasi, Rishikesh, Vrindavan et al, as well as at the Kumbh Mela, is that the majority of them are fake in the sense that they're not dedicated ascetics, but individuals who are adopted a vagabondage lifestyle, begging for alms and food...under the guise of being holy and religious.
Old English boc "book, writing, written document," traditionally from Proto-Germanic *bokiz "beech" (cf. German Buch "book" Buche "beech;" see beech), the notion being of beechwood tablets on which runes were inscribed, but it may be from the tree itself (people still carve initials in them). The Old English word originally meant any written document. Latin and Sanskrit also have words for "writing" that are based on tree names ("birch" and "ash," respectively). Meaning "libretto of an opera" is from 1768. A betting book is from 1856.
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