digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:

Agriculture

Applied sciences

Arts

Belief

Business

Chronology

Culture

Education

Environment

Geography

Health

History

Humanities

Language

Law

Life

Mathematics

Nature

People

Politics

Science

Society

Technology

For the 1994 film, see Sadhu (film).
Two sadhus near Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu, Nepal.
A sadhu in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Naga sadhu in Pashupatinath temple, Nepal
Sadhu in Pashupatinath

In Hinduism, a sādhu (Sanskrit: साधु sādhu, "good; good man, holy man") is a religious ascetic or holy person.[1] Although the vast majority of sādhus are yogīs, not all yogīs are sādhus. The sādhu is solely dedicated to achieving mokṣa (liberation), the fourth and final aśrama (stage of life), through meditation and contemplation of brahman. Sādhus often wear saffron-coloured clothing, symbolising their sanyāsa (renunciation). This way of life is open to women; the female form of the word is sādhvī साध्वी. In 2014 an all-female akhada (group of sadhus) was formed; it is believed to be the first such group in India.[2]

Etymology[edit]

The Sanskrit terms sādhu ("good man") and sādhvī ("good woman") refer to renouncers who have chosen to live a life apart from or on the edges of society to focus on their own spiritual practice.[3]

The words come from the Sanskrit root sādh, which means "reach one's goal", "make straight", or "gain power over".[4] The same root is used in the word sādhana, which means "spiritual practice". 'Sadhu' can also be used as Vidhyartha, meaning 'let good happen'.

Sadhu rituals[edit]

Sadhus are sanyasi, or renunciates, who have left behind all material attachments and live in caves, forests and temples all over India and Nepal.

A sadhu is usually referred to as Baba by common people. The word baba also means father, grandfather, or uncle in many Indian languages. Sometimes the respectful suffix -ji may also be added after baba, to give greater respect to the renunciate. It is also a term of endearment for small boys.

There are 4 to 5 million sadhus in India today and they are widely respected for their holiness,[5] and sometimes feared for their curses. It is also thought that the austere practices of the sadhus help to burn off their karma and that of the community at large. Thus seen as benefiting society, sadhus are supported by donations from many people. However, reverence of sadhus is by no means universal in India. Historically and contemporarily, sadhus have often been viewed with a certain degree of suspicion, particularly amongst the urban populations of India. Today, especially in popular pilgrimage cities, posing as a sadhu can be a means of acquiring income for non-devout beggars.

There are naked (digambara, or "sky-clad") sadhus who wear their hair in thick dreadlocks called jata. Aghora sadhus may claim to keep company with ghosts and live in cemeteries as part of their holy path. Indian culture tends to emphasise an infinite number of paths to God, such that sadhus, and the varieties that sadhus come in have their place.

A popular characteristic of Sadhu ritualism is their utilisation of marijuana (known as charas) as a form of a eucharist in line with their worship of Shiva who was believed to have an adoration or affinity for the leaves of the plant.[6] The plant is widely used during the celebration of Shivaratri.

Sadhu sects[edit]

Sadhus engage in a wide variety of religious practices. Some practice extreme asceticism while others focus on praying, chanting or meditating. There are two primary sectarian divisions within the sadhu community: Shaiva sadhus, ascetics devoted to Shiva, and Vaishnava sadhus, renouncers devoted to Vishnu and/or his incarnations, which include Rama and Krishna. Less numerous are Shakta sadhus, who are devoted to Shakti. Within these general divisions are numerous sects and subsects, reflecting different lineages and philosophical schools and traditions (often referred to as "sampradayas").

The Dashanami Sampradaya are Smartists; sadhus in the sect take one of the ten names as an appellation upon initiation. The sect is said to have been formed by the philosopher and renunciant Adi Shankara, believed to have lived in the 8th century CE, though the full history of the sect's formation is not clear. Among them are the Naga, naked sadhu known for carrying weapons like tridents, swords, canes, and spears. Said to have once functioned as an armed order to protect Hindus from the Mughal rulers, they were involved in a number of military defence campaigns. (1953: 116; cf. also Farquhar 1925; J. Ghose 1930; Lorenzen 1978)[7] Generally in the ambit of non-violence at present, some sections are known to practice wrestling and martial arts. Their retreats are still called chhaavni or armed camps, and mock duels are still sometimes held between them.

While sadhus ostensibly leave behind traditional caste at initiation, the caste backgrounds of initiates does influence the sects into which they are admitted; certain ascetic groups, such as the Dandis within the Dashnami sampradaya, are composed only of men of brahmin birth, while other groups admit people from a wide variety of caste backgrounds.[citation needed]

Female sadhus (sadhvis) exist in many sects. In many cases, the women that take to the life of renunciation are widows, and these types of sadhvis often live secluded lives in ascetic compounds. Sadhvis are sometimes regarded by some as manifestations or forms of the Goddess, or Devi, and are honoured as such. There have been a number of charismatic sadhvis that have risen to fame as religious teachers in contemporary India—e.g., Anandamayi Ma, Sarada Devi, Mata Amritanandamayi, and Karunamayi.[8]

Becoming a sadhu[edit]

A sadhu in Kathmandu.

The processes and rituals of becoming a sadhu vary with sect; in almost all sects, a sadhu is initiated by a guru, who bestows upon the initiate a new name, as well as a mantra, (or sacred sound or phrase), which is generally known only to the sadhu and the guru and may be repeated by the initiate as part of meditative practice.

Becoming a sadhu is a path followed by millions. It is supposed to be the fourth phase in a Hindu's life, after studies, being a father and a pilgrim, but for most it is not a practical option. For a person to become sadhu needs vairagya. Vairagya means desire to achieve something by leaving the world (cutting familial, societal and earthly attachments).

A person who wants to become sadhu must first seek a guru. There, he or she must perform 'guruseva' which means service. The guru decides whether the person is eligible to take sannyasa by observing the sisya (the person who wants to become a sadhu or sanyasi). If the person is eligible, guru upadesa (which means teachings) is done. Only then, the person transforms into sanyasi or sadhu. There are different types of sanyasis in India who follow different sampradya. But, all sadhus have a common goal: attaining moksha (liberation).

Living as a sadhu is a difficult lifestyle. Sadhus are considered to be dead unto themselves, and legally dead to the country of India. As a ritual, they may be required to attend their own funeral before following a guru for many years, serving him by doing menial tasks until acquiring the necessary experience to leave his leadership.

While the life of renunciation is described as the fourth stage of life in the classical Sanskrit literature of the Hindu tradition, and the members of certain sects—particularly those dominated by initiates of brahman background—have typically lived as householders and raised families before becoming sadhus, many sects are composed of men that have renounced early in life, often in their late teens or early 20s. In a few cases, those who choose the sadhu life are fleeing from family or financial situations which they have found to be untenable,[citation needed] if there is some worldly debt that remains to be repaid, would-be renunciates are encouraged by their gurus to pay off those debts before they become sadhus.[9]

In 1970 the first westerner became a Sadhu, Baba Rampuri.

Lifestyle[edit]

Sadhus walking on Durbar Square, Kathmandu
A sadhu in Madurai, India.

The ruggedness of the sadhu life deters many from following the sadhu path. Such practices as the obligatory early morning bath in the cold mountains require a detachment from common luxuries. After the bath, sadhus gather around the dhuni, or holy fireplace, and begin with their prayers and meditation for the day.

Some sadhus dispense cures to the local community, remove evil eyes or bless a marriage. They are a walking reminder to the average Hindu of Divinity. They are generally allowed free passage on the trains and are a close-knit organisation.

Kumbh Mela, a mass-gathering of sadhus from all parts of India, takes place every three years at one of four points along sacred rivers in India, including the holy River Ganges. In 2007 it was held in Nasik, Maharashtra. Peter Owen-Jones filmed one episode of "Extreme Pilgrim" there during this event. It took place again in Haridwar in 2010.[10] Sadhus of all sects join in this reunion. Millions of non-sadhu pilgrims also attend the festivals, and the Kumbh Mela is the largest gathering of human beings for a single religious purpose on the planet; the most recent Kumbh Mela started on 14 January 2013, at Allahabad.[11] At the festival, sadhus are the "biggest crowd pullers", with many of them "completely naked with ash-smeared bodies, sprint into the chilly waters for a dip at the crack of dawn".[12]

The lives of sadhus in contemporary India vary tremendously. Sadhus live in ashrams and temples in the midst of major urban centres, in huts on the edges of villages, in caves in the remote mountains. Others live lives of perpetual pilgrimage, moving without ceasing from one town, one holy place, to another. Some gurus live with one or two disciples; some ascetics are solitary, while others live in large, communal institutions. For some sadhus the brotherhood or sisterhood of ascetics is very important.

The rigour of the spiritual practices in which contemporary sadhus engage also varies a great deal. Apart from the very few that engage in the most dramatic, striking austerities—for example, standing on one leg for years on end or remaining silent for a dozen years—most sadhus engage in some form of religious practice: devotional worship, hatha yoga, fasting, etc. For many sadhus, consumption of certain forms of cannabis[13] is accorded a religious significance.[14] Sadhus occupy a unique and important place in Hindu society, particularly in villages and small towns more closely tied to tradition. In addition to bestowing religious instruction and blessings to lay people, sadhus are often called upon to adjudicate disputes between individuals or to intervene in conflicts within families. Sadhus are also living embodiments of the divine, images of what human life, in the Hindu view, is truly about – religious illumination and liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

Though some ascetic sects possess properties that generate revenue to sustain members, most sadhus rely on the donations of lay people; poverty and hunger are ever-present realities for many sadhus.

Images[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brian Duignan, Sadhu and swami, Encyclopedia Britannica
  2. ^ http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/women-sadhus-form-all-female-akhada-face-criticism-from-men/article1-1189679.aspx
  3. ^ Flood, Gavin. An introduction to Hinduism. (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1996) p. 92. ISBN 0-521-43878-0
  4. ^ Arthur Anthony Macdonell. A Practical Sanskrit Dictionary. p. 346.
  5. ^ Dolf Hartsuiker. Sadhus and Yogis of India.
  6. ^ Leffy, Tim. "Smokin' Sadhus". Go Nomad. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  7. ^ "The Wrestler's Body". Publishing.cdlib.org. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  8. ^ Karunamayi.org
  9. ^ something to this effect was found in 'Autobiography of a Yogi' by Prahamsana Yogananda, though he may not have used the word 'sadhu'
  10. ^ Yardley, Jim; Kumar, Hari (14 April 2010). "Taking a Sacred Plunge, One Wave of Humanity at a Time". New York Times. Retrieved 24 November 2010. 
  11. ^ Kumbhamela.net
  12. ^ Pandey, Geeta (14 January 2013). "Kumbh Mela: 'Eight million' bathers on first day of festival". BBC News. 
  13. ^ Dolf Hartsuiker. Holy Smoke. Sadhus and Yogis of India.
  14. ^ Tim Leffel. Smokin' Sadhus: India's wandering holy men make puffing hash their sacred ritual. gonomad.com

Further reading[edit]

  • Indian Sadhus, by Govind Sadashiv Ghurye, L. N. Chapekar. Published by Popular Prakashan, 1964.
  • Sadhus of India: The Sociological View, by Bansi Dhar Tripathi. Published by Popular Prakashan, 1978.
  • The Sadhu: A Study in Mysticism and Practical Religion, by Burnett Hillman Streeter, Aiyadurai Jesudasen Appasamy. Published by Mittal, 1987. ISBN 0-8364-2097-7.
  • The Way of the Vaishnava Sages: A Medieval Story of South Indian Sadhus : Based on the Sanskrit Notes of Vishnu-Vijay Swami, by N. S. Narasimha, Rāmānanda, Vishnu-Vijay. Published by University Press of America, 1987. ISBN 0-8191-6061-X.
  • Sadhus: The Holy Men of India, by Rajesh Bedi. Published by Entourage Pub, 1993. ISBN 81-7107-021-3.
  • Sadhus: Holy Men of India, by Dolf Hartsuiker. Published by Thames & Hudson, 1993. ISBN 0-500-27735-4.
  • The Sadhus and Indian Civilisation, by Vijay Prakash Sharma. Published by Anmol Publications PVT. LTD., 1998. ISBN 81-261-0108-3.
  • Women in Ochre Robes: Gendering Hindu Renunciation, by Meena Khandelwal. Published by State University of New York Press, 2003. ISBN 0-7914-5922-5.
  • Wandering with Sadhus: Ascetics in the Hindu Himalayas, Sondra L. Hausner, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-253-21949-7
  • Naked in Ashes, Paradise Filmworks International – Documentary on Naga Sadhus of Northern India.
  • Sâdhus, going beyond the dreadlocks, by Patrick Levy, published by Prakash Books, Delhi, 2010. Author's website.
  • Sadhus, un voyage initiatique chez les ascètes de l'Inde, by Patrick Levy, Editions du Relié, 2009. Author's website.

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sadhu — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
219074 videos foundNext > 

A day with a Sadhu

A tale about the daily life of Gajender Gipi Mharai, a naga sadhu, at Kumbh Mela in Haridwar, India. The music of this video is now available in the iTunes S...

SADHU INTERVIEW 2: Don´t be sad, be sad-hu

This amazing guy lives under a tree at river Ganges in Ram Juhla and will fast for more than 2 years, to overcome bad karma from his previous live. God bless...

SADHU INTERVIEW 1: UP IN HOLY SMOKE

Hanging around Rishikesh you dont need much cash. Like these Sadhus. He pretends to see God through Charras-smoking. Reality or Sadhu-hoax?

Indian Sadhu tells about Shiva

CLICK TO WATCH FULL DOCUMENTARY ONLINE: http://docsonline.tv/?search=Juggernaut&type=title&docinfo=128 India is an extremely spiritual nation. The Karthigai ...

Naga Sadhu mercilessly beaten and insulted in Punjab

These are the consequences of the Akali-BJP Government in Punjab. Complete lawlessness. If the young men in the video had a problem with the beliefs of the S...

SADHU INTERVIEW 4: Smoking baba with friends

Hanging around Rishikesh you don´t need much cash. These guy wait for small donations to buy fuel to stay on their high-ways.

Naga sadhu does naked yoga during Ardh Kumbh Mela

A naga sadhu performs a weird form of activity during Ardh Kumbh Mela on the banks of the Ganges river during the Maha Kumbh Mela at Prayaga in 2007. The Mah...

Post-Trib Rapture Revealed by Lord Jesus to Bro.Sadhu Sundar Selvaraj

According to Prophets Brian Bailey and Neville Johnson, the Man Child - those who first qualify as matured Sons of God, become Love as He is, always followin...

Watch it to believe It!! The terrifying Aghori sadhus

A place considered dreadful by others is home for Aghoris - The Hindu cremation ground. Do not confuse the Aghori sect for Hinduism which covers a more strai...

Naga Sadhu Procession, Kumbh Mela 2013 - Baba Rampuri

http://rampuri.com At Maha Kumbh Mela 2013, Naga Sadhus of Juna Akhara take Guru Dattatreya on the grand procession for the Shahi Snan, the Sacred Bathing wh...

219074 videos foundNext > 

1039 news items

Daily Mail

Daily Mail
Sat, 16 Aug 2014 14:43:08 -0700

A video purportedly showing a Naga sadhu being manhandled by five Sikh men has gone viral on the Internet. The video clip seems to have been shot between June 28 and August 10 when the Amarnath Yatra was underway. The sadhu is first seen coming ...
 
Hindustan Times
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 13:31:33 -0700

Former RJD MP Anirudh Prasad alias Sadhu Yadav, the estranged brother-in-law of party chief Lalu Prasad, has accepted to owning only a part of the booty recovered from three thieves, who confessed to committing burglary at his residence on June 12.
 
Enewspaper of India
Fri, 08 Aug 2014 22:48:45 -0700

Patna: The Income Tax department sent a notice to former MP Sadhu Yadav in connection with a theft case which took place at his residence. According to sources, Sadhu Yadav failed to provide the details of the Rs. 40 lakh that have been recovered in ...

The Hindu

The Hindu
Sat, 30 Aug 2014 12:41:15 -0700

Cast: Puneeth Rajkumar, Trisha Krishnan, Shivaji Prabhu, Kelly Dorjee, Rangayana Raghu, Sadhu Kokila, Tennis Krishna, Doddanna, Avinash, Jai Jagadis, Mandya Ramesh. The much-awaited Power *** can well be described as a Ganesh Chaturti gift for ...
 
Greenock Telegraph
Sat, 30 Aug 2014 02:33:45 -0700

GLOBETROTTING Inverclyde eye consultant Dr Sadhu Gupta is on his way around the world again to restore sight to poor people. Danny Chundoo and Dr Gupta are returning to India. He is returning to his homeland of India to help local doctors attend to ...

Times of India

Times of India
Sat, 30 Aug 2014 11:33:45 -0700

Director Sadhu Kokila did not want me to play an exact replica of the characters that have been portrayed in the previous two films, as the team believes that the Kannada audience expects their films to be different from the others. What I have done is ...
 
Bangalore Mirror
Sat, 30 Aug 2014 06:18:45 -0700

Sadhu Kokila and Rangayana Raghu make merry in the second half of the film. They go berserk, but that is what entertainment is all about.Trisha could have been used in more scenes. Shivaji Prabhu as the dogooder politician looks the part. The songs are ...

Vancouver Sun

CKNW News Talk 980
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 22:27:39 -0700

Deputy city manager, Sadhu Johnston, says the city will ask the Federal Court of Appeal tomorrow for a judicial review of the National Energy Board process. Johnston says Vancouver is the country's largest port and the city is already being impacted by ...
Loading

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Talk About Sadhu

You can talk about Sadhu with people all over the world in our discussions.

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!