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 organization.
Shivrati Sadhus : Burning Karma As they are in ritual, daily life, blowing in the wind of reality.
"In Hinduism, Sadhu is a common term for a mystic, an ascetic, practitioner of yoga (yogi) and/or wandering monks. The Sadhu is solely dedicated to achieving the fourth and final Hindu goal of life: moksha (liberation), through meditation and contemplation of Brahman. Sadhus often wear ochre-colored clothing, symbolizing renunciation."
Sadhus are sanyasi, or renunciates, who have left behind all material and sexual attachments and live in caves, forests and temples all over India and Nepal.
There are 4 or 5 million Sadhus in India today and they are still widely respected: revered for their holiness, 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.
The lives of sadhus in contemporary India vary tremendously. Sadhus live in ashrams and temples in the midst of major urban centers, in huts on the edges of villages and even in caves in the remote mountains. Others live in a state of perpetual pilgrimage, ceaselessly moving from one town to the next from 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, the bonds of Sadhu identity, the brotherhood or sisterhood of other ascetics is very important and for others it is not. The rigor 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, the consumption of Hashish or Marijuana or other forms of cannabis is accorded a religious significance. 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.
Khumb Mela (Festival of Sadhus Gatherings):
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 2010 it was held in Haridwar in the foothills of the Himalayas. 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 purpose on the planet.
Types of Sadhus:
*Shaivite: The Shaivite Sadhus are the followers of Shiva and are divided into various sects. They usually wear on their forehead the three lines of the god's trident drawn in ash or sandalwood paste, which may be vertical or horizontal. Endless variations of these sectarian marks, depending on the sect, are possible. They may decorate their bodies with various lines and markings, cover the entire torso with ashes, carry a metal trident, and wear rosaries. The hair and the beard are uncut and matted.
*Vaishnavite: Vaishnavite Sadhus are devoted to Vishnu and are a later development than the Shaivite. Commonly called Vairagi (detached ones), they are members of various schools of Bhakti (devotion). They do not emphasize the ascetic extremes of the Shaivites. Their common identifying mark is a white U drawn on the forehead, with an added line in either white or red in the centre. They normally wear white or yellow and carry beads of the tulsi (sacred basil). Unlike the common Hindu who is cremated, the Sadhu is buried, usually in the sitting position. The burial site normally becomes a place of worship.
Under Shaivite there are further types of Sadhus:
Naga Sadhus: There are naked Naga Sadhus which are non-shaven and wear their hair in thick locks, and Jata, who carry swords.
Aghora Sadhus: Aghora Sadhus may claim to keep company with ghosts, or live in cemeteries as part of their holy path. The Aghori sect who worships lord Shiva, believes that every human is a 'Shava'(dead body) with emotions and they should try to become 'Shiva' by denying the human pleasures and involving themselves in the Aghori rituals.
Wandering Mystics of India
News · Fetish · Nothingness
For many sadhus, consumption of certain forms of cannabis is accorded a religious significance.
Hundreds of Naga Sadhus gather in the compound of Maya Devi Temple, befoe going in a procession to take a holy dip in the ganges.
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