A SADHU (
IAST : sādhu (male), sādhvī (female)), also spelled
SADDHU, is a religious ascetic , mendicant (monk) or any holy person
It literally means one who practises a ″sadhana″ or keenly
follows a path of spiritual discipline. 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 simple clothing, such saffron -coloured
clothing in Hinduism, white or nothing in Jainism, symbolising their
sannyāsa (renunciation of worldly possessions). A female mendicant in
* 1 Etymology * 2 Demographics and lifestyle
* 4 Becoming a sadhu * 5 Festive gatherings * 6 See also * 7 Notes * 8 References * 9 Further reading * 10 External links
A sadhu in yoga position, reading a book in
The term sadhu (Sanskrit: साधु) appears in
Atharvaveda where it means "straight, right, leading straight to
goal", according to
The Sanskrit terms sādhu ("good man") and sādhvī ("good woman") refer to renouncers who have chosen to live lives apart from or on the edges of society to focus on their own spiritual practices.
The words come from the root sādh, which means "reach one's goal", "make straight", or "gain power over". The same root is used in the word sādhanā , which means "spiritual practice". It literally means one who practises a ″sadhana″ or a path of spiritual discipline.
DEMOGRAPHICS AND LIFESTYLE
There are 4 to 5 million sadhus in India today and they are widely
respected for their holiness. 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. For example,
There are naked (digambara , or "sky-clad") sadhus who wear their hair in thick dreadlocks called jata. Sadhus engage in a wide variety of religious practices. Some practice asceticism and solitary meditation, while others prefer group praying, chanting or meditating. They typically live a simple lifestyle, have very few or no possessions, survive by food and drinks from leftovers that they beg for or is donated by others. Many sadhus have rules for alms collection, and do not visit the same place twice on different days to avoid bothering the residents. They generally walk or travel over distant places, homeless, visiting temples and pilgrimage centers as a part of their spiritual practice. Celibacy is common, but some sects experiment with consensual tantric sex as a part of their practice. Sex is viewed by them as a transcendence from a personal, intimate act to something impersonal and ascetic.
Shaiva sadhus are renunciates devoted to
Within the Shaiva sadhus are many subgroups. Most Shaiva sadhus wear
Tripundra mark on their forehead, dress in saffron, red or orange
color clothes, and live a monastic life. Some sadhus such as the
The Dashanami Sampradaya sadhus belong to the Smarta Tradition . They are 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 subgroups, 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. 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.
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
The Jain community is traditionally discussed in its texts with four terms: sadhu (monks), sadhvi or aryika (nuns), sravaka (laymen householders) and sravika (laywomen householders). As in Hinduism and Buddhism, the Jain householders support the monastic community. The sadhus and sadhvis are intertwined with the Jain lay society, perform Murtipuja (Jina idol worship) and lead festive rituals, and they are organized in a strongly hierarchical monastic structure. They were a part of Dumont's theory on social stratification, but according to John Cort, the empirical data refutes Dumont thesis. There are differences between the Digambara and Svetambara sadhus and sadhvi traditions.
The Digambara sadhus own no clothes as a part of their interpretation of Five vows , and they live their ascetic austere lives in nakedness. The Digambara sadhvis wear white clothes. The Svetambara sadhus and sadhvis both wear white clothes. According to a 2009 publication by Harvey J. Sindima, Jain monastic community had 6,000 sadhvis of which less than 100 belong to the Digambara tradition and rest to Svetambara.
BECOMING A SADHU
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).
A sadhu in
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
A sadhu in Kathmandu, Nepal *
A sadhu playing flute *
Sadhvi or female
* Hinduism portal
* ^ See for example: अग्ने विश्वेभिः स्वनीक देवैरूर्णावन्तं प्रथमः सीद योनिम् । कुलायिनं घृतवन्तं सवित्रे यज्ञं नय यजमानाय साधु ॥१६॥ – Rigveda 6.15.16 ( Rigveda Hymn सूक्तं ६.१५, Wikisource) प्र यज्ञ एतु हेत्वो न सप्तिरुद्यच्छध्वं समनसो घृताचीः । स्तृणीत बर्हिरध्वराय साधूर्ध्वा शोचींषि देवयून्यस्थुः ॥२॥ – Rigveda 7.43.2 ( Rigveda Hymn सूक्तं ७.४३, Wikisource) यथाहान्यनुपूर्वं भवन्ति यथ ऋतव ऋतुभिर्यन्ति साधु । यथा न पूर्वमपरो जहात्येवा धातरायूंषि कल्पयैषाम् ॥५॥ – Rigveda 10.18.5 ( Rigveda Hymn सूक्तं १०.१८, Wikisource), etc.
* ^ A B C Brian Duignan,
* Jaini, Padmanabh S. (1991), Gender and Salvation: Jaina Debates on the Spiritual Liberation of Women, University of California Press , ISBN 0-520-06820-3 * 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 ">
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