Thursday, November 15, 2012

Indian Sadhus – Ascetics & Wanderers

Aghori sect
India is always being a curious land for outsiders for its holiness and mystical charms. Sadhus (saints) are an integral part of this holiness and peculiar sight of sadhus in Indian holy places essentially epitomizes Hinduism. Saffron-clad hermits with entangle locks are India’s wandering holy men renounced their worldly life and embraced celibacy, ascetic yoga and searching enlightenment that's renunciation is the basic principle of Hinduism. Indian sadhus have been around from thousands of years respected, venerated  for their blesses and  curses.
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Most of the sadhus make their location near the major Hindu pilgrimage sites and staying in a strange way, most of them spread ashes on their body, some of them standing one arm on the air for years or some stay nude for ever even in the chilling winter waves. Sometimes they travel alone or in groups and live life high on marijuana.

An Aghori sadhu in Varanasi ghats
Sadhus are mainly divided into three communities: Shaiva sadhus who are devoted to Lord Shiva , other one is Vaishnava sadhus who are devoted to Lord Vishnu and last one are Shakta sadhus who are less prevalent and devoted to Goddess Shakti(power).  They have also different type religious practices; some of them follow extreme asceticism while others follow simple praying, chanting or meditation.

The Naga sadhus are believed to be come down from the Himalayas and can be seen during Kumbh Mela only. They sport thick locks and carry swords. They detached from worldly life not necessarily the pleasures like sex or narcotics. They follow the lifestyle of Lord Shiva and live life from begging. Their rituals are complex involving fire, water, meditation, yoga and strange mantras(chanting). Naga sadhus are known for their hard core austereness (not even wear a single cloth on their bodies) and always travel in large groups.

Wisdom reflects through eyes
There are other section of sadhus like Aghora who are believed to keep ghosts, mainly live in cemeteries and engage in strange demonic rituals. There are less number of female sadhus-known as sadhvis have found in many sections. They live life in more on a path of praying, singing religious songs, live austere life in a secluded place. Many sadhvis are honored as goddess.

Sadhus perform strange practices or ritual to attain enlightenment. Some sadhus are believed to execute magical rituals while some other practices hath and raja yoga (an intense forms of yoga) to gain enlightenment. Some sadhus perform tantric practices (diabolical worship) to make contact with god. Although very rare sadhus are enlightened but most of the sadhus are regarded holy due to their extreme dedication and asceticism.

A sadhu practising concentration
Sadhus are holy wanderers who are dwelling from one place to other. They live in ashrams and many pilgrimages. Sometimes they are seen in different villages, or even in the remote caves of Himalayas. Ashrams are the place one can see the life of Sadhus closely. Sadhus who stays in ashrams are mainly engage in praying, chanting and live an austere life but with more of a normal man. Some ashrams are made for public visit also. Many pilgrims have drawn there to search for peace of mind. Ashrams are made to foster bliss, people are taught to stay in discipline, also assuage sufferings and worldly pleasures. Some of the ashrams are well renowned in world; Most of the renowned ashrams have guest houses, meditation centers and other facilities for outsiders.  Some of the famous ashrams which invite outsiders are : ISKCON, Osho Dham, Ramkrishna Ashram, Aurovilla, Belur Math, Amritapuri Ashrams.

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2 comments:

  • Yankeedoodle says:
    October 28, 2012 at 8:13 AM

    Hi,
    I just made a small video clip on the life of ascetics in Rishikesh, India. Hope it aids your blog.
    Thanks.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbIR4gx4KOU&feature=plcp

  • Rifle Scott says:
    July 19, 2015 at 3:55 AM

    thats kinda creepy , but beautifull at once

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