Sadhu’s life differs at greatly compared with that of Western cultures. Sadhus take a solemn pledge to detach themselves from all material items they own, their families, food, clothing and even houses. As a result of detachment, they peg their lives on the generosity of other people as an alternative method of living. When making their religious obligations, they attend their own burial ceremony, which signifies the end of their current self while they are being converted as sadhu (Goel 1). Sadhus basically concentrate on Aghori which is a cult of their practices well known for getting the better of all taboo. As part of their religious ceremony, they meditate on dead body of human beings, consume their flesh and retain a bony skeleton of the head to remind them that life is impermanent (Flood 120).
The life of sadhu is difficult to hold on and as a result, this fact discourages many people from following it. Practices like taking an early cold bath on mountains, which are mandatory calls for completely detaching oneself from luxuries. The day’s prayers and meditation follow morning cold bath while they gather around a holy fireplace known as dhuni. A number of sadhus give out cure to the local community, eradicate the evil eyes from society and consecrate marriages (Goel 2). In Hindus, they pass judgments when people in disputes or acts as mediator when families are in conflicts and reminders of the common Hindu of their divinity. These people are granted privileges of not paying fares when using trains (Flood 132).
Sadhus across all parts of India attends a mass gathering that is held after every three years at one of four positions by the side of holy rivers in India. Sadhus of all cults unite during this gathering. During these festivals, sadhus are in most cases the crowd pullers, a good number of them fully unclothed with their bodies smeared with ash sprint into the unpleasantly cold waters for a dip at daybreak. The life of sadhus currently living in India differs tremendously (Goel 4). Some sadhus live in ashrams, which is a place of religious retreat for Hindus and temples in the center of main urban centers. Other sadhus live in huts at far ends of the rural communities, and in caverns at highly secluded mountains. Others live a continuous journey to sacred places where they travel without stopping from different cities and holy places. Some religious leaders reside with one or two devotees; a number of abstainers lack companionships, while others live in big public institutions (Flood 145).
The severity of religious practices in which modern sadhus holds onto also varies in great extents. Very minimal number engages in the most spectacular striking severity like standing on one leg or not uttering a single word for a specific period of time. Most of them carrying out spiritual performances engage in some type worshiping, yoga and abstaining from foods, as per religious reasons. Many sadhus believe that consuming any plant of the genus cannabis is of great importance as per religion. This is because they believe Shiva has great affection of leaves from plants. Additionally, sadhus are living personification of the divine that is believed by Hindu to be true religious, enlightenment and deliverance from the sequence of birth and death (Flood 154).
Lord Shiva in Hinduism and How He Affects Sadhus
Shiva is one of the main deities of Hindu religion and his name denotes propitious lord. Shiva is a contradictory deity who destroys and restores; a kind herdsman of souls and furious punisher. Shiva is known of smoking chillum and consumption of marijuana to enable him reaches the highest levels of meditation. The sadhus emulate a behavior of which helps them relax during meditation. Shiva is also depicted as a god who liked to be associated with leaves from plants (Narayanan 7). This attribute has affected sadhus in that; they consume leaves from cannabis plants to associate themselves with their deity. The Shiva is also known as Lord of dance, during the ceremonies, sadhus dance while worshiping to please their deity. Shiva liked smearing his body with ash and commonly maintained long hairs. The sadhus who are the holy men maintain long hairs and smear their body with ashes as a sign of selfless life and detachment from material wealth.
Shiva is portrayed as god of death and he accepted everything that is not accepted; rotting things like corpses and marijuana which consumption is prohibited human beings. Rotten materials creates excitement and elation beyond the bounds of sobriety or a state of mind when a living thing is about to die. By the virtue of consuming the alcohol and marijuana portrayed Shiva as a God of death. The sadhus could also live in cemeteries and consume the intoxicated products to connect themselves with their deity (Narayanan 25). Sadhus also consumed human flesh and attended once burial during their liberation period after the four successful stages of transformations.
Why Sadhu Exist In India Culture
Hindu is the most leading religion in India with above 85% of the total population. Sadus adheres to the beliefs of their deity kown as Shiva. Shiva as one of the Supreme Being is followed by majority of Hindus compared to other sects deities. Sadhus being the holy men who adhere to all the traits associated with the Shiva play a major role in Shaivism beliefs. Sadhus are mostly found worshiping in temples and meditating, who Hindus believer in India culture highly honor (Narayanan 36).
It is hard to generalize sadhus depending on the spiritual beliefs because of diverse nature of Hindu austere. Their adoration is directed to different gods of both main and minor significance in Hindu temple. Many religious rites exercised by the sadhus are upheld by majority of Indian Hindus, for example the sacred fire. The sacred fires can also be founded in homes of Indian Hindus believers of different sects. The earthly detachment among the sadhus is cited as imaginative desires that are traced in Indians ascetic’s communities too (Narayanan 37).
Positive Impact of Sadhu from Hinduism
Life is sacred
Hinduism believes that every living creature is sacred because they are part of God and should be treated with love and care. Majority of Hindu believers do not consume meat, because they believe in holiness of life. Sadhus have learnt from these teachings of Hinduism the sanctity of life and protection of every God’s creature. Sadhus protect plants and consume what God has created considering them good as per the divine interpretation (Goel 5).
The virtual of simplicity has always been upheld among the Hindu community. Religious teachers are recommended to live on charity and not build up wealth. Sadhus are the most respected among Hindu community and they refer them as holy people. They have learnt the aspect of living a simple life, detaching from earthly wealth and dedicating their lives to serving their deity. Sadhus live on mercy of other people in the society; they eat little food and wear no clothes (Flood 156).
According to Hinduism, genuine contentment emanate from within oneself but not from what a person owns. Hindus teaching on this is that, consumption of material goods and ownership should not determine the happiness of a person. Main objective of life is discovering religious nature, peace and consequential satisfactions. This teaching has impacted positively to the sadhus since they adhere to this purpose of life avoiding any distraction (Flood 158).
Negative Impact of Sadhu from Hinduism
Many cultures of Hindu people have adapted the form of reflection in a different way to fit their needs. Contrary to its core objective of being form of a prayer, as a result of non discrimination experienced in Hinduism, some people embrace it as a career or as a way of escaping from their duties (Goel 6). Sadhus can learn from this to take their role as a career to avoid family obligations and assume the rites of meditation while they peg their needs on donations from others. Another negative impact from Hinduism is their way of thinking towards inequalities, where most believes men are superior beings compared to women. The region believes in social classes where certain groups of people are more superior compared to others and once you are an offspring of that class you will never leave it. This way of life acts as barriers to majority of Hinduism people who are trying to come out of such cocoons (Narayanan 39).
Hinduism entails astounding number of irrational belief arising from ignorance or fear of unknown. This traditional way of thinking has denied majority of Hindu people privileges to abandon their old fashioned life. Most of Hindu superstitions have been proven unrealistic and not true but many strongly believe in them. They follow the teachings of the religion even the most idiotic, believing that there is no external guides and regulations (Flood 165).
Flood, Gavin D. An introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
Goel, M. Lal. “Religious tolerance and Hinduism.” Conference at the Florida Atlantic University. 2002. P. 1-6
Narayanan, Vasudha. “The History Of The Academic Study Of Religion In Universities, Centers, And Institutes In India.” Numen: International Review For The History Of Religions 62.1 (2015): 7-39.