Lines of truth

indiafrank

Parkside, Australia

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650 viewings as of 4 March 2018.

Sadhu, Pushkar, Rajasthan, India.
Pride, certainty and determination are evident in the eyes of this sadhu as he traverses his path to spiritual fulfilment.

In Hinduism, a sādhu (“good; good man, holy man”) is a religious ascetic or holy person. 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.

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.

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

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, 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. The plant is widely used during the celebration of Shivaratri.

Sadhus engage in a wide variety of religious practices. Some practice extreme asceticism while others focus on praying, chanting or meditating.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sadhu

Artwork Comments

  • Judy Woodman
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