Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Sadhus (Holymen)

A group of Sadhus taking rest. 
The Sadhus (holymen or godmen)  are respected for their status of holiness in Nepal and India. A large number of Indian Sadhus visit Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, to pay homage  to Lord Shiva at Pashupatinath temple especially on the auspicious occasion of Mahashivaratri day (the great night of Lord Shiva).

An elderly Sadhu displays his about 12 ft long jata (thick hair locks).

During the Mahashivaratri day the Sadhus are treated as guests and  provided with free of cost foods, marijuana, hemp, fuel wood for the Dhuni (ritual altar fire )  and shelter in and around Pashupatinath temple premises. The visiting Sadhus are taken care of by the Nepalese authorities concerned . After the Mahashivaratri day  they are sent off with  some money for covering the travel expenses to reach their destination in India.

A foreigner boy  (c)  posing photographs with a  Sadhu.  
The Sadhus can be seen smoking marijuana and hemp for religious purposes and live happy at the Pashupatinath temple premises. Mahashivaratri day  is observed as a festival and a sacred and big  day  in Nepal and India.

A sadhu smoking  Ganja  (marijuana).  
Sadhu  blows smoke of  Ganja (marijuana). 

A Sadhu  smoking Ganja (marijuana) .

Marijuana, hemp and hashis are stricly prohibited  for business transaction in Nepal. But during  the Mahashivratri day the Sadhus are freely provided with marijuana and hemp openly for religious purposes. It is not allowed to the general people to smoke such things in public.The devotees and the Sadhus  smoke  Marijuana and  hemp  called '' Kakad''  in their language.The general people those who are addict of smoking of marijuana and hemp are known as ''Ganjadi". Those ganjadi ( smoking hemp or marujuana lovers)  join in religious  prayer (Bhajan)  on  the special occasion and they are serve free of cost smoking of  Kakad.The cultivation of marijuana is strictly  prohibited  by the Nepalese government but it is grown extensively in the Terai belt (northern Nepal-India border) or in remote forest areas in the Nepal  and India.Time and again the TV and newspapers report about destroying large quantity of the marijuana and hemp  by the Army,  Police and Social Workers.

Sadhu  blows smoke of  Ganja (marijuana) .

The Sadhus are also called Babajis and Sanyashis, Rishimuni  too,  who renounce all earthy property and sex life. And they  live in caves, forest areas and temples in Nepal and India. The Sadhus are Hindu by religion and they are seen at the various  temples mostly  at Pashupatinath temple's premises in Kathmandu.

A woman offer milk to a Sadhu (a holy man). 

A sadhu demonstrates yoga  Siri aashan- standing on his head  while a boy looks on. 

A sadhu  disply   over 10 ft  his long   tuppi (pigtail) of jata ( thick hair locks) in a greeting
     gesture   (namaste)  position.

A Sadhu smearing his body  with ashes  while  preparing   Ganja (in his palm) for smoking.

Nepal does not have a large number of  the Sadhus whereas there are over  six  million Sadhus of different sects  in India alone. The Sadhus are categorically divided as Nagaababa, Aghoribaba, Sadhu and Sanyashi. Nagababas live naked. They never shave and wear matted hair (thick locks-jata) and carry trishul (trident) or Chimta. Aghoribabas  claim  to keep company  with ghosts and they live near pyres as part of their holy  practice.

A Sadhu during make up his face. 

A sadhu  adjust his  crown of  rudrachhe  ( aneadsvariety).

In Hindu culture do  exist  a number of paths designed  to reach the Godhead. After becoming Sadhus they  give up everything, like  their family and sexual attachments etc. They live on one time  simple meal a day. They have their own way of  life-style as distinct from the life-style of normal people. They live in jungle, caves and temples. They  live on  public  donation. Mainly on the  donation from the devotees who visit them at the temple areas. And they also move  going around  for begging alms (viksha). They collects rice, bread, fruit, money etc as parts  of the alms.

It is  believed that the austerity practice  by the  Sadhus help them to put an  end to their Karma (wordly  destiny). Some Sadhus live in the mountain or in jungle for years at a stretch of time. During those days  they eat only wild fruits and roots and other tuber varieties.

A sadhu piercing his tongue with 10-inches long iron trident.

Some Sadhus are good horologists and are capable of  telling people's  fate and fortune. However, the people must be very careful while dealing with them (Sadhus).  It is  believed that if they got angry  their curse  will work. So  the people  always keep them pleased and satisfied.

According to the Hindu mythology in  The Ramayan and  The Mahabharat,  Sadhus  like Valmiki, Viswamitra  and Durbasha  are believed as  having god like  power.

A Sadhu sits  next to a big bell. 

The austerity of a Sadhu's  life  requires him  to take  compulsory early morning  ritual bath at the holy river even in the snowy mountain areas.  After  taking their ritual  bath. The Sadhus gather around  the Dhuni (sacred  fire altar)  and they offer their prayers and meditate.

A group of Sadhus sit before Dhuni ( a ritual fire). 

Sadhus live in Ashrams (hermitage)  and temples even in the midst of major urban centres, huts on in  the edges of villages and caves in the remote mountain areas. Others  keep moving in perpetual pilgrimage without  staying for a long time at  one place. Some  others live in large and common sacred  abode called ''Math''.

A general view of Pashupatinath temple.
A Sadhu  occupies a unique  and important place in the Hindu society, particularly in a village ''Math"'  and small town  and they are closely tied to tradition. In  addition to their  giving religious instruction and blessings to lay people, the Sadhus are often called on to adjudicate disputes among  different religious sects  and they also deal with family  disputes.  The Sadhus are also regarded as those who explain  the  philosophy  of Hinduism whose aim is to help men and women attain to  enlightenment and salvation of the soul from the cycle of birth and death.

Millions  follow the groups of the Sadhus. However, becoming a  Sadhu is difficult task.

In early 1970 - Youngsters in  the western countries were inspired by a Sadhu’s free life-style. A large number of  people from   Europe and  the United States of  America had started to follow the life-style  of Sadhus. During those days, they  were known as ''Hippies''  who had been visiting Nepal and India and other Asian countries.  They used to dress like Sadhus smoking marijuana, hemp and hashish and they walk  barefoot and  the male with long hair or  wear matted hair, thereby spending their life in a happy manner. Hippies use to  smoking marijuana as  it is a gift (prasad)  of Lord Shiva and before amoking marijuana they used   to say ''Jaya Shambhu".

Text and Pics by Devendra Man Singh.

For Further Reading,
The Sadhus (Holymen)

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