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The Sadhus of India

First Online: May 24, 2000
Page Last Updated: January 03, 2018

A Sadhu at Varanasi
A Sadhu with ash on his body

A Sadhu (Saa-dhu) -  is a Hindu ascetic or a monk  The Sadhu tradition has a long history. It consists of renouncing worldly ties in pursuit of higher values of life. Ideally a Sadhu lives in the society but is detached from its pleasures and pains.

Sadhus typically survive on bhiksha (alms) provided by families, and on natural resources, and they spend most of their time in meditation. A large number of Sadhus assemble for holy festivals such as the Kumbha-Mela.

An ascetic (Sadhu) performing rituals
An ascetic (Sadhu) performing rituals
Begging is their primary source of living

See Also:

  • Sages, Sadhus, and Swamis -- A classification of the holy men of India. Also a fascinating potpourri of pictures

  • Begging Profession in India -- Kamat on why people beg in India, their modus operandi, their social and love life. He wonders whether feeding the beggars keeps the profession alive


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