Sadhus in Hinduism are wandering holy men or monksÂ reveredÂ for being good. Many Sadhus are also Yogis who are practitionersÂ ofÂ meditation. They have have chosen a lifeÂ awayÂ from or at leastÂ on the edges of normal society to focus on their own spiritual practice.
Talking with a Sadhu is said to either be wildly confusing or deeply insightful.Â Either wayÂ being able to speak Hindi is a huge advantage in deciphering what they are saying. However a few Sadhus do understand moreÂ EnglishÂ than you might at first have guessed.
Sadhus in Nepal live a simple un-materialistic life
They do not have any material nor sexualÂ attachments. Many live in basic dwellings such as in caves, forests or Hindu temples. Some Sadhus claim to live with ghosts inÂ cemeteries. Â Sadhus live on the support of the people theyÂ encounter. Though the purists say otherwise in myÂ experienceÂ they do accept donations for food or clothing.
Such a life of hardship means not many follow the path of a true Sadhu. However there are many fake Sadhus who come out only on such occasions as festivals to cash in on the generosity of others. Or simply to make money by other means.
AtÂ Pashupatinath one man claiming to be a SadhuÂ approachedÂ me looking for money. A Nepalese friend said he was from India. I told him to go away and that I came here to see Nepal and not hand money to people asking for it from India.
The crowd around us broke out into a loud cheer of Nepalese national pride. The money asking Sadhu slipped away.
How to become a Sadhu
After an education a Sadhu will first cut ties with everything. Including possessions, friends, family and society. They are in fact declared ritually dead, and often attend their own funerals. They must then seek a guru toÂ perform â€˜gurusevaâ€™ which means service and learn the ways of the Sadhu.
Throughout India and Nepal there are many different sects of Sadhus. Each sect has their own rituals and rights of passage before allowing an individual to become a Sadhu. Women can also become Sadhus and are known as Sadhvi.
Sadhus often take on pilgrimages to various religious festivals in both India and Nepal. The most celebrated festival of Sadhus in Nepal isÂ Shivaratri.Â ShivaratriÂ is held in honor of the Hindu deity Shiva. If you visit Nepal during this time youâ€™ll see many Sadhus in PashupatinathÂ which containsÂ Nepalâ€™sÂ oldest Hindu temple.
Sadhus in Nepal are well-known for smoking hashish. They use the drug to help gain a high level of meditation.
TheÂ Hanuman Sadhu
While at Shivaratri in Nepal I came across one the more unusual Sadhus. A Sadhu dressed like the Hindu deity Hanuman who has the face of a monkey. Iâ€™m told that this is how he makes his living as he does create quite an attraction.
I did witness the Hanuman Sadhu eating and talking with other Sadhus so I donâ€™t think itâ€™s all gimmick. The costume itself is elaborately decorated and complete with a monkeyâ€™s tail. The man behind the mask bares lines of age so I do also think heâ€™s been around a while.
Sadhus of Nepal come from all around the Hindu world
Sadhus are wandering Holy men that traverse not just Nepal and India but further afield as well. They are a different breed of traveler. They live like few other people on earth.
These are the Sadhus of Nepal.