Sadhus – Wandering Holy Men of Nepal

Sadhus are men who practice Hinduism and are considered holy especially because of
their intense commitment to the Gods. Sadhus are originally from India but they can
be found in Nepal and other countries where Hinduism is a popular religion. Interestingly,
Hinduism is the only religion where one can enter only through birth and not by conversion.

Sadhus have been around for thousands of years and today there are about five million men
that are considered to be true Sadhus. These men separate themselves from the rest of the human
society and spend the rest of their lives focusing entirely on praising and worshiping their chosen
deity, of which there are hundreds in different shapes and sizes. These Hindu monks spend a lot of
their time wandering around by themselves.

One of the aspects of a Sadhu man’s life is to practice one of the ancient forms of yoga and later
to pass it on to others. Yoga is a form of meditation where one gains control over the body and mind.
For the Sadhus in Nepal, yoga is a chance for them to increase their spiritual powers and knowledge.
Sadhus also practice magic and take part in rituals in an attempt to gain contact with the gods. For
those who are successful in their practice of being a Sadhu they are even worshiped to the point of
being considered gods on earth.

In Nepal, the Sadhus have quite a large following of believers who just have to be in the presence
of a Sadhu to gain a part of his spiritual forces. The position the Sadhu commands is one where the
follower’s lives are totally devoted to spiritual things making the task of working impossible. The
followers are expected to support the Sadhus through donations, which are also considered an offering
to the gods, and in return the believers will receive blessings of some sort.

In Nepal the Sadhus can be found in the Kathmandu valley near the Himalayas. You will notice them
in their red and yellow robes with strings of beads or they will be completely naked. They also have
ash painted faces and bodies, which tells everyone their religious affiliation. Their hair is long and
is never cut or washed. Some Sadhus don’t wear anything and walk around naked with a spear in one hand
and a brass pot for begging in the other.

A traditional Hindu man will go through four stages in his life should he desire to become a Sadhu.
First he becomes a dedicated student, then a man with a family, afterwards, along with his wife, he
becomes a Forest Dweller, where they spend time in a remote place meditating. The last step for a
Hindu man is to become a Sadhu, a man with no family connections who travels around trying to find
spiritual completeness.