Naaga Sadhus! Real Power Seeker
The sight of a Naaga sadhu, locally referred to as Naaga babas, evokes all kinds of reactions from us ordinary mortals particularly the young amongst us. In India, these sadhus are frequently seen at popular religious place and events.
A common place to see these hermits is the Kumbh Mela where they dominate the proceedings by their massive presence. The largest of the akharas come here in droves for the pilgrimage; you can see hundreds or thousands of these sanyasis.
History and traditions
The Naagas are supposed to have been organized by Madhusudan Saraswati who was advised by Akbar the Mughal Emperor for the purpose of the Hindu monks who were not very militant and aooften failed to protect themselves from the onslaught of the Muslim leaders and their hardcore clerics.
Madhusudan Saraswati was a contemporary of Akbar the great and practiced the Shankaracharya’s teachings.
These monks are the militant arm of the Advaita Sanyasis hailing from the north of India and are called Naaga Sanyasis; their trademark getup is that they move around stark naked. These Naaga Sadhus are not to be taken lightly since they are normally armed and possess a virulent temper.
They are easily angered and always ready to fight. Traditionally, they formed part of the armies of ancient kings due to their fighting prowess. Their emergence as the defenders of the holy ascetics of all faiths and cults was taken up by Madhusudan Saraswati with the mughal ruler Akbar after consultations with Birbal who was a Navratna in Akbar’s court and commanded hid attention in all important matters.
The decision to arm them was taken by Akbar on the advice of Birbal.
Naaga Sadhus spot long hair and are usually fully naked with their genitals on full display; however, there are certain sadhus who are scantily clad. They smear their faces with the ash from funeral pyres; moreover, their bodies are also covered with the ash of dead bodies from the funeral pyres. Almost all of them are devout followers of Lord Shiva.
Almost all the time, they are in a state of intoxication since they have adopted this habit from Lord Shiva. For this purpose, they normally carry the chillum which is a shorter version like the pipe stuffed with intoxicants that they smoke. A larger version called Hukka is also used frequently.
Incidently, some of them even carry snakes around their neck just like Lord Shiva. Their normal routines involve severe penance, dire physical exercises like yoga and secret tantric rituals and practices that would provide them with mystical and spiritual powers.
The ultimate aim of these rituals is to obtain moksha or deliverance from the vicious cycle of birth, death and rebirth. As per the original military purpose of their formation, the Naagas still come out in drover whenever there is a perceived threat to the Hindu religion or to their temples or other religious establishments.
Since they are trying to live a life of celibacy, their dwellings are usually away from the normal human settlements; in effect, the effort is directed at staying away from all worldly pleasure like sex and lust. That is why they stay in Akharas that are situated in harsh hilly terrains.
They also show a lot of restraint when someone wants to join their ranks; the process of induction is very strict and they admit people only after they exhibit certain select qualities that make them fit for the life of an ascetic.
- Celibacy: Brahmacharya is strictly not remaining unmarried; even married men practice it. It simply means being celibate when unmarried and maintaining fidelity in married life. But, for the Sadhus they need to shun worldly pleasures. It just denotes the degree of control that a practitioner has. It also encompasses mental aspects of restraint. To qualify and get ordained as a naaga sadhu, you need to achieve victory over lust and desires.
- Service: The inclination to serve is also required; it is assumed that a sadhu is meant to serve and protect his nation, community, and religion. The service of the guru and other sadhus is also necessary. The chosen sadhus are normally from of Brahmin, Kshatriya or Vaishya communities and are around 17 or 18 years in age on an average.
- Performing own pidadaan and shraadh: The sadhus perform these riruals though they are normally performed by descendants.
- Giving up clothes: The sadhus sacrifice their clothing as a mark of relinquishing wordly pleasures.
- Wearing ashes and Rudraksh: These are part of their attire in a regular manner.
- Eating frugally: Food is only consumed as a necessity to sustain life.
- Sleeping on the floor: This is another practice to observe simplicity and shun comforts.
- Belief in mantras: This is a basic requirement for all sadhus.
These Naaga Sadhus are very powerful and they are real power seeker. For them power is everything as with the help of these powers they can achieve Nirvaana. Nobody mess with these aggressive Shiva followers. They hold a special place in the hearts of Hindus.