This photo was taken in India Haridwar where I met this Sadhu. Haridwar is the place where all pirlgrims from all over India gather every 12 years for a few days for the holy Kumbh-Mela. During these days the River Ganges also known as Mother Ganga is regarded as the elixier of inmortality. The holy sadhus have the privilige to take the first bath in the Ganges. Becoming a Sadhu can happen in every stage of age. Some become Sadhus later in life while other become a Sadhu as a child when they are given away from their parents to a Teacher or Guru who takes care for them. This might seem disturbing to the western civilisation but in this culture it is an honour and privilige. In fact Sadhu's do have a very good life, since people respect them as holy man and support them with food and shelter where needed. In return they get their blessings.
Sadhu is a religious ascetic, mendicant or any holy person in Hinduism and Jainism who has renounced the worldly life. They are sometimes alternatively referred to as yogi or sannyasi. The only goal they are aiming for is the ultimate liberation. Some of this people have had just normal lifes with family, jobs and wealth before they decided to get rid of everything and walked out the door. Just going, without knowing whether they will come back or not. Mainly they start a life as pilgrims heading towards the Himalalayas or wherever their way would take them. This people have reached the 4th phase in their life referred as Sanyasa. The four phases in hinduism are briefly defined as following:
Brahmacharya is the first stage of life. It is the student stage of life, preparing for success in later stages of life.
Grihastha is the second stage. Known as the “householder” stage, it follows what most people do naturally after leaving school: Maintaining a home, having a family.
Vanaprashta is the third stage. It begins after individuals fulfill their obligations to their families. In ancient times, once reaching this stage people would start detaching themselves from family life and the pursuit of material ends by moving to the forest time to devote more of their time to spiritual practice, living among other seekers of solace, knowledge, peace, and freedom.
The fourth stage is Sannyasa, renunciation. There are two traditional entry points into this stage of life. Those few Hindus who from an early age have a calling or want to live an entire life immersed in scriptural study and a monastic lifestyle under the direction of a guru, exclusively pursuing the goal of moksha, enter into this stage at a young age.
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