Sadhus, Renunciates, Fakirs and Ascetics

Discussion in 'Eastern Philosophy' started by Awake, Jan 19, 2004.

  1. Awake Just BE! Registered Senior Member

    I have read about people, living mainly in India, that go through extreme austerities in the name of bodily purification. Some of this resonates and is of interest to me. Any comments would be appreciated. I also would like to know how people think this would be accepted in the West.
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  3. airavata portentous Registered Senior Member

    These days very few sadhus and fakirs actually follow the credo of god and 'seek enlightenment', or whatever such goal. Most Sadhus are generally stoned and high most of the time. Varanasi - which is on the banks of the Ganga, and is considered to be a very sacred city - is full of sadhus... all of them really stoned. When I went to Dharmshala - residence of the Dalai Lama - sadhus were selling LSD, ganja, heroin.... everything.

    A traditional sadhu has no possessions and devotes his life to the pursuit of enlightenment. He lives a balanced life, one of meditation and excercise.
    That's what he's supposed to do anyway

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  5. Awake Just BE! Registered Senior Member

    I have read and agree that that is true of many sadhus of modern times. I am more interested in what you are considering the true sadhus. How do you think a "true sadhu" would be viewed in the west?
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  7. airavata portentous Registered Senior Member

    I don't live in the west so i wouldn't know.
    Skepticism, blind devotion..... there are a variety of reactions for a variety of people.
  8. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    You say this as if to discredit them, but it always was like this. Your attitude is typical of western values that equate sacredness as being something opposite to the material, natural world.
  9. airavata portentous Registered Senior Member

    //You say this as if to discredit them, but it always was like this. //

    I know. Lord Shiva and his ganas used to smoke ganja and drink bhang. Even now, the Naga Sadhus do so on special occassions.
  10. sargentlard Save the whales motherfucker Valued Senior Member

    So they achieve enlightenment through drugs?

    So is that enlightenment or just lucidity?
  11. everneo Re-searcher Registered Senior Member

    So Lord Vishnu and Godess Shakti prefer opium or what.? if possible please give me the source where you got the ganja addition story of Shiva and his Ganas.

    To my little knowledge, some sadhus like those in Ramakrishna Mission for example, don't need ganja to attain enlightenment. They live by Gita and Patanjali yoga sutra, right.?
  12. Awake Just BE! Registered Senior Member

    So they achieve enlightenment through drugs?

    So is that enlightenment or just lucidity?

    From my personal experience I don't think it's enlightenment. I do think it can get you out of your current thought patterns though. Especially LSD. I haven't read much about him, but I do remember reading about Ram Das experimenting with LSD in India with his guru.
  13. Awake Just BE! Registered Senior Member

    Part of my question about sadhus is if anyone could share how they think they would be accepted in the west. If you saw a man, in a loin-cloth, with a bowl for alms, sitting at a grocery store entrance, in tranquil meditation would you donate some fresh fruit? If you went to the beach and you saw this same man sitting in meditation would he be accepted or arrested for loitering?

    I realize we have "homelessness" in America, but would said "renunciate" be taken to a mental hospital or left to follow his ascetic lifestyle?
  14. Rajagopals Registered Senior Member

    You forgot to add “they hit ice and gang rape Russian Lolitas”

    But as per eastern philosophy, humans in some part of the world still believe, the Lord (Lord Shiva) is the universe (reason) itself and his Ganas are the perception (nature).

    He himself is the drink and drunkard and he is the reason and meaning for both.

    He as your Lord release you,
    He as your mother solidifies you,
    He as your father mould you,
    He as your brother shape you,
    He as your Guru fills you with Prana (life energy),
    He as your friends wakes you,
    He as your girl make you feel,
    He as You, understands,
    He as the nature watch,
    He as He, remains !

    Real knowledge is to know the extend of one’s ignorance

    -- Confucius

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  15. Rajagopals Registered Senior Member

    “ thannon perukathukku,
    than pirathu oon unpan
    enganam aalum arul ! ? “

    -- Thirukkural (a collection of poems written by a saint)


    “ To increase the flesh in ones body,
    who assumes some one else flesh,
    how can such a person think of divine ?

    I think these words also resonates the reason for bodily purification (if only you need to think of the divine!)

    Instead of bodily purification it would be better to consider their (sadhu’s) practice as an exercise to control the mind. Even if you offer anything in return will our mind stop thinking, will it remain silent at least for few seconds ?

    It would also be better to understand the work of our mind (as we can call it till we split open and find the inner details) to understand the reason behind the practice of austerity.

    I am furnishing some Sanskrit words and their meaning (URL),

    Buddhi - the organ of mind responsible for discrimination and judgement.

    Ahankara - the making, kara (kAra), of the utterance "I", aham (aham) - this is the equivalent of what we would call the 'ego' but specifically refers to the identification or attachment of our true Self with something else

    Antakarana - used to refer to the overall functions of mind; the seat of thought and feeling. It consists of a number of separate functions

    Chit - pure thought or Consciousness.

    Chitta - the organ of mind responsible for memory. This requires a better explanation !

    Manas - the 'organ' of mind acting as intermediary between the senses and the intellect (buddhi) on the way in and the intellect and the organs of action on the way out.

    Some question and their answers.

    Why practice austerity ?

    The Antakarana asks for the same.
    (My mind has desired for the same without a reason)

    For what ?

    Chit and Budhi have validated the requests and the same (austerity) is desired by rules of divinity
    (I found a lot of people doing at and I also find them very close to their Lord)

    If so ?

    Full fill the Ahamkara with the demonstration (will power to do anything).
    (Then you also do it, if you can and to prove that you also have that fire inside)

    Does it (practice of austerity) has more meaning ?

    Indeed, it release you from all physical thoughts, thus releasing your mind from the thoughts of material things, which might create a lot of space in your mind to be occupied by the right kind of thoughts, the thoughts of the divine, which might then lead you to the truth
    (Those who effectively do it, they do it this way)

    Does it (practice of austerity) really do that ?

    It does leaves a lot of space in your mind, what you do with that is your problem.
    (You might also remain aloof and do nothing in the name of practicing austerity)

    Then what’s the meaning ?

    Nothing, it is just another step in the path towards the truth, you can step on it as well as skip it on your way.
    (It is for those who do not have enough will power to command their own mind)

    Then why do it ?

    Who is asking ?
    (There are better ways to do the same)

    And that is ?

    You need a Guru to lead you to that.
    (You need to be initiated)

    And where do I find one ?

    Only in your mind, when you are ready, the Guru will come to you.
    (The answer will come in search of you when you cleanse yourself)

    How do I do that….??

    At least change few things in life that could clean up your internal organs first and then your mind.
    (Become a vegetarian and a teetotaler)

    What effect will it have on me ?

    Do that first and then let’s see. At least that will increase your confidence level which will lead to better life. Every negative channels in one’s life will take a positive direction.
    (You can approach Mother Google for some answers)

    If I become a teetotaler and a vegetarian, can we call that as the first step towards practicing austerity.

    I think so, Yes.
    (It is)

    But, are we not going back to the first question ?

    Yes. But with better clarity and meaning.
    (Some answers for the mind, oops!! you want to call that chit or chitta or antakarana or manas or budhi or ahankara, leave that to you ! )
    It will be very much accepted provided you are fully convinced to convince others. Or at least bold enough to do what you feel. If the West allows all other freedom on earth, this will very well be accepted as one of those freedoms which the West offers !
  16. sargentlard Save the whales motherfucker Valued Senior Member

    The first part of the your question - Many people like that already exist in New York...everyone just ignores them. It depends where they resided in the west. In L.A or NY..they'll be left alone. In Idaho or to the loony bin they go.

    ON the beach he would be left alone as long he interferes with no one else and doesn't cause trouble of anykind.

    Crazy homeless are often left to their own devices in NY...again, as long as they keep the crazy to themselves so I see no reason why this man would be bothered...eventually though someone would interfere with him.
  17. Awake Just BE! Registered Senior Member


    Thanks for your comments. The question I have for you is about the need one would have to convince others? I feel this would be a personal experience of purification. I don't see why I would have to convince anyone of anything. The only thing you would need to convince someone to do is to give alms {ie. food, water, clothing (naked sadhu would not be accepted in the west)}.

    Convincing others seems to be an outreach or ministry. Past dealings with Christianity has left me not wanting to do anything of that sort.
  18. Rajagopals Registered Senior Member

    Why not share the reason for something if the same is clear to you and specifically if the same is about you. Assume you are practicing austerities, as part of that you have become a vegitarian and a tetotaler and then a friend of your's asks you,

    Why are you doing all this ? For what reason ?

    Don't you think this requires an answer ? Not for promoting an ideology or a practice nor for receiving fame or more respect but for the self and for your friend.

    'Personal' and 'experience' and 'purification' ?????

    To me these three contradicts.

    If it is personal, then it need not be an experience, if you are convinced then what are you trying to experience. And if you are not convinced, then don't do it !!

    If it is personal then it doesn't require purification, because as you are, you are in the best state of purity, it is only for others we try to purify ourself, means trying to macth the standards, to someone else's specifications ! (Thats how I see this!).You doesn't require purification as you are created by God !

    And if it is an experience will that purify you ? If it purifies then is that an experience or thats the real thing (the truth) ?

    Are you afraid of something even before starting the same ? If not forget about that, don't worry about such small details, focus on the destination than the environment through which you reach there. It can take any colour and shape but if you are more focused about your destination, these doesn't make much of a difference.

    The best thing that I received from Christianity is FAITH.

    I want to repeat "FAITH".


    And he has been there for me when I was in need. And from my personal experience I want to share this information,

    "if you are in need there is some one who listens to your 'prayers' " and specifically if you are a liar, a bad boy, a sinner, a needy, a poor, one who has no place to go !

    I will repeat I BELIVE ! IN HIM !

    I am thankful to Christianity to give me Jesus !
  19. Ozymandias Unregistered User Registered Senior Member

    Asceticism is a path some people take, as some do believe it will results in know, becoming one with Brahman and desireless and such.

    Personally, I support Buddha in the sense that he opposed asceticism. It's unneccessary [sp], and might end up damaging you too much for your own good. It is possible to pursue enlightenment without starving yourself.
  20. Awake Just BE! Registered Senior Member


    You are right, in some respects. Buddha opposed it, but he practiced it first before he opposed it. How can we truely understand where the middle is if we don't see both ends? Maybe my perspective of the middle is different than yours. Maybe a more ascetic life is actually my middle?
  21. oscar confusoid Registered Senior Member

    They have LSD in India?! Like, in its pure form? I'm interested to hear more ( Note: this is not morbid curiosity but I've heard the effects of such acids on people ).

    And to stay on topic, I can only say from my personal experience that it's pointless to give up on external things (posessions, money, etc.) if you don't let them go willingly first.

    A good example would be going vegetarian, a couple of girls I know at work have first internalized the process of letting go of the desire to eat meat before they start changing their diet to pure vegetables. Now they see me pull out a burger at lunch time and they feel like puking whenever they see raw meat.

    The whole point of the above example applies to ascetism in the sense that one must first come to the realization that one does not need such or such things or does not want them anymore. Without such a realization, there is no merit in giving up on TV, smoking or what have you in order to live a "pure life", since you are bound to come back to it or wish to come back to it, at the cost of "violently" restraining yourself to stay away from it. Another good example from that comes from the personal story of one of my favorite modern thinkers, aka UG Krishnamurti whom, when young, surprised one of his former teachers eating hot pickles that were forbidden to Yogis.

    For us Westies it's very important to realize that giving up something is not always a straightforward task, rather it is paradoxical: one must first stop needing such thing(s). But the process is not to be forced, one must slowly grow into it and internalize it.

    I really don't understand the true purpose of these people in India (aside from all the holy blabbery they abide to) for living that way, I feel like not everyone in this world has a calling to be self transcendent, but who knows, maybe they do and I don't see it like that. Like I said, I'm a Westie

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    P.S. Kudos on the Confucius quote, it reminds me of something Viktor Frankl also wrote as the ending sentence for this book "The Doctor and the Soul" (or was it "The Unconscious God", I cant recall)

    "Wisdom is knowledge, plus the knowledge of its own limitations"
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2004
  22. kmguru Staff Member

    No such mechanisms exists in the west. Why someone has to go through extreme bodily purification? There could be many personal reasons and not a requirement. Wax on and wax off does provide discipline.

    Why people go to become Sadhus? The same reason, Catholic priests or nuns renounce family and sex (*wink*)...who knows...humans would do anything to get away from society and to be close to God. Whether they actually get close is another reality.
  23. Rick Valued Senior Member

    I have heard that Women in west always lie completely naked on Beach...? and go through extremely remote Body pleasures with men all the time on the Nude far is that true...?

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    (i wish it were true!)

    You have heard,or you just Imagine? India is not the land of Mysticism or snake charmers anymore.World has changed and so has India...gee...

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