Naga Sadhus are Hindu religious monks who are famous for remaining naked and being experts in the art of war. They live in various Akharas whose tradition was started by Adiguru Shankaracharya.
The monks belonging to the Naga Sanyasi sect have nothing to do with the world and household life. The life of Nagas is a hundred times more difficult than the life of a householder.
Ved Vyas was the first to start the forest ascetic tradition in an organized manner. After him, Shukdev, then many sages and saints gave a new shape to this tradition in their own ways. Later Adi Shankaracharya established four monasteries and formed the Dasnami sect. Later the tradition of Akharas started. The first Akhara ‘Akhand Awahan Akhara’ was built in 547 AD.
When people become Naga Sadhus in the Kumbh held at four places, they are given different names. The one who gets the title in Kumbh in Allahabad is called Naga,
In Ujjain Khooni Naga
In Haridwar Barfani Naga
And In Nashik, the one who gets the title is called Khichadia Naga.
Process of becoming a Naga Sadhu:-
To become a Naga S adhu one has to go through such difficult tests that perhaps no common man would be able to cross it. The Nagas are prepared like an army. They have to become different and special from the common world. This process takes years. Know which processes a Naga has to go through-
Whenever a person goes to any Akhara to become a Naga Sadhu, he is never directly included in the Akhara. Akhara investigates at his own level why he wants to become a Saint? The entire background of that person and his family is considered. Only if the Akhara feels that he is the right person to become a Sadhu, he is allowed to enter the Akhara. After entering the Akhara, his celibacy is tested. It takes from 6 months to 12 years. If the Akhara and the Guru of that person determine that he is worthy of initiation then he is taken to the next process.
If the person successfully passes the test of following celibacy, then he is transformed from a celibate to a great man. He has five gurus. These five Gurus are Panch Dev or Panch Parmeshwar (Shiva, Vishnu, Shakti, Surya and Ganesha). They are given things like Bhasma, Saffron, Rudraksha etc. These are the symbols and ornaments of the Nagas.
After the great man, Nagas are made Avadhuta. In this, first of all, he has to get his hair cut. Akhara Parishad’s receipt is also deducted for this. The person taking initiation into Avadhuta form has to offer himself Tarpan and Pind Daan. This Pind Daan is done by the priests of the Akhara. They become dead to the world and family. Their only objective is to protect the Sanatan and Vedic religion.
For this process, they have to stand under the flag of the Akhara in Naga form for 24 hours without eating or drinking anything. During this, he has a stick on his shoulder and an earthen pot in his hands. During this time, the guards of the Akhara keep an eye on them. After this, his penis is deactivated by the Sadhu of the Akhara by giving shocks along with Vedic mantras. This work is also done under the flag of the Akhara. After this process, he becomes a Naga Sadhu.
Positions and Rights of Nagas
Naga Sadhus have many positions. Once he becomes a Naga Sadhu, his status and rights also increase. After Naga Sadhu, one can go up to the posts like Mahant, Shri Mahant, Jamatiya Mahant, Thanapati Mahant, Pir Mahant, Digambarshree, Mahamandaleshwar and Acharya Mahamandaleshwar.
Women also become Naag Sadhu:
At present, in many Akharas, women are also given the initiation of Naga Sadhu. There are also a large number of foreign women among them. Actually, the rules and regulations of female Naga Sadhu and male Naga Sadhu are the same. The only difference is that the female Naga Sadhu has to be wrapped in a yellow cloth and has to take a bath wearing this cloth. Nude bathing is not allowed, even in the Kumbh Mela.
The adornment of the Nagas is amazing
It is not only women who love to adorn themselves, Nagas also like to adorn themselves. The only difference is that the cosmetics of Nagas are completely different from the cosmetics of women. They also care about their look and style as much as a common man.
According to Naga Sadhu Premanand Giri, Nagas also have their own special means of adornment. When asked about the seventeen adornments of the Nagas, he said that loincloth, Bhabhut, sandalwood, iron or silver bracelet on the feet, ring, Panchkesh, Garland of flowers around the waist, Roli paste on the forehead, earrings, tongs in the hands, Damru or Kamandal, braided matted hair and tilak, kajal, bracelets on hands, Vibhuti paste on body and Rudraksha beads on arms are included in the 17 adornments.
Rules of Naga sages:
At present, there are many major Akharas of Naga Sadhus in India. Although every Akhara has its own rules for initiation, there are some rules which are the same in all the Dashnami Akharas.
1- Adherence to celibacy
When any common man comes to become a Naga Sadhu, first of all, his self-control status is tested. He is made to observe celibacy for a long time. In this process, not only physical celibacy but also mental control is tested. No one is given initiation suddenly. First, it is decided whether the person taking initiation is completely free from lust and desires or not.
2- Service work
Along with the vow of celibacy, it is also necessary for the person taking initiation to have a feeling of service in his mind. It is believed that whoever is becoming a Sadhu, is becoming so for the service and protection of religion, nation, and human society. In such a situation, many times a sadhu taking initiation has to serve his guru and senior sadhus also. At the time of initiation, the age of Brahmacharis is usually not less than 17-18 years and they belong to Brahmin, Kshatriya, and Vaishya castes.
3- One’s own Pind Daan and Shraddha
The most important task before initiation is to perform one’s own Shraddha and Pind Daan. In this process, the seeker considers himself dead for his family and society and performs his Shraddha rituals with his own hands. Only after this, he is given a new name and new identity by the Guru.
4- Giving up clothes
Naga Sadhus are not even allowed to wear clothes. If one has to wear clothes, then Naga Sadhus can wear only saffron-colored clothes. That too only one cloth, Naga Sadhus cannot wear more saffron clothes than this. Naga Sadhus are allowed to apply only Bhasma on the body. Only ashes are decorated.
5- Bhasma and Rudraksha
Naga Sadhus have to wear Vibhuti and Rudraksha and have to abandon Shikha Sutra (peak). A Naga Sadhu has to give up all his hair. He cannot even keep a crest on his head or has to wear the entire lock of hair.
6- Eating at one time
Naga Sadhus have to eat only once during the day and night. That food is also obtained by begging. A Naga Sadhu has the right to take alms from a maximum of seven houses. If he does not get any alms from the seven houses, he has to remain hungry. Whatever food is available, one has to ignore likes and dislikes and consume it with love.
7- Sleeping only on earth
Naga Sadhu cannot use the bed, cot, or any other means of sleeping. Even Naga Sadhus are prohibited from sleeping on the throne. Naga Sadhus sleeps only on earth. This is a very strict rule, that every Naga Sadhu has to follow.
8- Faith in Mantra
After initiation, he has to have complete faith in the Guru Mantra received from the Guru. All his future penances are based on this Guru Mantra.
9- Other rules
Residing outside the settlement, not saluting anyone or criticizing anyone, and saluting only a Sanyasi, etc. are some other rules that every Naga Sadhu taking initiation has to follow.
Major Akharas of Naga Sadhus:
After India’s independence, these Akharas abandoned their military character. The heads of these Akharas stressed that their followers should lead a sober life by studying and following the eternal values of Indian culture and philosophy. At present, there are 13 major Akharas in which Mahant sits at the top of each. These major Akharas are as follows:-
- Shri Niranjani Akhara
- Shri Junadatta or Juna Akhara
- Shri Mahanirvan Akhara
- Shri Atal Akhara
- Shri Awahan Akhara
- Shri Anand Akhara
- Shri Panchagni Akhara
- Shri Nagpanthi Gorakhnath Akhara
- Shri Vaishnav Akhara
- Shri Udasin Panchayati Bada Akhara
- Shri Udasin New Akhara
- Shri Nirmal Panchayati Akhara
- Nirmohi Akhara