The Sanskrit word ‘Sadhu’ is translated into English by the word ‘mendicant’ and very rarely with another word ‘Sage’. But ‘Sadhu’ is differently meant in the revealed scriptures like Srimad Bhagwat Geeta or Srimad Bhagbatam. In the ‘Bhagwat Geeta’ the qualification of a ‘Sadhu’ is based on one’s faithfulness in the transcendental service of the Personality of Godhead.
One who is firmly fixed up in the devotional service and nothing more-is called a ‘Sadhu’ and Mahatma in terms of Bhagwat Geeta. Even if a man is apt to some vicious habits which a ‘Sadhu’ must not have as part of his personal qualification, is accepted also as a ‘Sadhu’ for the only qualification of his staunch faithfulness in the service of the Personality of Godhead. Bhagwat Geeta has not nullified all the above mentioned primary twenty six qualifications of a ‘Sadhu’ by the statement-‘even if a man is accustomed to vicious habits.’ The idea is explained in the following shloka in which it is said that such well-settled devotee shall soon be well-qualified with all the pious qualifications of a ‘Sadhu’.
But because one has become faithfully fixed up in the service of the Lord-the seed of all godly qualifications is sowed therein and the resultant fortification will come in vogue, without delay. And therefore the primary qualification of a ‘Sadhu’ is that he must be an unflinching devotee of the Lord. The Sadhu is a pure devotee of the Lord and he may not be a mendicant by dress. He knows the Supreme Truth scientifically. And he disseminates this transcendental knowledge to all out of his causeless mercy upon them. People must patiently hear what a Sadhu speaks about God and not see him outwardly. One who is faithless in the Person of God cannot be a Sadhu. Sadhus may live together in monasteries (mathas) that usually belong to a particular order. They may also wander throughout the country alone or in small groups or isolate themselves in small huts or caves. They generally take vows of poverty and celibacy and depend on the charity of householders for their food.
Their dress and ornaments differ according to sectarian allegiances and personal tastes; they usually wear ochre-coloured (more rarely, white) robes, and some are naked. They shave their heads, or they allow their hair to lie matted on their shoulders or twist it into a knot on top of their heads. They usually retain only the few possessions they carry with them: a staff (danda), a water pot (kamandalu), an alms bowl, prayer beads, and perhaps an extra cloth or a fire tong.
* Information on the traditional uses and properties of herbs/ animals/ yoga/ places are provided on this site is for educational use only, and is not intended as medical advice. all image credit goes to their Photographers.