You must have heard of many saints. But of all these Naga Sadhus are the most different. They are also called Naga Baba. They are called Naga Sadhus because they often remain naked. Naga baba lives in the arena (akharas) and specializes in martial arts.
History of Naga Sadhus
Adi Guru Shankaracharya has a huge contribution in Indian Sanatan Dharma. When Adi Guru Shankaracharya was born, the religious system in India was not very good at that time. At that time there were many foreign invasions on India. Foreign invaders looted wealth from India. Due to these invasions, there was chaos in the people and peace was disturbed.
Therefore, Shankaracharya established four monasteries (Mathon) in the four directions of India to establish Sanatana Dharma. Along with this, Shankaracharya established akharas in these monasteries to avoid those who looted the property of the monasteries. In these akharas, the sadhus were taught physical exercises as well as training of martial arts and weapons.
Presently, the arena is called the place where wrestlers exercise and practice for wrestling.
Soon the monks and other people in this arena started protecting the people from the invaders. Only the sadhus living in these akharas came to be called Naga Sadhus.
There are many wars in history in which Naga sadhus have confronted foreign invaders.
When Ahmad Shah Abdali attacked Gokul, it was Naga sadhus who protected Gokul at that time.
Naga Sadhus Lifestyle
At present, the ashram of Naga Sadhus is in many places in India. Naga sadhus often stay away from the crowd and spend their lives with rigorous discipline.
The Naga baba is popular for their anger. These sadhus are considered to be devotees of Shiva and worship fire as well.
The Naga baba has five gurus who are Shiva, Vishnu, Shakti, Surya and Ganesh.
Naga sadhus do not wear clothes, they use bhasm (Ash) on their bodies. If these sages want to wear clothes, then they can wear only ocher-coloured clothes. Wearing any other colour is not allowed.
Tongs and long hair are trademarks of the recognization of Naga Baba. they also wear flowers garland, women can also become Naga monks. But women are allowed to wear cloth on their body.
These sage can wear only Rudraksha or flower garlands as ornaments.
These sage can apply tilak on his forehead. They believe that tilak is the identity of power
These sadhus have to eat only once a day.
A monk is allowed to ask alms from only 7 houses in a day, if he does not get anything from 7 houses, he has to sleep hungry.
They are not allowed to sleep on any kind of a bed or other comfortable Plunges(a kind of bed) etc., they can only sleep on the ground.
Naga monk is not allowed to bow down to anyone.
They cannot live with common people, they have to stay away from people’s settlements.
These Sadhu have to follow celibacy throughout life.
Naga sadhus can carry weapons with them, their main weapons are sword parsa or trident. These sadhus are well versed in weapons education.
Naga monks often travel on foot.
Naga baba are non-vegetarians. Some Naga baba are vegetarian also.
The process of becoming a Naga monk
The process of becoming a Naga monk is quite difficult. It is believed that a person has to donate his own Pind Daan (A ritual process done after the death of a person) before becoming a Naga monk. A person has to go through many processes before becoming a Naga monk. These processes take many years to complete.
When a person comes to become a Naga monk in the arena, before becoming a Naga monk, the arena thoroughly investigates the person. The person’s background and family are also seen.
After scrutiny, if the akhara feels that this person is worthy of becoming a monk, then only he is allowed to come into the arena. After entering the arena, the person’s celibacy is tested. In which a person has to go through many examinations.First, a person’s concentration is tested. In this process, they have to stand without drinking and eating under the flag of the arena for 24 hours. After this, the sadhus of the akhada deactivate the penis by reciting the Vedic mantra.
After this, other examinations begin. It is compulsory to make Guru in the Akhara for becoming a Naga Sadhu. The Guru may be the head of the Akhara or any big scholar in the Akhara itself. The process of becoming a Naga baba is said to be completed when Guru’s teachings are gained properly.
This entire episode can take from 6 months to 12 years.
Some other things
Naga baba is known by different names. Those who take initiation in the Mahakumbh of the Pryaag are called ‘Nagas‘, those who take initiation in Ujjain are the ‘Khooni Nagas’, and those who take initiation in Haridwar are called ‘Barfani Nagas‘.
Naga babas are given different positions based on their preference such as Kotwal, Bada Kotwal, Pujari, Mahant, Bhandari etc.
Naga baba can survive in the Himalayas at temperatures below zero, even without clothing.
They have unique styles of praying and meditating Lord Shiva. Some Naga Sadhus have Nagas or serpents on their neck like Lord Shiva. Some Naga Sadhus prefer to live completely naked or someone prefers to wear only Langota like Hanuman Ji. Digambara Naga Sadhus can wear a loincloth while Sri-Digambar Naga Sadhus cannot wear any cloth.
There are four spiritual positions of Naga sadhus, of which Paramahansa is considered the best.
In ancient times, there were Naga sadhus in the court of some kings who used to protect them and these Naga sadhus were called Maharaja.
Sheev Naga sadhus keep hair, while Vaishnav Naga sadhus do not keep hair.
Keeping and drinking different types of chillum is also popular among Naga sadhus.
Different Naga sadhus perform austerities in different ways. Some stand on one leg and some sit under a tree and smoke fumigation.
Many Naga monks make animals their disciples, while some Naga monks do not have even a single disciple.