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Sadhus: Yogis, Ascetics, Spiritual Warriors

Sadhus are religious ascetics, mendicants (monks) or any holy person in Hinduism and Jainism who has renounced the worldly life. They are sometimes alternatively referred to as sannyasi or vairagi. Sadhu literally means one who practices a ″sadhana″ or keenly follows a path of spiritual discipline. Although the vast majority of sadhus are yogīs, not all yogis are sadhus. The sadhu is solely dedicated to achieving mokṣa (liberation), the fourth and final ashrama (stage of life), through meditation and contemplation of Brahman. Sadhus often wear simple clothing, such as saffron-colored clothing in Hinduism, white or nothing in some sects, symbolizing their sannyasa (renunciation of worldly possessions). A female mendicant in Hinduism and Jainism is often called a sadhvi, or in some texts as aryika.
Sadhu Blessings are a profound experience and a peak part of the Post Retreat Tour in Varanasi. Varanasi is a very important place to many Sadhu sects, but especially those devoted to Lord Shiva, known as Shaivites. These sadhus will have three horizontal white lines on their forehead made of cremation ash or vibuti. When approaching a sadhu be sure that he or she is welcoming. Raise your right hand and face your palm to the sadhu as if to say hello. If the sadhu returns that gesture you may approach. Most will not say anything because they do not speak English, however, your guide may translate, or simple non-verbal communication is often enough to express appreciation. To receive a blessing from the sadhu, simply move towards them slowly, lower your head, close your eyes, and place your hands together at your heart in anjali mudra. The sadhu will place their hand on your head and bless you.