साधु - ˈsɑˌdu

A holy man. (1) One who is deeply devoted to the spiritual search. (2)

A sadhu is an anchorite who pursues a sadhana or path of spiritual discipline. (3) Usually, a sadhu is an ascetic who has renounced material attachments in order to practice yoga and meditation. (4) The term in Indian religions means to “accomplish.” (5) Although the sadhu may not have accomplished the complete realization of spirit, he perseveres wholeheartedly in his spiritual pursuit. (2)

Nevertheless, encountering temptations, a sadhu may fall from his noble spiritual calling. For example, spiritual pride may delude devotees for many lifetimes. Intellectual or spiritual doubts, fears, and self-involvement may also sway the sadhu in his path. Delusion itself, or the Satanic force, may arise in countless manifestations. But the sadhu who commits himself to overcoming ego limitations and attaining spirit will surely reach his end.(2) As Paramhansa Yogananda said, “A saint is a sinner who never gave up.” (2)

Today, there are several million sadhus in India. (4) People may ask sadhus to reveal their insights; sadhus may choose to help people or remain silent. (6) Sadhus traditionally belong to the fourth “ashram” or stage of life, having progressed beyond the stages of student, householder, and beginner renunciate. They may be initiated into sainthood, devoted to a guru, or affiliated to an ashram, sect, or practice. (4)

  1. The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita, explained by Paramhansa Yogananda. Glossary.
  2. a b c d Religion in the New Age, by Swami Kriyananda. Chapter 5, “Bliss-Avitar?”
  3. Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramhansa Yogananda. p.20
  4. a b c “Sadhu and Swami,” New World Encyclopedia.
  5. “Sadhu,”
  6. Shaped by Saints, by Devi Mukherjee. Chapter 3, “A Visit from Mount Washington.”