A sadhu is a Hindu ascetic holy man, generally in Northern India. They are wandering monks who learn with total focus/concentration, often through body ritual and body modification. Many Modern Primitives have drawn inspiration for their ritual activities from the sadhus such as the Gorakhnathis who practised inner conch piercing (Kanphati), or other groups practicing Khecharimudra who split their tongues.
The Many Types of Sadhus
Some Sadhus, called Jata, allow their hair to form dread locks as a sign of their rejection of the material world. In India, and other areas where Sadhu travel, dread locks are reserved for them, being regarded as sacred. For this reason, it is frowned upon for those who are not Sadhu to wear their hair in dread locks. While all Hindu men are supposed to become Sadhus, for many, it is simply not possible.
While it may seem unusual to Western minds, there are many different types of Sadhus, none of which are thought of as being "more" correct than another. Some live completely naked, whilst others live in cemetaries. The various forms reflect the Hindu idea that there are many different paths to god.
Place in Society
The holy men are greatly respected, and often feared. A curse spoken by a Sadhu is supposed to be particularly powerful. However, they are often turned to for the blessing of marriages, and many dispense herbal remedies to the people.