A Hindu sadhu is a person who renounces all life in the world. A sadhu may be a sannyasa, one who has reached the fourth stage of Hindu life--an ascetic who has studied, been a parent and a pilgrim. Sadhus are men and still carry great power in the eyes of Hindus. Sadhus are thought to help eliminate their own karma and their village's karma. As with many aspects of Hindu life, there are no established rules to become a sadhu. There are general guidelines.
Renounce all worldly attachments. Sadhus leave their homes and families and renounce food, clothing and shelter. Sadhus often wear no clothing.
Attend your own funeral. It is symbolic of austere renunciation to die to yourself. The life of a sadhu is a life reborn from one's previous existence in the material world.
Follow a guru for years. Initiates serve a guru for many years, acting as the teacher's servant. Sadhus perform all of the teacher's tasks until it is determined that the initiate is prepared to wander alone.
Bathe at four o'clock in the morning. Bathing takes place in lakes, rivers or streams. After the bath, sadhus gather around a fire for daily prayers.
Serve as a human reminder of the Divine. Sadhus often act as healers in their villages and are knowledgeable in herbal lore.
Attend kumba mela, a festival that occurs every four years. It is like a sadhu convention. Sadhus perform marvels and odd reminders of their otherworldly existences.
Strive perpetually for spiritual enlightenment and liberation from rebirth. Meditation is the prime activity of a sadhu. Although sadhus seem strange to people in the West, they are highly regarded for their dedication to spiritual ideals and for their power to overcome karma.
The life of a sadhu is not for everyone!