With the onset of the viral outbreak, the governments of India and Tamil Nadu state shut down all activities and ordered all citizens into lock down in mid-March 2020. The lock down continues today and all of the temples have closed. The impact of this crisis has hit the sadhus hard. They rely on the temple devotees for donations and on the temple for daily meals. Some of them lost their small rooms due to not having any funds. Others have gone without food for weeks at a time.
The small ashrams run by other sadhvis and sadhus to help the wandering saints are struggling to secure sufficient food supplies. Pilgrimage sadhvi, Krishnaveni of Tiruvannamalai has been out in the street in front of the temple every day of the lock down, serving food to hundreds of saints in need; but her own food supplies are running thin and she needs a lot more help.
As our Tamil Nadu team checked in with the sadhus, they heard from many that they had lost their small rooms and were walking the streets 24 hours a day. They do not have facial coverings or proper masks to protect them and they are getting depleted from the lack of food.
Enlightened Life Sanctuary, the non-profit host of the sadhus' pilgrimage to the U.S. is seeking donations to help them rent small rooms, get sufficient food supplies and masks and to replenish the food stocks at Krishnaveni's ashram. We need your help and donations to provide food, masks and housing to these beloved mystics at this critical time. Thank you for your support! Please share our fundraiser with your friends.
Our initiative is to provide security for the wandering saints of Tamil Nadu during this crisis. They would usually be fed and receive donations from the temples, which are currently closed. Due to the nature of the temple of India and the frequent overcrowding inside, the government has said they do not believe they will be able to open the temples for quite some time, even if some businesses may be allowed to reopen when the situation improves.
India's rates of COVID-19 are on the rise. Their medical systems are inadequate to the task of caring for the many millions who could be infected. The government has wisely chosen to keep the lock down in place to prevent the medical system from overwhelm and collapse. No one knows at this time when life might return to normal in Tamil Nadu.
For the saints, this is a life-threatening crisis. Not only are they at risk of infection from the virus due to lack of masks, they are literally starving and walking the streets with nowhere to go. All pilgrimages are canceled, all of the places where they would normally be able to get donations and food are shut down. This situation is ongoing with no end in sight.
The legacy of the saints of India is world renowned. The sadhus demonstrate the highest faith in divinity through their living example of surrender and trust. Their faith has been rewarded by the devotees of temples and ashrams who give them food and money for room rentals. Their constant prayers, mantras and spiritual practice give them an aura of saintly bliss. They share blessings freely with everyone they meet. The culture of the sadhus is one of love, surrender, faith and devotion.
Many of the most respected sadhus are elderly and have been living the life of devotion for many years. Their presence and radiant joy have been experienced by thousands of temple visitors and tourists. They hold a unique place in Hindu culture as they demonstrate how to live life free from distractions, complaints and pain. Even though they are struggling, their faith remains strong. Help us reward their devotion by giving to their cause!
A brief history of the sadhus and sadhvis of India -
A sadhu (male) or sadhvi (female) is an ascetic, mendicant or any holy person who has renounced worldly life. Sadhu literally means, one who practices sadhana or keenly follows a path of spiritual discipline. Although the vast majority of sadhus are yogis, not all yogis are sadhus. The sadhus are dedicated to attaining liberation, a state of enlightenment that assures the end of birth, death and rebirth. Their lives are dedicated to mediation and contemplation of the Divine.
Sadhus wear simple, saffron-colored clothing, symbolizing their renunciation of the material world. The term "sadhu" means, "straight, right, leading straight to the goal." According to Vedic scriptures, the term denotes someone who is "well-disposed, kind, willing, effective, efficient, peaceful, good, virtuous, honorable, righteous and noble." In the Hindu epics, the word implies someone who is a "saint, sage, seer, holy man or woman, virtuous, chaste, honest and right."
The Sanskrit terms, sadhu (good man) and sadhvi (good woman), refer to renunciants who have chosen to live lives apart from, or on the edges of society, to focus on their own spiritual practices. According to various estimates, there are 4 to 5 million sadhus in India today. Sadhus are widely respected for their holiness. It is thought that the austere practices of the sadhus help to burn off their karma and that of the community at large. Thus, they are seen as benefiting society, and sadhus are supported by donations from many people.
Sadhus and sadhvis typically live a simple lifestyle, have very few or no possessions, survive by food and drinks from leftovers that they beg for, or which is donated by others. Many sadhus have rules for alms collection, and do not visit the same place twice on different days to avoid bothering the residents. They generally walk or travel over distant places, visiting temples and pilgrimage sites as a part of their spiritual lifestyle.
Although many sadhus belong to holy orders or sects, the majority of the sadhus and sadhvis of Tamil Nadu are independent of any organizations. They represent the original, ancient culture of wandering mystics, with no affiliations or memberships in sects or orders. They are a precious gift to humanity, demonstrating through their devotion that we are all one in the light of divinity.
The sadhus' way of life is under threat in the current crisis. They have given so much love and wisdom to so many. Please donate today to help us reach our goal on their behalf. We will provide them with food, clothing, masks and housing until such time as they can return to their pilgrimages and temples.
Here are some links to join our community of support for the saints of Tamil Nadu:
Pilgrimage Website: Enlightened Life Pilgrimage Festival
Our Non-Profit Website: Enlightened Life Temple
Email: [email redacted]
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