Showing posts with label ascetic orders. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ascetic orders. Show all posts

Hinduism - Who Is A Naga?


Naga is a Sanskrit root word that means "naked." Any fighting or militant ascetic is referred to as a militant ascetic.

Companies of fighting ascetics were originally chartered by ascetic orders to defend their members and their belongings.

The Dashanami Sanyasis' Naga orders were worshippers of the deity Shiva, while the Bairagi orders were devotees of the god Vishnu.

These Naga ascetics emerged into strong military and commerce powerhouses in northern India throughout the eighteenth century.

Naga ascetics have created their own small kingdoms on various occasions.

In many other cases, whether as individuals or as mercenary warriors in the service of a ruling king, they had a significant impact on the northern Indian economy and politics.

Because many of these ascetics would go into war with just their weapons, their moniker was a literal representation of their activities.

Their ash-streaked bodies and matted hair made for a terrifying image.

The military prominence of India has waned as the country's socioeconomic and political situations have altered.

These Naga ascetics' associations (akhara) still exist, however they are now most significant in regulating the sequence of bathing (snana) during the Kumbha Mela.

The ascetics' own stories are replete with tales of sectarian struggle (Shaivas vs.

Vaishnavas); a solid indicator that the Shaivas achieved ascendancy is that they had precedence in bathing during the Kumbha Melas.

For more information, see Jadunath Sarkar's A History of the Dasanami Naga Sanyasis, published in 1958; David Lorenzen's "Warrior Ascetics in Indian History," published in the Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 98, No. 1, 1978; and James G. Lochtefeld's "The Vishva Hindu Parishad and the Roots of Hindu Militancy," published in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. LXI

~Kiran Atma

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