The largest temple complex in Nepal, it stretches on both sides of the Bagmati River which is considered holy by Hindus. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, Pashupatinath is one of the four most important religious sites in Asia for devotees of Shiva. Sadhus are sanyasi, or renunciates, who have left behind all material and sexual attachments and live in caves, forests and temples all over India and Nepal. Sadhus engage in a wide variety of religious practices. Some practice extreme asceticism while others mainly focus on praying, chanting or meditating. There are two primary sectarian divisions within the sadhu community: Shaiva sadhus, ascetics devoted to the God Shiva, and Vaishnava sadhus, renouncers devoted to the God Vishnu and/or his incarnations, which include Rama and Krishna. Less numerous are Shakta sadhus, who are devoted to the Goddess — or Shakti, the divine energy — in one form or another. Within these general divisions are numerous sects and subsects, reflecting different lineages and philosophical schools and traditions. Becoming a sadhu is a path followed by few. It is supposed to be the fourth phase in a Hindu’s life, after studies, being a father and a pilgrim, but for most it’s not a practical option. The rigor of the spiritual practices in which contemporary sadhus engage also varies a great deal. Apart from the very few that engage in the most dramatic, striking austerities—for example, standing on one leg for years on end or remaining silent for a dozen years—most sadhus engage in some form of religious practice: devotional worship, hatha yoga, fasting, etc. For many sadhus, the consumption of hashish or other forms of cannabis is accorded a religious significance. In fact, the highest quality hashish to be found in some districts is often made by local Sadhus.
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