Hindu order

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The various religious orders of Hinduism are usually called Sampradaya, sometimes also called Pantha. Its members, i.e. the monks and nuns , are called sadhus or swamis . The Hindu orders can be divided according to the main directions of Hinduism itself: there are Vishnuit and Shivaite orders, Shakti orders and orders of Advaita Vedanta . Each of these main currents has innumerable subgroups, and there is no supreme religious authority that is the ultimate authority over all of these communities. The communities therefore differ to a greater or lesser extent both in their religious practice and in their philosophy or doctrinal opinions. There are numerous signs of belonging to a certain order, such as the forehead drawing ( tilaka ), the type of prayer chain ( mala ) and z. T. certain drawings of the upper body. Each group has a certain color of the monk's robe, special religious symbols that the monk carries with him, as well as their own greetings. There are also special religious rules of conduct that the monk must follow.

Mahants of Nirmohi Ani Akhada at the Kumbha Mela 2001, Allahabad

Vishnuit orders

The Vaishnava have 19 Orthodox subgroups and 33 Reformed orders; also three aniseed members of the warlike Naga Sadhus, the monastic 'high schools', the so-called Akhadas . These should protect the other orders and the religious community. There are 36 tilakas in the Vaishnava sadhus and 14 other body markings.

Orthodox groups

  • Ramanuji (also Shri) Sampradaya
founded by Ramanuja in the 11th century; Philosophy: Vishishtadvaita , Mantra: Om namo narayana ; Subgroups: Bagdal (believe in individual effort) and Tengal (believe in divine grace).
  • Nimbarki (also Namavat) Sampradaya
founded by Nimbarka; Philosophy: Dvaitadvaita, Tilaka: 2 white vertical ones. Lines, black point in the middle.
  • Brahma Madhva Gaudiya Sampradaya
founded by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu builds on the Brahma Madhva Sampradaya, 15th century, main deity: all 10 avatars , but mainly Krishna .
  • Brahma Madhva Sampradaya
is based on Madhva's philosophy, Dvaita Vedanta ; are also called Sad-Vaishnavas .
  • Vallabhacari Sampradaya
founded by Vallabha, philosophy of Shuddhadvaita (pure monism); highest deity: Krishna ; important are performances of Krishna's life (Krishna Lilas)
  • Ramanandi (also Vairagi or Avadhuta ) Sampradaya
largest subgroup of the Vaishnavas; founded by Ramanadi in the 13th century; opened Vaishnavism to all Hindus, admitted non-Hindus as well, turned away from Sanskrit, and criticized the caste system. Protective deity is Rama
  • Udasi Sampradaya
founded by Shri Chanda, son of the reformer Guru Nanak , five preferred deities, Holy Scripture Adi Grantha

Reformed groups

There are 12 Reformed groups, most of which were founded in the 18th century and often have strong local influence. Some of them have extraordinary practices.

  • Sakhi Sampradaya
The sadhus of this group dress and act like women. They feel like sakhis, female companions of Radha , the beloved of Krishna. The Paramatman (cf. Atman ), Krishna, is regarded as the only male soul, therefore all human souls are female. Through their Bhava , spiritual mood, they try to anticipate the Gopis' love for Krishna .
  • Mahanubhoa Pantha
reject the typical Hindu worship of images and practice shamanistic tantric rituals.
  • Harshachandi Pantha
are mainly composed of the Doma caste, the street sweepers, and continue to practice this profession as Sadhu. Besides Vishnu, they also worship the medieval Hindu king Harshachandra
  • Kabira Pantha
founded by Kabir , a brilliant Hindu poet; condemns castes , superstitions and rituals.

Vaishnava Akhadas

The Naga Sadhu Brigades were established between 1650 and 1700 AD to defend the beliefs of both the Vaishnavas against the Shaiva and the Muslim armies. They are divided into companies (anis) and grammar schools (akhadas). They are among the most revered among the holy men of India. Initiation ( Diksha ) is only given during Kumbh Melas . Vaishnava Nagas start out as novices known as Yatri (travelers). The Naga Babas are known for their nudity, which they do not always maintain, but demonstrate on sacred official occasions.

  • anise
    • Digambara Ani
    • Nirmohi Ani
    • Nirvani Ani
  • Akhadas
    • Digambara Akhada
      • Rama Digambara Akhada
      • Shyama Digambara Akhada
    • Nirmohi Akhada
    • Nirvani Akhada
    • Niralambi Akhada
    • Santoshi Akhada
    • Maha Nirvani Akhada
    • Khaki Akhada

Shivaite orders

A form of particularly strict asceticism (tapasya): Baba Amar Barati of the Juna Akhada, raised his arm for 47 years (since 1973)

Within the Shaiva there are 8 "Orthodox" subgroups and two main and Reformed groups. Shaivas have 24 different tilakas and carry 11 different symbols as objects with them. Older groupings are the Pashupatas , who are dualists, and the Kapalikas .

Orthodox Shaiva Order

  • Gorakha Nath Pantha (also Nath Pantha )
The namesake of the order is Gorakshnath (also Goraksha or Gorakshanat ), a contemporary of Kabir about whom little is known. Gorakhnath reorganized the order and divided it into 12 subgroups. A city in northern India, Gorakhpur , which is also the headquarters of the order, is named after him . Gorakhnath is the third guru in the group. The first guru is Adi Nath , d. H. Shiva himself. Matsyendra Nath , Gorakhnath's guru, a tantric, is the second guru. Both Matsyendranath and Goraknath are considered to be avatars of Shiva by the group . The main teachings of the group are Gorakha Vani and Hatha Yoga Pradipika. The group combines yoga and the use of tantric mantras to come to Lord Shiva. At the initiation, the novice has a finger-thick hole pierced through the earlobe, in which a ring is later worn. That is why the order is also called Kanapatha Pantha , meaning the order with the pierced ears. Another distinguishing feature is the small Nadi pipe, which every Nath Sadhu wears around their neck, which symbolizes the cosmic sound ( Nada ). Meditation on the inner sound is an important part of the Nath practice. The Nath Pantha also belongs to a women's order, which, however, lives in separate monasteries. The many subgroups also include the Aghoris (see below), Tantric Pandits (scholars) and Siddhas , i.e. H. those who are said to have supernatural yogic powers. Naths abhor image worship and also accept Muslims into the order.
  • Aghori Pantha (also Aughara Pantha)
Aghora is a name of Shiva and means "not terrible". It was founded by Brahma Giri , a disciple of Gorakhnath. Aghoras are notorious for living in cremation places and breaking social taboos. So they occasionally eat excrement and the human flesh of cremated corpses. They are known for their strict asceticism. As a result, their number is very small. They usually seek the solitude of the cremation area in order to be able to carry out their yogic exercises undisturbed. So the begging bowl of Aghoris is a human skull. As early as the 7th century, the Chinese traveler Xuanzang reported of ash-smeared ascetics who wore a rosary ( mala ) made of skulls.
  • Lingayata Sampradaya
  • Karalingi Sampradaya
  • Ganapathi Pantha
  • Kapalika Pantha
  • Kina Rama Pantha
A sub-grouping of the Aghora Pantha , which was founded by Baba Kina Rama in the 18th century , is the Kina Rama Aghori Pantha . It also allows householders to become members. As with the Aghora Pantha, the members are not very numerous. Their practices are kept secret.

Reformed Shaiva Order

  • Shivoham Pantha
  • Sata Sain Pantha

Advaita Order

Dashanami Sampradaya

Dashanami Sampradaya (literally the line of tradition of 10 names) was founded in the 8th century by the great philosopher and scholar Shankara . It emerged from the attempt to reorganize Hinduism and the Hindu religious life and - especially in relation to Buddhism - to strengthen them. The Dashanami Sampradaya is based on the Advaita-Vedanta represented by Shankara , a mystical solitude philosophy or, more technically speaking, a monistic idealism . However, the Dashanami Sampradaya is seen by several authors as a Shivaite order, as Shankara came from a Shivaite family and many directions of Hatha Yoga , a yoga tradition with a strong basis in Dashanami Sampradaya, have their roots in Shivaism. Indeed, in religious practice, the affinity for Shaivism is sometimes more pronounced than that for Vishnuism. At a Kumbh Mela , the members of the Dashanami Sampradaya e.g. B. usually in the camp of the Shivaites, separate from the Vaishnavas. Often the worship is Ishvara (Lord), a term for Shiva; however, the term Ishvara can also be used for Vishnu or Brahman . It should not be overlooked, however, that Shankara not only formulated Advaita-Vedanta as an overarching philosophy of Hinduism, but also placed the emphasis on the equal coexistence of the various Hindu directions in religious practice. For example, tradition ascribes the Panchayatana Puja to him, which includes the equal worship of five main deities ( Shiva , Vishnu , Durga , Ganesha , Surya ). The spiritual names of the relatives can also refer to the most varied of deities or ideal powers.

All Dashanami orders trace their tradition back to one of four "houses". These are the four ancestral monasteries that were founded by direct disciples of Shankara, each of whom, according to tradition, was sent out in a different direction. They are:

Furthermore, all relatives belong, at least in nominal terms, to one of the 10 "names"; these are:

  • Giri (mountain)
  • Puri (city)
  • Bharati (deity of learning)
  • Vana (wood)
  • Aranya (forest)
  • Parvata (mountains)
  • Sagara (sea)
  • Tirtha (place of pilgrimage, ford)
  • Ashrama (hermitage)
  • Sarasvati (deity of knowledge, see Sarasvati )

Of these, Saraswati, Puri and Bharati are traditionally associated with the Sringeri tradition, Tirtha and Ashrama with Dwaraka, Giri, Parvata and Sagara with Jyotirmath, and Vana and Aranya with Puri, but this association, as I said, is only a nominal one, and probably goes back to Shankara's attempt to integrate existing groups into his new order.

Numerous modern organizations, which are also frequently active in the West, belong to different lines of tradition within this large group of Dashanami Sampradaya: for example the Ramakrishna Mission (founded by Swami Vivekananda ), the Self-Realization Fellowship (founded by Paramahamsa Yogananda ), the Divine Life Society (founded by Swami Sivananda ), the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers (founded by his disciple Swami Vishnudevananda ), the Chinmaya Mission (founded by Swami Chinmayananda ) and Transcendental Meditation (Swami Brahmananda Saraswati ).

Dashanami Akhadas

These Naga Sadhus (from Naga = snake) stood on the front line of the Indian resistance against the various Islamic invaders in the Middle Ages. The Juna Akhada in particular was also involved in many battles against the English during their 200-year colonial rule. They also fought alongside Shivaji against the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb . The Naga Babas of the Shivaitic tradition are allowed to smoke Ganj (hashish) and derive this from Shiva's drinking of Halhal , the poison that was created when the ocean of milk was whisked at the beginning of creation, and thus prevented the universe from being poisoned. Smoking is considered beneficial to meditation if it is done with a spiritual purpose and the material is very pure. In this way it helps the sadhu to gain an inner distance from the world. However, the Vaishnavas strictly oppose such a practice as it is considered impure. It certainly helps some sadhus also with difficult ascetic exercises, such as permanent standing (with a support, usually a kind of swing that is attached to a tree), or holding up an arm, which is usually maintained for a period of 12 years. These ascetic exercises, which can be observed on Kumbh Melas , also serve to overcome the physical bond. Often vows are fulfilled here to get rid of sin. However, not all orders advocate such practices. Vaishnava orders usually recommend devotional practices such as japa , repeating a mantra , Shaiva orders also value yoga. Naga Sadhus of the Dashanami order are mostly naked or clad only with a loincloth, their skin smeared with holy ashes, and this gives them an archaic appearance.

  • Maha Nirvani Akhada
founded in 852 AD under the auspices of the scholar Vaidyanath. The sage Kapila Muni is considered an inspiring guru . She is one of the oldest Akhadas, and there are 3,000 to 4,000 Naga Sadhus of theirs. The head office is in Prayagraj.
  • Niranjani Akhada
founded in 912 AD is her inspiring deity Kartikeya , the son of Shiva. The head office is in Prayagraj .
  • Juna Akhada
is also called Bhairon Akhada , founded in 1113 AD. The main deity is Dattatreya , who is considered to be the incarnation of Rudra . Its main script is the Avadhut Gita, which is ascribed to Dattatreya. The Juna Akhada has by far the largest number of Naga sadhus. A peculiarity is that there are about 1000 Avadhunis (female ascetics). According to Indian newspaper reports, the Juna Akhada also includes around 200 western Naga Sadhus. The head office is in Benares.
  • Akhada Atala
founded in AD 750, it is one of the oldest Akhadas. The main deity is Ganesha , the son of Siva. There are only about 1000 Naga Sadhus members, but it is connected to the Nirvani Akhada , which is one of the largest. The head office is in Benares.
  • Avahan Akhada
founded in AD 650. It is associated with the Juna Akhada . Her main deity is Dattatreya Gajanan (a form of Ganesha). The head office is in Benares.
  • Anand Akhada
founded in 959 AD, her main deity is Surya , the sun god. The Akhada is affiliated with the Niranjani Akhada .
  • Nirvani Akhada
is, together with the Niranjani Akhada, the one with the largest property holdings . Only older sannyasins who have received previous instructions from a guru can join these two akhadas.

Shakti order