In Hinduism, sādhu (skt साधु sādhu, "good; good man, holy man") denotes an ascetic, wandering monk. Although the vast majority of sādhus are yogīs, not all yogīs are sādhus. The sādhu is solely dedicated to achieving mokṣa (liberation), the fourth and final aśrama (stage of life), through meditation and contemplation of brahman. Sādhus often wear saffron-colored clothing, symbolizing their sanyāsa (renunciation).
Sadhus are sanyasi, or renunciates, who have left behind all material attachments and live in caves, forests and temples all over India and Nepal.
There are 4 to 5 million sadhus in India today and they are widely respected for their holiness, and sometimes feared for their curses. It is also thought that the austere practices of the sadhus help to burn off their karma and that of the community at large. Thus seen as benefiting society, sadhus are supported by donations from many people. However, reverence of sadhus is by no means universal in India. Historically and contemporarily, sadhus have often been viewed with a certain degree of suspicion, particularly amongst the urban populations of India. Today, especially in popular pilgrimage cities, posing as a sadhu can be a means of acquiring income for non-devout beggars.
There are naked Naga (Digambara, or "sky-clad") Sadhus which are non-shaven and wear their hair in thick dreadlocks, and Jata, who carry swords. Aghora sadhus may claim to keep company with ghosts, or live in cemeteries as part of their holy path. Indian culture tends to emphasize an infinite number of paths to God, such that sadhus, and the varieties that sadhus come in have their place.
A popular characteristic of Sadhu ritualism is their utilization of marijuana (known as charrus) as a form of a eucharist in line with their worship of Shiva who was believed to have an adoration or affinity for the leaves of the plant. The drug is used in excess during the celebration of Shivaratri.