The sadhu drag has been tarted up.
The story is that the Panchayats concerned pooled all their Infrastructure resources, and the Municipal Council and Tourist Development Corporation both chipped in lavishly until we have the most pukha roadway in all TamilNadu here, where the local sadhu population hangs out. Most of the Sadhu population that is – there are other places such as the many other temples and even some slightly less public hangouts.
And it must be emphasised that the gorgeous roadway was not created on behalf of ‘layabouts’, ‘useless rogues’ and ‘couch-potatoes’, no. The intended beneficiaries are the trucks and buses and other traffic detouring our congested town centre – we need to accommodate them first, then the masses of millions – pilgrims who come to walk around the sacred mountain, who patronise all the shrines on the commercial spider-web-way. For the sadhus the new hill-round-roadway is nothing but a Boon.
Today I did the drag from the Bangalore Road junction to the Murugan Temple. Far as I’m concerned the famous Sadhu Drag stops here with Murugan; from then on is the Avenue of High Achievers (not so famous) starting appropriately with Nithyananda’s monstrosity.
An early start is naturally punctuated with one of India’s most convivial of icons:
The Orange world has become India’s social safety-net you see; genuine pukha Sadhus there no doubt are – those initiated by a Guru, who never stay in one place more than three days, never touch money, abstain entirely from comfort, pleasure (in the sense of indulgence and sex); men and women who have forsaken worldly life – we do still have them. Most are beggars with some kind of ideology supporting them. Women sadhus on the roadside are rare.
Where do they sleep when it rains?
Well may you ask.
Some places are fine with a big piece of plastic.
Others are simple, well organised communal set-ups where newly entering members are vetoed democratically:
This young sadhu enjoys life.
Some sadhus suffer worldly casualties:
As a community within the community they are most supportive among themselves, and they take care of their canine friends too: they understand that the dog is man’s best friend much better than the general population here. Once I was asking sadhus the whereabouts of a dog who used to hang out at Kattu Siva; two years later a couple of sadhus still update me on her whereabouts when I pass by.