kumbh Mela 2010 Haridwar
About Naga Baba & Akharas
The 42-day-long Kumbh Festival, Haridwar invites millions of tourists, pilgrims and foreign nationals. The major crowd puller at the fair, however, remains the congregation of the Naga Sadhus. These sadhus keep attracting the attention of all due to their out-of-the-world appearance and extraordinary rituals. Tourists from every corner of the world flock to Haridwar during the Kumbh mela season to watch these Naga Baba meditate and perform other rituals. The identification features of this sect of sadhus include being naked, long knotty hair and body smeared with ashes. In addition, the Naga Babas are able to withstand the extremities of weather.

Even when the mercury dips down to a single digit, they continue to meditate and observe different rituals without being hindered in the least. These Naga Sadhus belong to different 'akhadas', meaning camps. A number of akhadas participate in the Haridwar Kumbh mela, each having its own group of Naga Babas. Living life in the most unconventional way, the Naga Sadhus follow their own style and enjoy it too without caring about the world at all. During the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar, the Naga Babas can be seen performing different types of yogasanas. To watch them busy meditating, travelers need to remain close to the Ganga ghats in Haridwar. You will be surprised to know that these Naga Sadhus can thrive merely on herbs. Interacting with the Naga Babas is seen as a rare opportunity to know things that are so out of the world yet belong to us. These sadhus make a pilgrimage to the Kumbh Mela to perform various types of Yogic asanas, Sashtang Dandthvad being a most prominent one. The purpose of this Yogic asana is to let the whole body prostrate. You will be deemed fortunate if you catch sight of these Naga Sadhus in some other Yogic postures like hanging from the branch of a tree.

The Naga Babas are also seen wearing numerous Rudraksha beads, believed to posses positive healing powers according to the Hindu mythology. These are in actuality the beads of the Rudraksha tree. Not just a few, but you can witness Naga Sadhus wearing thousands of Rudraksha beads. They believe that wearing 11,000 Rudraksha beads will help them attain the form of Lord Shankara.

While you visit the akhada (or camp) of Naga Babas, you will see them indulge in smoking 'chilum', a pot of clay to hold bhang, the narcotic marijuana. The consumption of bhang is also considered to be a part of the rituals performed by the Naga Babas. The sadhus hold the view that doing so will lead them to nirvana, meaning the final emancipation of the soul. Pilgrims also flock to the akhadas of Naga Babas in large number. The upcoming Kumbh Mela in Haridwar will be organized in the year 2010. So, the next time you plan a tour to the Kumbh Festival, do try to find an opportunity to get to one of the akhadas and interact with the Naga Babas. But, keep your cameras poised! List of Naga Baba/Sadhus Akhara
  • Sanyasi Akhadas/Akharas
  • Shri Taponidhi Niranjani Akhara/Akhada Panchayati
  • Shri Panchayati Anand Akhara/Akhada
  • Shri Panchadashnam Juna Akhara/Akhada
  • Shri Panch Ahvan Akhara/Akhada
  • Shri Agni Akhara/Akhada
  • Shri Panchayat Akhara/Akhada Mahanirvani
  • Shri Panch Atal Akhara/Akhada
  • Bajrangi Akharas/Akhadas
  • Shri Nirvani Akhara/Akhada
  • Shri Digambar Akhara/Akhada
  • Shri Nimrohi Akhara/Akhada
  • Nirmal Akharas/Akhadas
  • Shri Panchayati Akhara/Akhada
  • Shri Udasin Panchayati Naya Akhara/Akhada
  • Shri Nirmal Panchayati Akhara/Akhada
About akahars
As per the vedic Concept of life the usual life span of a person was devided into four distinct periods or asharams , bramcharya or study period, graistha or normal life period,vanprastha,or withdrawl period and sanyasa .As this system fell into disuse and the concept of mathas gained prominence and became important centers to propagate the ethical behaviour and to protect the vedic concept of life . the sanyasis of various mathas vere devided into various categeroies governing the various aspects of vedic life Akhara means literally a place for verbal debate ,or the place for practice for the protection of Sanatana Dharma.

Akhara is divided in 8 davas (divisions) and 52 marhis (centers). Each Marhi is governed by a Mahant. The top administrative body of the Akhara is Shree Panch (the body of five), representing Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Shakti and Ganesha. It is elected on every Kumbh Mela and the body holds its post for 4 years. Traditionally during the Kumbh Mela, the Naga Sadhus, and the 'Akharas', take the principle place in initiating the bathing rituals, before the general population steps in.

Akharas are divided into different types according to the concept of God they worship. Shaiva Akharas for followers of Lord Shiva, Vaishnava or Vairagi Akhara for followers of Lord Vishnu and Kalpwasis for followers of Lord Brahma.

Its history date back to 8th century AD when Adi Shankaracharya established seven Akharas namely Mahanirvani, Niranjani, Juna, Atal, Avahan, Agni and Anand Akhara. Today there are 3 major Akharas (Mahanirvani, Niranjani, Juna) and 3 minor Akharas (Atal affiliated with Mahanirvani, Anand affiliated with Niranjani, Avahan affiliated with Juna). Furthermore there is one small Brahmachari Akhara named Agni, affiliated to Juna.

The naga Akhara Movement
Akharas were established by Shree AdiShankaracharya who divided Sannyasa into two categories:
  • Astradharis (weapon holders)
  • Shastradharis (scripture holders)
This movement was founded in the 8th century Adi Shankaracharya when he established the the group of militant initiated followers whose task was to protect pilgrims and sadhus from robbers & other enemies , later called the Nagas Astradharis (weapon holders)

The first group is known as Naga Sannyasis; their initiation ceremony takes place only during Kumbh Mela. Only those who were initiated during Kumbh Mela in Prayag are eligible to be Shree Mahants. The initiation ceremony for nagas are different from those for the second group (Paramahansas and Dandis). The biggest Akhara - regarding the number of the Sadhus in it - is Juna, then Niranjani and then Mahanirvani. The first person in the Akhara is the Acharya Mahamandaleshwar, followed by other Mahamandaleshwaras, Mandaleshwaras and Shree Mahants.