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Who is an Avadhuta in Hindu Religion?



Avadhuta can be loosely defined as an ascetic who has renounced all worldly attachments and connections. The term is applied to Hindu, Jaina and Buddhist saints.

In Avadhuta Upanishad, Dattatreya explains that the Avadhuta Yogi shakes off the bondages of the world, varna (classes) and ashrama (stages of life).

A true Avadhuta does not belongs to any sect. He is merged in the Supreme Truth. For a man of the world, he might look like a lunatic. But who is a lunatic one who is madly chasing the world or one who has rejected the world.

However, scholars are scholars and they have filled books with various classifications of Avadhutas.

The important categories are:
Brahmavadhuta,
Shaivavadhuta
Viravadhuta and
Kulavadhuta

The first two worships Brahma and Shiva. The third can be categorized as a hardcore Shiva devotee. Those in this category have matted and scattered hair, wears a garland of bones or rudraksha, smears ash over his body, carries stick, deerskin, damaru and uses red sandalwood paste on this forehead.

Kulavadhuta leads the life of a householder with any fear or attachment.

Two texts that exclusively dedicated to Avadhutas are the Avadhuta Upanishad and the Avadhuta Gita.
Avadhuts know that birth and death are illusions of the body. They are no more identified with the body than ordinary people are with their garments.
 Avadhuts have no sense of "I." They see everything as projections of the Self, viewing all with equal pleasure. (Bhagavan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri on Avadhuta)

The most important Avadhuta is Dattatreya.

Two saints that promoted the concept were Gorakhnath and Ramananda.

In Siddha Siddhantapaddhati (chapter 6), Gorakhnath enumerates the qualities of an Avadhuta. An interesting note in the text is that where the Avadhuta goes that place becomes a Tirtha. It means all the place in the world are same for him.

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