Professor of History William Pinch spoke to The New York Times for a story about Hindu holy men, called Sadhus, who spoke recently at a religious festival, Kumbh Mela, about the importance of detaching oneself from family. Pinch told the Times that Sadhus are part of religious orders that were once mercenary armies that terrified parts of northern India centuries ago.
“They are the ghosts of armies past,” Pinch said. “And they were often employed as assassins.”
These armies often stole or bought children to fill their ranks, Pinch said. And the rituals of joining the orders usually involved cutting all ties to family, he said.