Indian Sadhu Has Kept His Right Hand Up for the Last 38 Years

Sadhu Amar Bharati is an Indian holy man who claims he has kept his right hand raised in the air since 1973. Now, 38 years later, his hand is just a useless piece of skin and bone, but has become a symbol for Shiva worshipers around India.

Until 1970, Amar Bharati was an average middle-class man who lived a normal life. He had a job, a home, a wife and three children, but none of that mattered when he woke up one morning and decided to leave everything behind and dedicate his life to serving the Hindu god Shiva. He began wandering the roads of India dressed in his simple Sadhu clothes and carrying only his trusty Trishula (a metal trident). After three years, in 1973, Amar realized he was still too connected to the fading luxury and pleasures of mortal life, and decided to separate himself from them by raising his right arm and keeping it raised. 38 years later, his arm is still up and he couldn’t use it, even if he wanted to.

Other sources claim Amar Bharati felt disillusioned by all the fighting going on in the world, and decided to raise his right arm for peace. A respected Sadhu at the Kumbh Mela, in Haridwar, Amar has inspired other Sadhus to raise their arms for peace and harmony, and some of them have kept them raised for the last seven, thirteen, even 25 years. But doing something like this doesn’t just mean giving up the functionality of an important body part, it also implies dealing with a lot of pain. Bharati himself says he went through excruciating pain for a long time, but not anymore. That’s because his arm is completely atrophied and stuck in a bizarre, semi-vertical position, a useless bony structure ending in thick, twisted nails that he never clips.

Photo via Linda’s Yoga Journey

Indian Sadhus perform all kinds of unusual tasks in the name of religion, like sleeping in an up-right position, never taking baths, fasting for long periods of time, but Amar Bharati’s choice is truly one of the most bizarre I’ve ever seen.

Photo via Rediff


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Feedback (29 Comments)

  • andrea Posted on May 15, 2011

    And this accomplished what???? Nothing, religious fanatics, lost causes.

  • James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil Posted on May 15, 2011

    Just one more example of the insanity of all religions. This man has not only hurt himself, but has encouraged others to do the same.

    Most of the problems of the world are, and always have been, caused by religion. For example, Northern Ireland, the Middle East, 9/11, and family planning clinic bombing in the USA. Then there were the crusades, the inquisition, witch burnings, and the dark ages. Get the idea?

    Humanity will never truly be free until the black yoke of religion is lifted by the clear light of truth and rational thinking.

  • Hugh Jass Posted on May 17, 2011

    lol saw this guy on an idiot abroad

  • Snickers Posted on May 20, 2011

    such a waste of time and effort. Surely he could have done something a bit more productive.

  • AldreI Posted on June 1, 2011

    I understand Amar Bharati. And I feel sorry for all the people who thinks their life are more meaningful than his.

  • Lacey Posted on July 15, 2011

    Aldrel: Really? You feel sorry for all the people who realized there were better things they could do to help the world that sticking their hand up until it was useless?

    If you can find definitive proof that prayer, fasting, or self destruction has EVER done more for the world than an active bunch of concerned citizens, I’ll concede the point. Until then, it’s you that you should be feeling sorry for.

  • Jecky Posted on July 15, 2011

    LOL its all for nothing because there is no magical skyfairy.

  • J Posted on September 19, 2011

    No, nobody can say this man is capable of doing anything ‘better’ with his life. Everybody has different capabilities. He proved a point in his own way; that one can achieve total voluntary control over the neurological impulses of intense pain that would result from keeping the arm raised for even a few hours. He overcame this pain through devotion. He may inspire others to overcome pain.

  • Chad Posted on September 24, 2011

    What nobody seems to understand about their religion is that they don’t treat physical existence as people that are more familiar with western or Jewish\christian mortal views do. It’s about thoughts of practice and what these ancient gods represented to the inner-most thoughts. What is this man trying to accomplish in his mind? What is he also trying to represent with his body actions?

    People warship him as an idol of Shiva. That is a HUGE thing to anybody that even remotely knows what’s going on. He is trying to strip away physical reality to what our souls true home is. The easiest way to do that is to devote something of yourself. An arm is pretty extreme in my opinion but then again I don’t have people in awe and a constant reminder of what’s what.

    This reminds me of a stumble I came across about a monk that prayed in the exact same spot for years to the point there were feet imprints in the old hardwood dojo (?) floor.

  • Grace Posted on September 27, 2011

    How did he clip his nails on the other hand?

  • n0name Posted on September 28, 2011

    You people are so narrow minded and have been so blinded by worldly ideologies, religion was not the cause of all the bad within the world it was always the human corruption, really you think that 9/11 wouldn’t of come to pass if religion wasn’t there, it would have but it would of been reasoned differently, we are human, we make mistakes, our mistakes come from our rationale thinking, we cannot live without guidance, i’m not a religious fanatic, but i have to say, WE ALL NEED SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN , and rationale thinking is not something that is going to give you piece when thinking of questions to do beyond our existence and our realms. And of course for the comments that state this has not achieved anything, it has, we read it, we know it, the symbol, we know what this man stands for and the passion that he possess for his belief, and just knowing or reading this may change the way you may react to something, or it might even change the life of an individual who may change the lives of 10 people who may continue the chain. For the only way we can make a difference to the world is from the inside out, so until you people do not realize that it is never anything but us, and our own doings/creations and interpretations of each idea. I do not wish to offend anyone, or judge, i’m just stating an opinion, which is harsh to our existence.

  • George Posted on October 1, 2011

    To the above few who call religion a lost cause and label it as the root of “most of today’s problems”, it would serve you better to understand that many followers like the man in this article choose to go through what most would consider extreme or ‘wasted’ efforts only to respond to (notice how I make this contradictory) “most of today’s problems.” It isn’t really hurting anybody other than the self, if you can even stress that much. Just to give a little more insight on tragedies such as 9/11 where events like such are based on religion, can you really be certain that religion really is the sole problem as opposed to perhaps a lack of or misinterpretation of it? If something is inspired in good faith and for a good cause and isn’t hurting anyone, then the people who gain satisfaction from it shouldn’t be ridiculed just because you don’t believe in Shiva.

  • Infanta Catalina de Aragon Posted on October 14, 2011

    Shrill anti-religious bigots are often the biggest hypocrites out there. They want “rationality, tolerance, acceptance” and all that for THEIR life choices, but they steadfastly refuse to show the same courtesy to those with whom they disagree. I personally applaud this man because he at least made an effort to develop spirituality and to do something that he considers meaningful for a reason that is important to him, and the world. Making smarmy comments about him and religion in general does not make you look cool, any more enlightened or “better” than anyone else, it just makes you look like a bigot and a spiritually bereft, empty person.

    I actually understand where you people comee from though, you likely have an unfulfilling life and have never progressed beyond the “No, F**K YOU, Dad!” stage in life, so you are angry and blame God for your unhappiness, spiritual emptiness and general ennui. You do not realize that the pop culture that you worship in place of an actual life force (God, Shiva, whatever you wish to call it) is soulless and actually contributes to your misery. It is obvious that modern society is not compatible with religion. People do not WANT to be humble, to work hard, to submit to anything other than their basest desires, to care for others that are weak, sick or needy…they want to go out, party, please themselves, and above all, “do what thou wilt”, without a thought for others or the greater good.

    The funny thing is that all of this has been predicted BY religion, yet people consider themselves smarter and better than God, if they even acknowledge His existence, and are too proud to learn about what He wants and His plan for all of us. I am not here to preach to you people as it would fall on deaf ears anyways and I am not like most Christians, I don’t waste my valuable time on those that cannot be reached by mere humans, but to make you think about what you believe and WHY. Perhaps just start by reading the Bible, or if that is too much, just realizing that pretty much every single person that has ever lived on this Earth up until about the last 40 years has had a belief in SOMETHING bigger than themselves. What makes you so much smarter, better and more “enlightened” than them? Are you truly so, or are you just full of pride? And we all know what goeth before destruction, don’t we? I guess it is futile though, most people don’t even know how much they needed God until He came into their lives. I know I didn’t. I will pray for all of you, not that you become a Christian or go to church or anything like that, but that the scales do fall from your eyes and you can see the truth.

  • Steve Posted on January 9, 2012

    “Shrill anti-religious bigots are often the biggest hypocrites out there. They want “rationality, tolerance, acceptance” and all that for THEIR life choices, but they steadfastly refuse to show the same courtesy to those with whom they disagree.”

    Because there is no rationality in religion, and it’s with those people that the anti-religious disagree. If you can prove to me that God exists, then I will accept religion is rational. If you cannot then you must concede it is irrational.

  • Dave Posted on January 28, 2012

    In relation to James Smith João Pessoa, Northern Ireland had nothing to do with religion. It was Irish Nationalists fighting Britsh unionists for a United Ireland free of British rule. The first United Irishmen that fought for independence were Protestant. Know your facts mate

  • Denise Posted on March 7, 2012

    @Infanta Catalina de Aragon That is one of the clearest snapshots of this moment in time we are in than I have seen in awhile. I am proud to claim you as my sister in Christ.
    @Steve You prove to me God doesn’t exist. I guarantee it takes more faith to believe in the things you do, than it takes for me to believe there is a Higher Being.