Shri Panch Dashnam Juna Akhara

श्री पंच दशनाम जूना अखाड़ा


Adi Shankaracharya

सदाशिवमारम्भां शंकराचार्यमध्यमाम् ।
अस्मदाचार्य पर्यन्तां वन्दे गुरूपरम्पराम् ।।

We offer our reverence to the Tradition of Gurus,
beginning with Lord Sadashiva
to the present Acharya,
with Shri Shankaracharya in the middle.

श्री पंच दशनाम जूना अखाड़ा
श्री गुरू दत्तात्रेयो विजयतेत् राम्

Juna Akhara

With more than 400,000 sannyasi members, Juna Akhara is by far the largest order of sadhus in India, today, the vast majority are Naga Babas. They have been called the defenders of the Sanatan Dharma. The word Naga, in this case, is derived from the Sanskrit word, nagna, meaning “naked.” And indeed Naga Babas are known for marching naked, covered with ashes, during the colorful sacred bathing rites at the Kumbh Mela.

head of juna akhara

Juna Akhara Acharya Mahamandaleshwar Avdheshanand Giri Ji

History of Juna Akhara

According to Oral Tradition and its derived texts, such as Vidyaranya’s “Sankaradigvijaya,” in the 5th century B.C., India’s greatest philosopher and commentator on sacred texts, Adi Sankara, organized the Brahmanical lineages of sadhus, yogis and shamans into India’s first monastic order, the Order of the Sannyasis of the Ten Names (Dashnami Sannyasi Sampradaya) which exists until this day. Adi Sankara founded four great mathas, monasteries, in the four corners of India, in each of which he established one of his four primary disciples, Padmapada (Govardhan Math in Orissa), Sureshvaracharya (Sringeri Sarada Math in Kerala), Hastamalakacharya (Dwarka Math in Gujarat), and Totakacharya (Jyotir Math in the Himalayas).

juna akhara lineages

Marhi Vrksha – Lineage Tree of Juna Akhara

From these four shishyas, disciples, and the corresponding mathas sprung ten names, Puri, Giri, Bharti, Saraswati, Tirtha, Ban, Aranya, Sagar, Parvat, and Ashram. All of the lineages, that spread like the branches of a tree, are attached at their roots to one of these ten names.

In the 7th century A.D., 52 lineages within the Order of Sannyasis formalized their age-old network into an elite brotherhood, a society, that was known originally as Dattatreya Akhara, then Bhairon Akhara, and after other new akharas were formed, it simply became known as Juna Akhara, the “old” akhara (as juna means “old” in Gujarati Language), or the “Ancient Circle”.

Administration of Juna Akhara

Juna Akhara does not resemble modern religious or spiritual organizations in their linear or pyramidal infrastructure.

head of juna akhara

Shri Mahant Ved Vyas Puri reads minutes to Sabhapati, Bhagavat Puri Ji.

Juna Akhara is a traditional society in which the sadhu families of the 52 lineages are represented by their acknowledged elders in a grand council of the akhara, which in turn is represented by elected Secretaries and a Sabhapati (President). Once elected to any position, the appointment is for life.

The decisions of the greater and ruling councils have to do with the operation of the society as a whole, not with the functioning or behaviour of a lineage, family, or individual. All matters are divided into two main categories, “samaj“, dealing with the society as a whole affecting all, and “ghar”, that which relates to a sadhu family. These council members are all Naga Babas.

The elections and initiations take place during a Kumbh Mela, which gives great significance to this event for Naga Sadhus. Juna Akhara also elects a Shri Ramta Panch, a roving authority of the akhara, who protects and worships the ishta devata of the akhara, the ever-roving Guru Dattatreya. At each Kumbh Mela, each of the 4 marhis, the divisions of the akhara according to the Ten Names, corresponding to the 4 Mathas, elects a Shri Mahant (the authority of the Marhi), Ashtakosul Mahant (his leutenant), Pujari (for making rites and rituals), Bhandari (who keeps the supplies), and Kothari (who keeps the books), who along with other Naga Babas accompany Guru Dattatreya as He traditionally walks from one Kumbh Mela to the next. The Marhi also hosts the Viraja Havan, the Sannyas initiation, during the Kumbh Melas. I write about Juna Akhara in my autobiographical novel, Autobiography of a Sadhu – an Angrez among Naga Babas.

Pir of Naga Babas

Pir Paramanand Puri Ji on gadi of Dattatreya Akhara

head sadhu

Shri Maharaj Macchendar Puri, Head of the 16 Lineages (Solah Marhi)

H.H. Swami Avdheshanand Giri Ji & H.H. Dalai Lama

H.H. Swami Avdheshanand Giri Ji and H.H. Dalai Lama

H.H. Swami Avdheshanand Giri Ji Maharaj is the Acharya Mahamandaleshwar (chief religious authority) of the Juna Akhara, appointed in 1998.

A great yogi, a scholar, and a well-recognized authority on Vedanta, Swami Avdheshanand relates equally to his two worlds, that of the Naga Sanyassis, who he initiates, and that of an international public he serves with spiritual discourses, teachings, and a number of social projects ranging from hospitals to water harvesting.
In addition to his position as Head Trustee of the Acharya Mahasabha, the organization of all of India’s traditional religious leaders, he is a member of the World Council of Religious Leaders, he has appeared at the United Nations on many occasions, and he is a close friend of the Dalai Lama.

H.H. Swami Avdheshanand Giri Ji Maharaj was made the Acharya or Spiritual preceptor of the prestigious and acclaimed Sri Panch Dasnaam Juna Akhara, designating him as PRIME SAINT in 1998 at the Haridwar Maha Kumbh.
Thousands of saints across India and elsewhere have been initiated by the Acharya, Mahamandaleshwar Swami Avdeshanand Giri Ji.
H.H. Avdheshanand Ji with Naga Babas of Juna Akhara at Kumbh

Kumbh Mela Video Archive

Kumbh Mela Videos

Kumbh Mela Video Archive

Kumbh Mela Video Archive Higher Consciousness & Speech Video Series Enjoy Kumbh Mela Videos featuring the Naga Babas of Juna Akhara. There are videos of initiations of Sannyasis, the grand processions of Naga Babas, known as […]

Juna Akhara & Maha Kumbh Mela

Naga Sadhus with Guru Dattatreya

Maha Kumbh Mela Allahabad 2013

On the banks of India’s most sacred river, Ganga Ma … the Kumbh Mela is humanity’s largest gathering still celebrated after thousands of years as the greatest of Indian festivals. The Greatest of Indian Festivals – […]

maha kumbh mela naga babas

Maha Kumbh Mela Ujjain 2016

15 Million take sacred dip during Shahi Snan – Maha Kumbh Mela Ujjain 2016 Every street and alleyway in Ujjain is jammed packed with jubilant pilgrims as a city of close to 500,00 inhabitants welcomes 15 […]

Photos of Naga Babas

Kumbh Mela

sanatan dharma celebration

Naga Babas Ujjain Kumbh Mela Video

Naga Babas of Juna Akhara Shahi Snan at Ujjain Kumbh Mela 2016 In this Kumbh Mela video, Baba Rampuri and Baba Mangalanand Puri (aka Goa Gil) take you inside of the procession of the Naga Babas […]

Mohini with amrit - Nectar of Immortality

The Nectar of Immortality

NOW… before time was counted, the Devas, who we know as gods, and the Asuras, who we know as demons, let their eternal differences be forgotten for a timeless moment, and joined together to churn the Ocean of Milk (Ksirabdhi) for […]

Jangams at the Kumbh Mela

The Jangams are a mystical caste of itinerant bards closely attached to Naga Babas, singing trance inducing songs of the lineages of yogis, songs of secret knowledge, and about Gods and Goddesses. Here they appear at […]

Naga Babas March Naked to the Royal Bath

Naga Babas procession

The procession, or peshwai, of the Naga Sadhus of Juna Akhara during the Kumbh Mela at Hardwar, 2010, on the occasion of Mauni Amavasya, the dark moon, on March 15.

naga baba dwarf chants om namah shivaya

Dwarf chants Om Namah Shivaya

A dwarf leads the Naga Babas, Naked Yogis, of Juna Akhara chanting “OM NAMAH SHIVAYA!” From the 1998 Kumbh Mela in Hardwar.