The phrase “Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!” derives from Sanskrit and is therefore common across many cultures in India. In addition, Buddhism interprets this phrase in a very special way.
In Sanskrit, sadhu describes a holy person or entity. This is used after someone has completed some task with excellence or fulfillment- often religious related.
Wondering what these words mean when chanted together?
This article will explore what it means for Buddhists/Hindus to say “Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!” and when to say it.
Sadhus are Hindu
ascetics and renunciates who have given up worldly attachments. They often live in an ashram (a communal space) and follow a guru (spiritual teacher). They generally wear saffron robes.
Sadhu is also a common word among Buddhists that means something like “well done” or “congratulations.”
The Meaning of Saying “Sadhu” Three Times
The term Sadhu literally translates to
“blessed one.” This can mean an enlightened being such as the Buddha, but also refers to the common man who strives for enlightenment in his own life.
In Pali, the word Sadhu means good, excellent, auspicious, etc.
As it appears in the Tripitaka, the word sadhu can be used to address Buddhist devotees.
This word was used by the Buddha when devotees asked him about deep or hard issues.
An example: Sadhu, sadhu Śāriputra! (Vin.I,56)
The following examples demonstrate the meaning of sadhu in Buddhism:
Verse 35: The mind is hard to control; swiftly and lightly, it moves and lands wherever it wishes. It is sadhu to tame the mind, because a tame mind brings happiness.
Another Buddhist stanza reads:
- Sadhu means disciplined body.
- Sadhu means disciplined words.
- Sadhu means disciplined mind.
Hence, sadhu is all three of these elements–a disciplined body, words, and mind.
As a result, Buddhists say “Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu” three times to answer a religious question or express their religious feelings if they find that the request is
satisfactory. Its closest English equivalent would probably be ‘wow’ in this context.
Usually, Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu, the same word is repeated three times. It means
disciplined body the first time, disciplined words the second time and disciplined mind the third time.
In other words, by using the word sadhu three times, it means that in order to be a true Buddhist, it is necessary to discipline the mind, the body, and the words.
Saying Sadhu for the Fourth Time
When Buddhists say “Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu” thrice or sometimes another long “Sa…a…a..dhu” for the fourth time – why do they repeat?
A fourth long Sadhu is for being well disciplined by the ‘Trividha Sucharithaya’. Here, the phrase ‘Trividha Sucharithaya’ again indicates the three virtues of body, words, and mind.
The reason ancient Buddhists uttered the fourth “Sadhu” in such a long manner is that they reserved it for those who were extremely disciplined.
Those who merit all three Sadhu and the long fourth Sadhu are greatly disciplined and have entered the Noble Eightfold Path.
The word “Sadhu” comes from ancient Indian languages. A Sanskrit word meaning a holy person or sage; used as an interjection as well.
The chant of the three syllables has the effect of sending positive energy into the world and to ourselves.