The LANGOUTI or Loincloth
of the yogi
The naga babas (naked
brothers) of yoga believe that clothes constitute a barrier between their Self and God.
It is thus an essential aspect of their sadhana to be naked wherever/whenever possible as a spiritual practice. For them there is no question of being naked for health reasons, getting an all over
suntan, or as a form of exhibitionism. They believe that when a person can be
naked without an awareness of their nudity, and oblivious to sexual connotations, they have succeeded in going beyond the
physical senses and have achieved a spiritual level of union with God.
For some yogis and
sadhus nudity is adopted as a form of tapas – hardship or austerity. It
is not always warm and comfortable being naked, even in India. The burning sun can be as challenging as the cold winds in the mountains.
However it is accepted
that at times clothing must be worn for social and cultural reasons. My guru,
Mahesh Giri Naga Baba, at my initiation instructed me that while nakedness is the ideal there are times when for a male sadhu
or yogi a langouti, or the dhoti/lungi (depending on which part of India you
are in), should be worn. He did not advise on the acceptability of wearing Western
The langouti is
the minimum which should be worn in the presence of women, except for those sadhus who have taken a vow of nakedness. As with the lungi the langouti is made with unhemmed cloth. A common way of making the langouti is to tear a strip of cloth about eight inches wide from the end of
a lungi fifty four inches wide. The eight inch wide strip is then divided by
tearing a two inch strip along its length. The narrow strip forms the belt, the
six inch strip the runner or loin cloth.
To fasten the langouti,
twist the belt into a loose rope and tie it with a slip knot at the side of the hip.
At the front hang the runner over the belt with each end being equal length.
Taking the under strip arrange it over the genitals. Reaching from behind
hold the two edges of the runner and twist them to draw the two sides snugly around the genitals. Take the runner under the crotch and hook over the belt at the back.
Pull it firmly to fit tightly and feed the remainder of the runner, twisting it round the strip in place, to fasten
under the crotch between the buttocks. Return to the front hanging strip and
again pull it down to fit firmly. Repeat the process. Correctly fitted the langouti should fit safely and comfortably for as long as required.