There is no formal canonization process in Hinduism, but over time many men and women have reached the status of saints among their followers and among Hindus in general. Hindu saints have often renounced the world, and are variously called gurus, sadhus, rishis, swamis, and other names.
Many people conflate the terms "saint" and "sant", because of their similar meanings. The term sant is a Sanskrit word "which differs significantly from the false cognate, 'saint'..." Traditionally, "sant" referred to devotional Bhakti poet-saints of two groups: Vaishnava and a group that is referred to as "nirguna bhakti".
Some Hindu saints are given god-like status, being seen as incarnations of Vishnu, Shiva, and other aspects of God, sometimes many years after their deaths. This explains another common name for Hindu saints, "godmen".
Hindu saints have come from many walks of life including the blind (Bhima Bhoi, Surdas, and Tulsidas[failed verification]), orphaned (Andal, Kabir[verification needed]), former criminals (Kaladutaka , Valmiki) and former concubines (Kanhopatra and Shatakopa).
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