Nath Sampradaya

The Nath monastic movement is a Hindu sub-tradition that emerged in India and Nepal around the 11th or 12th century CE. ¹ It is based on the teachings and practices of yogis, who are devotees of Lord Shiva and his first disciple, Adi Nath or Matsyendranath. ¹² The Nath movement combines ideas from Buddhism, Shaivism and Yoga, and emphasises the attainment of spiritual liberation (moksha) through the mastery of Hatha Yoga, alchemy and tantra. ¹²

The Nath movement has produced many influential saints, such as Gorakhnath, who is considered the founder of the Nath Panth (sect) and the originator of Hatha Yoga. ² He was also the guru of many other famous Nath yogis, such as Neminath, Baba Balak Nath and Gebinath. ³ The Nath yogis are known for their esoteric and heterodox practices, such as piercing their ears (hence their name Kanphata or split-eared), wearing large earrings, smearing ashes on their bodies, living in cremation grounds, and performing miracles. ¹²

The Nath movement has been a popular and influential tradition in rural India, with many temples and monasteries dedicated to its saints. ¹ It has also influenced other Hindu traditions, such as Advaita Vedanta, Vaishnavism, Shaktism and Bhakti movement, through its poetry and songs. ¹² The Nath movement has also been a source of inspiration for some Sikh gurus, such as Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh. ²

Source: Conversation with Bing, 11/10/2023
(1) Nath – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nath.
(2) Gorakhnath – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gorakhnath.
(3) Yogi Nath – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yogi_Nath.

There are many legends and stories about immortals like Guru Goraknath, who was a Hindu yogi and saint who founded the Nath monastic movement in India. ¹ Some of the other immortals who are associated with him or his tradition are:

  • Matsyendranath: He was the guru of Goraknath and is considered the founder of the Kaula and Hatha Yoga schools. He is also revered as an incarnation of Lord Shiva and one of the 84 Mahasiddhas in Buddhism. He attained immortality by mastering the secrets of alchemy and tantra. ¹²
  • Dattatreya: He is the guru of all gurus and the patron deity of the Nath sect. He is regarded as an avatar of the Trimurti (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) and the source of all magical powers and immortality. He is often depicted with three heads, six arms and four dogs as his companions. He taught the science of mercury and sulphur to his disciples, who could perform miracles with them. ²³
  • Neminath: He was a Nath yogi who was born in Kathiawar, Gujarat. He is also revered as the 22nd Tirthankara (ford-maker) of Jainism and a cousin of Lord Krishna. He renounced his worldly life after hearing the cries of animals being slaughtered for his wedding feast. He attained liberation (moksha) and became immortal by practicing severe austerities and meditation. ³
  • Baba Balak Nath: He was a Nath yogi who was born in Chittorgarh, Rajasthan. He is also known as Sidh Baba Balak Nath or Paunahari (the one who wears leaves). He is believed to be an incarnation of Lord Kartikeya, the son of Lord Shiva. He attained immortality by pleasing Lord Shiva with his devotion and service. He is worshipped as a child deity who grants boons to his devotees.
  • Gebinath: He was a Nath yogi who was born in Kathiawar, Gujarat. He is also known as Gebi Baba or Gebi Pir. He is considered a saint by both Hindus and Muslims. He attained immortality by mastering the art of breath control (pranayama) and living on air alone. He is said to have performed many miracles, such as reviving the dead, curing diseases and controlling animals. ³

These are some of the examples of immortals like Guru Goraknath, who have inspired generations of seekers with their spiritual achievements and teachings. They are revered as masters of yoga, tantra, alchemy and magic, who transcended the limitations of time and space.

Source: Conversation with Bing, 11/10/2023
(1) Gorakhnath – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gorakhnath.
(2) Guru Gorakhnath, Shrinath-ji, and Datta Guru – Anahada. http://www.anahada.com/articles/2011/08/guru-gorakhnath-shrinath-ji-and-datta-guru/.
(3) Gorakhnath – Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia. http://www.hindupedia.com/en/Gorakhnath.

Some of the famous followers of the Nath tradition are:

  • Kabir: He was a 15th-century mystic poet and saint, whose writings influenced Hinduism’s Bhakti movement and his verses are found in Sikhism’s scripture Guru Granth Sahib. ¹ He was initiated by Ramananda, a Vaishnava saint who was also influenced by the Nath teachings. Kabir expressed his devotion to both Shiva and Rama, and criticised religious dogmatism and ritualism. He is considered one of the greatest poets and reformers in Hindi literature.
  • Guru Nanak: He was the founder of Sikhism and the first of the ten Sikh Gurus. He was born in the 15th century in Punjab, India. He travelled extensively and met many religious leaders, including some Nath yogis. He was influenced by their teachings on meditation, yoga and spiritual discipline, but he also rejected some of their practices such as asceticism, celibacy and renunciation. He preached the unity of God, the equality of all people, and the importance of service and social justice. ²
  • Namdev: He was a 13th-century saint and poet, who is revered in the Varkari sect of Hinduism. He was a contemporary of Jnaneshwar, another influential saint of Maharashtra. He was initiated by Visoba Khechara, a Nath yogi who was a disciple of Gorakhnath. Namdev composed many devotional songs in Marathi and Hindi, praising Vithoba (an avatar of Vishnu) and other deities. He also travelled to many holy places, including Punjab, where he met Guru Nanak. ³
  • Gorakhnath: He was a 11th or 12th century yogi and saint, who is considered the founder of the Nath sect and the originator of Hatha Yoga. He was a disciple of Matsyendranath, who is regarded as an incarnation of Shiva and the founder of the Kaula and Hatha Yoga schools. Gorakhnath wrote many texts on yoga, tantra, alchemy and philosophy, such as Goraksha Samhita, Goraksha Paddhati, Siddha Siddhanta Paddhati and Yoga Martanda. He also established many monasteries and temples across India and Nepal, where he is revered as a national saint. ²⁴

Source: Conversation with Bing, 11/10/2023
(1) Nath – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nath.
(2) Gorakhnath – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gorakhnath.
(3) Nātha Siddhas (Nāths) | SpringerLink. https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007/978-94-024-1036-5_2-1.
(4) Yogi Nath – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yogi_Nath.

Leave a Reply