Beyond religions and caste systems, this is an ancient sect of avdhoot yogis. It originated with Adinath Shankar and was presented by Shiva incarnate Balyati Shri Gorakshnath to the world.
Great epics like Padma, Skanda, Shiva and Bramhand Puranas, books on tantra such as Tantra mahanarva, Brahadaranyak Upnishads and other ancient scriptures have well described stories of Guru Gorakshnath.
Goraksh nath ji taught the world how to develop and realize the super powers existing in the human mind and body through yogic practices. He was the originator of hatha yoga and initiated the process of teaching it to the mankind to improve the mind and body, thoughts and actions, focused on leading a better quality of life, to save them from terrible diseases and misfortunes. For the welfare of humanity, he preached yoga through all ages.
To maintain the tradition of Guru-sishya relationship, Goraksh nath became the disciple of Baba Shri Matsyendra nath ji. Till eternity they clear all the doubts arising in a yogis mind through the medium of question- answers between the guru and the disciple. Gorakh bodh, a book written by Goraksh nath is an example. He wrote many books on the subject of yoga in Sanskrit language. Many have been published and many manuscripts still remain with the yogis at their ashrams.
Shri Guru Goraksh nath ji taking bhiksha (alms) from Mata Annapurna
Impressed by his super human feats and teachings, many kings became his disciples. They gave up all the luxuries in life and became completely devoted towards sadhana for the betterment of humanity. After performing many austerities and penance, they mastered yoga and gained various sidhis. They attained sainthood and performed extraordinary deeds during their life times.
The present form and rules set in the Nath Sampradaya is supposed to be 200 years before Lord Shankaracharya’s birth. This is mentioned in the Hindu epic Shankar Digvijay.
Gorakshnath ji propagated the science of yoga by initiating Nav-naths and 84 sidhas on this path. The famous Nav-naths of the Nath Sampradaya are:
1. Goraksh nath ji
2. Matsendra nath ji
3. Chourangi nath ji
4. Gyan nath ji
5. Jalebi nath ji
6. Achal nath ji
7. Santosh nath ji
8. Uday nath ji
9. Omkar nath ji
The murati of Shri Guru Goraksh nath ji and Vilakshan Avdhoot Baba Shri Amrit nath ji maharaj at the
Gaddi,, the seat of power at Shri Amrit Nath ashram, Fatehpur.
The Baroh panth or the 12 sects in the Nath Sampradaya are:
There are no major differences in the traditions and principles of these 12 sects.
A disciple has mainly three Gurus in this sampradaya:
Choti Guru- The guru intiates the disciple in the nath sampradaya by formally cutting some of his hair and granting the disciple symbolic saffron clothes of the sadhu asking him to follow the discipline of always having self-control over all his senses.
There after the disciple shaves his head completely and always wears saffron.
Chira Guru- Is the Guru who tears the cartilage of his disciple’s ears with a sharp knife. There after a disciple always wears kundals in his ears.
Mantra Guru or Updesh Guru- The Guru teaches the secret mantra and gives all the knowledge and protection to his disciple. There after the disciple promises to follow the Guru’s teaching and fulfils all his commands till the end of his life.
The above picture on the left shows Ramta’s Mahant Shri Krishan nath ji wearing large kundals in his ears and in the picture on the right, a sadhu making the Janeu with black sheep wool.
Sri Guru Goraksh nath ji made the piercing of the cartilage of the ear to wear the kundals popular in the sadhus. Flat, large hoop rings made of earth, gold, bone, horn of rhino (now even plastic) etc. are worn all the time by the nath sadhus. This confirms the complete dedication and determination in the disciple. To check the sense of deep detachment and the power to bear pain, Goraksh nath ji established this tradition as a test for his followers and disciples. The disciples who remain as monks without wearing their Kundals or Darshans, are called “Oghad” or half a Sadhu. They are shown less respect accordingly.
The Nath sadhu calls the name “Alakh” when they go for alms (bhiksha) or when they meditate. Alakh meaning, invisible, imperceptible ultimate spirit of the universe, this is another title of Lord Shiva. They greet each other by calling out “Adesh” literally meaning, “will do as you command”.
Nath yogis wear Janeu (sacred threads) around their neck, which is called “singi-seli”.
This Janeu is made of 16 threads of black sheep wool. Each thread is woven delicately by spinning eight threads of raw wool by hand. The total length of a janeu is 18 feet. There is a Singh- Naad attached to one end of the Janeu. This whistle is blown as salutations while bowing in front of the samadhis or owns own Guru or superior. There is a small ring called Pavitri and a rudraksh bead joined to this naad. While wearing the Janeu, the Naad ideally rests at the navel of the yogi.