Amongst the variety of the numerous ascetic traditions existing in India, the Sect of Nathas is the one of most ancient and remarkable. The order itself appears to be about one thousand years old, but the principles on which it based trace their original to far remote past. Nathas are also known as Yogis, because the foundation of their order based on the ideas of Yoga.
As all other Shaiva ascetics, Nāthas wear saffron colored closes, or go around half-naked, after besmearing body with ash from their sacred fires. Many of them keep their hair matted, some are clean-shaven. The most striking detail of the Natha appearance, which makes them very easily distinguished from the ascetics of all others sects of India, is their huge earrings called kundala (kuṇḍala), inserted into lobes of their ears. The word kuṇḍala translated from Sanskrit means earring, ring, coil or circle of rope. From the same root comes word Kundalini (the coiled Goddess) the famous name of the mysterious Goddess Durgā. The splitting lobe of ears and the inserting earrings is the important part of the Natha sadhanā and the second stage of their initiation. The Natha Yogis believe that the two important nadies (subtle channels) are become cut in the process, what becomes helpful for the permanent rising of Kundalini. Another purpose of this custom is to demonstrate the faith and determination of an adept, to follow the path once selected by him. The procedure of the splitting ears by itself is very painful, and traditionally no medicines were applied to keep the pain in control. After earrings, another important distinctive mark of Nathas is their sacred thread called janeū, worn around the neck. It consists from six dark brown threads with pavitri (pāvitrī ring), rudrākṣa and siṅgnād (whistle) attached to it. Janeū is given to an adept at time of entering into the order, along with new name ending on Natha and Guru Mantra. This is first stage of initiation into the order, after which yogi becomes known as aughaṛ. For aughaṛ, his janeu is the only mark of his belonging to the Natha sect, without which he would not be recognized as its member. The fully initiated Nathas, who have accomplished the task of splitting their ears and inserting earrings, called Darshni (darśanī). Darshni yogis have much more respect then aughars, and considered to be full pledged members of the sect, while second are still looked on as ‘candidates’ for the complete initiation.
The wide spread influence of the Natha sect presently can be traced all over India, but it is more strong in the North and Western parts of the country. Such states as Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat are the stronghold of Nathas and having the biggest number of their establishments and followers. The Southern and Eastern parts of the country are less frequently visited by the Nātha yogis and have relatively few ashrams of the sect. The reasons for this are the language barrier and the poor density of places to stay. There are also some Nātha ashrams in the Nepal. At present moment, the Nātha tradition slowly attracting fellowship and gaining popularity all over the world.
There exist many different names associated with the sect, amongst them Nāthas, Gorakshnathi, Yogis, Siddha Sampradaya, Kanphata Yogis’ are most popular. Each of these names has its own unique significance, reflecting some distinctive aspects assigned to it. ‘Nātha Saṁpradāya’ (the Sect of Nathas), ‘Nātha yogis’, ‘Nātha panth (i)’or simply ‘Nāthas’ are most commonly used names of the order. Reasons about the origin of starting using this word, best of all explained in commentary of Brahmaananda on Hatha Yoga Pradipica called Jyotsna:
ādināthaḥ sarveṣāṁ nāthanāṁ prathamaḥ tato nāthasampradāyaḥ pravṛtta iti nāthasampradāyino vadanti |
Adi Nath is the ‘first from all Nathas’, from him Natha Sampradaya has arisen, duty this reason it is spoken about as Nātha Saṁpradāya.
Nathas believe that the Great God Siva himself was founder of their order. Then he is known as Adi Nath, the one of the Nine Great Nathas, ‘the First Nath’, ‘the Primeval Master’, unanimously accepted by Yogis as the Adi Guru (the First Guru) and patron deity of the sect. Shiva is also know as Yogeśvara (the Lord of Yoga), the ideal of ascetic per se, the Lord of detachment, austerity and penance. In more wide sense, the Adi Nath also can be translated as ‘the First Lord’ of the entire creation, one without begging.
The Original of word ‘Nāth’
Translated from Sanskrit, the word Natha means: a protector, patron, possessor, owner, lord, master and husband. Presently the word became strongly associated with the Nātha sect, and became its unique recognition symbol amongst the other ascetic traditions of the India. However, the word has much older original than the order itself, which can be traced as far as three millenniums ago. After writing the book by G.W. Briggs ‘Goraksh Nath and Kanphata Yogis’, the expression ‘Kānphata Yogīs’ became one more popular name under which the members of the sect widely recognized, especially in the literate circles. Normally this term does not used by Nathas themselves.
‘There exist few more names related to the sect, which are not as much widely popular, and appear mostly in the different texts defining ideas and practices of the order. They are Siddha Math, Siddha Marg, Yoga Marg, Avadhut-Mat, Nath Mat and Avadhut-Sampradaya.
The name Siddha Sampradaya, illustrates that Nathas are descendants of the tradition of Mahasiddhas, which has reached its peak around 7th-9th centuries. Guru Goraksh Nath has created the Natha Sampradaya by assimilated into it many ascetics from the contemporary Shaiva sects, such as Lakulīśa, Kāpālikas and Pāśupatas along with Buddhist Vajrayāna Siddhas. The Siddha movement was started as the rebellion against the formalism and hypocrisy existed in the contemporary traditions, it rejected all double standards and superstitions, and emphasized the direct practice of Yoga as the only way to salvation. Amongst other reforms carried on by Mahāsiddhas, one was starting to use simple regional languages instead of traditional Sanskrit, as for worship, as well as for propaganda of their doctrines.
Although the Natha Sampradaya was formed on the base of the unorganized movements of its forerunners, it was designed to be much different from them. The Nātha yogis closely resembled Kāpālikas in their outer appearance, they were half-naked, besmeared with ash and keeping long mated hair, but it was only the external similarity. Not like its predecessors, the new sect was well organized, disciplined and was having the simple and systematical teaching, which could be easily understood by people. The complex system introduced by the Guru Goraksh Nāth, was based on the correct knowledge of the subtle structures existing in human body and the Cosmic Laws of the Universe. It was emphasizing the practice of Hatha Yoga and the power of austerity (tapa), and was almost totally denying the learning of scriptures as means of liberation. Goraksh Nath put the end to the practiced by Kapalikas custom to carry female consort with them and condemned it as ridiculous and hypocritical. To avoid the further confusion, he discontinued the authority of all previously existed philosophical traditions (not spiritual) and Tantras, and instead started the practice of passing knowledge from Guru to disciple in the line of direct transmissions. The esoteric part of the teaching was put in the form of short couplets called Mantras, which were easy to remember and were learnt by heart. Each of those couplets contained some elements of knowledge on particular topic, and was passed only from Guru to disciple. The other part of teaching addressed to wider public was included in Ārati- the songs of praise and prayer to Deity, singed daily as part of the morning and in the evening worship.
The Followers of Goraksh Nāth
Amongst their other names Nāthas also known as ‘Gorakṣnāthi’ or followers of Guru Goraksh Nath. Although they revere Goraksh Nath as the actual founder of their order, the names of Matsyendra Nāth along with Jalandhar Nath precede him in the paramparā (the lineage of succession) of the great masters of the sect. Matsyendra Nāth is also known as Dādā (Guru) Matsyendra Nāth, or ‘the grand-father guru’ of all Nāthas.
The Personality of Goraksh Nāth
The name of Guru Goraksh Nāth can be easily recognized, amongst the other remarkable personalities of India, being surrounded by numerous legends about his wonderful deeds. He described as flying in air, turning mountain into gold, creating alive people by his yogic powers and as doing many more supernatural miracles contradicting all laws of the modern science. Literally translated, the name Go-rakṣa means ‘to defend cows’. In one of devotional couplets of Nāthas, senses compared with indiscriminately wondering cows, which he protects as cowherd. Gorakh is another variation of spelling of his name, having the same origin and meaning.
As historical personage, Goraksh Nath was widely famous all over India, as distinguished saint, who achieved remarkable heights in the practice of Yoga and has acquired the supernatural powers. He traveled wide, in India and neighbor countries, and even today, many places there surrounded with the legends about his miracles. His powerful personality and the achievements in yoga became the reason of creating huge fellowship, and many of kings contemporary to him become his disciples. It seems that at the time of the formation of the Nātha order, he was unanimously accepted as the manifestation of Shiva, and in such way, many others ascetic sects were persuaded to be included in the newly created order. There exist numerous books attributed to the authorship of Goraksh Nath, some of which became milestones for the further development of the Yoga tradition. Amongst them, few are in Sanskrit and few are in the medieval form of the different local dialects of India.
Not too much known about the place of his birth, and there exist lot of different opinions on this question by different scholars. The areas of the Bengal, Nepal, Assam, Punjab, Gujarat, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Maharashtra are usually mentioned in the legends about him.
In accordance with the opinions expressed by different researchers, he lived no earlier than 7th century and not later than 12th century A.D.… Earliest date based on the accepting as fact that he lived at the same time with the king of Nepal Narendra Deva, who ascended to the throne in about 640 A.D. and ruled till his death in 683 A.D.… The latest date based on the biography of the Saint Jṣāneśvar, in accordance with which Goraksh Nath lived not long time before him.
The Natha Yogis believe that Goraksh Nath was more then human Guru, and insist on his miraculous non-human birth and immortality. It is told that he lived even before the creation has taken place, and through all four Yugas, and presented here even now, being invisible. Various accounts are showing him as meeting with the different people, who lived at the periods so far remote from each other that makes it impossible for the ordinary human being. He is described as unseen background and inspiriting power behind the manifestation of many saints at the different periods of history. Kabir, Guru Nanak, Guga Pir, Raja Bhartrihari and many others are traditionally connected with his personality. In accordance with some legends about him, he was not bound to one physical body, and was able easily leave own body and enter into other bodies, or to create one or few of them by his will and as such, he is an immortal. The Nāthas believe that he is still alive and appears at different places, at the time when it is most relevant to protect Dharma. One of his latest manifestations regarded by Nāthas, has happened about three hundreds years ago, when he walked in India as the Siddh Baba Masta Nath.
Nāthas are adherents of Śaivism, as such, they are devotes of the Great God Śiva and his consort Goddess Pārvati in all their different manifestations. In Shaivism, the Shiva is looked upon as the Primeval Lord of Universe, the One from whom all started, who responsible for creation, maintenance and destruction. The worship of fireplace (dhuna) plays important role in the daily lives of yogis, they believe that fire represents the mother Goddess. All of Nathas adore Goraksh Nath as their Guru, they also worship the Nine Great Nathas, the 84 Mahāsiddhas and some later Siddha yogis. Approximately all gods of the Hindu pantheon some how integrated into the Natha Tradition, and valued by yogis.
The Philosophical base
Goraksh Nath is not Philosopher
As yoga teacher, Goraksh Nath always emphasized the practical aspect of yoga and always was against of creating any kind of sophisticated philosophical doctrines around it. Instead of indulging in creating one, he formed the Nātha Paṇth as the medium to present within itself the living body of his teaching. By example of his life, he practically realized the essence of his doctrines, and became the living example of a Great yogi.
The Siddha yogis consider any attempts to grasp and express the Absolute Reality by the power of words, or by mind as a waste of time. Even the most philosophical book of Goraksh Nāth, the Siddha Siddhānta Paddhati, counted by the modern researchers as being only the semi-philosophical work. This is not matter of big wonder, because Goraksh Nāth himself stating in the beginning of this work, that it is impossibly to express the Absolute Truth by the written words, yet with purpose to bring the ideas of Enlightened Siddha Yogis in front of masses, he still makes an attempt to express them.
nāsti satyavicāre'sminnutpattiścāṇḍapiṇḍayoḥ | tathāpi lokavṛttyarthaṁ vakṣye satsampradāyataḥ SSP 1|| 2 ||
In such way, he steps away from all possible future disputes, by accepting that from the point of view of the Absolute truth, all what he going to narrate, are only relative truth and only one of many points of view. It is through the practical implementation of the described methods and the teaching into life, that one acquires the experience of the Absolute truth as the direct personal experience.
The Main Conceptions:
The Human Body as Microcosm
One of the fundamental conceptions of the Siddha Yogis is that human body is the Microcosm, which contains in itself all what exist in the Macrocosm or the Universe. On the high stage of realization, the Yogi perceiving himself as being one with the universe and as being in ultimate harmony and peace with it, and the aim of Nāthas is to reach this stage.
Shiva and Shakti
From the point of view of the enlightened Siddhas, this entire world is nothing else but the cosmic play of Shiva and Shakti. In all diversity chaotic realities of the material world, Yogi sees unity and the manifestation of the one Divine Will, and the one Divine Plan. At the certain stage of sadhana, yogi has to realize his ātmatattva (the true nature of the soul) as Shivatattva, when he experienced himself as Shiva being the master of universe and of his personal Shakti (power). However, this is not the ultimate end of Nathas, because Shiva and Shakti taking care of their creation much better then any human could ever dream to do. Yogi have to transcendent even this state and to reach the state of Turyātīta, which means ‘Turyā as past’. The highest ideal of Nāthas is to realize themselves not as the Shiva, who is consort of the Goddess, but rather as Goraksh Nath, who known as Parvati putra ‘the son of the Mother Goddess’. Goraksh Nath is also known as bāla ‘a child’, and as Jatī. Jatī is the state of innocent child, who is bellow 10 years age, who does not have any idea about sex. As Jatī, he harmoniously unites opposite principles, and being in their midst, does not become affected by their play. Then he is called Shree, Shambhu, Yati (Śrī Śambū Jatī) Guru Gorakṣ Nāth, where Shree is the name of the Goddess of wealth and fortune Lakshmi, Shambhu (Beneficial) is the one of Shiva’s names. In other words, Śrī Śambū Jatī is name for the Great Cosmic Trinity of Mother, Father and Son.
The Ultimate Destination
The Ultimate State to be reached by the Siddha Yogis, has been defined in the Natha texts in various terms, amongst which Parama Pada (the highest state, the final beatitude) and Samarasa (having equal feelings) are most frequently used. In accordance with the view of Goraksh Nath, the path of yoga is agocar, it cannot be described in the terms of normal physical experience. It is also agamya (unattainable), because it cannot be reached by using of any means. The Ultimate state is beyond of both Vyakta (duality) and Avyakta (oneness), Sat (real) and Asat (unreal), the both opposites have proof of their existence from the different points of perception. Clinging to or ignoring one of them leads to confusion, therefore yogi in his enlightened state should reflect the both situations, but at the same time go beyond of them.
bastī na sunyaṁ sunyaṁ na bastī agam agocar aisā |
gagan siṣar maṁhi bālak bolai tākā nāṁa dharahuge kaisā | Goraksh Bani ||1||
The city full of life appears as merely illusion, at the same time, the life there is going on by its own laws, such are the realities of that State, which cannot be reached or described. ‘My head is touching the sky’, boy has said, ‘But how I can name this?’
Yogis believe that every spiritual aspirant has to face the same realities as any one else, there are limited individual self and Eternal Divine Self, Jīvātma and Paramātma, Soul and Spirit. The Soul identifies itself with the mind and body with its senses, and missing the Spirit, which is its Higher Self, again and again. Yoga in its true sense is about how to realize the union of both or their essential oneness. In the process of transformation, it is limited, which must be sacrificed to Unlimited, by going through fire of purification (tapa) and merging. The Ultimate end of the Yoga is always the same, only different traditions call it by different names.
rāja-yogaḥ samādhiśca unmanī ca manonmanī |
amaratvaṁ layastattvaṁ śūnyāśūnyaṁ paraṁ padam 4|| 3||
amanaskaṁ tathādvaitaṁ nirālambaṁ niraṣjanam |
jīvanmuktiśca sahajā turyā cetyeka-vācakāḥ
Haṭha Yoga Pradīpicā 4|| 4||
Rāja-yoga, Samādhi, Unmanī, Manonmanī, Amaratva, Laya-tattva, śūnya-aśūnya, Paraṁ Pada, Amanaska, Advaita, Nirālamba, Niraṣjana, Jīvanmukti, Sahajā and Turyā all these are different words to express the same State. HYP 4.3-4
The Chief aims: to get sight, to be established
Siddha yogis say that the ultimate aim of Nāthas is not to have merely sight of the Divine State, but is to become permanently established in it. At the advanced stages of sādhanā, yogi reaches uninterrupted state of spontaneous (sahajā) experience of the Union with Higher Self (Yoga) at all aspects of his life, without undertaking any efforts for it. He becomes established in this state so firmly that he goes beyond of the three normal states of consciousness: sleep, dreaming and awakened states, and even beyond of the fourth state of Turyā. He transcends the ideas of the time and space, and goes beyond of all other physical laws guiding the universe.
yogayukto viśuddhātmā vijitātmā jitendriyaḥ
sarvabhūtātmabhūtātmā kurvann api na lipyate
Established in permanent state of Yoga (union with Higher Self) yogi whose soul became purified, who subjugated his senses, who realizes himself as Self of every living being, although (appearing as) acting, in reality never get attached to what he is doing.
The Ultimate Ends of the Life and of the Yoga are the same
The idea that the purpose of all transmigrations of the individual soul is its evolution to the higher spiritual ideals, was widely presented in the Indian spiritual horizon trough the ages. In accordance with it, the Soul or Atma (self), passes through the different kinds of lives and bodies, which called 84 laks of yonis (wombs) of all possible forms of life. By its nature the soul is immortal and free, it is neither male, neither female, but by identifying itself with the different kinds of bodies it abides in, it becomes affected by the experiences they are getting. In the process of these transmigrations, this individual soul receives the different kinds of experiences, as result of which it has the potential to evolve to the higher realms of life. The side effect of this constant movement is that it is full of sorrows and never ends. From all forms of life, it is only human body which allows attaining the emancipation from the circle of births and deaths.
In accordance with GGN, the final emancipation is not merely ceasing of existence, in reality it is transformation into purely new form of life and reaping ultimate goal of the final beatitude of existence. This process roughly can be compared with the evolving of caterpillar into butterfly. The same awareness, first perceives itself as caterpillar, with all its peculiarities, then as butterfly, with the different set of qualities and the way of life. The same observer acts in the both situations as the different living entity, but what a difference is there, caterpillar can crawl on the earth only, but butterfly can walk in the sky!
The Magical powers: Siddhis
The accruing of Siddhis or the magical powers is not the aim of the Nātha Yogis, achieving the State of Siddha is their Main Aim. Siddha is a person who has attained his highest object, who has succeed in his sādhanā and become perfectly established in the state of permanent and spontaneous union with the Eternal Self. When yogi realizes this state, Siddhis appear side by side with it, and yogi should take extreme care not to fell in temptation to use them indiscriminately. Then more powerful yogi becomes, then higher must be level of his self-control and purity, otherwise he would be ruined. The idea of the compassionate Bodhisattva underlies the movement of Mahāsiddhas, and sometimes, when it is required, the Siddha yogis demonstrate their powers for protection and spreading of Dharma.
The Devotion to Guru
There exists waist body of the different yogic and tantric practices, which are traditionally associated with the Nātha sect. Above all of them is the Path of the Devotion to Guru, established by the examples of lives of Goraksh Nath and his Guru Matsyendra Nāth.
When one attempts to come in the direct touch with Divine, all attempts of cheating and negotiation are of no use. The total surrender oneself to it is the only alternative. To get everything, one has to give up everything, all personal attachments, aspirations and ambitions.
Ishwara-prani-dhana (īśvarapraṇidhānā) can be translated as, “Offering the life to God”. On practice, this means total surrendering to the Divine will and dedication own life for the God's sake. Maharishi Patanjali has emphasized this important aspect of Yoga in his Yoga Sutra:
Samādhi-siddhir-īśvarapraṇidhānāt | YS 2 || 45||
The Ultimate State is attained by Offering life to God. (Yoga Sutra 2.45)
In this short aphorism, were reflected both: the essence and the ultimate end of Yoga. It is one of the fundamental conceptions of all religions and sects existing in the India that Guru should by looked on as the embodiment of Divine. When the devoted spiritual seekers become ready for his spiritual journey, God Himself accepts the form of Guru to guide them. It is trough Guru that God reveals Himself to an adept and guide him on the path of yoga. In one famous mantra, Guru saluted as to be same with the main Gods of Hindu pantheon: Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Maheśvara (Śiva) and as the embodiment of the Eternal Lord.
gururbrahmā gururviṣṇurgururdevo maheśvaraḥ |
guruḥ sākṣāt paraṁ brahma tasmai śrīguruve namaḥ ||
The Sadhana of Nāthas centered around the unshakable faith and devotion towards own Guru. ‘My commitment is ability of my Guru’, says famous aphorism of the Nāthas.
Some practices can be useful in bringing about the glimpses of the Divine State, but non of them can help in realizing the same state permanently, because for this the Divine grace itself required. The Bhagavan Krishna tells in Bhagavad-Gita:
daivī hy eṣā guṇa-mayī mama māyā duratyayā
mām eva ye prapadyante māyām etāṁ taranti te | BG 7.14
It is almost impossible to transcend my Divine illusion (Māyā) consisting of the three modes of ignorance (Gunās). Only those who have totally surrendered themselves to Me can cross over it.
In the lesson five of the Siddha Siddhānta Paddhati, Guru Goraksh Nath after mentioning the huge list of all possible yogic practices, all kinds of worship and meditation, make a concluding statement that the state of Parama Pada can not be attained through them.
nānantopayayatnebhyaḥ prāpyate parama padam 5 || 59 ||
He adds that all of those practices are centered around the conception of the body, and give advice to forsake them as means to be established in the true Yoga state:
etāni sādhanāni sarvāṇi daihikāni parityajya paramapade'daihike sthīyate siddhapuruṣairiti SSP 5 || 60 ||
In order to attain the Ultimate State, after giving up all these external bodily practices, one should be resolvedly established in the state of Siddha Pursha instead. 5.60
Goraksh Nāth says that it is only through compassion of the Guru that one can attain liberation and be established in this state:
gurudṛkpātanāt prāyo dṛḍhānāṁ satyavādināṁ sā sthitirjāyate SSP 5 || 61 ||
Establishment in that State can be achieved by patient and sincere disciple only through the grace of the Guru. 5.61
kathanācchaktipāta dvāyadvāpadavalokanāt | prasādātsvaguroḥ samyak prāpyate paramaṁ padam | SSP 5 || 62 ||
By obtaining Shaktipata, (the awakening of his personal Divine power), trough the supervision and favor of own Guru, Param Pada can be obtained. SSP 5.62
ataeva śivenoktam |
na guroradhikaṁ na guroradhikaṁ na guroradhikaṁ na guroradhikaṁ śivaśāsanataḥ śivaśāsanataḥ śivaśāsanataḥ śivaśāsanataḥ| SSP 5 || 63 ||
This is the saying of Shiva:
‘Nothing and nobody are greater then Guru, more then Guru, higher then Guru and bigger then Guru. This is order of Śiva, order of Śiva, order of Śiva’. SSP 5.63
The Guru Mantra
At the first stage of the initiation into the Siddha tradition, the Guru Mantra (magical spell) is given to yogi by his Guru. It is compulsory for disciples who decided to follow ascetic path, and can be given to lay disciples as well. This custom is not peculiarity of the Nātha sect alone, but common amongst all other ascetic traditions of India and of Vajrayāna Buddhism. Translated from Sanskrit, the word mantra means ‘to control mind’. The Guru mantra is different from all other kinds of mantras, and must be continuously repeated by yogi in midst of his daily activities, especially in the primary stage of his sādhanā. This allows stopping all activity of the mind and at the same time preserve awareness of the practitioner, at once taking him beyond of all his limitations and difficulties to the higher spiritual realms. The Guru Mantra plays prominent role in the process of raising the Divine Power, known as Kundalini Shakti.
Nāthas and Tantra
The Natha Yogis does not adopt any written work having word Tantra in its name, as the canonical or officially accepted by their sect; they are not followers of any of written Tantras. However, it does not mean that they totally disregard practices, which can be classified as Tantric. In accordance with the Monier Williams Sanskrit dictionary, another name for Tantra is Kundalika (Kuṇḍalikā)-Math. If we accept definition of word tantra in this light, then Nathas can be qualified as Tantric adepts per se, because the conception of the rising Kundalini plays prominent role in their teaching.
sā kuṇḍalinī prabuddhā aprabuddhā ceti dvidhā | aprabuddheti tatra piṇḍa cetanā rūpā svabhāvena nānā cintā vyāpārodyama prapaṣcarūpā kuṭila svabhāvā kuṇḍalinī ravyātā saiva yogināṁ tattadvilasita vikārāṇāṁ nivāraṇodyamasva rūpā kuṇḍalinyūrdhvagāminī prasiddhā bhavati SSP 4|| 14 ||
In accordance with Guru Gorakṣ Nāth, the Divine Power exists in her two states, one is dormant (as sleeping) and other is awakened. When she remains asleep, she appears as coiled serpent who sleeps at the Mūlādhāra chakra situated at base of the spine. After she became awakened by the yogic techniques, she moves up through the middle channel Sushumna (Suṣumṇa) to the Sahasrāra chakra, which is her final destination. In the process of her journey, she is passing through chakras and becoming united with her consort Shiva on the each level of her journey.
When she is not awakened, she appears in all her glory as the Power of illusion or Māyā, which having the nature of three Gunās, by which all this complex reality comes into existence. She is the power responsible for the appearance of this world as real, with all its phenomena, cosmic and physical laws and countless objects. Without her, this world would not exist, but as side effect of her activity, she keeps people in ignorance of their own true nature.
After she becomes awakened, she turns into her own opposite, from Māyā, the power of illusion pushing into ignorance, she becomes Yoga Māyā, the power of yogic transformation delivering from it. Then she is known as the Great Goddess Kundalini, who takes yogi beyond of all his limitations. Once she became awakened, she makes her appearance to yogi, and takes care of his salvation, taking him by so-called ‘the Short path’ also known as Śaktipāta. Yogi, who has offered his limited personality for the sake of Divine part of self, has to pass trough the fire of purification, when all his impurities and limitations mercilessly cut off. It is Goddess, who creates situations and temptations in the mind of yogi, and it is she, who mercifully delivers him from them. She sees far ahead in the future, and knows better what is beneficial for him. In his turn, the yogi should always obey the Divine orders (Adesh) and be sincere on the Path he once selected. The Kuṇḍalinī is not only the flawless Goddess of Yoga, but also the zealous protector of the occult knowledge, and those who are try to enter into the ‘Temple of God’ as thief, or insincere are get hurt. It is should be mentioned that the path of Śaktipāta as it is very extreme, and the practices resulting in the complete awakening of Kundalini must not be attempted by any one without proper Natha Guru.
The Role of the Nātha Yogis in the Propagation of Yoga
The phenomenon of the Nātha tradition is much more complex than can be described in this short article. Since the time of its foundation by Guru Gorakṣ Nāth until now, the sect of Nāthas has exercised enormous influence on the spiritual life of India and beyond of its borders. The Nātha yogis played prominent role in propaganda of Shaivism all over India and influenced the development of many later Shaiva and Shakta traditions of the country. Many Saints of the medieval Bhakti movement became influenced by the ideas of Gorakṣ Nāth, and trough them wide masses of people all over India. Numerous yogis of the sect have realized the state of Siddha, and contributed to the spreading and protection of Dharma and the spiritual ideals of life by the examples of their own lives.
Yogis of the sect have developed complex system, which later became known as Haṭha Yoga. Those practices of Haṭha Yoga, which were purposed for the maintenance health of human body, proved itself as very effective alternative medicine. In today’s world, the millions of people are implementing the principles of Yoga in their lives and practicing the basic Haṭha Yoga exercises as the way to maintain good health and to get enlightened. The ideas and practices introduced by the Guru Goraksh Nath were much ahead of his time, and his teaching does not lost its actuality until present moment.