Sunday August 18, 2019

Gorakshanatha: The Siddha-Yogi who spread Yoga in all four directions

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Source: http://nathas.org

By Nithin Sridhar

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Guru Poornima Special- Part 3

The Natha (literally “lord”) sampradaya has been one of the most influential lineages of spiritual masters in the history of India. Many of the current spiritual practices including those of laya yoga, hatha yoga etc. can be traced to these masters.

Therefore, the third segment of Guru Poornima series will deal with Gorakshanatha, the second among the nine Natha’s.

His Life: According to modern scholarship, Gorakshanatha lived somewhere between 10th and 11th century. But no definite information is available regarding his birth date, place or life events. He is considered as one of the 84 Siddha Maha-Yogis and as the founder of what later came to be known as Hatha Yoga.

Traditionally, he is considered as one among the nine immortal Nathas, and a manifestation of Lord Shiva.

Accounts about his power and miracles are heard throughout the length and breadth of the country, from Nepal in the north to Maharashtra in the south, and from Punjab in the west to Assam in the east.

According to one such famous account, once, when Matsyendranatha, the teacher of Gorakshanatha, had gone into a land of women called Kadali-vana, he fell into the snares of 1600 women, and he completely forgot about his real nature and the powers he had.

At that time, it was Gorakshanatha, who went there and saved his master by reminding him his true personality. Some accounts, also believe that this whole episode was a play of Matsyendranatha to test Gorakshanatha.

Regarding the birth of Gorakshanatha, various legends have appeared. According to one such account, Lord Shiva had given prasad (food) to a woman to eat, saying she would give birth to a son. Twelve years later, when Matsyendranatha went to the woman to see her son, he was informed that the woman had thrown the prasad upon a dung-hill. Matsyendranatha found a young boy of twelve years, near the place where the dung hill stood.

His Guru: Matsyendranatha is the founder of Kaula tradition and is first among the nine nathas. He is said to have been initiated by Lord Shiva himself who is referred as Adi Natha.

The legend goes that Matsyendranatha was a fisherman. Once, while he was fishing, he was swallowed by a large fish. This fish went near a cave where Lord Shiva was imparting secret teachings of Yoga to Parvati. Matsyendranatha, who was in the belly of the fish, heard those teachings and practiced those austerities for 12 long years, after which he finally came out of the fish’s body. Hence, he is called as Matsyendranatha where matsya refers to fish.

His Philosophy: He was not a philosopher but was a Siddha Yogi, who taught and spread the knowledge of Yoga. The Natha’s believe that in every Yuga, Gorakshanatha appears on earth to teach Yoga.

He considered the Brahman (Transcendent reality) as Shiva and the manifestation as Shakti. And this MahaShakti (great power) being the real inherent power of Brahman.

Hence, Gorakshanatha considered that though Shiva has no movement and is static, he himself, by virtue of his inner Power (nija-shakti) manifests this multiplicity of universes.

He further considers a Siddha yogi, a perfected yogi as one who has realized the identity of Shiva and Shakti.

His Works: Gorakshanatha has been traditionally believed to have authored several Sanskrit treatises on various topics related to Yoga. Some of his works are Goraksha Samhita, Siddha Siddhanta Paddatti, Viveka Maartanda, Yoga Chintamani, Jnanaamrita, Goraksha Gita etc.

His Legacy: He was one of the foremost Yogis who spread the philosophy and practice of Yoga far and wide. The system of Yoga taught by Nathas are not different from Pantanjali Yoga in general principles. But, Gorakshanatha elaborated and enriched the system by adding various forms of Asanas (posture), Pranayaama (breath control), Mudraa (hand gestures), Bandha (body locks), Dhaarana (one pointed concentration), Dhyaana (meditation), Ajapaa (spontaneous repetition of mantra) etc.

He made unique contributions to Naada (primordial sound), which became the basis for Laya Yoga. He dealt in depth on Kundalini and gave detailed descriptions regarding various Chakras.

He is foremost among the teachers of Hatha Yoga and many consider him as its founder. His master had founded the Yogini Kaula tradition and he enriched the tradition as well.

The Nath Sampradaya, carried the legacy of Matsyendranatha and Gorakshanatha forward. They were experts at alchemy and healing.

Many consider Gorakshanatha as the most influential person after Adi Shankaracharya. What Adi Shankaracharya did to Vedanta, Gorakshanatha achieved the same for Yoga. He single-handedly spread Shaivism and Yoga through the length and breadth of India.

Glossary:

Hatha Yoga: A system of Yoga that mainly concentrates on the perfection of physical body and is considered as the first step towards the pinnacle of Raja Yoga.

Laya Yoga: It is same as Kundalini Yoga, where a practitioner awakens his sleeping Kundalini and makes it flow through Chakras.

Kundalini: It is the primal energy (Shakti) that sleeps at the base of the subtle spinal column.

Kaula tradition: The practitioners of a specific school of tantra.

Siddha Yogi: A perfected Yogi, who has attained the ultimate goal.

More in this segment:

Guru Poornima Special- Part 1

Guru Poornima Special- Part 2

Next Story

By Advancing Interdependence, India will Bring New Dawn for Democracy in 21st Century

All citizens must be active participants in shaping the future of India

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Interdependence can be achieved by creating a country in which there is a shared understanding of the value of each citizen and a reliance on one another to eliminate discrimination. Pixabay

In his first speech after winning the election for his second term, Prime Minister Narendra Modi proclaimed that “…we have to win ‘sabka vishwas’ (everyones trust).” What will be required to win that trust is establishing a true state of interdependence. Interdependence can be achieved by creating a country in which there is a shared understanding of the value of each citizen and a reliance on one another to eliminate discrimination, hostility, and prejudice and to provide equality and opportunity for all. All citizens must be active participants in shaping the future of India. They must be equal partners in Indias inclusive economic mobility and in Indias shared prosperity.

Independence Day is the perfect day to highlight the importance of and advance the concept of interdependence. This can be accomplished by promoting the need for a unified India on this national holiday.

The need for doing this is critical. Unfortunately, in the period since the Prime Minister called for winning “trust” in his speech, some Indians have engaged in actions destroying it.

Sadly, the heinous crimes at the beginning of Modi’s second term are nothing new. There were several lynchings and numerous attacks on Muslims during his first term.

Interdependence, India, Democracy
In his first speech after winning the election for his second term, Prime Minister Narendra Modi proclaimed that “…we have to win ‘sabka vishwas’ (everyones trust).” Pixabay

Modi did not speak out vigorously then. He must do so now to demonstrate the essential leadership that will be required to create a state of interdependence. There are other serious conditions that must be addressed as well. To name just a few: sexual violence and subjugation of females continues; the caste system still exists; and, the problematic conditions of those in the weaker sections persist.

By speaking out, Prime Minister Modi can bring the country together to confront the matters that are hardening India’s democratic arteries. He cannot do that alone, however. He will need buy in and support from across the country and the citizenry.

A first step should be to “find our spiritual common ground”. That step can be initiated by recognizing that spirit is the invisible force that brings us together regardless of our caste, race, religion, region or political predisposition. The goal in discovering that common ground should be to create one nation under God. That nation would be an interdependent one and its God would be ecumenical and non-denominational. Its God would be welcoming to all.

As one nation, India would celebrate and embrace the richness of religious diversity

Also Read- BBC Decides to Expand its Shortwave Radio Service in Kashmir to Beat Communications Blackout

As one nation, India would be inclusive and accepting unity over division and hope over fear

As one nation, India would elevate citizenship above angry and mindless partisanship and bring people together to pursue the common good

As one nation, India would be the place known for sharing and caring as opposed to blaming and shaming

As one nation, India would emphasize building bridges instead of constructing boundaries and barriers

Interdependence, India, Democracy
What will be required to win that trust is establishing a true state of interdependence. Pixabay

As one nation, India would ensure that all its people are literate and equipped with the skills to succeed in the 21st century

As one nation, India would extend life lines instead of drawing battle lines

As one nation, India would be a land of big dreams, small treasures, brave people, kind deeds, and tender mercies

As one nation, India would ensure the importance of the freedom of the free press, not to bury it

Also Read- Gold Price May Increase to Rs 40,000 per 10 Gram by Diwali

As one nation, India would be a role model and exemplar for other democracies to emulate

Everyone must play a role in establishing India as one nation. Each citizen should engage in small acts of kindness by reaching out to those less fortunate and to the downtrodden by extending a helping hand and a hand up.

Some people can make special contributions. Religious leaders should promote interfaith dialogue. They should bring people together followers of different persuasions for meaningful conversations. They should promote a dialogue of understanding and a shared sense of community with other faiths. They should call the fact that attack on one faith is attack on all faiths. Political leaders should promote a framework of unity and civility. Civic and community leaders should promote collaboration in problem-solving. They should toil together their creeds to plant the seeds for doing good deeds.

There is no better day on which to resume our journey than Independence Day. There is no better way to make that journey than to chart a course to interdependence. By reaching that destination, India will establish itself as the beacon of hope for democracy worldwide. By realizing that potential, India will bring a new dawn for democracy in this 21st century. (IANS)