Saturday October 21, 2017

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

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Source: http://nathas.org

By Nithin Sridhar

gorakshanath2

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

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Here’s how you can keep up with your fitness this Diwali!

Do you wish to celebrate a celebrate guilt-free Diwali? Read on!

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Diwali
Diwali does not mean you will have to compromise on your health, Wikimedia

New Delhi, October 17, 2017 : Saying no to sweets becomes near impossible around Diwali, making many conscious of their weight, calories and sugar level going up. Be active and restrict to two drinks to enjoy festivities with full fervor.

Here’s how you can keep up with your fitness this Diwali! Nutritionist Nmami Agarwal and Preeti Kakkar, nutritional expert at Credihealth, have listed what people can do to celebrate guilt-free Diwali:

  • Plan your day: If one meal goes for a toss, make sure the rest of the meals are on track. For instance, if you’ve reserved a table for dinner, then make sure your breakfast, lunch and snacks are balanced and healthier.
  • Festival and alcohol: Just restrict to two drinks. Alcohol dehydrates your body. Avoid taking cocktails and aerated drinks too as they give you just extra calories.
  • Be active: Physical activity will keep your metabolism active too. No matter what, engage in at least 20 minutes of physical activity every day. It can be in the form of dance, walk, jogging or yoga. You may find it hard to believe, but Surya Namaskar is the best way to fight exhaustion.
  • Don’t give up on sweets: It would be a crime to cut out the sweets entirely during this season. So, choose the healthier options and watch your portion size. Go for dry fruit, phirni, kheer, dark chocolate and date mithai instead of other sugar-loaded sweets.
  • Hydrate well: Don’t wait for the thirst to strike. Keep hydrating yourself at short intervals. Moreover, it will keep you stay full and energized in the rush of all preparation. (IANS)

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Hinduism is Not an Official or Preferred Religion in Any Country of The World, Says a New Report

Though Hinduism is the third largest religion of the world, it is not the official state religion of any country according to a Pew Research Center Report

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Hinduism
Hinduism is not an official religion of any country in the world. Instagram.
  • No country has declared Hinduism as its official state religion – despite India being an influential Hindu political party
  • Hinduism is not an official or preferred religion in any country of the world, according to a Pew Research Center report.
  • 53% of 199 nations considered in the study don’t have an official religion
  • 80 countries are assigned either an “official religion” or “preferred religion”

Nevada, USA, October 16: Hinduism is the primeval and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion followers of moksh (liberation) being its utmost desire of life. India is among the category of nations where the government do not have an official or preferred religion.

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank headquartered in Washington DC that aims to inform the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

The report states that a country’s official religion is regarded as a legacy of its past and present privileges granted by the state. And a few other countries fall on the other side of the gamut, and propagate their religion as the ‘official religion’, making it a compulsion for all citizens.

It adds up on the context of allocation that more than eight-in-ten countries (86%) provide financial support or resources for religious education programs and religious schools that tend to benefit the official religion.

Hinduism
Islam is the most practiced official religion of the world. Instagram.

Commenting on Hinduism, the report states:

In 2015, Nepal came close to enshrining Hinduism, but got rejected of a constitutional amendment due to a conflict between pro-Hindu protesters and state police.

Although India has no official or preferred religion as mentioned in the Constitution,it was found by PEW that in India the intensity of government constraints and social antagonism involving religion was at a peak. “Nigeria, India, Russia, Pakistan and Egypt had the highest levels of social hostilities involving religion among the 25 most populous countries in 2015. All fell into the “very high” hostilities category,” the report added.

As per the 2011 census, it was found that 79.8% of the Indian population idealizes Hinduism and 14.2% practices to Islam, while the rest 6% pursuit other religions.

While Hinduism stands up with the majority, Article 25 of the Constitution of India contributes secularism allowing for religious freedom and allows every Indian to practice his/her religion, without any intervention by the community or the government.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, applauded the Hindu community for their benefaction to the society and advised Hindus to concentrate on inner purity, attract spirituality towards youth and children, stay far from the greed, and always keep God in the life.

According to Pew, these are “places where government officials seek to control worship practices, public expressions of religion and political activity by religious groups”.

-by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram.  She can be reached @tweet_bhavana

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Paintings Which Beautifully Depict Scenes From Ramayana

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Ramayana
Ram lifting the bow during Sita Swayambar. Wikimedia Commons.

Ramayana, the ancient Indian epic which describes the narrative of Ayodhya Prince lord Rama’s struggles. The struggles include- exile of 14 years, abduction of his wife Sita, reaching Lanka, destruction of the evil. It is strongly ingrained in the Indian culture, especially, the Hindu culture since a long time. Hindus celebrate Diwali based on the narratives of Ramayana.

The story of Ramayana gives out the beautiful message that humanity and service to the mankind is way more important than kingdom and wealth. Below are five paintings describing the scenes from Ramayana:

1. Agni Pariksha in Ramayana

Ramayana
Agni Pariksha. Wikimedia.

When Lord Rama questions Sita’s chastity, she undergoes Agni Pariksha, wherein, she enters a burning pyre, declaring that if she has been faithful to her husband then the fire would harm her. She gets through the test without any injuries or pain. The fire God, Agni, was the proof of her purity. Lord Rama accepts Sita and they return to Ayodhya. 

2. Scene From The Panchavati Forest

Ramayana
scene from the panchavati forest. wikimedia.

The picture describes a scene from the Panchavati forest. It is believed that Lord Rama built his forest by residing in the woods of Panchavati, near the sources of the river Godavari, a few miles from the modern city of Mumbai. He lived in peace with his wife and brother in the forest.

3. Hanuman Visits Sita

Ramayana
Hanuman meets Sita. Wikimedia.

Hanuman reaches Lanka in search of Sita. At first, he was unable to find Sita. He later saw a woman sitting in Ashok Vatika, drowned in her sorrows, looked extremely pale. He recognized her. After seeing the evil king, Ravana making her regular visit to Sita, he hid somewhere in the Vatika. After Ravana left, Hanuman proved Sita that he is Rama’s messenger by showing her his ring. He assured her that Rama would soon come to rescue her. Before leaving Lanka, he heckled Ravana. Agitated by Hanuman’s actions, Ravana ordered to set Hanuman’s tail on fire. With the burning tail, Hanuman set the entire city on fire.