Wednesday, April 01, 2009

My brush with the Nine Naths.

Reading the story of Guru Gugga of Bagar (Bikaner) in Veronica Ions’ Myths and Legends of India (Hamlyn, 1970) – in which Gorakhnath plays a prominent role – this afternoon reminded me of my mother reading the Nath Kathas when I was seven or eight years old. The roots of the Shaivaite Nath Panth, associated with Hatha Yoga and the Sikh Guru Grantha, are traced back to Adinath or Lord Shiva or Mahadeva. Shri Machhindranath, considered an incarnation of the first of the Nine Narayanas mentioned in the Bhagavata was initiated into the path of self-realization by the great Adinath Himself. Machhindra lived when all power in socio-religious matters was in the hands of the followers of the ritualistic form of Vedic religion, the so-called Sanatanis. The Nath lineage starting with him had Gorakhnath, Adbanganath and Gahininath, the guru of Nivrittinath, who was the elder brother and guru of Dnyaneshwar. If memory serves, according to another version of the Nath legend, Shri Dattatraya, an incarnation of the Hindu trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, was its initiator and first teacher. I remember that we used to have a large framed picture of Shri Dattatraya in our puja room. The 20th Century proponents of the Nath teachings are supposed to be Nisargadatta Maharaj, Ranjit Maharaj and their guru, Siddharameshwar.