Yogi Heroes and Poets
Histories and Legends of the Naths
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: State University of New York Press
Yogi Heroes and Poets
Much scholarly work has been done in recent years on Sanskrit texts about yoga philosophy and yoga practices. Fewer discussions have appeared on the religious sect that has been the main carrier of yoga traditions in India, the sect known as the Nath Panth or Kanphata Panth. The principal aim of this collection of essays is to help redress this imbalance with discussions about the history of the...
The Hindu religious path or sect of the Naths is variously known as the Nath Panth or the Nath Sampraday. Its followers are called Nath yogis, Nath Panthis, Kanphata yogis, Gorakhnathis, and Siddha yogis, among other names. Sometimes the term avadhūta is used, although this term is applied to ascetics of other Hindu groups as well. Most Nath yogis claim adherence to the teachings of the...
Part I. Yogis in History
1. The Naths in Hindi Literature
The need for a history of Hindi literature was organically linked with the community’s need for history as such. Given India’s colonial situation, this need for history had specific epistemological and teleological dimensions. Maithilisharan Gupta, a close associate of Dvivedi and a leading poet in his own right, was to give rhetorical expression to both these dimensions through an anguished remembrance...
2. Religious Identity in Gorakhnath and Kabir: Hindus: Muslims, Yogis, and Sants
Religious identities are also religious boundaries. How we define our own religious identity depends on defining who we are not. If we are Hindus, then we are not Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, or Sikhs. Or so it would seem. In practice, religious boundaries are rarely so well defined. Particularly among subaltern classes, people often participate in the religious festivals and customs of neighbors...
3. Different Drums in Gwalior: Maharashtrian Nath Heritage in a North Indian City
Traditions of Nath yogis are found throughout the Indian subcontinent but have developed regional styles that are sometimes most distinct from one another. Throughout India, Naths were generally understood to look to salvation through hatha yoga practices that might bestow powers that could produce material results. Peasants sought Naths’ assistance for everyday problems and natural...
4. The Influence of the Naths on Bhima Bhoi and Mahima Dharma
The considerable overlap between the traditions of the Naths and the Nirgunis (followers of sects that worship a formless God) and between yoga and tantra has been noted by various scholars. It is also generally accepted that all these trends had a pervasive influence over new religious orders in all regions of India. This is not surprising: “traditions” in real lives and societies actually mingle and...
Part II. Theology and Folklore
5. On the Magnitude of the Yogic Body
Awork attributed to Goraksִanātha, the twelfth- to thirteenth-century founder of the Nāth Siddhas, the Siddhasiddhāntapaddhati (SSP), the “Step by Step Guide to the Principles of the Perfected Ones,” was composed some time between the late twelfth century and the sixteenth century (Gorakhnath 1954). While we cannot be certain that this is the work of a single hand rather than a compilation...
6. Awakening Generosity in Nath Tales from Rajasthan
“Awakening Generosity” evokes a Rajasthani locution, alakh jagarno, common to regional Nath lore. I might literally translate this as “to awaken [to] the imperceptible” or the “Unseen.” This phrase occurs frequently in Rajasthani Nath oral traditions. It is used very specifically in cultural performances to describe what Naths, also called Jogis, do to announce their presence when they approach the...
7. Matsyendra’s “Golden Legend”: Yogi Tales and Nāth Ideology
Unlike the Sikhs and other religious traditions in South Asia, the Nāth yogis have made no real attempt at organizing their various texts so as to form a canonical corpus. Their prodigality apart, all of these texts respond to different needs, and the approaches and concepts in them vary greatly. This fact makes it all the more difficult to try to “unify” the Nāth traditions. Among the few...
8. What Should Mīnanāth Do to Save His Life?
The story of yogin Gorakhnāth’s rescue of his guru from the Kingdom of Women is one of the most widespread and popular in Indian literature. Full versions of this story or allusions to it are to be found in a vast range of oral narratives and written texts in many Indian languages. Several versions of the story differ rather substantially from each other. The only constant element they share is...
9. The Matsyendrasamhitā: A Yoginī-centered Thirteenth-century Yoga Text of the South Indian Śāmbhava Cult
In this article, I would like to communicate some basic facts about the Matsyendrasamִhitā (MaSamִ), a long and significant Sanskrit tantric yoga text—along with some of the results of my three-year-long work on it, which aimed at finding further evidence of the close connection between the tantric cult of Kubjikā and the early hatִha-yogic teachings of the Nāthas. This article is also an update on my...
Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 1 figure
Publication Year: 2011
OCLC Number: 767733268
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