Yoga Guru Gorakhnath
Machchindar ke poot,
Mai Yogi Gorakh Avadhoot.
This is an extract from the popular Hindi poem ascribed to Gorakhnath. It means, "I am the grandson of Adinath and the son of MatsyendraNath. My name is Gorakh and I am a Yogi monk (avadhoot).
Let us now try to understand the legend of great yogi Gorakhnath. Gorakhnath (also known as Gorakhsa, Goraksha, Gorakshanath) is famous as the principal mastermind, administrator, teacher and organiser of the whole Nath Yoga Tradition. He is indeed one of the greatest gurus in the field of yoga. The nath cult began with Shiva or AdiNath [ adi = primal ] followed by Matsyendra Nath --> GorakhNath. From Gorakhnath, the tradition branched and sub-branched into a multitude of Avadhoot Sadhus thoughout India for thousands of years. This Nath Cult became most renouned and powerful in the Pala Era. [ 8th century Ad to 12th century Ad] But this doesnt mean that the Naths began in the Pala era. The Adept yogis of India ( who have realised God and are known as Sant) mention the name of Gorakhnath with great respect. Yogi Gambhirnath says that the Asana ( seat) of Guru Gorakhnath was established in the Treta Yuga at the time of Lord Rama on earth! That must be at least 3ooo years ago. Gorakhnath through his relentless yogic austerities became immortal like Shiva. He lives even today in a place inaccessible to ordinary human beings. Whoever calls for his help or, asks for his bessings, gets it. Gorakhnath taught his fellow men to stop searching for God in idols and look for Him in their own hearts. Turn your gaze inwards. Gorakhnath and his disciples cried out for God using these sacred words, Alakh Niranjan . Alakh meaning invisible and Niranjan meaning unblemished, immaculate, purest. The Gorakhnathi Yogis consider the Guru to be equal to God. Gorakhnath has showed the path of Laya Yoga to the world. Laya Yoga includes easily practicable meditations of Anahata Nada sound, the Atma-jyoti (light of the soul in the third eye ) & so on.
Shankara Digvijaya is an ancient sanskrit manuscript that gives a detailed account of Adi Shankaracharya and his scholarly conquests. Shankara re-established Vedic culture in India and proved Nirguna Brahman ( the Absolute formless God as described in Vedanta ) to be the highest ideal of Spirituality. The separate schools of philosophies that worshipped innumerable deities differing in philosophy, appearance, rituals were subdued by Shankara in debates and yogic feats. All philosophers and ascetics of that time had to accept the Formless Brahman as the One God, the highest one and the various deities as smaller aspects or facets of his expression. Shankaracharya entered his last samadhi at a very young age of 32 about 2000 years ago. His disciples belong to the DasNama Cult. Most ochre robed monks in India today belong to this cult. In Shankara Digvijaya, we find a conversation between Shankara and his disciple Padmapada. Here Padmapada mentions the name of Gorakhnath as a "great yogi of ancient times" who rescued his master MatsyendraNath from the illusion of royal pleasures. [Chapter 9, verse 79 - 88]. If Gorakhnath is a yogi of yore for Shankaracharya himself, how ancient he must be!
Gorakhnath taught the secrets of a different strain of practical yoga to a monk of the Shankaracharya order. This disciple became a great yogi and attained the status of "Yogindra". Under the guidance of Gorakhnath, he wrote a manuscript to popularise this new form of yoga. This manuscript is now famous as the Hathayoga Pradipika and it's author is known as Swami Swatmaram. Hatha Yoga is the easier practical application of Raja Yoga ( mental or, psychological path of yoga ), through the physical and subtle bodies (nadi-chakra, channels of prana). Hatha means the union of the sun and the moon that exist in the subtle body. Ha = Sun, Tha = Moon. Please read the Khechari Mudra article to know more. Here:
A sanskrit song from far-off times states Gorakhnath as the Wisest of all Yogis.
Prathama Mani Omkara,
Devena Mani Mahadeva,
Gyanina Mani Goraksha,
Nadina Mani Ganga.
meaning: The Earliest and purest is Om. Mahadeva or Shiva is the highest among gods. Gorakhnath is the wisest of all. Ganga ( Ganges ) is the holiest among all rivers. The Nath tradition included both commoners and royalty. The householders embraced this religion, as well as the ash smeared, loincloth clad Avadhoot monks. The Nath monks endured untold hardship to gain the knowledge of God. Nine Immortal saints are considered to be the greatest among the Naths. They are, Matsyendra-Nath, Gorakh-Nath, Jalandhari-Nath, Kanif-Nath (Kanipa), Charpati-Nath, Bhartrihari-Nath, NaagNath, RevanNath, GahiniNath.
The works of Gorakhnath are as follows. Yoga Bija, Gorakhsa Samhita, Gorakhsa Sataka, Gorakh Bodh [in ancient Hindi ]. Many works have gone into oblivion, some are destroyed by the ravages of time and vandals, a few almost unknown manuscripts still exist in Buddhist Monasteries in the Himalayas and caves of yogis (in Assam near Kamakhya).
Sant Gyaneshwar, one of the most popular saints of Maharashtra, India, even considered as an incarnation of Lord Krishna was born in 1271 AD. He was initiated into the spiritual path by his elder brother NivrittiNath. When Nivritti was a small child, he was snatched by a tiger from his family. The tiger, instead of eating him, took him to a cave where great yogi Gorakhnath and his disciple GahiniNath were meditating. In this holy cave, Gahininath initiated the boy into Nath Yoga secrets. This cave is now famous as Gorakhsa-Gumpha near the Jyotirlingam of Trimbakeshwar (near Nasik, Maharashtra). Nivrittinath returned home and passed on the hidden knowledge to his younger brother Gyaneshwar. Sant Gyaneshwar (also known as Gyandev or, Dnyaneshwar ) performed numerous miracles and preached the knowledge of Bhagvad Gita in layman's terms among the common people, much to the dislike of the uppercaste brahmins of that time. He also wrote his version of the Gita in Marathi Prakrit, the vernacular language of that time. This Gita is famous as Gyaneshwari. Sant Gyaneshwar entered alive samadhi in a secret underground cave in Alandi, Maharashtra.
In Guru Grantha Sahib, the principal holy book of the Sikhs, Guru Nanak has written the name of Gorakhnath with great reverence. Many aspects of Guru Nanak's tradition fall togather with Gorakhnath's tradition. In Japuji, song 5, he says,
Thapia na jai, kita na hoi, Apei ap Niranjanu soi... ...
Gurumuhi nadam, Gurumukni Vedam, Gurumukhi Rahia samai,
Guru Isharu, Guru Gorakhsu Brahma, Guru Parvati Mai.
meaning: God cannot be established like an idol at a particular place for he is all pervading. God cannot be decorated by dress or flowers, for he is everything. He exists always in his own glory. He is Niranjan ~ unblemished, formless. Then Sant Guru Nanak praises the Guru to be equal to God. He uses the names of God (Ishwara, Gorakhsa, Brahman, Parvati) as being the same as the Guru. He also says that one can only know the secrets of Nada, Veda, Yoga through the Guru. Japuji 9 : "Suniai Joga, Jugati, Tanabhed." Yoga, Union with the Omnipresent, Piercing of the Chakras can only be achieved by listening to the directions of the Guru.
Japuji 29 states,
Bhugati Gyanu daia bhandari ghati ghati bajai Nada
Api Nathu Nathi Sabh Jaki Riddhi Sidhh Abara Sadha.
Sanjogu Bijogu Dui Kar Chalavahi Lekhe Abahi Bhag.
Adeshu tisai Adeshu.
Adi Anilu Anadi Anahati Jugu Jugu Eko Vesu.
Here Guru Nanak describes the value of Nada Yoga and describes God as the greatest Nath or Master of Yoga. He puts aside minor siddhis or yogic miracles as trivias compared to God. Here also the Sikh Guru cries out to God for direction, just as Guru Gorakhnath did uttering the word, Adesh. Guru Nanak lived from 1469 AD to 1539 Ad. He is the greatest Holyman in the Sikh community, the most sacred Guru in Punjab and worshipped like God.