Natha-Siddha Tradition and Sri Guru Granth Sahib
Dr. Jodh Singh
According to the religious tradition, there are nine Nathas and eighty four Siddhas, but going through the Natha-Sidha literature, it can be easily said that the words Natha and Sidha are almost synonymous. The writing of Gorakh Nath ‘Siddha Sidhanti Padhati’ indicates clearly that the work of a Nath can have connection with the Sidha-principle only because it is the presentation of the Natha theory. It is also true because the Nathas came into being consequent on their opposition to the extreme amotary indulgence of the Sidhas. In fact many practioners of the Mahayana branch of the Budhist faith, when they came in contact with Vaishnavas, got absorbed in tantrik mantras and through the hard practices of Yoga, they strengthened their body and in the name of relgion, they permitted women to be kept in their Maths and Vihars,and through the Bhairavi rigmarole, indulging in five Makars (meat, fish, sexual intercourse, drugs and wine), those known to be controlling their sexual urges, began to indulge in sexual orgies and came to be known as Siddhas. In opposition to their depraved conduct, some of them stood up. Those who controlled their instincts through strict discipline were called Naths who viewed with disdain the joy of sexual indulgence. The appropriate name for these Nathas and Siddhas was Yogi because, though they were Vajaryaani Siddhas or Gorakhnathi Sadhaks, they all practiced Yoga. For their mix-up cults, the word ‘Siddha-mat”, Avadhoot Sampardaya, Yoga Marg, Yoga Sampardaya, Siddha Sampardaya were commonly used. According to Dr. Hazari Prasad, the Yogamat or Yogasampardaya is the most appropriate name for them because their code of conduct revolves found Yogic practices. Throwing light on the ancient history of the Punjab and India, Dr. Lal Mani Joshi further analyses this and says that no certain proof is found on the basis of which the medieval mysticism of the words like Siddhas, yogis, and avadhoot should be considered in a distinct manner. Their distict character may be because of the different principles and practices of some of the Siddhas and in fact this separation is because of their coming from separate faiths, Budhism, Shaivism, Shakatism, and Vaishnav faith. The Vajaryani and Sahejyani Siddhas were connected with the Mahayan branch of Budhism and most of them had their names suffixed with Nath. In the same manner, in the mixed tradition of Hathayoga, Shaiv yogis are called Siddhas, Avadhoot and Naths.
Guru Nanak addresses them all as ‘Jogis’. The works connectged with Yoga, ‘Varan Ratnakar’ and Sri Rahu Satrayan give a list on the basis of which Dr. Hazari Prasad Divedi has listed the Natahas and Sahejyanio Siddhas which contain 34 common names (in both the lists). 3 A similar list is found in ‘Nath Sampradaya’ the basis of which are the works like ‘Varan Ratnakar’, ‘Gorraksh Sidhant Sangreh’, ‘Maharanwatantar, ‘Yoga Sampradaya Vishkriti’, ‘Hathayoga Pradipika’ and ‘Sudhakar Chandrika’. This list contains the names of 137 yogis. Some of them have been clearly mentioned as Nathas and the rest can be said to be Siddhas.
Sri Krishna says in Bhagavadgita ‘It is not proper for the people belonging to high classes to mislead the uneducated masses by making them indifferent to action in their day to day life. A learned person should be involved in self-less action and he should try to inspire others to do so. 5. But on the one hand the Siddhas had given up the struggle for survival, on the other hand they had inspired many kings to renounce their kingdoms and wear the ochre robes. The king of Bengal, Raja Gopi Chand and his queen Mainamati, the king of Ujjain, Bharthari Hari, Puran Bhagat of Sialkot (Chaurangi Nath), Raja Risalu, etc. are such instances as tell us how all the royal comforts were given up by them to join the order of Jogis. Gorakh Nath, Jalandhar Nath, etc. had initiated them.The giving up of his throne by the king of Bengal, Gopi Chand, had caused a turmoil throught the country and still this episode is explained by the story writers and sung by the bards.
The names of Gorakh, Machhandar, Bharthari, Gopi Chand, etc. figures many a time in Guru Nanak Bani. In the composition, Siddha Goshta, the names of Charpat and Loharipa are mentioned who had met and had a discussion with Guru Nanak at the Sumer Parbat. In this composition, Guru Nanak has mentioned the twelve sects of Siddhas and ten cults of Sanyasis –
Barah meh jogi bharmaye, sansai chhe char. 6
The Jogis are confounded in the practices
of 12 sects and the sanyasis in the ten cults.
In his translation of the Siddha Goshtha, Pandit Tara Singh Narotam says –
‘The 12 sects of yogis are – Het, Pav, Ayee, Gamya, Maigal, Gopal Kanthri, Ban, Dhwaj, Choli, Rawal and Das. The ten sanyasi cults are – Tirath, Ashram, Ban, Arnaya, Gir,Parbag, Sagar, Saraswat, Bharti and Puri. In Gurubani, we find indication of Guru Nanak’s meeting with the Ayee Panth and Rawal Panthi Jogis. Broadly, all of them are known as Naths.
According to George Weston Brigas, the main base of Bodhis, Jains, Vaishnavas, Muslims and the others who joined the orders of Jogis, became the Shaiv faith and Lord Shiva. All their symbols, holy places, tales and actions, Shiva and Parbati enjoy the highest place. In countless Mathas of the Kan patai (ear-pierced) jogis the fairs and festivities are of Shiva type.7 In regard to many of them there are interesting and surprising well known tales. These Siddhas were known at many places under different names. Virupa was a teacher in Nalanda where he had shown many miracles and then he went to Somnath. After some time he appeared in Raja Ram Pal’s kingdom and defeating many evil foreigners, went to subdue the Tazik rulers of Gaur. For the third time he was born in China. Jalandhripa, in one of his incarnations, lived near Jawalamukh in Himachal Pradesh and in the second form he was in Eastern India under the name of Haripa. Though it seems difficult to derive any historical fact from these tales, one meaning is clearly discerninble that these Siddhas had become the symbols of their pre-established cults. It could be a symbol of Siddha Virupa’s being born in different countries under different names, could be a pointer to the fact that at different times, people had re-established the institution founded by Virupa and they came to be accepted as incarnations of Virupa. In the same manner Haripa might have established the order founded by Jalandharipa, in East India and people would have accepted Haripans as Jalandharipas. Even today Tibet’s Dalai Lama is considered to be the Incarnation of Lamas. If we try to find the insititional meanting of these tales, many problems can be easily solved. 8 Similarly, Guru Nanak’s meeting with Gorakh, Charpat, Machhandar is not impossible. Guru Nanak must have met the heads of the cults founded by these Siddhas (Just as the Sankaracharya of today). His meeting with the twelth Sheikh Braham (Ibrahim) Farid is commonly known in Sikh tradition. During this meeting at Pakpatan (now in Pakistan) Guru Nanak had collected Farid’s writings
. Based on the study of ‘Yogasampardaya Vishkriti’, Dr.Hazarika Prasad Dvivedi has furnished a list of Machhinder Nath and JalandharNath’s disciple-tradition.
Machhandir Jalandhar Nath
Gorakh Nath Charpat Nath Rewa Nath Meen Nath
Nath Nara Nath Bharthari Nath Manik Nath Bilesya Nath
In the Nath Sampardaya, Dr. Dvivedi mentions the name of two disciples of Jalandhar Nath, Bharathari Nath and Kanipa but he gives no details of before them or after them. Dvivedi agrees that Jalandhar Nath was an Aughar and Gorakah Nath with bored ears and Kanipa was the follower of the Vam Marga (Left Path). It is also found that the Kapalika Marga (the adherent of which Kauda Kapalik had met Guru Nanak) had a separate existence and dafterwards this cult joined the Gorakhpanthis. The Gorakhpanthis wear the ear ring in the hole made in the middle of the lobe, while those of the Kanipa sect, wear it in the lowest part of the lobe and we see in the Sidha Gosht that Guru Nanak had a dialogue with Gorakh’s companion, Charpat, an expert in preparing chemicals.’ 11. The essence of all this discussion is that Guru Nanak Dev Ji, during his outings, met yogis of all the hues and held discussions with them. The Gurmat point of view has been very well crystalised in the Gurus’ writings. .
The jogic philosophy is the verbal form of Sankh. The yogis practiced in various ways and principles evolved as a result of their experiences have been put to writing invarious books. Kath, Taitreyi, Maitreyi, Jaban Upanisad, Gita, Jainism, Budhism, etc. accept the efficacy of yogic practices. Sage Patanjali collected all these writings and the sutras spread over here and there in a systematic way in ‘Patanjali Yoga Sutra’, which even today is considered the most authoritative work on yoga. Bhai Gurdas writes about Patanjali in his vars as under –
Patanjali churned the Seikh (Sankh ) Nag.
But Guruji recited the Shastra Nag
Said the Atharvana Veda that
Nothing but yoga can remove the doubts.
Just as a dusty mirror, unless wiped clean
Cannot show the face clearly.
Yoga is pure learning and practice
Which teaches inner intunement
Like that of the unstruck chord
All the eighteen Sidhies touch the
Feet of those who remain Guru-ward.
The essence of the three Ages (Yugas)
Was put forth in the Kaliyuga by Patanjali.
But Bhagati-yoga makes it all so easy
By inculcating the spirit of recitation of
His True Name, doing charities and bath. 12
Centuries before Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh, through Hathayoga Pradipika, Gorakhsa Padhiti, and many aspects of Patanjali yoga, the yogic thought had been propagated. Reaching the Gurus’ time, the Yoga Marga had become the means of only showing miracles and horrifying people.Guru Nanak held many dialogues with these types of yogis, who tried to impress him through many miraculous actions and occult powers in order to induce him to join their faith. Bhai Gurdas also has written to this effect in the pauris (39-44)of his first Var.
If the aims of yoga are carefully studied, mantar yoga, hathayoga and laya yoga lead us to believe that firstly, emphasis has been laid to reverse the natural activities of the human body on the one hand, and hard penance and mortification, austeritries, discipline, etc. to be practiced to reverse the natural flow of energy on the other. It has also been, in the process, accepted that the ideal place for such practices are the forest abodes, hill caves, hollows, etc. Gurus have used the vocabulary of yoga to make their point and accepted the need for self-analysis. But it is a fact worthy of note that the definitive use of yogic terms in Sri Guru Granth Sahib has been made for the purpose of social equality, fraternity and mutual cooperation. Though Yoga and Gurbani have the same quest and purpose in view, while Yoga teaches very hard practices, Gurbani or Gurmat shows the simple path of following the moral code and spiritual discipline.
Like Jabal Upanisad, Goraksh Satak and Hathyoga Pradipika, no details are found in Sri Guru Granth Sahib about Six Chakra, sixteen bases, nine doors, inhaling and exhaling and other types of airs in the human body in a systematic way, but it has been made amply clear that the nectar of His Name does not lie elsewhere, but within the human body. The entire universe is present in the body itself and it is the seeker who can find this – ‘Jo brahamandai, soyee pindai, jo khojai so pavai.’ 13 ‘There are countless things, as in the universe, in this body. One who rises above the nine doors and listens to the unstruck sound, attains salvation.’ 14 To conquer the universe, to attain it and to rise above the nine doors to listen to the unstruck sound, one would have to follow the teachings of Gurbani by becoming a Gurmukh – following the shown by the Guru.
In the spiritual sense, a blind man, even after repeatedly washing his body, cannot purify his mind “Newli Karam, bhuangam bhathi, rechak, poorak kumbh karai. Bin Satgur kuch sojhi nahi, bharmai bhoola bood marai. Andha bharya bhar bhar dhovai, antar ki mal kadai na lahai. All the practices are of no use without His Name, just like conjuring tricks.15 Sant Ravidas compares such a person to a chandal (a low born person) who does all the six karmas (performances according to the Hindu shastras) but gives no place to His Worship in his mind. 16—
Khat karam kul sanjugat hai Hari bhati hirdai nahi.
Charnar bind na katha bhavai, supach tul sman.
Guru Gobind Singh clearly says –
Kaha bhayo jo dou lochan moond kai
Batih rahyo bak dhayan lagayeo.
Nhat phirio liye saat samundran
Lok gaya parlok gawayeo…
Sach kahaun sun leho sabai
Jin prem kiyo tin hi Prabhu payeo.
So what if you sit with your eyes shut
Like a crane sits (with intent to catch fish)
One may even go to bathe in seven seas
But you lose this world and the next too…
I say verily unto you all therefore
That One who loves Him, attains him.
The indication and mention of six chakras (ganglions) is found in Gurbani but mostly it is about the lotus which stands upside down and navel-lotus. When the upside down lotus blooms up, the Supersoul is seen clearly –’Urdh kamal jis hoye pargasa tin sarab niranjan deetha jio.’ 18 Another fact is worthy of notice here. In the Yoga shastra the ganglions are said to be pierced though the kundalni yoga, but while in Gurbani no mention is made or importance of kundalini is accepted, Gurbani does talk of the blooming of the lotus which is indicative of the Gurus’ aesthetics. The word kundalini is mentioned in Bhats’ swaiyas (a type of poetry) by Gayand Bhat only once but there too, in order to awaken the kundalini, recourse to be taken to Sat Sangat has been emphasized and not any yogic asan exercise) or special postsure – ‘Kundalini surjhi sat sangat, parmanand guru-mukh macha.’
In the same way anhad-shabad (unstruck sound), shower of nectar, etc. have been exhorted to be had by living a truthful life useful to society. Out of five yamas (self-control measures, holding breath,etc) of Patanjali, the importance of non-vilence, understanding of truth and untruth, and not to amass anything, has been accepted by Gurus but about celibacy, they have their own views and they had held the life of a family man to be the best but through this way of life can one remain joined to the process of creation. Purity by bathing, etc, contentment, penance, self-analysis and fixing mind in the Creator are the five principles, of which the Sikh faith regards contentment and dwelling in God the best of all. Purity in the Sikh faith is mostly of the mind and bodily purification does not have much significance. Similarly the yogic attire has been given no importance.A yogi’s special attainment like occult powers, is regarded as a thing of the lower level and the shedding of ego by means of self-discipline and devotion has been laid emphasis on.
In his life story, ‘Bachitra Nataka’ Guru Gobind Singh briefly talks about his previous birth and the penance of his parents which indicates that in his past life he had practiced yoga and had become one with God. He writes –
Ab main apni katha bakhanau
Tap sadhan jeh vidhi mohe anau
Hemkunt parbat hai jahan.
Sapat Saring sobhat hai tahan…..
Eh bidhi karat tapasya bhayo
Dwai tai ek roop hoye gayo
Tat mat mur Alakh aradha.
Bahu bidhi jog sadhana sadha…
It is very clear here that before this life, in the previous life he was engrossed in yogic quest and by means of this practice he had got over dualism to become one with God. A question can be raised here that when Guru Gobind Singh talks of yoga, why do the yogic practices like Rechak, Poorak, Kumbhak, Mahabandan or Six chakras, their piercing, are not shown to be acceptable to Gurbani. Looking at this minutely, it would be easily understood that the Sikh faith is a Parvirti-Marga way of life in which hard-realities of life and grappling with them have been discussed. Without getting involved in the welfare of the common people, nothing worthwhile can be achieved. A study of the yogic literature reveals that after making a success in the kundalini yoga, the body loses feeling of cold, heat, pain, pleasure and becomes like a log. –
Kashthwajajayetai deh unmanyawasthaja dhrvam.
Na panati sa Shitoshan va dukh va such tatha.
For this asan-mudra (yogic posture, exercise) and determination, etc. are needed. Perhaps the union with the Super Truth can be established in this way only through Kundalini yoga. But when one has to work for the common good, one has to leave the path of kundalni and take to the path of attention. According to Dr. Balbir Singh, an attentive mind can live a creative life, he can ride the horse. He can fight in the battle field challenging the enemy. An attentive mind is always keen to do good to others, it imbibes the spirit of sacrifice and such a one is a Gurmukh, who attains salvation while living. Guru Gobind Siongh says in ‘Krishnavatara’ – Jau kuchh ichh karau dhan ki To chalyao dhan desan des tai awai.
Au par ridh sidhan pai hamro
Nahi naik hiya lalchavai.
Aur suno kachhu jog bikhai
Kah kaun itai tan kau taptawai.
Joojh marau ran mai taj bhai tum
Tai Prabhu Syam ihai bar pavai.
If one has a desire for wealth
One goes from place to place
Occult powers I do not crave
Then about the yogic exercises
Who can undergo such penances?
Fight valiantly and without fear
In the battlefield (of life)
This is the boon that I seek from God.
Dr. Hazari Prasad Dvivedi, Nath Sampardaya,
Dr. L.M. Joshi, Perspectives on Guru Nanak (Edited by Harbans Singh)
Dr. Hazari Prasad Dvivedi, Nath Sampardaya,
Sri Guru Granth Sahib,
George Weston Brigs, Gorakh Nath and the Kanphata Yogis,
Dr. Dharama Vir Bharati, Siddha Sahitya, p.311
Dr. Hazar Prasad Dvivedi, Nath Sampardaya
Sri Guru Granth Sahib
Dunia sagar duttar kahiye kio kar paiye paro. Charpat bolai adudhoo Nanak deho sacha bicharo Apai aakhai, aapai samjhai tis kya uttar dijai Sach kaho tum pargrami tujh kya baisan dijai.
Bhhai Gurdas, Var, 1.14
Sri Guru Granth Sahib,
Sri Dasam Granth Sahib, Akal Ustat,
Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
Sri Dasam Granth Sahib, bachitra Nataak
Nad Bindoo Upanisad, shalok
Sri Dasam Granth Sahib,Krishnavatar,