Naths – the great scientists of Yoga

Sri Adinathaya namo’stu tasmai

Yenopandista hatha-yoga-vidya||

“I bow down to Sri Adinatha, who propagated the wisdom of Hatha Yoga”

Yoga and the Nath Siddhas are closely linked and much of the Yogic techniques and texts that are taught today can be attributed to the Naths. The Nath Yogis were scientists of ancient times, who through methods and techniques were able to refine their bodies and minds to attain a spiritually enlightened state.

Sri M was initiated into the Nath tradition and rechristened ‘Madhukarnath’ by his personal Guru, Sri Maheshwarnath Babaji, disciple of Sri Guru Babaji, who in the Nath parampara is also believed to be the Adi Nath or Nitya Nath.

Who are the Nath Yogis ? 

The Yogis who belong to the Nath Sampradaya, and perform special yogic practices are called the Nath Yogis. Nath or Natha is a Sanskrit word which means “Lord, Master or Protector”.

Nath Sampradaya was supposed to have been founded by the Adi Nath, who is none other than Lord Shiva himself. The knowledge of Hatha or Raja Yoga was then passed on to Matsyendranath, Gorakshanath and so on in a succession of a Guru – Shishya (disciple) manner. In this way the knowledge and its essence was preserved in its pure form.

Most of the Siddhas or Yogis or perfected beings belonging to the Nath order are also known as Rasa Siddhas or alchemists. They are so referred to because of their experiments with using processes to increase the lifespan and to allow the individual to attain liberation within the same lifespan. Also, because through the practice of Yoga they were able to decondition their minds and touch the essence of Yoga. This process is said to be real alchemy.

The Nath Yogis devised such practices and methods to bring about the purification and de-conditioning and this science became popularly known as Hatha Yoga or Raja Yoga.

Important works and teachings of Naths and other teachers

Many important works on Yoga that are still relevant have been written by the Nath Yogis.

The Hathapradipika written by Svatmarama, is one of the most referred texts on Hatha Yoga or Raja Yoga. The text contains a detailed description of all the practical steps consisting of guidelines or Yama, Niyamas meant for a yoga practitioner, an exhaustive list of important asanas, ways of purifying the physical body, regulating prana in the body and thus preparing the body for accessing higher dimensions of consciousness. The later chapters of the books talk about concentration, meditation and absorption in the inner sound and finally about the ultimate freedom.

Most of the Asanas, pranayama techniques, bandhas and mudras taught at Bharat Yoga Vidya Kendra in Madanapalle, are inspired from Hathapradipika.

Other Nath texts on Yoga like Gheranda Samhita, Siva Samhita are also discussed by Sri M during the courses to provide valuable insights into the science of Yoga and yogic techniques meant for the gradual ascent of the consciousness and higher stages of realization.

The core teachings of the Yoga Kendra are inspired from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Very little is known about Sage Patanjali and therefore he cannot be ascribed to belong to any sect or religion.

Valuable commentaries on rare yogic practices as described in the Yoga Upanishads are taught by Sri M. Some of the commonly discussed Upanishads on Yoga consist of the Hum Sau Upanishad and Yoga upanishad.

In addition to these popularly known texts on Yoga, there are also many hidden gems like the Gorakṣaśataka, Goraksha Samhita, Goraksha Gita, Siddha Siddhanta Paddhati, Yoga Martanda, Yogabīja, Yogacintamani by Sri Gorakhnath.

Siddha Siddhanta Paddhati plays a very important role and gives elaborate understanding of the Nath Philosophy as well as the yogic practices.

Honoring the Teachers

We dutifully honor the Nath tradition that preserved the practices of Yoga in its pure and traditional form until today. We also bow down to all the teachers from time immemorial who have directly or indirectly, through their work and teachings, developed the science of Yoga for our evolution, and the teachers who have been instrumental in imparting this knowledge to all the students of Bharat Yoga Vidya Kendra.

References :

Hathapradipika of Svatmarama by The Lonavla Yoga Institute

-Sri M’s talks during the Yoga TTC course at Bharat Yoga Vidya Kendra, Madanapalle

About The Satsang Foundation

The Satsang Foundation, founded by Sri M, is a meeting point for spiritual seekers of all persuasions. The Satsang Foundation also extends a helping hand to the less privileged of society.