Yogic meaning of the term ‘gṛhastha’.

I translated a verse from the Gorakh Sabadī, which the Nāthas call the Sūkṣma Veda (the refined essence of the Veda). I am always amased at how many layers of meaning can be found in these types of texts, when you know enough and dig deep into the subject. In general, in the language of the siddhas, the image of the city (pur), chariot (ratha) and house (gṛha) can be used to designate the body. In the latter case, gṛha can also mean a temple in which a deity is installed in the form of our soul (i.e. ourselves). And the very establishment of “āsana” is the unity of Śiva and Śakti, where the soul (ātmā) is Śiva and the body is Śakti. Śiva’s descent into his “āsana” is a sacred fusion of spirit and body, at least as the āsana is interpreted in the tantras. In principle, “āsana” in this context can be considered as yoga itself. The term “sahaja” is also used here, which can also have different levels of meaning. For example, as a “together born” state there is something that is not named, since it is transcendental, it is together with the manifested (born) body. And let me remind you that Sabadī is a poetic text, they are sung, and in this sense the text of Sabadī itself can serve as a means of meditation. Much like the texts of the Vedas, which are the object of prayer and meditation.

गिरही सो जो गिरहै काया, अभि अंतरि की त्यागै माया।
सहज सील का धरै सरीर, सो गिरही गंगा का नीर।।४५ ।।

girahī so jo girahai kāyā, abhi aṃtari kī tyāgai māyā।
sahaja sīla kā dharai sarīra, so girahī gaṃgā kā nīra।।45 ।।

गिरही – grihastha; सो (Sanskrit सः) – he; जो – who; गिरहै (गिरह) – binds, holds; काया – body;
अभि – now; अंतरि – inside, soul. त्यागै – sacrificed, left; माया – illusion.
सहज – innate nature; सील (शील) का – good character; धरै – retention; सरीर – body; सो – he; गिरही – living in the house (grihastha); गंगा का – like the Ganges; नीर – water.

Gṛhastha is the one who holds the body; at the same time sacrificing the conditioned mind (māyā) within. Goodness of character naturally sustains the body; one who lives in the house (body) is like the sacred waters of the Ganges. (45)

On the nature of Māyā in the Śrī Gorakh Gītā

I have translated a short passage of the Śrī Gorakh Gītā from Hindi. Look how clearly Gorakśanāth explains the nature of māyā, which affects everyone in their own way. How the principle of phenomenality gives rise to obscurations through attachments. The main thing here is to understand the essence of all these examples; you could give many more similar ones yourself. Obviously, for personal transformation you have to think about what is conditioning you personally in this regard.

मेरा गुरु त्रिगुणी माया की बात बताता है।
My Guru tells me about three types of Māyā.

पता नहीं गुरु कहाँ चला गया।
I don’t know where Guru went.

उसके बिना मुझे नींद भी नहीं आती।
I can’t even sleep without it (without blessing).

यह माया का मोह कुम्हार के घर में हाँडी के रूप में है।
This attachment to Māyā is like a pot in the potter’s house.

अहीर के घर ऊँटनी के रूप में है और ब्राह्मण के घर नारी के रूप में है।
In the herdsman’s house it is in the form of a camel and in the brahmin’s house it is in the form of a woman.

हाँडी सांडी और राँडी तीनों मोह के कारण है।
The pot, camel and woman all three are attachment.

राजा के घर में भाले माया का रूप हैं।
In the king’s (kṣatriya) house, spears are a form of Māyā.

जंगल में बेल मोह का रूप है।
The fruit of the Bilva tree in the forest is a form of attachment.

तेली के घर तेल के रूप में माया विद्यमान है।
Māyā exists in the form of butter in the house of a buttermaker.

इस प्रकार तेल, बेल और सेल माया के मोह में बाँधते हैं।

In this way, butter, bilva fruits and spears bind one in the illusion of Māyā.

अहीर के घर बाहरी (गाय) माया के रूप में है।
The outsider (cow) in the house of the herdsman appears in the form of Māyā.

मन्दिर में मूर्ति माया का रूप है और दुकान में हींग भी माया का रूप है।
The mūrti in the temple is a form of Māyā and the asafoetida in the shop is also a form of Māyā.

इस प्रकार हींग, लिंग तथा सींग माया के रूप हैं।
Thus asafoetida, liṅgam and horn (of cows and bulls) are forms of Māyā.

माया के एकमात्र सूत्र से उनके नाना रूप बने हैं ।
The various forms are created from the single thread of Māyā.

यह माया अनेक रूपों में दिखाई पड़ती है।
This Māyā (illusion) appears in many forms.

गोरख कहता है कि माया के सत्त्व, राजस और तम तीन गुण हैं।
Gorakśanāth says that Māyā has three qualities: sattva, rajas and tamas.

सच्चा गुरु ही माया के स्वरूप की कर सकता है।।
Only a true Guru can understand the nature of Māyā.

About the perfect consciousness of yogis through quotations of the Amanaska-yoga, the Caraka-saṃhitā and the Akulavīra-tantra

Gorakṣanātha in his Amanaska-yoga talks about four states (levels) of mind, two of which are associated with tamas and rajas, fluctuations of the mind. The other two are the state of mind in sattvaguṇa and the state of mind beyond any qualities or complete dissolution of the mind.

1) विश्लिष्टं viśliṣṭa – mind in the state of tamas
2) गतागत gatāgata – mind in the state of rajas
3) सुश्लिष्ट suśliṣṭa – mind in the state of sattva
4) सुलीन sulīna – mind beyond qualities, dissolved into Ātman

In the Caraka-saṃhitā, in the section dedicated to yoga, also emphasised that for yoga it is important to overcome the obscurations associated with guṇas of tamas and rajas:

मोक्षो रजस्तमोऽभावात् बलवत्कर्मसङ्क्षयात् ।
वियोगः सर्वसंयोगैरपुनर्भव उच्यते ॥१।१४२॥

In the liberated state, all desires are destroyed due to the absence of rajas and tamas. Thus, a person is finally and irrevocably freed from the bonds of the phenomenal world, from rebirth.

Below are excerpts from my translation of the Amanaska-yoga by Gorakṣanātha:

चतुर्विधा मनोऽवस्था विज्ञातव्या मनीषिभिः।
विश्लिष्टं च गतायातं सुश्लिष्टं च सुलीनकम् ॥ ९४ ॥

The wise know four states of mind: viśliṣṭa, gatāgata (gatāyata), suśliṣṭa and sulīna.

​​विश्लिष्टं तामसं प्रोक्तं राजसं च गतागतम्।
सुश्लिष्टं सात्त्विकं प्रोक्तं सुलीनं गुणवर्जितम् ॥ ९५॥

Viśliṣṭa – tamasic, gatāgata – rajasic, suśliṣṭa – sattvic, sulīna – devoid of qualities.

विश्लिष्टं च गतायातं विकल्पविषयग्रहम् ।
सुश्लिष्टं च सुलीनं च विकल्पविषनाशनम् ॥ ९६ ॥

In viśliṣṭa and gatāgata there is the perception of fictitious objects (vikalpa-viṣaya), in suśliṣṭa and sulīna there is the destruction of the poison of vikalpas.

​ततोऽभ्यासनियोगेन निरालम्बो भवेद यदि।
तदा सरिसभूतानि (समरसभूतः ?) परमानन्द एव सः॥९७ ॥

If through the practice of yoga [a person] becomes independent, then he acquires naturalness and supreme bliss.

​अभ्यस्यतो मनः पूर्व विश्लिष्टं चलमुच्यते।
ततश्च निश्चलं किञ्चित् सानन्दं च गतागतम् ॥ ९८ ॥

During practice, the mind first moves, this state is called viśliṣṭa. Then the mind becomes still at times and filled with bliss – this is gatāgata.

​सानन्दं निश्चलं चेतः ततः सुश्लिष्टमुच्यते।
अतीव निश्चलीभूतं सानन्दं च सुलीनकम् ।। ९९ ॥

When the mind is in blissful stillness, this is suśliṣṭa. When it reaches final stillness and bliss, it is sulīna.

बभूव तस्य कर्माणि पापपुण्यस्य संक्षयः।
प्रयान्ति नैव लिम्पन्ति क्रियमाणानि सानुना ॥ १० ॥

The sinful and good karmas of a righteous ascetic disappear, and no matter what he does, the karmas pass by without staining him.

उत्तुङ्गः सहजानन्दः सदाभ्यासरतः स्वयम्।
सर्वसंकल्पसंत्यक्तः स विद्वान् कर्म संत्यजेत् ॥ १०१ ॥

The sage, permanently immersed in abhyāsa, abiding in the sublime bliss of naturalness and detached from all saṃkalpas, is freed from karma.

The last śloka says that this highest state is called sahajānanda, as it was previously spoken about in the ślokas 20 and 92. The same term is also used by Matsyendranāth in the Akulavīra-tantra, which indicates the importance of sahaja-avasthā among the Nāthas. The Akulavīra-tantra begins as following:

श्रीमच्छन्दपादकेभ्यो नमः ।
श्रीमीनसहजनन्दं स्वकीयाङ्गसमुद्भवम् ।
सर्वमाधारगम्भीरमचलं व्यपकं परम् ।

Salutations to the feet of Śrī Macchanda!
[Bow to] Śrī Mīna [nāth], the Bliss of the sahaja, born from his own body, the Whole, the Deepest Root, the Immovable, the All-pervading, the Supreme!

Interesting etymology of the term “karṇa” according to Yāska

Looking through Yāska’s work, I found another interesting point related to the interpretation of the word “karṇa” (कर्ण – an ear), which, in my opinion, very clearly indicates the rite of “ka-chira” – one of the the Nātha saṃskāras.

कर्णः कृन्ततेः। निकृत्तद्वारो भवति ।

Karṇa (an ear) comes from the root कृत् “krit” (to cut through), this is cutting a hole.

The rite of karṇa-vedhana (piercing the earlobes) is included in the Vedic saṃskāras, along with receiving the sacred thread, etc., so it is not surprising that there is such a definition here. However, Yāska further gives another version:

ऋच्छतेरित्याग्रायणः ।

“Ricchha” means “to move,” says Āgrāyaṇa (ācārya).

ऋच्छन्तीव खे उदगन्ताम् ।

Just as if there was movement in space (sound or nada).

In the śābar-mantra of the Nāthas, for the “kuṇḍala” (earrings) that are worn during such a ritual, it refers to the sound vibration “nada” and its connection with khecarīmudrā, but in the context of the fact that the sound “moves” in ākāśa (space). At the end it is said that above the ears of Gorakṣanāth is ākāśa, and below them is the earth, i.e. he is an image of the confluence of these polarities. He combines (mudrā) khecarī and bhūcarī (Śakti in the manifest world and in emptiness).

I would also like to note that the Sun and Moon are luminaries that constantly move in space, just like the Earth itself with the Moon, rotating around it and reflecting the light of the Sun. All these movements are time (kalā), which is sometimes translated as “death” in Sanskrit. Therefore, one who has gone beyond polarity and time comprehends the reality of immortality beyond the manifest and the unmanifest. The Gorakṣa-siddhānta-saṅgraha says that the true Brahman in this sense is beyond dvaita and advaita, bheda and abheda, etc., which Gorakṣanāth calls “Pakṣapāta-vinirmukta”.

Meaning of the name Gorakṣanātha

Definitions of the Gorakṣanātha’s name sometimes contain many references to its etymology, especially to the term “Go“. I want to share one of them, perhaps later I will give other quotes. Here is one of Yaskacharya’s works with my comments:

​सुषुम्णः सूर्यरश्मिश्चन्द्रमा गन्धर्वः। (Yajurveda, śloka 18.40)

The Moon is a Gandharva, representing the rays of the auspicious (suṣumṇā) Sun (Sūrya).

इत्यपि निगमो भवति । सोऽपि गौरुच्यते।

Following is also in the Vedic scriptures: It (light) is also called “Go”.

“अत्राह गोरमन्वत” इति तद् उपरिष्टाद् व्याख्यास्यामः।

This will also be discussed further “atrāha goramanvata” (quote from Rigveda 1.84.15)

सर्वेऽपि रश्मयः गावः उच्यन्ते।

Also, all rays of light are called “Go”.

And so, in etymology from the Vedas we get that “Go” or “Gau” is light or rays of light, and here there is a reference to the Yajurveda, where mentioned the name of suṣumṇā, which in Nāthyoga and Tantrism is used as the name of the main channel in our body. I believe that the mention of Sūrya and Chandra is not accidental here, which in Nāthyoga are further used as images of the iḍa and piṅgala channels surrounding the suṣumṇā channel.

The complete śloka of the Rigveda quoted by Yaska as following:

अत्राह॒ गोर॑मन्वत॒ नाम॒ त्वष्टु॑रपी॒च्य॑म्।
इ॒त्था च॒न्द्रम॑सो गृ॒हे ॥

In this world, they (ṛṣi) perceived the beautiful rays of the Sun in this way in the house of the Moon.

In that way, we are talking here about a certain concentration of light, accumulation between the Sun and the Moon, which are called “Go”. They are collected, that indicates on their protection (rakṣaṇa), i.e. what we know as “tapasya”, the generation of internal light or fire within. This reflects the essence of the practices of Gorakṣanātha. The Nāthas also associate Patra Devatā (Deity in the form of a vessel) with him. For example, we find similar ideas in Tantrism or even Kabbalah, about receiving or accumulating light in oneself (in the body). Light is also a reflection, an “imprint”, called mudrā. Thus, the earrings of the Nāthas, threaded into the space of the ears, are also symbols of the Sun and Moon in space, they are also called “mudrā”. This term is from the root “mud” – means “mixing”, the merging of higher consciousness and matter or spirit, which gives life and form to matter. The form is then given a meaning or mission in this world and becomes a form of life. Thus, Gorakṣanātha is a symbol of life, as opposed to death (mṛita), he is a symbol of immortality “amṛta”, the basis of which lies in the pure light of spirit (Ātman).

From the above it follows that Gorakṣanātha’s practices are aimed at the central channel (suṣumṇā) in our body, this is the gateway to the world of spirit and immortality, to the collecting together (samādhi) of consciousness and pranas.

What is said about Gorakṣanātha in the Brahmāṇḍapurāṇa

In the Brahmāṇḍapurāṇa (Adhyāya 33), we find a mention of Yogi Gorakṣanātha. Although this text is dedicated to Śrīvidyā, the manner in which it is described is interesting. I have made translation from Sanskrit with small notes, and although this kind of text requires a more detailed explanation, I will publish my translation here.

तस्य चोत्तरकोणेषु वायुलोको महाद्युतिः ।
तत्र वायुशरीराश्च सदानन्दमहोदयाः ॥ ६७॥

Also, in the Northwest corner with great radiance is the dimension of Vāyu.
Those who are there (ṛṣis and siddhas) also have bodies like Vāyu (power ones) and great eternal bliss is revealed in them.

सिद्धा दिव्यर्षयश्चैव पवनाभ्यासिनोऽपरे ।
गोरक्षप्रमुखाश्चान्ये योगिनो योगतत्पराः ॥ ६८॥

Divine ṛṣis and siddhas, who practice methods associated with the wind (pranayama) and other yogis, devotees of the yoga path, among whom the main one is Gorakṣanātha.

एतैः सह महासत्त्वस्तत्र श्रीमारुतेश्वरः ।
सर्वथा भिन्नमूर्तिश्च वर्तते कुम्भसम्भव ॥ ६९॥

There, along with them, with the great beings, is Māruteśvara (Gorakṣa).
O, born from a jar (“Patra Devatā” among the Nāthas, or Gorakṣanātha), also present in many forms.

इडा च पिङ्गला चैव सुषुम्णा तस्य शक्तयः ।
तिस्रो मारुतनाथस्य सदा मधुमदालसाः ॥ ७०॥

This lord of the winds, Mārutnātha, has three Śaktis in the form of iḍā, piṅgala and suṣumṇā, which reside in a heady eternal peace.

ध्वजहस्तो मृगवरे वाहने महति स्थितः ।
ललितायजनध्यानक्रमपूजनतत्परः ॥ ७१॥

He holds a flag (symbol of Alakh-nirañjan) in his hand, while sitting on an antelope (symbol of prāṇa). He successively performs dhyāna, yājña and pūjā to the goddess Lalita (Yogamāyā Bālasundarī among the Nāths).

आनन्दपूरिताङ्गीभिरन्याभिः शक्तिभिर्वृतः ।
स मारुतेश्वरः श्रीमान्सदा जपति चक्रिणीम् ॥ ७२॥

He is surrounded by other Śaktis (goddesses), their parts (it can be their bodies or aspects in the form of yoginīs), overflowing with bliss. That glorious Māruteśvara always repeats the mantra to the Queen of the Śrīyantra chakras (Tripurasundarī).

तेन सत्त्वेन कल्पान्ते त्रैलोक्यं सचराचरम् ।
परागमयतां नीत्वा विनोदयति तत्क्षणात् ॥ ७३॥

Through his essence, at the end of a kalpa, he absorbs all three worlds, everything movable and immovable, remaining by himself in that delightful moment.

तस्य सत्त्वस्य सिद्ध्यर्थं तामेव ललितेश्वरीम् ।
पूजयन्भावयन्नास्ते सर्वाभरणभूषितः ॥ ७४॥

For the perfections of that essence, Laliteshwari, he worships her with manifest feeling and all kinds of ornaments.

Chakras in the Vedas

In the Vedas, in addition to archetypal allusions to chakras, there is also a fairly specific mention of them. Let me give one of the early examples from the Atharva Veda (10.2.31):

अष्टचक्रा नवद्वारा देवानां पूरयोध्या। 
तस्यां हिरण्ययः कोशः स्वर्गो ज्योतिषावृतः।। 

aṣṭacakrā navadvārā devānāṃ pūrayodhyā।
tasyāṃ hiraṇyayaḥ kośaḥ svargo jyotiṣāvṛtaḥ।

Invincible (ayodhyā) abode (pūra) of gods (devānām) with nine holes (navadvārā), eight chakras (aṣṭacakrā). In that (tasyām), golden-colored (hiraṇyayaḥ) shell (kośaḥ), the heavens (svargaḥ) are shrouded (āvṛtaḥ) with light (jyotiṣā).

This hymn, similar to the Puruṣasuktam, is dedicated to the first man, from whom the entire universe and all living beings originated. Later, we see this principle in texts, such as the Siddha-siddhānta-paddhati, in the description of parapiṇḍa (macrocosmos) and vyaśtipiṇḍa (microcosms), its many copies within it.

The term “puruṣa” itself is explained by Yaska in two ways:

Puri ṣādaḥ (the one who sits in the abode, i.e. the body), or puri śayaḥ (the one who rests in the body). You could also say he is the one who “fills” the body. In Tantrism, the body is often associated with Śakti and the spirit in the body – Śiva. Thus, this is the unity of Śiva and Śakti.

Under each element mentioned, you can reveal a dozen or even more meanings. Ideally this should be conveyed to you by the guru through personal contact. I propose to leave this information in this “unsaid” form, leaving the opportunity for everyone to independently comprehend this through personal search and learning experience.

How some Nātha yogis influenced a number of Tantric schools.

The earliest Nātha yogis were associated with the Kāpālikas, I’ll give you one example. In Buddhism, there is a yogi who is known as Kṛṣṇācārya, and as Kṛṣṇanāth in the Nātha-sampradāya, also Kanipānātha – Kānhapā. He was a disciple of Jalandharnāth, who is famous among both Nāthas and Vajrayāna Buddhists. Both of them are included in the list of the Nine Nāthas in Maharashtra.

Kānhapā practised Kāpālika sādhanās also the Hevajra-tantra. It is believed that the practice of tummo was received from him by Marpa, then by Milarepa and later by Naḍapāda, better known as Naropa, who compiled his famous six yogas based on tummo.

It is believed that in the practice of tummo or caṇḍālī, which is actually kuṇḍalini-yoga, an important element is karma-mudrā, a practice, similar to Vāmācāra maithuna in kaulism. This method allows you to sublimate the sexual fire into the inner fire of kuṇḍalini or caṇḍālī. Other yogas, such as yoga of light, yoga of dreams, etc. develop from this practice of inner yoga. But the main purpose of tummo is to awaken within oneself a state of bliss and emptiness, which ultimately leads to the level of mahā-mudrā, also known as Dzogchen. These highest levels of practice may vary among different teachers and Vajrayāna lineages. In the Nāthas’ texts, namely the Akulavīratantra, the Amanaska Yoga, etc., this state is called sahajānanda. Obviously, at some stage, those ancient yogis borrowed terms from each other, actually, Vajrayāna was called “Sahajayana“, although Vajrayāna indicates an indestructible state realised in the vajra-nāḍī through the basic practice of tummo (kuṇḍalini-jāgaraṇ). Sahaja means “to be together with the innate,” which, according to one interpretation, is the joint fusion of male and female bindus in the sahasrāra-cakra. Actually, this is the practice that in Buddhism is called Dzogchen, which, according to one interpretation, is an analogue of mahābindu. The essence of Dzogchen/Mahāmudrā practices is staying in your natural perfect state, known among the Nāthas as sahajananda.

Later these methods were adopted by the Sahajiya Vaiṣṇavas, their methods were very similar to the methods of tantric yoga of the Nāthas and Vajrayāna, however, with the arrival of the British, many Vaiṣṇavas Sahajiya gurus in Bengal went underground. These practices are already considered secret, but the Puritan British (at that time) further influenced the secrecy of these traditions. Instead, some Indian Westernised gurus, such as Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākur and others, were forced to create “refined” forms of Vaiṣṇavism, which later came to America and other countries.

India changed a lot with the arrival of the British, it became much more difficult to identify authentic yoga, authentic learning in Tantrism, etc. This is all seriously complicated by the fact that most Indian gurus are trying to Westernise. You will find a huge amount of such yoga in touristic places. Often, even in the Traditions themselves, with the ancient lineage, not all gurus want to seriously teach someone, but even less of their Western “disciples” are ready to fully study. Therefore, many of gurus think, “I will earn money at least, then life will show whether appear anyone, who can be taught seriously or not.” Again, someone who has realised himself in sādhanā, can teach with sufficient spiritual purity, but most teachers often try to teach without strong experience in sādhanā.

I have described the situation very briefly without touching on many other details, that I would draw the attention of those who are looking for the basics of authentic tantric yoga. But, even this can help in the search for those, who have sufficiently serious motivation.

Transition of any mantra into So-ham

The transition of any mantra into “so-ham” (ajapā-japa) occurs at the level of madhyamā-vak or the mental meaning of the mantra, it can be said, a more significant level of the mantra. We can also say that this happens through the yogic level, through the sphere that is more subjective or the one that is closer to your soul. I’ll explain to those, who haven’t realised it yet. This is what any correct mantra practice is aimed at. Thus, without yoga as such, there can be no correct mantras, tantric rites and any rituals at all. Therefore, when I say that I place yoga above all else and there is nothing higher than it, I am extremely honest here.

Smile of Buddha and Gorakṣanāth

If you look at the images of Buddha and Gorakṣanāth, you will notice slight smiles on their faces. But it’s not some super blissful appearance. I have noticed that many people like bajans and kirtans, as is the case in many bhakti schools or in the inaccurate understanding of some tantric streams, because there is an excess of “ānanda” there. For many people such ānanda and excessive joy seems to me to be an attempt to displace the presence of pain that this life is full of. However, this often leads to a person not noticing the external reality. But, if your bliss is moderate, like a light smouldering fire in the dhuna, then you do not run away from life and are not consumed by it, you are in contact with it as if “gliding”. That is, you calmly perceive the reality of life in a moderately “positive” state, which awakens wisdom in you.