Meaning of Ādeś salutation

There is its own Sūkṣma-veda in the Nātha Sampradāya, which is called the Gorakh Sabadī. There is also the Gorakṣopaniṣad and analogues of Vedanta (ātma-jñāna, brahma-jñāna), the Gorakh Gītā, the Gorakh Purāṇa and the Gorakh Tantra. Of course, all of this often differs from what most people see in it, and although essentially it is one whole, it should be better discussed separately. There is also its own nirukta – the interpretation of terms. For instance, according to nirukta, a term ‘ādeś‘ means the following:

आदेश नाम योग – योगेश्वरों का, नाम सत रुप नाथों का, आदेश नाम पूर्ण सिद्धों का आदेश नाम आत्मा, परमात्माऔर जीवात्मा की एकता का । आदेश नाम एक अन्तर आत्मा से दूजा अन्तर आत्मा में योग बनया ज्योति स्वरुप आत्मा को नमस्कार । आदेश नाम अद्वैत आत्मा आदेश नाम निर्गुण निराकार अविनाशी आत्मा को इतना आदेश शब्द निरुक्त सम्पूर्ण भया श्री नाथ जी गुरूजी को आदेश ।

Ādeś is the name of the Lords of yoga and yoga itself, the true state of the Nāthas. Ādeś is the name of realised siddhas, of the unity of ātma (an individual soul as it is), paramātma (an omnipresent soul) and jivātma (a soul incarnated in a body). Ādeś is the name of the unity of a soul (within a person) with another soul, reverence for the luminous nature of the soul. Ādeś is the name of the non-dual ātman, which is beyond qualities, formless and indestructible. This is the full interpretation of the term ‘ādeś’. May there be respect and will (teaching) of Śrī Nātha ji Guruji!

However, according to the Machhindra Gorakh Bodh (6), we see the following explanation of the term ‘ādeś‘:

मछिंद्र: अवधू आदेस का अनुषम उपदेस, सुंनि का निरंतर बास ।
सबद का परचा गुरु कथंत मछिन्द्र नाथ ।

Oh disciple, the guidance (upadeśa) in the immeasurable ‘ādeś’ transmission (anusham), where the infinity (nirantar) lives (vāsa) in the emptiness (śūnya). Speech is a manifestation of the guru (śabd kā paricaya guru) (obviously here is the connection of the guru with vāgbhava bīja “aiṃ”), This is what guru Matsyendranāth says.

That is, ādeś or, in Sanskrit, ādeśa means a certain transmission from a guru to a disciple or from a deity to a practitioner in a special form, where an instruction and the highest essence, or the meaning are inseparable. That is the subtle knowledge which guru reveals in a student, which is, in fact, the yogic experience. Since that is not an ordinary knowledge obtained in universities, it is rather revealed in a meditative state, in a state of utmost peace of mind and feelings, so this transmission may often be a non-verbal one. It frequently occurs even in silence between some yogis or gurus and those who receives śaktipāt from them. This is a relationship of a kind that a student understands a guru giving only a small hint, half the words, on a deeply intuitive level. As a rule, that is accompanied by the deep psychophysical transformation of the student’s nature.

We can find this term in other sources, for example, in Vedanta, in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad (2.3.6):

अथात आदेशो ‘नेति नेति’।

So, the instruction, which is not this (and) not that.
(That is, the truth is outside of the scope of discursive thinking, the nature of the ātman is beyond any description).

Probably, this is where the origin of the Nāthas‘ focus on freedom from the inadequacy of duality or even non-duality, from any extreme, which is destructive and disharmonious comes from.

Thus, ādeś (or ādeśa) means the transfer of essential knowledge, for the sake of the deep spiritual transformation, where a disciple, being in a state of deep respect and utmost attentiveness, both in relation to himself and the guru, discovers the silent truth. We may call it the highest form of the mystical experience, leading to the total transformation, the transformation from a person to a God-man. This is the state of yoga in its essential, unified form and also in its many basic aspects, therefore there could be a connection with any kind of traditional yoga or religious practices here.

Many may consider the greeting ‘Ādeś!‘ among nāthas as an analogue to the well-known ‘namaste‘. ‘Namah‘ – means ‘respect’ and ‘te‘ – means ‘you’. However, as I see it, ‘ādeś‘ has a deeper meaning, it is rather the very essence of ‘namaste‘. By namaste, you honor a guru or a deity or someone you have respect for. It is kind of a pūjā. But why a pūjā is performed? It is performed for the sake of the inclusion in the nature of the divine and the descent of prasādam or śaktipāt. Here ādeś is, rather, the second stage, following the namaste, it is not just a pūjā as an action, but it is a successful performance. Such efficiency actually means staying in goodness, sometimes it can reveal some siddhis as accompanying side effects. Although the siddhis are definite indicators, in this case, it is not them that matters, but the state of siddha puruṣa, a pure perfect being. Whatever the pūjās are performed: vedic, purāṇic, tantric (including non-standard ones, like pañchamakāras), none of them have any meaning if there is no pure grace (prasādam). Therefore, ādeś, for a yogin, is a transforming inner spiritual purity and knowledge, it is more important than any, even the most seemingly exclusive religious techniques. This is not to say that they are good or bad, they may or may not work, as for example, a computer may be useful when it is connected to the Internet and, moreover, to electricity. In the same way, simply put, there is ādeś, in relation to all types of spiritual techniques and systems.

The Amṛtasiddhi as a Nātha text

Not long ago student of mine sent me a curious article by Kurtis R. Schaeffer The Attainment of immortality: from Nāthas in India to buddhists in Tibet. It is dedicated to a text, which James Mallinson identified as ‘buddhist one’, which is, in my opinion, not quite correct. I also find his another claim, when during an online interview he said that the Haṭha-yoga-pradīpikā is the Vīraśaiva text only because Allama Prabhudeva is mentioned there, to be also incorrect. An attempt to take only one name related to Vīraśaivism from a huge number of listed names, ignoring all the others, and attribute the whole text to Vīraśaiva, seems very strange to me. Especially when the text itself is quite distant from the main doctrine of Vīraśaivism and its goals. The same thing is with the text Amṛtasiddhi, a conclusion that this is a Buddhist text is based on the fact that it contains several Buddhist elements, at the same time completely ignoring the huge number of Śaiva elements. This text is more Nātha related, and Virūpakṣanāth (one of the famous Nāthas) could add some elements from Buddhism there. I believe that texts of this kind should be judged primarily by the number of prevailing elements of a particular tradition. And it is obvious there, that the elements of Nāthism are dominant. But for me, even without reading the article, it is clear that the text is not Buddhist, not least because there was the Mahāmudrā practice in Buddhism in those times and it was not in the form of haṭha-yoga practice. All Vajrayāna Buddhists perfectly understand what it is. So what was the point in calling completely different levels of practice in Vajrayāna with the same term? Here is another example from the Amṛtasiddhi:

म्रियन्ते मेरुवेधेन  ब्रह्माद्या देवता ध्रुवम्
आदौ संजायते क्षिप्रं वेधो ऽयं ब्रह्मग्रन्थितः॥

mriyante meruvedhena  brahmādyā devatā dhruvam 
ādau saṃjāyate kṣipraṃ vedho ‘yaṃ brahmagranthitaḥ॥

By piercing Meru (suṣumnā with prāṇa), Brahma and other Gods are getting killed.
First, this (prāṇa) quickly pierces the Brahma-granthi (Brahma knot).

ब्रह्मग्रन्थिं ततो भित्त्वा विष्णुग्रन्थिं भिनत्यसौ
विष्णुग्रन्थिं ततो भित्त्वा रुद्रग्रन्थिं भिनत्यसौ ॥

brahmagranthiṃ tato bhittvā viṣṇugranthiṃ bhinatyasau
viṣṇugranthiṃ tato bhittvā rudragranthiṃ bhinatyasau॥

Thus, when the Brahma-granthi is pierced, the Viṣṇu-granthi (Viṣṇu knot) is pierced.
When the Viṣṇu-granthi is pierced, the Rudra-granthi (Rudra knot) is pierced.

रुद्रग्रन्थिं ततो भित्त्वा छित्वा मोहमयीं लताम्
उद् घाटयत्ययं  वायुर्ब्रह्मद्वारं सुगोपितम् ॥

rudragranthiṃ tato bhittvā chitvā mohamayīṃ latām 
ud ghāṭayatyayaṃ  vāyurbrahmadvāraṃ sugopitam ॥

Thus, piercing the Rudra-granthi, the “vines of illusion” (the intricacies of Māyā) are getting cut off. Further, ascending upward, Vāyu (air) penetrates into the super secret, Brahmadvāra (the door of Brahma).

The question is, what is so ‘Buddhist’ in these images of Purāṇic Devatās, and where in Buddhism such names of granthas are being mentioned?

There are also many other arguments in the article, for example, mentions of jīvanmukti, when a practitioner is likened to Śiva in yogic realisation etc. That is why I consider the statement of attribution of the text to Buddhism to be incorrect. Of course, some borrowings could come to Indian yoga or tantra from Buddhism, but we also have to consider the main goals of different sampradāyas. For instance, we cannot call Pancharātra ‘a yogic tradition’, if it is in fact a Vaiṣṇava bhakti oriented sect full of its specific karmakāṇḍa etc. If I take, let’s say, Yogi Bhajan’s Kundalini-yoga and claim that it belongs to a Sikh tradition, it will be an incorrect statement. Even if you find a Sikh lineage Sant Mat, where meditation on light and sound is practiced, it doesn’t make it the main practice of the whole tradition. And again, we cannot conclude from this that it is the rationale for what Yogi Bhajan developed while living in California. Just as it is not entirely accurate to say that the Ashtanga Vinyasa style is a ‘tradition’, it is more correct to say that it is rather a modern yoga style. It could be called a tradition being spread in the West on the condition Iyengar or Pattabhi Jois would have transmitted the same sacred threads (janeū), which they had from their Gurus – to their students. Which didn’t happen, and most likely couldn’t have happened. But, if this did happen, I doubt that such disciples would have the same discipline and practice that they exercise on masse today. And although these teachers were good innovators, we should not confuse a style and gymnastic exercises with dīkṣā, discipleship, nitya sādhanā and etc. For those who want to seriously understand these things, I highly recommend taking these factors into account, although there are actually a lot of them.

One more meaning of the Gorakṣanātha’s name

The name Gorakṣanātha in Sanskrit or its derivative Gorakhnāth in Hindi, if translated literally, will not carry much meaning. It could literally be translated as: rakṣa (a protector) and go (of cows). But, if you meet some Indians, who have heard about Gorakṣanātha and associated him with yoga, most likely they will explain go as senses. Thus, many translate it as “one, who protects the senses or controls the senses,” which is often interpreted as the practice of pratyāhāra, etc. Of course, the control of indriyas, redirection of prāṇa and perception of ātman within oneself are very important in yoga. However, while reading Yāska’s Nirukta and Śrī Aurobindo’s most interesting works, the Secret of the Veda, I found an even deeper meaning of the term goŚrī Aurobindo gives many references to the Rig Veda, where the term go (like the sun rays) refers to the Absolute as a whole. Yāska says in Nirukta:

आदित्योऽपि गौरुच्यते |
ādityo’pi gaurucyate |

The sun is also called ‘go’.

In further explanation, there is a quotation of the hymn from the Yajur Veda (adhyāya 18 / 40) containing suṣumṇa:

सुषुम्णः सूर्यरश्मिश्चन्द्रमा गन्धर्वस्तस्य नक्षत्राण्यप्सरसो भेकुरयो |
suṣumṇaḥ sūryaraśmiścandramā gandharvastasya nakṣatrāṇyapsaraso bhekurayo |

Suṣumṇa, whose moonbeams are like the sun, is gandharva playing with nakṣatras, who are āpsaras.

In the other ślokas of this hymn, gandharva is the wind and his āpsaras are the waters, etc. Different elements are divided into male and female poles through the images of the ganharva and āpsaras.

Interestingly,Yāska connects the rays of suṣumṇa with go, this is also found in other parts of his Nirukta. Aurobindo in his Secret of the Veda, has many references to the Rig Veda as well, where cows can be understood to mean the light of the sun, ātman and Absolute in general. Indeed, if you look in the dictionaries, then go can mean both the sun and the moon, and light as such. Accordingly, Gorakṣanātha can be perceived as one, who unites (yoga) the power of ha (sun) and ṭha (moon) within suṣumṇa. The veneration of Śiva Gorakṣanātha awakens suṣumṇa, unites opposites, He is the patron saint of this path.