Summary of my online talk on the International conference on Global Contribution of the Nath Panth on March 21st 2021. The Nath Tradition on Foreign Land.

Guruji ko Adesh! Adesh to all the great devotees of our Tradition! Blessings from Guru Gorakhnath to all those who have a genuine interest in our unique Tradition, which is highly important for India and beyond!

I’ll try to be concise and cover the requested topics in 20 minutes. First and foremost, it is a promotion of the Natha Tradition in the West, which I feel the need to pay special attention to. Undoubtedly, this subject is not an easy one as it involves many different areas of our lives. 

It has been 35 years since I started practicing yoga and 15 years since I began promoting the Natha Tradition in the West, and I have faced many challenges in the process. The first point I would like to make is a cultural one. Westerners, trying to take the easy way, attempt to take something from such a complex phenomenon as the Natha Sampradaya without taking into account the environment in which it was formed. My Guru said that the tradition is like a potion made from various ‘aushadhi’ (plants) put together. We can’t say that it is the same as it was before, but we can’t say that the ‘plants’ are not there either. For many centuries, the Natha tradition has existed in the cultures of the Vedas, Puranas, Tantras, of the many various Sampradayas (Shramana, Shaiva, Shakta, Vaishnava, Buddhist, Jaina and others). We know that India has been partly influenced by Abrahamic Traditions as well, even though they may look very ambiguous in India. And I have found that very few people in the West are interested in all that, which makes it difficult for westerners, including those in the Natha Tradition, to understand the realities of India. We also know very well that western Indology would not be funded by Western governments if it did not show eastern doctrines in a diminished way in comparison to what they consider traditional. Moreover, India’s colonial past is also reflected in the fact that many Indian leaders show a lack of sovereignty. Probably some of my Indian friends think that this would be good for western followers of the Natha Sampradaya. However we do not come to India to join the globalised yoga movement that has flooded the West. Many of my students want to communicate on the themes of yoga which is traditional for sincere Indians who love their country and their culture. Now the world has changed and yoga has become so superficial, that it is very difficult even to call it ‘yoga’ anymore. To tell you the truth, sometimes I am embarrassed to call what I see with that term. But it is not just about yoga, today we face a world where corporations are trying to suppress everything natural in humans. And I think we all know what I am talking about. There is a lot of low-quality food in the world, something that harms people’s health is passed off as a medicine – they are trying to take us away from nature. But yoga is oriented on a natural state of a human being. We live in a world of very aggressive media and now more than ever we need to learn to empty our minds. I am not saying that we don’t need modern technologies at all, but the way I see it, it is good when they are utilised as our tools but not the other way around. So I would like the western followers of the Tradition and those who live in India to think about it. I have sincerely embraced the way of yoga, the way of Shiva, and I wish that the great history, the great guidelines of this tradition would not fade into oblivion. It is very important for us to keep our values sincere and pure.

The importance of svara in the nātha sādhana

On higher levels of initiation and practice of tantrism, such as pūrṇābhiṣeka, medhā-sāmrājya and practices of upper āmnāya, there are methods of contemplation of Ardhanārīśvara. Also, such ritual as pañca-tattva is not usually practiced before śāktābhiṣeka dīkṣā, and this is especially true for higher initiations and āmnāyas. Such titles as left-handed or right-handed tantra have both symbolic and quite practical values, for instance, pātra with wine is taken by the left hand when we offer it to the ”inner fire” into the mouth of Kuṇḍalinī. The left part of the body is Śakti and the right is Śiva. Some tantrikas say that kaula sādhana begins where such dualistic methods as Patañjali yoga are ended. But the same could be said about nāthas and kaulasnātha sādhana begins where kaula sādhana ends. It has always been like that in India: the more recent endevour to continue something is more substantial than the previous one. That is why Gorakṣanātha is more honoured today than even Matsyendranātha, but this, of course, does not belittle the benefit and the authority of the latter. In the same way, for example, Vedanta – the completion of the Vedas, is not considered as something below the Vedas, but rather as its essence by either Vedantins or many other Hundu. Or, similarly, we couldn’t say that Vajrayana Buddhism is a simplification of Theravada, despite the fact that it had been developed later. Or, for instance, the fact that some cults of early female deities, like sapta and aṣṭa mātrikās have been transformed into such sophisticated cults as Trika, Kubjikā, Śrīvidyā and others, doesn’t make the latter less developed or less authoritative. And the most essential way was always the most secret, with a very careful selection of applicants for that kind of dedication and practice. The same could be said about nāthas. The phenomenon of svara-yoga is of tantric origin, but its basis is still yogic. In speaking of essence, by which we usually mean something that is closer to us as subjects, and also implying the involvement of the subjects in different degrees of the external process. That is why the practices with the body, breathing, with tracking how the breath is associated with the sun and the moon, how these two are related to the elements, tithis, grahas, nakṣatras and other aspects of both micro- and macrocosmos, are very great and subtle processes. But the most important thing is that they are all tied to the essence of it all, namely the yoga of the Sun and the Moon. In many books of both the medieval gurus of the Nāth Sampradāya and the present authors, we can very often find a description of the importance of svara-yoga and, of course, the practices of it. That can be called the basis of nātha-yoga, as its symbol is the Sun and the Moon, i.e. Śiva-Śakti saṃyukta.