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Beliefs & SuperstitiousCulture & Traditions

1. FOOD:-

Some Yogis do not eat fish because Matsyendranath was born from a fish; while others do not observe the taboo. Some hold the red dal (masur) taboo because it resembles drops of blood. Carrots and turnips are eschewed for prudish reasons.

2. BREATHING:-

An interesting device for detecting good and bad omens has to do with breathing. 'To have both nostrils free and to be breathing through them at the same time is not good, and one should not begin any business in this condition. If one is breathing only through the right nostril, the left being closed, the condition is propitious for the following actions: to eat and drink, for digestion will be rapid; to fight; to bathe; to study and read; to ride on a horse; to work at one's livelihood. A sick man should take medicine while he is breathing only through his right nostril. To be breathing through the left nostril is propitious for the following undertakings: to lay the foundations of a house, and to take up residence in a new house; to put on new clothes; to sow seed; to do service or to found a village; to make any purchase. The Yogis practice the art of breathing in this manner by stopping up the right and left nostril alternately with cotton wool and breathing through the other. If a man comes to a Brahman to ask him whether some business or undertaking will succeed, the Brahman breathes through his nostrils on to his hand; if the breath comes through the right nostril, the omen is favourable and the answer is 'Yes'; if through the left nostril, the omen is unfavourable and the answer is 'no'.There are many points in connection with regulation of breath which we nowadays class among superstitions, since we have lost the rationale. Thus it is said that one's undertakings will all prove successful if he commences them when he respires through his right nostril. Similarly, if you start from your home to visit a friend, and wish to know whether you will find him or not at home, examine your breath; if it flows through the right nostril, you will see him, otherwise not. There are others who could tell the hour of the day from the motion of their breath. It is said, that in every healthy person the breath (technically known as sura) changes from one nostril to the other at well-established regular intervals, and thus from its being right- or left-sided, those practised in it can approximately say the hour of the day.


Rose quotes from the'Hauz-u1-Hayat (Well of Knowledge), which says that, if a man closes his eyes, ears and nostrils, he cannot take cold; that the right nostril is called the sun, and the left the moon ; that from the former he breathes heat, and from the latter cold air. Here is undoubtedly an evidence of the influence of Yoga doctrine on Islam.

3. LIFE & DEATH:-

It is an established custom amongst the Yogis that, when malady overpowers them, they bury themselves alive. They are wont also, with open eyes, to force their looks towards the middle of their eyebrows, until so looking they perceive the figure of a man; if this should appear without hands, feet or any member, for each case they have determined that the boundaries of their existence would be within so many years, months or days. When they see the figure without a head, they know that there certainly remains very little of their life; on that account, having seen the prognostic, they bury themselves.

4. CURE OF DISEASE:-

In the cure of disease Yogis make use of exorcism. In Almora, for instance, the drum, dancing and medicines are not used in the process; but it is performed in the name of Bhairom or of Gorakhnath. The chimta (firetongs), which are of iron; branches of the nim tree; and of the jatela tree; and the han morcal, or fan of peacock feathers, are used, along with spells, to drive out disease or evil spirits. The article employed is moved over the body of the afflicted person so as to ‘sweep’ out the disease, or the spirit causing the trouble. The 'sweeping' is done from the head toward the feet. The practice is applied to snake-bite as well as to other afflictions. Morning and evening are auspicious times for the practice of exorcism.


Kanphatas have a considerable reputation in the practice of medicine. Their method is in part that of exorcism and in part the use of magic, of charms and of drugs.
Various substances are applied or administered for rnedicinal effect. Ashes, with a spell pronounced over them, are used as a tika, made with the thumb on the forehead, to effect the cure of illness or barrenness, or to protect from the evil eye. In the legends are related many instances of the use of ashes for magical effects. Powdered rhinoceros skin is dusted into wounds as a healing substance. The use of ashes from the dhuni is described in the study of the legends about Gorakhnath.


The ear-ring carries with it special protection and vouch­safes success in all undertakings. And the thread (kangna), worn about the wrist, or on the upper arm, serves a protective purpose. Ornaments hung from the neck and worn on the fingers may perform a similar office. A silver tooth-pick attached to the sacred thread serves to ward off the evil eye.
Quite in keeping with the claims to supernatural power, which skill the Yoga is supposed to confer, is the popular belief that Yogis work in magic. And the practice is carried on.

5. CONTORL OVER NATURE:-

In various parts of the country Yogis have a reputation for being able to control hailstorms and rain. Wool being a protective, the Yogi uses it for his sacred thread, for kangnas, and often in his head covering. When Gorakhnath wished to draw Puran from the well in Sialkot, he sought a thread spun by an unmarried virgin,


Instances of the practice of the black art are reported. Near Patankot, zari buti, a herb, is mixed with the ashes of an unmarried Hindu and given to an enemy in order to bewitch him. The effect of this potion can be overcome only by the incantations of another Yogi. Left-hand saktas, with the intention of killing an enemy, make an image of flour and clay, stick razors into the breast, navel and throat ; and pegs into its eyes, hands and feet. A fire sacrifice is made with meat; and an image of Bhairava or of Durga holding a trident is placed so that the weapon pierces the breast of the image, and death is invoked on the person whose destruction is intended.


The use of blood is evidenced on every hand, in red ochre smeared on images and symbols, in the tika, and in actual offerings. A survival of blood used magically, reduced to blood drawn from the tongue or little finger of the worshipper, is suggested in the case where Gorakhnath drew water from his finger when he restored Mahita and Sila Dai to life."


It was believed that Saktas formerly ate portions of the flesh and drank the blood of the victims sacrificed at their secret orgies. Undoubtedly there is involved here the idea of magic. The practices described under Kamakhya, below suggest customs which have passed there and in Orissa by less than a century.


In connection with the sacrifice of the rhinoceros, most Gurkhas offer libations of blood after entering its disembowel­led body. On ordinary 'Sradh' days the libation of water and milk is poured from a cup carved from its horn. Its urine is considered antiseptic, and is hung in a vessel at the princi­pal door as a charm against ghosts, evil spirits and disease. Many objects are held sacred, or are regarded almost as fetishes, because of their associations, or through the sanctity of the substances from which they are made, or to which they are related. Ear-rings, made of earths (and of other substances); the four ancient caldrons at Dhinodhar; and numerous dhunis, particularly those at Pai Dhuni, Gorakhpur and Dhinodhar may serve as examples.


The Ganges, especially, and other rivers such as the Godavari are held sacred by them, as by all Hindus. At Deoprayag, in the Himalayas, where the Bhagirathi and the Alaknanda join to form the Ganges, the former, the swifter stream, is said to be sixteen annas pure and the other but fifteen annas. This is an ancient important site.


At the Sivaramandap temple the statue of a bronze horseman, Nakaland (the coming incarnation of Visnu), is worshipped; and at Dhinodhar the mount of Rawa Pir.


An interesting incident in tree-worship is reported in the north-west. On the fifteenth and eleventh of Phagun, Kan­phatas, like villagers of the Panjab, worship the anola tree, or phyllanthus emblica. This tree is the emblic myrobolus, a representation of the fruit of which is used for the finial of Buddhist temples. Its worship is now connected with that of Siva. Brahmans will not take the offerings. The people circumambulate the tree from left to right, pour libations, eat the leaves and make offerings, which are taken by Kanphata Yogis."


Some Nathas worship the paduka of Gorakhnath and of Matsyendranath on the Sivratri. Their carans are regularly worshipped.

6. SACRED ANIMAL:-

Many animals are held sacred, or are in some way given special attention by Goraknathis. Like all Hindus, they worship the cow. There are special taboos against fish. Of special interest to the Yogis are the rhinoceros, the black buck, dogs and snakes.

The rhinoceros receives considerable attention. The rulers of Nepal and others who come to look at those held in captivity for example at Calcutta, always worship them. In their worship of the sun, Yogis wear a ring of rhinoceros horn on the second finger of the right hand; and in other forms of worship this same practice obtains. Some who do not wear the cutiya, use a ring of rhinoceros horn when making an oblation of water. Ear-rings of rhinoceros horn are very much prized. One explanation why men hold the rhinoceros sacred is that the animal bows its head slowly like an elephant; and the latter animal is sacred to Ganesa, son of Siva. Still another reason is that Siva ordered rings of rhinoceros horn to be worn. The body and legs of the rhinoceros are offered to Gorakhnath. It is further said that the Pandavas once killed a rhinoceros and used its skin as a vessel in which to offer water to the sun. Hence the animal is regarded as sacred.' Moreover, Ram Candra had a shield of rhinoceros hide. Besides, the animal is closely associated with mud, and so rings of the horn of the animal are buried with the body of a Yogi, although rings of metal or of precious stones are not. Kirkpatrick reported the forests on the southern slopes of Nepal to be greatly infested with rhinoceroses.

The black buck is revered, and its horn and skin are used by Yogis. A story which explains this fact is as follows

7. LEGEND:-

King Bhartrhari, while out hunting, came upon a herd of seventy hinds and one stag. He was unable to kill the stag; and, finally, one of the hinds asked him to kill her. But he said that as a man of the warrior caste he could not do so. She then asked the stag to receive the king's arrow. As the stag fell, he said, 'Give my feet to the thief, that he may escape with his life; my horns to the Yogi, that he may use them as his whistle (nad); my skin to the ascetic, that he may worship upon it; my eyes to a fair woman, that she may be called mirga naini (having eyes like a deer); and eat my flesh thyself.' It is said that Bhartrhari soon afterwards met Gorakhnath who accused him of having killed one of his disciples. Bhartrhari replied that if he had, then Gorakhnath could restore him to life. Thereupon Gorakhnath threw some earth upon the stag, thereby restoring him to life.

Reference is made to legends in which the name and the deeds of Goraknath are associated with serpents, especially the rain or water-controlling serpents (naga) of Nepal. In the story of Guga, serpents and Gorakhnath both play an important part' Yogis celebrate the Ndgpancami festival. Images and pictures of serpents are found about their shrines and monasteries. The Sepalas are snake-charmers. Besides these, there are other Kanphatas who exhibit snakes at melas; and there is a group or tribe, called Kor Mantar, who are Kanphatas, but who live in the jungles and are not often seen, who eat snakes. Furthermore, there is the relation between Siva and serpents, which lends some significance to the fact that these Yogis trace their line of teachers back to the great god of destruction. Siva is represented with a cobra, or other snakes, in his hand, about his neck or twisted in his hair. But here the significance is not so much of the worship of the serpent, as that of terror, or fear, aroused because of Siva's sinister character, the serpent serving as a weapon. Associated with the linga, the significance of the snake may be partly that of worship.


‘The same idea seems to underlie the following legend which is current in Nepal. In the days of King Gunakam, so the story goes, the country of Nepal was visited by a terrible famine which lasted for seven years. Since all prayers were vain, the king had recourse to the great magician, Santi­kara. This master, while using the proper incantations, drew a magical eight-petalled lotus-flower, which he filled with gold and powdered pearls. Then he made therein the effigies of the nine great Nagas, and by his spells induced them to occupy their proper places. Varuna, white of complexion, wearing a sevenfold, jewelled nags-hood, and carrying a lotus and a jewel in his hands, took his position in the centre; Ananta, dark blue, in the east; Padmaka, with his five hoods and of the colour of a lotus-stalk, in the south; Takshaka saffron-coloured and nine-hooded, in the west; Vasuki, greenish with seven serpent heads, in the north; Sankhapala, yellowish, in the south-west; Kulika, white coloured and provided with thirty hoods, in the north-west; Mandpadma, gold-coloured, in the north-east. Only Karkotaka, who was portrayed in blue colour like a human being with a snake tail, remained absent, as he was ashamed of his deformity and would rather expose himself to the deadly influence of the spells than appear in person.
‘On the advice of santikara, the king himself went to secure the help of the obstinate Naga and, notwithstanding his remonstrances, forcibly dragged him along by the hair. When the nine great Nagas had thus been brought together Santikara worshipped them and besought them to reveal unto him a remedy against the drought. Then they told him that he should paint their images with the blood of Nagas, and for the purpose they offered him their own blood. As soon as the wizard had followed their instructions the sky darkened. Clouds overcast the celestial vault, and heavy rain began to pour down. This is the rite known as Naga-sadhand which has been resorted to ever since when the country was threatened with famine.

Dogs, especially black dogs, are associated with Bhairom and are venerated.

8. Other Malas

Two Mala made of while' 'stone' beads (really nummulities) are greatly prized by Yogis. Both are obtained on the difficult pilgrimage to the Vamacara Sakti Temple at Hing Laj. That made of the smaller 'stone' beads is called Hing Ldj ka thumra; the other, made of larger beads, Asapuri. The former is said to represent grains of millet (jawar), the latter, grains of rice, or bajra. The former is the more commonly worn, and is evidently the more prized. It consists of 5001 or 1,000 beads.


Necklaces made of beads of glass, of china, and of other materials are worn bye but, apparently, with no special religious significance.

9. Vibhuti (Ashes)

All Yogis use ashes, but the practice is not limited to them, tor all ascetics observe the custom, which is very old. Sabhasma,drja, 'sprinkled with ashes,' is a generic term for SaiVite. Nath Yogis use ashes for the tripund (tripundra) or triple mark drawn across the forehead, and on other parts of the body. This mark is to represent the half-moon drawn three times. They also cover the body with ashes, or with earth mixed with ashes. Those who go naked rub the whole body with ashes. The hair is also sprinkled with ashes. It is said that the practice serves to protect the user from vermin. Earth is often used instead of ashes.'


Ashes may be taken from the dhuni, the Yogi's hearthfire. Ashes of burned cow-dung are also used. Siva, as the Yogi par excellence, covers his bodywith ashes from the burning grounds.


Several reasons are given for the use of ashes.' They signify death to the world,' and, in this case, undoubtedly refer to the burning grounds; or, they may indicate that the body must be reduced to ashes ultimately,' or they may be a sign that the Yogi has abandoned the world. Ashes protect from evil spirits as well.


The common mark placed upon the forehead by the Yogi is the tripund, consisting of three horizontal lines, or of a broad band, made by the hand, with ashes, with ashes and clay, or with sandal-wood paste. Similar lines are drawn on other parts of the body, for example, on the arms and chest. These are, strictly, Saivite marks The tripund is sometimes said to represent the moon. Some Yogis put on the forehead a mark consisting of a black, horizontal line with a black dot above it, representing Bhairom; and below it a red circle representing Hanuman (Mahabir). A few put a single spot of sandal-wood paste on the forehead, when they are 'offering' the paste to Bhairom. Still others put a black spot on the forehead when they are burning incense. Other forms of the tika are the double square of sandal-wood paste: a single spot of ashes on the forehead; a yellow, rounded rectangle with a red dot in the centre; a rounded rectangle of yellow with a single grain of rice in the middle, below a brush of ashes; two circles one above the other, the upper of sandalwood paste, the other red; a circle made of a mixture of sandal-wood paste and a red substance, for Bhairom: two spots one above the other, the upper red, the lower black; two elongated enclosures one above the other, in red, with a red dot below. In Benares it was explained that these marks have to do with the is.tadeva, or chosen god, of the particular Yogi. The examples given by no means exhaust the varieties of tika employed.


At the time that a candidate is made a novice ( Aughar), his head, including his scalp-lock (cutiya), is shaved. Aside from this, there seems to be no uniform practice with reference to the care of the hair. Apparently the hair on the head and face should all be shaved or none.' If a Yogi has his moustache and his beard shaved and not his head, or the reverse, he must pay a fine of one rupee and four annas. Some allow their, hair to grow long' and it is left unkempt or matted. Others shave their heads. Some braid black wool into their hair. The photographs show in this volume is indicate a lack of uniformity in practice It claimed that those who have their heads shaved wear clothes, while others go scantily clothed (nanga), or wear no clothes at all and are obliged to sit on the ground But this assertion goes not seems to hold good in general.

10. Dress Code

The `yellow' robe is the distinctive dress of the Yogi . In practice, the yellow robe is by no means commonly worn. Many dress in the ordinary garb of the Hindu, some times coloured with ochre, but very often simply white. Thin cotton is used in the warm weather and slightly heavier clothing in the cold weather. In the Panjab, in the cold season, heavy clothes of wool are worn, made after the common patterns of the people.' However, many Yogis go scantily clothed, wearing only a loin cloth. Some add to this a scarf, or a jacket of the usual type. A girdle of wool (arband) is sometimes the only clothyning. 0ccasionally one sees a long, loose robeorange colour, often drawn in at the waist with a cord.

11. Pagre

The headdress varies greatly. Turbans (pagri) are common. These are either white or ochre-coloured, as a rule. This wear a simple white cap, others a cap of patch-work. This last is the characteristic headdress of the Satnathis. while travelling. A conical cap of nine sections, with earflaps, or a cap of black ribbons is worn. Still others wear no head covering at all. The Aughars of Kirana wear an ochre-coloured turban over which is twisted a net work of black thread, covered with gold.

12. Personal Objects

Besides Mala and other articles of dress and ornaments as already described, Yogis wear certain objects for personal adornment. Bracelets of brass, of precious metals and of rhinoceros leather may be mentioned; brass bracelets obtained in Nepal, like the pavitri of brass already described, having on the rim an image of Pasupati, with Nanda, the bull, on one side and the trident on the other; and armlets of copper from Kedarnath and of iron from Badrinath. Some Yogis wear anklets. Kangnas, or wristlets and armlets made of thread re worn, likewise charms and amulets of the usual types. Fingers rings of various patterns and materials are common.

13. Accessories

Like most Indian ascetics Nath Yogis have a number of necessary accessories. Among triese is the dhuni, or fire, consisting of a smouldering log of wood (or more than one), sometimes in a hollow pit. Whenever he takes up his abode he lights his fire, provided there is not one already at the place. At all important shrines and Ashram such fires are found, some ohich have been kept burning for long periods of time.


Nath Yogis Yogis carry a begging bowl, a wallet, fire-tongs, a a staff, and use a crutch. The begging bowl (khappar) may be of cocoanut shell. The most' prized bowls of this kind are large size, -made of dariya narial, the large variety of cocoanut found in the west. These are blackened, and are without a handle. Some use a bowl with a handle, but the regulation pattern is as just described. A bowl with a handle, made of gourd, is also used. This is a common type and is often called tomri. A bowl of this shape, made of brass is often seen.


The wallet, or bag, which is made of red cloth, is square in shape. It is usually hung from the left shoulder, and is used to carry utensils and the supplies collected while begging. There is no prescribed length for the fire-tongs (cimta). All ascetics carry them. Tongs may serve as a weapon, and perhaps, incidentally as a protection against evil spirits. Occasionally the tongs take the place of a musical instrument. Sometimes a pair of tweezers is attached to the tongs. These are used to handle coals for the cilam, or pipe bowl. The tweezers may be attached to the pipe bowl by a chain.


The staff of the Nath Yogis is of bamboo, or of timur, a stick covered with knots, or a trident of metal The-Crutch, acal, is made of a horizontal stick about sixteen inches long, fastened to a short perpendicular support. It is used as a rest for the chin, or the arms, during meditation and at certain other times. Crutches are used to support the body prepared for burial.


The conch shell is used by Yogis in worship, being blown at the time of service' Yogis in Benares and elsewhere carry a fan made of peacock feathers (han mocal) used to keep off flies, and also in exorcism, to keep off evil spirits, and, to relieve children suffering from the effects of the evil eye.


They often, especially Bhartri Yogis, play musical instruments, including the sarangi and sing cyclic songs, or ballads, including those of Gopichand, - Bhartri, Puran Bhagat, Raja Rasalu, Hir and Ranjha, Guga Pir, Gorakhnath,Macchendranath,Dharamnath,Garibnath, Rani Pingla, Devi and Ganesa.

14. Caste

Nathyogis are casteless. Within the order there are no caste restrictions upon eating, drinking and smoking. Theoretical equality does not, however, extend to women, for Nathyogis do not allow their women folk to eat with them, although women of all panths eat together.

15. Initiation

Initiation is divided, roughly, into two stages. the first, a probationary period, followed by ceremonies leading to preliminary discipleship; the second, during which the ceremony of splitting the ears, which leads to full membership in the sect, is performed. An initiate in the first stage is called an Aughar; in the second stage he becomes a full-fledged Yogi. A candidate may be of almost any age. There are many boys, of varying ages, who are fully initiated Kanphatas.


The months most auspicious for the ceremonies are Pus, December—January; Magh, January—February; Phagun, February—March; and Cait, March—April; and initiations are almost entirely confined to these months.


Initiation usually takes place at a Ashram, but it may be performed at a place of pilgrimage, or at a temple of Bhairom.


The candidate is first closely confined for a period ranging from forty days to from three to six months; that is, for a period of testing satisfactory to the guru. During this time the candidate is tried as to his resolution and ability to carry through his undertaking. At the same time he is dissuaded from becoming a Yogi, the guru pointing out to him the hardships that his initiation and his life as a Yogi would entail.


When the guru is satisfied with the self-control and resolution shown by the candidate, a fast of two or three days may be prescribed. Then, on the day chosen for the initiation ceremony, the candidate bathes and appears before his guru, bringing with him a rupee and a quarter, a cocoanut, flowers, and sweets. The latter are distributed amongst those present. A two-edged knife, with which the ears are to be split in the second stage of initiation, is presented to the candidate three times, and he is again dissuaded from proceeding with the ceremony.


The knife is driven into the ground, or is laid down before him and the candidate takes the necessary vows over it, swearing not to engage in trade, not to take employment, not to keep dangerous weapons, not to become angry when abused, not to marry, and to protect his ears. Like all other ascetics he takes the vow of ahimsa (non-injury). He then receives the mantras or initiatory verse, either from his guru, or from some other Yogi. Ochre-coloured clothes are then presented to him, and he is accepted as a disciple by his guru. A barber now shaves his head, including the scalp-lock (cutiya). In some places, however, his guru cuts off the cutiya.


If the Ganges river is nearby, the hair is consigned to it; if not, the guru keeps the hair in his wallet until he and his disciple go to the river, when it is taken and offered to the Ganges. Or, the hair may be thrown into a tank. A feast is then given.


After the barber has finished his work and the candidate has bathed, he seats himself before his guru, facing north, or east. His teacher then puts around his neck the singnad-janeo, or sacred thread of the order. The candidate's body is then smeared with ashes.


He is now the accepted disciple of his guru and begins to serve his religious guide. He may at this time, or during the final stage of the initiation, receive from his guru a new name, that of some saint, or of a plant, or of an animal.


Those who have undergone the first stage of initiation are usually termed Aughars. They wear, as a usual thing, the clothes of the ordinary Hindu. Some Aughars wear their hair long and unkempt.


The Aughar serves his guru, attends his teaching, and performs certain duties about the establishment where he lives. the novice is made to repeat, twice daily, the presence of his guru tke words, omkar, updesh, adesh and om through his singnad.


The Aughar is not accorded equal rights with the Yogi. This is illustrated by the fact that at feasts and when gifts are distribted, the Aughar receives but half the portion of a Yogi.


There is no stated period of service before which an Aughar may proceed with the final stage of initiation which will constitute him a Yogi. At any time, when his guru is satisfied that he, is ready, the disciple may proceed with the initiation., When his guru is satisfied that the candidate is prepared to complete his initiation, the arrangements are made. The chief tests of fitness are that the pupil has kept his vows, has been faithful in his service to his guru and is steadfastly resolved to proceed. First, the candidate bathes, is shaved, puts ashes on his body, and ties a cloth of cotton about his loins. Some say that he covers the upper part of his body with a cotton cloth dyed in ochre, but others say not. He then presents himself, with two of his guru's disciples, before his teacher. The candidate is made to sit facing north. He draws his knees up and clasps his hands under them. Preparation for the splitting of the two ears is then made. A specially skilled Yogi is called to perform this service, for which he receives one and a quarter rupees.


The fee may be larger, two and a quarter or twenty-five and a quarter rupees. This guru is called Kan Guru (ear-guru) or Cira Guru (the guru who splits the ears). The two -edged knife is brought, and in front of Bhairom, mantras, or sacred text pronounced over it. Slits, about three-quarters of an inch long, are then made in the cartileges of both ears. The mantra, 'Siva Goraksa,' being used. Some claim that the effect of the mantra is to make the operation painless and bloodless. Plugs of nim or of bikua wood are then inserted in the wounds. The gashes are washed daily with pure water or with nim water. Some say that the plugs are removed daily when the wounds are dressed. The care of the wounds continues for forty days. It is said that the plugs fall out after nine days. In some instances the nim sticks are covered with the soft, downy feathers of the peacock's quill and the wounds are kept wet.


According to one report the regular Yogi who slits the ears inserts the knife and then asks the novice whether he be willing to renounce the world or not; and if he is unwilling he withdraws the knife. If the novice says that he is willing to follow the precepts of the sect and become an ascetic, the ear-slitter moves the knife up and down, finishing the operation; pieces of a twig of nim-wood, soaked in oil, are inserted in the wounds for three days, when ear-rings are inserted.


By the slitting of the ears the Aughar becomes a Yogi, and may add to his name the word Natha, Lord. Often he takes a new name to which he adds the word, Natha.He may receive as a name that of a plant or animal; e.g. Nimnatha Kanahnatha, Nagnatha. Kanthadnathis use the word Kanthad, instead of Natha. When the wounds have healed, the Yogi resumes his sacred thread, smears his body with ashes, and appears before his guru. From now on, he will 'remember' his teacher twice daily and appear before him. Ear-rings of clay, weighing about one-fourth of a pound, are now put on, the mantra, Om suaham,'being used. In some parts of India the rings are of lacquered earthenware.After a period varying from fifteen to twenty, or forty days, or a year, rings of some other substance may be substituted for those of clay.


The disciple is considered as the adopted son of his guru and inherits from him. After initiation a Yogi may elect to become a militant Yogi, vowed to celibacy. In this case he would be known as Naga, Nihang, or Kanphata. On the other hand, quite contrary to supposed regulations, he may become a householder, or grhasta.


The initiate becomes a member of the sub-sect of his guru; consequently, in choosing his guru, he chooses his sub-sect. He belongs, also, to the Ashram of which his teacher is a member.


some women receive initiation. These are either married women, those who enter the sect after the death of their hasbands.

16. Ashrams

Many of Nath Yogis reside in Ashram which are headed by Mahant, generally the mahant choose & nominates his successor. Next in order after the mahant is the guru or teacher in the order. He usually has a group of students about him who are receiving instruction preparatory to initiation, or who are Nath yogis under instruction in Yoga. Nathyogis and Aughars make up the rank and file of the order. As indicated above, a candidate chooses his guru in the first instance- but the choice may be decided finally by the mahant.


Life in the Ashram follows a fairly close, but not very exacting routine. There is the early worship at the samddhs, and the later offerings as well; the time given to teaching and to meditation; the midday worship at the various shrines and the evening worship. Begging may form part of the day's work. There is plenty of time for conversation. Visitors are constantly coming and going. Every Yogi returning from a pilgrimage has much to report about all sorts of things. There is the business of administration. Each Yogi has his own room, where he may enjoy some privacy, but much of the life of the establishment is open to public view. Further details of activities may be noted in the accounts of the various establishments.


Nath Yogis bury their dead, rarely, if ever, employing the services of Brahmans, the rites being performed by fellow-Nathyogis.


Thy dying Yogi, especially if he be an adept in Yoga, sits cross-legged, as in meditation.


After death the body is, prepared for burial. It is washed by-Nathyogis, rubbed with ashes of cow-dung, or with ashes from the dhuni, sometimes with sugar also, and dressed in new garments of everyday life. Or, the body may be covered with an ochre-coloured shroud. A new sacred thread, with the nad, ring and rudraksa berry, and a new rosary are hung around the neck. Some say that the ear-rings are removed and replaced by earthen ones. A tika of sandalwood or of red lead is drawn on the forehead. Five things ar put into the mouth — gold silver a pearl, a charred wick from a lamp (cirag) used worship of Devi, and incense (kesas khusbhu). The body is then placed in a posture of meditation (a sitting posture) on a seat, and is supported by one crutch, or by three. Under the body sugar, and sometime earth, but-not salt, are placed. Flowers also may be_ put on the seat. A potsherd is placed on the head, but for this a black silk cap or a turban may be substituted.


The grave is a pit, dug deep, three and one half hands (hath) , and circular. In the south wall a niche is cut for the reception of the body which is facing north. Under the seat one rupee and four annas or five a one-fourth rupees and sugar are deposited. The platform is made of 'wool, grass, etc.


At the right end in front of the body is placed a gourd full of Water; and at the left a rot (a thick loaf of unleavened bread), a saucer of rice and milk, and another of water. A loin cloth and a staff (kanak) are laid in front of the body. The begging bowl is filled with milk and is placed in the wallet which is hung from the right shoulder.Sugar and gold are put into the grave. It is then filled in with earth, and a mound is raised over it. Later, a masonry platform, or a tomb may be erected over the grave, in which case it will be surmounted with the yoni-linga The paduka (caran) of the deceased may be put on the samadh.


Some times his body would be placed in a chair shaped like a doli, it would be adorned with flowers he would be carried to the grave in a procession lead by musicians.


The grave is called samadh-or samadhi. If the Yogi was a poor man, or if he had been the disciple of a man without landed property, his body might be placed on two poles and sunk in a river. This practice was acknowledged at Benares, but Gorakhpur Nathyogis insisted that all are buried.


For ten or twelve days after the death offerings are made to the deceased. Bel leaves and flowers are placed on the grave and upon it a lamp is kept burning. After the disposal of the body, all the Nathyogis bathe with water supplied by the deceased's disciples, and then sweets (laddu) are distributed. A council of all the Nathyogis at the place where death occurred is held, and in case the deceased had not chosen a successor, a guru, if this was his rank, is chosen to take his place. The clothes of the dead are given to degraded Nathyogis or are divided among those present. Food and money also are distributed.


On the third day cakes (rot) cooked rice, milk and curma are offered on the grave and then are consumed by the Worshippers. On the twelfth day turmeric powder is sprinkled. And worship of Bahram Deo and Mari Mai is performed on a kettle drum (danka). On the thirteenth day a conch shell is blown and the Krya karna is completed and the spirit of the deceased departs.


After a year (barsi), or a year and a half, the sraddha, or funeral rite is performed. The Nathyogis keep vigil all night and in some places the ceremony known as bharad, the beating of drums for Devi, is kept up. In the watch before dawn fish, or pakauri, or khir, or palau or flesh is distributed. Six or seven thrones (gaddi) are erected; to the pir, to Joginis, to Sakhya (or witness), to Bir, to Dhandari (cook of Guru Gorakhnath), to Gorakhnath and to Neka or Ant (reported at Almora). Mantras are recited, clothes and coins of gold, silver and copper are distributed, and a cow or some other gift is made to the pir. Gifts are made also to Nathyogis. The silver goes to Sakhya, copper to Bir, the cow to the pir, water to Gorakhnath. Formerly all classes attended this ceremony, now severaly only Nathyogis.


Worship is continued at the samadhs indefinitely and is performed twice a day. In the early morning, after bathing, the pujari offers Ganges water, sandalwood, rice, bel leaves, flowers, sweets and incense at each samadh connected with the Ashram; or at least some of these things are offered. The food is then thrown away. In the evening milk and sweets are offered, a lamp is lighted and incense is burned. The poor before consuming their food offer it at the samadhs. The buried Yogi is supposed to remain in trance indefinitely.