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Culture & TraditionsBeliefs & Superstitious

THE followers of Gorakhnath are known as Yogi, as Nath Yogis, Gorakhnathis, Kanphatas. The fist of these names refers to their traditional practice of the Hatha Yoga, the second to the name of their reputed founder, and the third to their unique practice of having the cartilege of their ears split for the insertion of the ear-rings In the Punjab, in the Himalayas, in Bombay and elsewhere they are often called Natha, which is a general term meaning ' master.' Women of the sect are similarly called Nathni. In Western India they are generally known as Dharamnathi (or Dhoramnathi), after a famous disciple of Gorakhnath, by that name. In other parts of India the names Kanakphata and Nath Yogis are commonly used.

It is said that the practice of splitting the ears originated with Gorakhnath The word Yogi is a general descriptive term applied to many who do not belong to the Nath Yogis. It is also a general term for ascetics, particularly for those who are endeavoring, by restraint and discipline of the body, to secure union with the Brahman from the generalized point of view, the Nath Yogis constitute the principal group and the better class of Yogis, although some of the less desirable characters of ascetics bearing the name Yogi, may be found amongst them. They forma distinct order of Yogis.

Nath Yogis Yogis are found everywhere in India, being as widely scattered as any of the ascetic orders. They are met with separately as mendicants and as hermits, and in groups, in the Northern Deccan, in the Central Provinces, in Gujarat, in Maharastra, in the Panjab, in the provinces of the Ganges basin and in Nepal.

Yogis go on piligrimages, visiting shrines and holy places all over India. In the rainy season of 1924, there were very few Yogis at Gorakhpur, most of them being away visiting various sacred places. However, they make their Ashram their headquarters. Some do live alone, in the jungles, practising Yoga; but hermits of this kind are exceedingly difficult to find. The author was able to get track of but two adepts, Baba Hira Nathji at Kali Mohini in Alwar, between Bhatinda and Bandikui, and Bawa Tejnal, at Patanjali Asrama in Hardwar; and was unable to find either. Some of these are considered to be real adepts.


1. Process of piercing ear

The distinctive marks of the sect of the Nath Yogis are the split-ears (kdn-pha.ta) and the huge ear-rings. In the final stage of their ceremony of initiation a specially chosen guru, or teacher, splits the central hollows of both ears with a two edged knife (or razor). The slits are plugged with sticks of nim-wood; and, after the wounds have healed, large rings (mudra) are inserted. These are a Symbol of the yogi's faith. Some explain that in splitting the ear a nadi (mystic channel ) in e cartilege is cut,thus,assisting in the acquirement of yogic powers. The yogi wearing the mudra become immortal.The rings worn in Western India are about seven inches in circumference and weigh two and a quarter ounces or more. Weight is dependent upon the substance out of which the rings are made. In Kacch, where some of the wealthier Yogis wear mudras of gold, the strain of their weight is carried by a string, which is passed over the head.

Rings are of two general shapes, flat and cylindrical; the former called darsan, the latter kundal. The word 'kundal' simply means 'round.' Darsan is a term of extreme respect.


2. Rings

Rings are made of various substances. The -rule seems to be that the initiate first wears rings of clay. A legend relates how Gorakhnath cut holes, three inches long, in Bliartri sears and inserted ear-rings of clay. Some Yogis continue to wear earthen rings.But,since these are easily broken, others of more durable substances are usually substituted. The element of value also enters into the use of more substantial rings.

Rhinoceros horn is a favourite substance for ear-rings. It is riot easily broken. The practice goes back to an early period, for such rings are dug up, from time to time, in the oldest burial places of the sect, for example, at Tilla and in old Almora. Rings of rhinoceros leather are not uncommon.' Thin gold discs are sometimes seen.

The wearing of the ear-rings is of great importance. If, by accident, one is broken, a model in cloth, or the sirigndd, must be substituted before the Yogi may partake of food, or perform his religious duties. Or, he must bathe and procure another before he eats with his fellows or engages in conversation. There is conflict o opinion concerning the origin of the practice of wearing the rings. As stated above, the institution of the custom' is attributed to Gorakhnath. However, diva is the great ascetic and he wears huge ear-rings. Legend records that ear-rings (kundal), made from dirt off her body, were attached to the body which Siva had left behind when he descended the lotus stalk in the form of an insect, by Sakti. These ear-rings were later changed into mudras.Siva's ears were split at that time. By this means the body of Siva became immortal. Some trace the practice to Macchendranath, the guru of Gorakhnath. The Aipanthis of Hardwar say that Macchendranath, when he began to preach the Yoga, by order of Mahadeo, saw that Siva had his ears split and that he (Siva) wore the great rings. Macchendra, thereupon, longed to have similar rings himself. He began to worship Siva and so pleased the god that his desire was granted. Macchendranath was then ordered to split the ears of all who should become his disciples. Another legend, which connects the practice with Macchendranath, states that when he was born as a fish, he was discovered to have had rings in his ears. At Puri, they say that the order to split the ears came from Macchendranath.

But the origin of the practice of splitting the ears is traced to others as well. It is said that Bhartri asked his guru. Jalandharipa, for a distinguishing mark So holes, three inches wide, were made in Bhartri's ears and rings of clay were inserted. Later, those rings were changed for others of wood, then of crystal-gilt and finally of ivory.'

Legends and traditions which refer the custom to Gorakhnath are numerous. It is said that Siva ordered Parvati to split Gorakhnath's ears' and that thus the practice arose. Again, Karkai and Bhuskai received consent from their guru, Gorakhnath, to split each other's ears. The agreement was made at a place on the road to Hing Laj, a shrine which every perfect Yogi must visit. Gorakhnath is said to have split Bhartri's ears.

Women who wear the mudra are numerous. They are chiefly widows who have become Yogis, and initiated wives of Yogis. However, not all women whose husbands are Yogis, have' their ears split. Widows often take the vows, are initiated into the sect and then go on pilgrimage. Some of these are in charge of temples. Married women who are Yogis and who wear the mudra are not uncommon. But it is not according to rule that wives of householders wear the ear-rings.


3. Aughar

Aughars are followers of Gorakhnath who have no undergone the final ceremony of having their ears split It will be seen, further on, that while many Aughars contemplate completing their initiation, there is a division of Nath Yogis who always remain Aughars.


4. Singnad & Janeo

Both Aughars and yogis of the sect wear a janeo, or sacred thread, which is made by certain members of the order, who are taught the art. It is not made by all yogis nor by Brahmans.The thread spun from black sheep's wool and consists of nine strands. It is worn around the neck.

To this thread is attached a ring, which may be flat or cylindrical, called pavitri. It is made of deer's horn, rhinoceros horn, of bone, of brass or other metal. Brass rings obtained from Nepal have on their rim three images, that of Pasupati (Siva) with the trident on one side of it and the bull on the other. The ring represents Parvati.

To the ring are attached, by means of a white cotton cord, a whistle, singnad, and a single rudrdksa berry. The singnad is, as the name implies, a whistle made of horn, either of black-buck horn, of stag horn, or of rhinoceros horn. As a matter of fact, it may be made of wood or of jade. It is about two inches long. That of black-buck's horn is the most popular. The use of horn is explained in a legend about a king Bhartri (Bhartrhari). Once his seventy queens urged him to go hunting. While he was away he ran across a herd of seventy hinds and one stag; but was unable to overtake the stag. Finally, a hind asked the stag to allow himself to be shot, and he agreed, on certain conditions, one of which was that his horn should be used for the Yogi's whistle.'

The singnad is blown before meals and before morning and evening worship. It may blown before the Yogi performs his offices of nature.

Some attach a tooth pick of silver to the thread. This may have a protective use against evil influences.

Because the whistle is fastened to it, the thread is called singnad-Janeo.


5. Langoti

Some Yogis wear around the loins, a special rope made of black sheep's wool to which they fasten the loin cloth, langoti. It is called arband-langoti-nag. As the last word in this name signifies, they, except for the rope, go naked. This cord, which is an inch or more in diameter, is made on a bobbin, and is finished with a loop on one end and a button on the other. It is fastened in front. Most Yogis use a strip of cotton cloth instead of this rope of wool.


6. Hal matanga(Thread)

A third 'thread' is worn by some Nath Yogis. Special regulations go with its use. For example, while wearing this and the other paraphernalia that go with it, the Yogi may neither sit nor stand still but must go out, as soon as he , may put it on, and beg. This cord is called hal matanga. It is made of three strands, each of eight threads, plaited with the twist to the right into a bobbin cords One end is finished with five tails, and the other has a bell, like a large, brass sleigh-bell, attached to it. Sometimes strips of red cloth are woven into the cord. The 'thread' is reckoned of various lengths, nine, eleven and one-half' or twenty-three cubits; and is of about the diameter of a lead pencil, although it may be considerably larger.

The cord may be worn as a sort of plaited net-jacket. In this case it is first doubled. The end, with bell attached, is hung down in front, the bell reaching to the knees; the cord is then thrown over the left shoulder and turned back under the right shoulder; then around the chest and under the left and over the right shoulder; it is crossed under the long section in front and then wound round and round the body, alternately under and over the front strands and plaited as it is wound about the chest. After the cord is adjusted, two Mala are put on, one over each shoulder and under the opposite one. Smaller Mala are put around the neck and on each forearm. 'Handkerchiefs' are fastened to the upper arms. The Yogi then takes his bowl, his bag and his fire-tongs and goes out to beg. The wearing of the cord is a matter of choice rather than of regulation.

An occasional Nath Yogis wears the usual janeo, or sacred thread of the Hindu. Yogis are met with who do not wear the sacred thread, singnad-janeo. A Yogi who has attained to unusual spiritual eminence may discard the use of the thread and the ear-rings, saying that he wears them invisibly, or that he wears them underneath his skin. This is not an uncommon claim in legends about holy men.


7. Rudraksha Mala

Athough Nath Yogis Yogis wear no distinctive Mala, they do use some that are of significance and of interest.One of these consisting of rudraksa berries is that commonly worn by Saivites. It is hung around the neck and consists of thirty-two, of sixty-four, of eighty-four, of one hundred and eight, or even of more berries.' A smaller one having eighteen or twenty-eight berries,' is worn on the wrist, or elbow. This is called sumarani. The small rosary is often carried in the hand. Beads are used in worship and as a check on memory, while repeating the names of God.This is evident from the technical terms for rosary, japa mala, ,muttering chaplet' and sumarani,'remembrancer. A Saivite has to recite the 1,008 names of his god.

Rudraksa berries (of the tree elocarpus ganitrus) are significant for the Yogi in many ways. The word 'rudraksa' means 'eye of Rudra (Siva)' and may refer to the third, now invisible, eye of that god, which will be opened for the destruction of the worlds There is a mark on the seed that is said to resemble an eye. Or, the berries may refer to the tears, shed by Siva in rage when he set out to destroy the three cities, Tripura; for those tears became rudraksa berries. Again, some say that the string of 108 berries represents that many successive appearances of Siva on the earth.' The size of the berries is of importance.

Rudraksa berries are found with faces ranging from one to twenty-one in number, and each kind has a special significance. The usual number of faces is five, and some say that this berry is sacred to Hanuman, or to the Pandavas. It also represents the five-faced Siva.

The number of faces is often merely of symbolic importance; for example, that of three faces represents the trident, or the triad; that of four, the four Vedas, or Brahma; that of six, the six systems of philosophy; that of seven, the seven the worlds; that of eight, the eight-armed Durga; that of nine, the nine Nathan; that of ten, the ten avtaras (of Visnu); while that of eleven is sacred to Mahadeva and is counted as the 'very best' and is worn by celibates only. It is referred to as Saknand Puran not spilling, as of semen]. The two-faced berry is worn only by a Yogi who is accompanied by his wife.' A much valued berry is that which is double, that is, two berries naturally joined. If the total number of faces on the two be eleven, the double is called Gauri-Sankar, and it is sacred to Parvati (Gauri) and Siva. One-faced berries are very seldom found. It is said that kings only possess them, and that one who finds such a berry is set up for life in wealth, because it secures to the owner everything that he may wish. This rare type is often counterfeited.

There is no rule as to the number of faces for the berry that the guru gives to his disciple at the initiation; and the one received at that time may be changed, later on, for one of another number of faces.


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.