Gorakshanath

Gorakshanath

Gorakshanath (also known as Gorakhnath) was an 11th to 12th century Nath yogi, connected to Shaivism as one of the two most important disciples of Matsyendranath, the other being Caurangi. There are varying records of the spiritual descent of Gorakshanath. All name Adinath and Matsyendranath as two teachers preceding him in the succession. Though one account lists five gurus preceding Adinath and another lists six teachers between Matsyendranath and Gorakshanath, current tradition has Adinath identified with Lord Shiva as the direct teacher of Matsyendranath, who was himself the direct teacher of Gorakshanath.

The Nath tradition underwent its greatest expansion during the time of Gorakshanath. He produced a number of writings and even today is considered the greatest of the Naths. It has been purported that it was Gorakshanath who wrote the first books on Laya yoga. In India there are many caves, many with temples built over them, where it is said that Gorakshanath spent time in meditation. According to Bhagawan Nityananda, the samadhi shrine (tomb) of Gorakshanath resides at Nath Mandir near the Vajreshwari temple about a kilometer from Ganeshpuri, Maharashtra, India.

Romola Butalia, an Indian writer of Yoga history lists the works attributed to Gorakshanath as follows:

"Guru Gorakhnath is thought to have authored several books including the Goraksha Samhita, Goraksha Gita, Siddha Siddhanta Paddhati, Yoga Martanada, Yoga Siddhanta Paddhati, Yoga-Bija, Yoga Chintamani. He is believed to be the founder of the Nath Sampradaya and it is stated that the nine Naths and 84 Siddhas are all human forms created as yogic manifestations to spread the message of yoga and meditation to the world. It is they who reveal samadhi to mankind."

One legend states that Guru Gorakshanath, the "eternal sage" traditionally associated with Hatha Yoga (one of the branches of Yogic practices), has been around for thousands of years watching the welfare of humanity. Other legends ascribe different stories to his birth and the period of his worldly existence, and they vary greatly. The Nath Rahasya, which literally translates into the mystery of the masters, recounts birth, work, and death of nine such Naths (masters), and Guru Gorakshanath was the ninth Nath, preceded by his Guru, the eighth Nath, namely, Matsyendranath.

Traditionally, Guru Gorakshanath is believed to have been born sometime in the 8th century, whereas some believe it to be anytime from 8th century to several centuries later. He traveled widely across the Indian subcontinent, and accounts about him are found in some forms or others several places including Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Punjab, Sind, Uttar Pradesh, Nepal, Assam, Bengal, Maharashtra, and even Sri Lanka.

Gurkhas of Nepal also take their name from this saint. Gorakhpur, the district headquarters of Gorakhpur District, is believed to derive its name from Guru Gorakhnath.

Osho regarded Gorakshanath as one of the four great innovators of Indian religion, alongside Patanjali, Buddha, and Krishna, who are to be regarded as originating the paths of yoga, meditation, and love respectively. Gorakshanath (who Osho called Gorakh) originated the search for "methods and techniques of sadhana". "Through him a new type of religion was born. Without Gorakh, there could be no Kabir, no Nanak, no Dadu, no Vajid, no Farid, no Meera -- without Gorakh none of these are possible.

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