System of Initiations

Written by Yogi Matsyendranath

Followers of Natha-sampradaya are subdivided on three categories:

I. Аvalambi or Sathi (disciples and followers of Natha cult). Sometimes they are called Jigyasu, who wants to study the tradition and adhere to it. These are those who have accepted the Guru of the Natha line and receive upadeshas (instructions) to yoga practice. Guru gives diksha with guru-mantra to such followers. Such sadhakas get in touch with variety of phenomenal reality and follow a purnata principle (fullness or kula) most strongly.

II. Аughara - is another category of sadhakas belonging to Nathas. These Nathas receive during the initiation certain symbols of Natha-sampradaya which they use in ritual practices. Aughara's symbols are nadi (whistle), representative of Shabda Brahman, and Janeu (string), representative of nadis (such channels as Ida, Pingala, Sushumna and 72,000 channels of an inner body). During nada-anusandhana practice Nath yogi hears a Nada sound in his anahata-cakra and contemplates the Guru and Ishtadevata in the same place of his heart. As a rule at this stage of initiation the chela (disciple) chooses the main Guru, who represents him to all Sampradaya.

Аughara can be compared with murti which during carving out of stone and cutting off of all unnecessary gets features of the Deity. Awakening of the Deity within murti are correlated with the spiritual birth of Siddha or Natha-yogi which then becomes Darshani.

III. Кanphata or Darshani - is the highest initiation of Natha tradition. At the time of initiation with this diksha Guru neatly cuts a hole in the center of ears of his disciple and inserts there the kundalas or darshanas (earrings). They are linked with two energy channels which assist to direct sexual energy to sahasrara-cakra. These channels in the center of the ear help to control amrita (nectar of immortality) which descends from sahasrara-cakra. Finally the absorption of it by jathar-agni (digestive fire) and animal instincts, which yogi learns to control, is prevented. The person who has received such kind of initiation is considered as purnasannyasi in Natha sampradaya and is more respected then Aughara. Only Darshani can be considered as Guru and shall be able to represent the Natha tradition completely.

It should also be noted that in the Natha Tradition existing two initiations, they are bhabhut and langot. All five initiations are existing in the sanskaras’ form (cleansing processes) that are similar to Vedism sanskaras, but only Natha’s sanskaras are focusing on the fact that yogi be able to take the yogic sadhana’s path.

Yogic path begins with a yoga lifestyle, and these five sanskaras (coti, cira, upadeshi, bhabhut and langot) are important for such a lifestyle. Only after the yogi realizes the importance of the yogic lifestyle and adopt a world view associated with it, he can practice yoga in its real form and reach the true heights of sadhana. The goal of yoga, first of all, is the achievement of moksha or mukti.

When Guru cuts auricles to his student, he activates certain channels that pass through these places, while a yogi is also experiencing that the Tradition is called ‘yoga-danda’ (ordeal), in order to be cleansed of past negative karma. Guru passes through large clay kundalas, so that they can even touch the shoulders, and at that time a student cannot move. He is difficult even to sleep and move his jaw; therefore the yogi takes a minimum of food most in liquid form. All this time (until the wound will not heal), overcoming sleep and other instincts, the yogi meditates alone on Gorakshanath and ultimately he receive bless from Gorakshanath. He is aware of himself as Shiva svarupa.

In addition to the cira-diksha in the Tradition is upadeshi-diksha. It is believed that the first upadeshi (instruction) got Matsyendranath from the his Guru Shiva Adinath, when he sat in the belly of the fish. But as Shiva originally wanted to pass on this knowledge to Parvati (Udayanath) but Matsyendranath overheard this knowledge, in a sign of respect he was forced to worship Shakti, from her he received such instruction. Therefore Matsyendranath also known as the Guru of all kaulas, revered the Mother Goddess. It is believed that upadeshi-diksha is a definite connection with the worship of the Goddess, as it exists in Shrividya, Kaula and other traditions.

As Goddess Bala revered in Shrividya, as in Natha’s line we worship to the Goddess Yogamaya Balasundari, because she is the cause of the jiva’s embodiment in samsara, she also allows the soul to get out of samsara.

Bala also means ‘brahmacari’: like Gorakshanath is brahmacari, in the same way Goddess Bala is Kumari, and only the yogis, who established themselves in the purity of feelings can participate in this process. It differ Nathas from many radical Tantrik cults, where as offerings freely used meat, wine, etc. In the Nath Tradition we replace all the radical elements that use aghori and kapaliki, as a yogi must strive for God, not to bhoga under the guise of some non-standard methods. This diksha is also called ‘shankha-dhal’: committing certain acts during this ritual, we are helping to ensure that yogis departed from the physical world did not return to this world, which is full of suffering; also we accumulate merit for ourselves. It also helps to raise the Goddess Kundalini to Shiva, transferring Kundaliny through the chakras within the body.

The other two dikshas are focused on tapasvic yogis, who practice intensive sadhana in secluded from public places, in the forests, mountains, etc. When the yogi performs a fire ritual, he rubs his body by sacred ash (bhasma), which is has special power, it helps to intensive practice of mantras and dhyana. Also, the ash is moistened with milk, mixed with kapur (dry alcohol) and other ingredients, that protects the skin against various infections and other negative influences. Some yogis practice spreading bhasma on the body for a long time, because such practice is regarded as tapas.

Langot initiation exists for those, who are trying to be brahmacari and learn to control own sexual energy. It is very important for yogis, who practice intense sadhana, because without the control of sexual energy impossible to awake the Kundalini Shakti and become free from the worlds of samsara. This sanskar is designed for yogis, who have dedicated themselves to highest goals - mukti.

Of course, impossible to describe in details everything, there are many subtleties in Natha Tradition associated with the above methods, the full information you can learn only from a Guru. There are other requirements to some sadhanas, due to the fact that each person has his peculiarities, therefore a lot of methods are existing. But yogic samskaras are the backbone for all the multiple yoga practices, and they help to overcome worldly samskaras in a practitioner’s subconscious. Only with a serious attitude to yoga as a sadhana, to lifestyle and vision orientations we can rely on the present results obtained from the sadhana.