Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tantra and Natha Yogas

Tantra and Natha Yogas
Advanced Hatha Yoga with Special reference to the Natha Yoga Tradition is a very important aspect on this analysis of the links with Tantra.
(b) Although Goraksanatha (as also his Natha-pantha) is specially famous for Hathayoga practices and the followers of Natha-yoga are known as Hathayogis, it is no ordinary Hathayoga. It is actually advanced Hathayoga that includes Rajayoga and specially Adhyatma-yoga. Goraksanatha modified the ordinary Hathayoga and elevated it to the spiritual level. Hathayoga is the base that holds every other form of Yoga. Hathayoga is the body of yoga and Adhyatma-yoga (spiritual yoga) is the soul of yoga; and body and soul cannot be separated. So, the picture of yoga presented by Goraksanatha is holistic or integral that incorporates within itself all the levels or dimensions of yoga –physical, mental and spiritual.
(c) One of the reasons of the great influence of Goraksanatha on the society and the easy acceptance of his yoga by the people (even by the uneducated common person), is that Goraksa was a great synthesizer and simplifier. Jñanayoga, Bhaktiyoga and Karmayoga were the three most popular forms of the spiritual yoga, and they were held to be separate and different from one another. But Goraksanatha presented the synthesized form of all the three, and made it much simpler for even the ordinary person to understand. This made his yoga quite attractive and easily intelligible. Actually, Gorakha belongs to the line of saints and mystics who present the truth in a synthetic and simple way. Perhaps this is the reason why Goraksanatha, along with writing in Sanskrit which was the official language of scholars at his time, very often spoken and were written in the language of the people. He used the same folk language (generally used by saints) known as "Sadhukkadi-bhasa" which is a mixture of different dialects.
(d) The most significant factor with Natha-yoga, initiated by Goraksanatha, is that it came as a social-spiritual movement. Goraksanatha explained that yoga is not just an individual sadhana in isolation but is necessarily related with the attitude and behavior of the sadhaka (yoga-practitioner) towards the people around and towards the society in general. In order to attain Self-realization, the sadhaka is required to practice the feeling of one's unity with the so-called others. Naturally therefore he/she is required to love and serve all people. For the good of the society, if it needs to be, the sadhaka would try to bring reformation in the society, trying to eradicate social inequality, casteism and untouchability. By loving and serving the society, the sadhaka attains "sarvatma-bhava" which is the ingredient factor of the state of Self-realization. Goraksanatha freed yogic practice from individualism and showed its necessary relation with universal love and social service. This is a great contribution of the Natha-yoga.
(e) Since the line of Matsyendranatha-Goraksanatha belongs to the Tantric tradition and Natha-pantha is clearly an off shoot of Tantra, as it inherits all the characteristics of the Tantric philosophy and sadhana. The world is the manifestation the Divine Power (Siva-Sakti), the attitude of the sadhaka should be that the world too is holy and divine and therefore there should be attitude of worship towards the objects of the world. Kundalini is the same divine Sakti lying dormant in us. It has to be awakened and made to flow and meet Siva, leading to the state of the unity of Siva-Sakti (Siva-Sakti-Samarasya) which is the goal of the yoga practitioner.
Moreover, Goraksanatha, following the line of Tantra, maintains that desires (specially the sex-desire) has to be controlled not by rejection and repression but by sublimation. Brahmacarya (retention of sexual energy) is necessary for the preservation of the vital energy, but it has to be achieved not by suppressing sex but by sublimating it and making it flow through the sublime channels of love, Bhakti, aesthetic creativity, etc. Woman is to be looked not as an object of Bhoga (enjoyment) but as the object of respect and reverence; she has to be taken as the earthly incarnation of the Divine Mother.

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