By the Natha yogis and by yogis Aipanth (Ai-sub-sect of the Natha Sampradaya) in particular, the Siddh Baba Masta Nath recognized as one of the most recent appearances of the Guru Goraksh Nāth in human form, which has taken place as late as the end of 18th century. Because of its relative nearness to our time, it is one of most well preserved biographies of the Great Natha Siddha, without many distortions by time and people. Although the miraculous part of the biography of the Baba Masta Nath, still could be unacceptable to the modern materialistic minds, his life story is more resembles how the original biography of other great Natha yogi should look like rather then fairy tale.
Being a great Yogi, Baba Masta Nath exercised the great influence on the contemporary development of the Nāth Sampradaya and played big role in the establishment of the influence of Nathas in the Haryana state (at that time part of the Panjab state) and around it. The biggest establishment of the Nathas in India, was founded by the Siddh Baba Masta Nath. His life is surrounded with numerous stories about miraculous deeds he has performed and there exist many places associated with his name in the Northern India, most of them are situated in the present state Haryana. Because he lived not much ago, his biography is one of the most well documented and detailed amongst other Natha Mahasiddhas. There no any doubt that he was highly realized yogi who has acquired many Siddhis and had the miraculous powers on his disposal, which he used discriminately only for the propagation of Dharma. He commanded respect for yogis at every place he has visited, and his ways to make this happen were very unconventional. Unpredictable and incredibly powerful, he was as alive God amongst people, who knows the past and future and who able to bless and punish, both things which he frequently used to do. He was highly spiritual person, and for him there was no any difference between mighty Kings and simple people, as well as between gold and stones.
He represented the great example of renunciation and tapasa which inspirited many of contemporary Nātha yogis and put new life force into the Nātha Sampradaya. By the way of his life he presented the classical example of the life Natha Siddhas used to live since immemorial time. He lived always besmeared with ash (Vidhuti) from his dhuna (fire place), and besides it preferred live totally naked or to use to wear only langoti (a peace of lion close). He traveled anywhere he liked, mostly at areas of the Southern-Eastern Punjab (modern Haryana state), accompanied by his disciples, and all his possession were his chimta (fire tongs) and kamandal (water pot). He avoided living at houses and preferred to stay away from villages, somewhere in jungle or field, the branches of trees were his only shelter or he used to stay under open sky. It was his custom that in his travels, on coming at new place, first thing he used to do was to put his chimta into the ground at spot he liked and start his dhuna (fire place) there. This tradition is common amongst Natha Siddhas, the dhuna was everything for them, they home, they place of worship, the only thing they were needed.
The daily routine of Baba Masta Nath was not much different from the daily routine of the Natha Siddhas how it used to be from the time of Guru Goraksh nath . He represented example of ultimate freedom, being independent from need for house, closes, food and household utensils, which usually bound a man to one place. Till very late in his life, he not lived at one place for long time and always was moving from place to place unbound by anything. Baba Masta Nath always stayed near his dhuna, some disciples were going for alms begging in nearby village or city, some were bringing water from nearby river or well, and some were cooking food. There no mention that he has formal education in his biography and he didn’t left after him any written works, but he was writing legends not by his words, but by his deeds. Baba Masta Nath and many of his disciples became famous for severity of penances they had performed, most common of which were pancha-dhuna tapasya (sit surrounded by five fires in hottest season), and kalesri (always keep standing). This tradition is still alive amongst his followers, the yogis of Ai-panth, which are known for performing of this kind of worship more frequently than the yogis of another panthas. The idea behind of these practices is that when one voluntarily chooses to put own body into suffering, and concentrate on mantra, the mind would be established beyond of the body and senses automatically.
Legends: Appearance of Baba ji
About 300 years ago, in the village called Kaṁsareṭī (Kesari-Haṭṭ) situated in the modern Haryana state of India, there was living a man of trader caste, whose name was Sabalā. He was a pious and religious person, and his main business was to load different goods on camels and to take them from place to place for selling. One day when he was moving to some place with his camels loaded with goods, when he was proceeding along the bank of Yamuna River, he met a sadhu sitting near of the way. Sabalā devotedly greeted him and offered him his services, as food and so on, after which the yogi became pleased. The saint asked Sabalā about his life, on what he has told that everything he and his wife were having in abundance, but they were childless. After listening this, the Yogi promised him that they would get a child before one year will pass. After this Sabalā has continued his travel. It is believed that that yogi whom Sabalā has meet, was no any one else but Guru Goraksh Nāth himself, who appeared him in one of his different bodies.
After some time, pleased Sabalā returned to home and narrated about happened to his wife. After that day they both were daily eagerly counting passed days, waiting for ending of the year. When year was about to finish, the wife was still not showing any signs of pregnancy. Once Sabalā with his wife gone to other village to visit their relatives, and they were passing by jungle way. There they saw a small boy about one year old who was laying on the way. There was no any one around, and puzzled couple thought that how it is happened that such helpless child was doing in midst of jungle alone. After realizing danger of situation for the child, they were waiting long time for somebody whose child it was to come and take care of him. It was not possible to live such helpless child in jungle alone, and when they saw that nobody was here to take care of him they taken him with them. They asked in villages around trying to trace his parents, but all was in vain. People have told them that this child was God’s gift for them and they should keep him with them. As they liked him very much, and were childless, they decided to adopt him. When this news became known into their village, all around became pleased about happened and heartedly greeted them. In such way prophecy given by the yogi became fulfilled and they got a boy before one year has passed. It is believed that this child was nobody else but Guru Goraksh Nāth himself, who by his yogic powers accepted this form. This event has taken place in 1707 A.D., the boy was given name Mastā, and later he was going to become famous as Siddh Baba Mastanāth.
Since young age Siddh Baba Mastanāth became famous for performance of different miracles and there exist lot of stories connected with his childhood. Day by day, Mastā slowly grow bigger, spending his time in games with boys of the village, his friends. When he became quite big for it, he was given responsibility to take care of cattle in jungle as it was usual practice of vilage boys at that time. Boys of the village became sad duty this reason, because they were going to lose their best companion for games. When they revealed their sorrow to him, he with smile promised them, that nothing would be changed for them, and he would be daily participate in their games as usually.
Since that moment he was taking cattle with him in the morning and leading it to the jungle, where cows used to eat fresh grass. Mastā along with other boys of the village whom also was given the same duty, used to sit at shadows of the trees, spending their time in games and at the same time looking for cattle. They were obliged to stay with cows all day long till at the evening, when they were returning at village.
One day Sabalā has noticed that at time when Mastā was supposed to be in jungle with cows, he was playing as before with his friends on play ground. Sabalā has thought that the boy has left the cow without any protection in the jungle, but he decided to preserve patience and didn’t tell any thing to the boy. But when the same started happening daily, he started losing his patience. When Mastā returned in the evening with the cows, Sabalā has told him that what he was doing was not good. The Mastā denied accusations and has told that he was spending with cattle day long, and this fact well known to other cowherds. When other boys were asked about the situation, they conformed what Mastā was saying, and Sabalā was mistaken about him. Sabalā being puzzled by the happening decided to check it out one day by himself.
The next day he reached to the place in jungle where Mastā with other cowherds were taking care of their cows. He saw the son amongst other boys. Immediately he returned to the village by the shortest way, and to his wonder he saw Mastā playing amongst his friends on the playground. It was impossible to reach there at such short time. Sabalā turned back to the jungle to the place he left Mastā few time ago. When he reached there, he saw him sitting with others cowherds as he left him and looking for cows. Once m ore Sabalā turned to the village, and there he again saw his son playing with the friends. Much puzzled Sabalā repeated these going and coming few more times and each time he saw the same picture, it appeared that the boy was simultaneously in the two different places in the village and in the jungle.
Sabalā revealed the situation to other villagers, who decided to check the matter. First of all they went to the playground where they saw the Mastā playing amongst other boys. Immediately after it they rush to the jungle, where they saw a strange situation. The boy was sleeping under the tree, and big snake was sitting on it and spreading her expanded hood in such way that it was saving boys face from the direct sunlight. On seeing coming people the snake has gone, and boy awakened, by the sunrays and by nose done by people. The people spoke with him for while, and returned to the village where they saw him again on the play ground amongst other boys. The people has told to the Sabalā, that it is without any doubt that two boys one of which playing in the ground and other sitting in the jungle with cows are one and the same person, what appearing as impossible. At the same time they told him that since moment the Mastā has entered his house, they life was changed to better, and it seems that the boy was not simple child, but some realized Siddha. Since that day name of Mastā was on lips of everybody in the village. The people were saying that the person whom snake protecting from the sun with her hood either becomes emperor, either Great Mahasiddha. Later their words came true and the boy became famous as the One of the greatest yogis in Nāth Sampradaya.
There exist many more miracles connected with his childhood, which is impossible to mention in this short space. Few more of them are: Causing rain by his will, feeding many people from one bucket of milk, which reminded full still and appearance of phantoms of yogis near his house at night.
Once when Masta was 12 years old, he caused rain to go by his will, to feed the cows with water. It was hot season, since long time there was no rain, and all water places in jungle became dry. The other cowherds have told to Masta that they have to go to the village to feed cows with water; otherwise the cows would become seek. On what Masta has answered that he will satisfy their thirst in jungle only. The boys were aware that there no any water in jungle, therefore they insisted on going with them in village. Masta again refused and persist on his promise. When other cowherds with their cows were on half-way to the village, the sky which was empty before and without any signs of coming rain, became filled with clouds in few seconds, and heavy rain has started. All water spots in jungle became filled with water, and cows and halves of Masta have water in abundance. The boys has told about happened in the village, and this event established more the people there that Masta was not a ordinary boy but some Siddha.
Another time the cowherd boys became absorbed in game all day long and in the evening they became overwhelmed with thirst. There was not water suitable for drinking around, and they were filling very bad. After seeing their problem, Masta has taken an empty basket and milked milk from one cow in it. Then he fed all boys with from that bucket, and everyone have in abundance. At that time a marriage procession was passing near them, and Masta fed all people from the same bucket. The wonder was that milk in the basket still remained on the same level and was not going to be finished. All people in procession became astonished to see this. They became convinced that Masta was some Siddha Yogi. They became so much impressed by happened that they asked his address and decided that on return coming they would go to his house and worship the place where he was born and live. When the other cowherds returned to the village and told the villagers about happened, nobody has taken them seriously, thinking that what they were saying was usual childish imagination. But when the people from the marriage procession reached the village on their way back and conformed happened, the people of the village also became astonished to see one more demonstration of the extraordinary powers of Masta. The people from the procession gone to the Sabla’s house and congratulated him on having such remarkable son. When Masta has returned to the home in the evening as usual, Sabla has told him that from that day he would no more go to the jungle look for cows, and some other person would be arranged for this. Since that day Masta was free from all his responsibilities.
In the village there was living one Brahman Manmīt Miśra. He was pious person and always was absorbed in worship to God. Even at night he was not sleeping as other people, but was busy in recitation of the name of God. Once about midnight he saw that near Sabla’s house there were collected many yogis who were burning their dunas. Mastsa was amongst them, and looked as leader of them. Manmīt Miśra felt very well on seeing this seen, and since that day he was seeing it daily many nights. One day at the day time he gone to the Sabla’s house and asked Sabla to introduce him to those yogis which he saw daily from his house at midnight. Sabla on listening his words expressed his misunderstanding and has told that there were no any yogi at his house, nor presently, nor before. Manmīt Miśra didn’t say anything more and quietly returned to his house. There he started waiting for the coming night. At midnight, when he looked from his house towards the house of Sabla, he saw there yogis sitting near their fire places, as it were happening before. At that time Manmīt Miśra awakened his neighbors and showed them the seen. Every body was able to see yogis collected around house of Sabla. After some time, the neighbors returned to their houses and when the morning came, they came to Sabla, and described him what they have seen at night. Even after listening about these events happening in his own house, from many different people, Sabla still was unable to believe in this. On the next night he himself went to Manmīt Miśra’s house to see what was going on. Right at midnight, he was able to see yogis collected around his house and burning their fires. Masta was amongst them as one of them. When Sabla went to his house he saw that nothing was there from seen, neither yogis, neither fires, neither Masta, all was as usual. In the morning he asked from Masta if he know about happened. Masta answered that he is only child and he didn’t know anything about happened. Sabla became very serious about happened. He saw everything by his own eyes, and there was no any satisfactory explanation for happened. He now became conformed that Masta was some Great Yogi, who didn’t want to reveal his real personality before appointed time.
Masta was now twelve years old, but his behavior was strange, not like other children of his age supposed to be. When he was presented with new closes, after some time he was throwing them down, and preferred to remain half-naked. Sabla not knowing what to do asked an advice from others people of the village what to do with the boy. Remembering the miracles performed by the boy, villagers has told to the Sabla that his son was not an ordinary child, but someone who was a yogi or a Siddha in his previous life. Therefore they advised him to offer the Masta to some Sadhu or Yogi, what would be best solution for the situation. Since that moment Sabla with some other villagers were continuously looking for the appropriate Sadhu who would agree to accept him as his disciple. They have visited many villages around, but were unable to find any yogi who has good reputation and was ready to accept the child. After lot of searching, they brought Masta back to their village.
Meeting with Guru ji
One day, the Nātha yogi of Ai-panth, Narmāī (nāth) jī by name, who used to visit the village frequently from time to time, came in Kaṁsareṭī again. He stopped outside the township under some tree, where he made his fireplace –Dhūnī. He was not ordinary Yogi, but very famous Sādhu of that area. He was known for his good behavior, wisdom, patience and power of renunciation.
Sabalā with his wife and son Mastā arrived to the place where Narmāī nāth jī has stopped. He offered Mastā to the yogi and asked him to accept him as his disciple. Siddh Narmāī nāth jī refused at first and has told that, till present moment he was free and not bound by any responsibilities. He was able move around as he pleased without any worry. Taking a disciple puts big responsibility on the Guru, and if he would accept the boy, he would be no more as free as before.
On listening the answer of the yogi, the Mastā also felt on his feet prostrated and started asking him to accept him as his disciple. He says that it is only the way to his salvation, and he would be faithful disciple, and would follow orders given by the guru and always do his services. On seeing such determination of the child, Narmāī jī slowly became persuaded. He decided o accept him as his disciple after making thoroughly testing him. Since that moment Mastā started live with the Yogi and accompany him in his travels. After Narmāī jī became convinced that the boy is feet to become his disciple, he appointed date for the ceremony of initiation him in the Nātha Order. He selected the time most auspicious for the ceremony of initiation, which was performed in the year 1715 A.D. The Mastā was made clean shaved after which Guru jī has cut his scalp lock (coṭī) and given him a new name Mastāī (nāth).
Life as a Yogi
The life of Siddh Baba Mastenath was full of so many different miracles he has performed, that it is impossible to mention all of them in this short article, for a separate book would be required to mention all of them.
Baba Mastanāth and Ālamśāh
Once, Bābā Mastanāth along with few of his disciples came to Delhi. On arriving at the city, he started his Dhūnī at place situated near Panckuiyā Marg (Road of five wells), which is known under the same name even today. Very soon the news about the presence of the Siddha Yogi with his disciples became spread all around, and many people started come to the place he was staying to pay homage to him.
At that time ruler of Delhi was Ālamśāh Bahādur Śah Jafar. On getting news about presence in the city such a famous yogi, as Bābā Mastanāth, Śah got desire to have personal sight of him. He told to his court that he pleased by event of coming to the city such distinguished Yogi, and expressed his wish to meet him. On this consultation has taken place amongst his advisers, and one of them Śah’s Spiritual preceptor Kājī, has told him that because Baba Mastanāth always remain naked it is not proper for Śah to meet him.
The advice was reasonable, and king canceled his meeting with the yogi, but to honor him he decided to send with one of his officers some presents to him, few golden coins and two very expensive shawls of high quality. When messenger has arrived at the place where Baba ji was staying, he saw him sitting near his burning Dhūnī. The officer respectfully offered presents of king to feet of Baba jī and told that they were sent him by Śah Ālam. Baba Mastanāth who always lived naked was not needed any shawls, and without answering anything, he picked them up with his fire tongs and thrown them into flame of his Dhūnī. After some time they were reduced to ash by fire, and all these happened in front of eyes of the king’s messenger.
No need to say that when messenger returned to the palace and told to the king about happened, the last has taken it as the sign of great personal disrespect. Śah immediately wanted to punish yogi, but being scared of his magical powers, he decided first to test him. Next day he summoned in court his senior police officer and told him to go to the Baba Mastanāth and ask him diplomatically to return shawls for their replacement. If yogi would be unable to accomplish these he should arrest him immediately and bring to the court for punishment.
Officer reached to the Baba Mastanāth’s Dhūnī and told him that those two shawls, which were send yesterday were of not enough good quality, and now Śah wanted to replace them. So he asked Baba jī kindly return them to him for replacement.
Baba Mastanāth understood that Śah wanted to test his powers, and see if he would miraculously return shawls which were burned down, or would be he trapped being unable to do this. He picked up his chimṭa and started one by one taking burning coals from the fire. The moment he was putting them on the ground they were transforming into beautiful shawls. He continued to do it for some time, and were soon around him were lying heaps of the shawls of incredible quality, one being better than other. When he finished, he told to the officer to choose which shawls he was looking for.
The officer became exited after seeing such miracle and he prostrated to the feet of Baba jī. Who he was in reality he asked from him? Baba Mastanāth has told that he is Goraksh Nāth himself and that he came to Delhi to give Śah something. But he added that it was very unfortunate for Śah that instead of getting his blessing he started performing deceitful tests of him. Baba Mastanath has told to the officer to inform Śah that he not needed anything of material world, so let he not trying to please him by sending him any more of his presents. In reality, he told, your Bādśāh is poisonous as a snake, and he didn’t knows what are real things, therefore what he has done such would be his reward. He is very unfortunate person to miss such a chance, he added.
After this the officer left for the palace with two shawls, and on reaching there he narrated to the king about happened. Śah became convinced in the supernatural abilities of the yogi, but it was too late to change anything. Baba Mastanāth has called his disciples and ordered them to blow their Nadas (whistles) from the opposite side and say: ‘let nor Rām, nether Khudā will be here’. They all deed as they were told, it was only yogi Kīrtanāth who didn’t obey the order. The other disciples have told to Baba Mastanāth about his behavior. He called Kīrtanāth and asked about reasons for not obeying his order. Kīrtanāth has told that if both Rām and Khudā will be not here, than who will then rule Delhi? On what Baba Mastanāth has answered, that very soon there will be ruling a third power which will be nor Hindu, neither Muslims.
Soon after this, Baba Mastanāth has left the place and started for Cittaurgaḍh preaching yoga by the way. Very soon his prophecy became true and history have proof of it, Śah Ālam was treacherously betrayed by members of his close surrounding and his rule came to the end. Delhi came under rule of third force that was England, people of which were neither Hindu nor Muslims, but Christians.
Baba Mastanāth and Rājā Sūratsingh (Sūratsiṇh)
At area of modern Rajasthan there was a kinghdom Bīkāner with its catital situated at the city with the same name. The king of that kinghdom was Rājā Gaj-siṇh, who was very pious person. As result of his constant worship and rithous rule he and people of the kinghdom were living happy life.
On becoming old, Rājā Gajsiṇh renounced his throne in favour of his son Rājā Sūratsiṇh, and soon after it he left his body. After some time, after permorming all neccesasary rites, Rājā Sūratsiṇh was crown as the new king of the Bikaner, and great festival was taking place to celebrate this event in the kinghdom. Many gifts were distributed amingst masses and sadhus, and big feasts were taking place evrewhere in the kinghdom.
As part of the celebration, Raja invited to his capital all Sadhus and Brahmanas of the kinghdom for the Great feast and ordered to feed all of them and gererously revard each with gifts. For carring on of this event was selected big open place situated at place called Nīmḍī Garden at the Bīkāner. There only many kinds of delitious food were continiously cooked in big pots to feed every one who came. In such way the feast was going on without stop for many days.
At the same time Baba Mastanath was passing near of Bikaner with few of his disciples. On the way they meet the group of wondering singers who told them about the feast and invited them also to come there. After listening them Baba Mastanath accompanied by his disciples have started towards Nīmḍī garden to participate in the feast. On the way he told to his disciple Rūpnāth to pick up huge bone of camal’s leg laying on the road and carry it on his shoulder. Obidient to his guru, disciple did accordingly without any hestitation and asking about reasons of such unusual order.
Soon they reached to the spot where feast was about to take place, the Nīmḍī Garden. Preparations were going in full strength and in many very big pots different kind of food were cooked. In one of those pots was preparing sweet dish called halvā. Baba Mastanath ordered to Rūpnāth put the bone he was carring into that pot, what he immidiatly did. His action created big roar around, and many Brahmans and sadhus collected aroud started accususing them for done. Without answering anything Baba Masthenath went into near by jungle where he stopped and started his dhuni.
Soon news about happened has reached to the Rājā Sūrat-singh, who became greatly upset duty this reason. He has told: ‘Who ever done this, be he sadhu or whoever, should be panished for what he has done’. Rājā ordered to his guards find out the person who did this, and after arrestng him bring in front of him. Guards started enquring from publik whers sadhu who thrown bone into the pot with halva went, and soon they reached to the place where Baba Mastanath was sitting near his Dhuni. When guardas aproached yogi, and started coming near to him intending to arrest, suddenly they saw at the place where moment ago was sitting yogi terrible lion instead of him. They run in panik to save they lives, and when they looked back from some distance they saw that lion has disapeared, and yogi again was sitting on his place. Thinking that he performed miracle to scare them, they once more started to move towards him, and when they were about to reach him, they saw the same terrible lion instead of the yogi. Again they have to ran and this order of evens was repeated few times, till at last tired gurds accepted they defeat and turned back to the palace with empty hands. On coming there they narrated about happened to the king, who being puzzled by this event ordered to one of his miniisters inqure the matter.
The minister was wise man, and he understood that Baba Mastanāth was not a simple Sādhu, but a great Siddha yogi, and his seemingly misbehavior was done with some purpose not evident to others. He decorated a big platter with many offerings, fruits, flowers and coins, and faithfully went to the place where yogi was sitting. On coming there he offered the platter to the feet of Baba Mastanāth and devotedly paid homage to him. Then he greeted him and told him that he and Raja were happy to welcome him in the Kingdom. On seeing striking appearance of Baba Mastanāth minister became more and more convinced that he was realised Siddha yogi.
After taking leave, minister returned to the king and told him that the yogi whom he met was realized Siddha, and that after seeing him he got feeling of blissful peace of soul and was filled with indescribable happiness. The king being impressed by his account, decided to go himself, and have a sight of such a wonderful Siddha yogi. He ordered to arrange many gifts for Baba mastanath, amongs which were different preciuos stones, golden coins, flovers and fruits, and accompaied by his guards went to the place of Baba ji. On reaching him he devotedly bow down and offered presents to his feet. Baba Mastanath being pleased by his behaviour, asked king about reasons of coming to his place, on what he answered that he came here only to have sight of him. Then he added that also one qustions was in his mind, what was the reason of throving camel’s bone into one of dishes?
Baba Masta Nath answered smyling,’You have made very good arrengmets of food for Brahamans and sadhus, but not provided them with dakṣiṇā, what should be done. Therefore I have made arrengement for these also. Check up the pot with halva and see what has happened with that bone.’
Maharaja Suratsing went to the place where food was cooked and ordered to take bone out of the pot. When this was done to wonder of all collected there, they found that it turns into massive peace of gold in the same shape of the camel’s bone. The king was very happy to see this wonder. Soon this news becamme known in the city, and every body was speaking about the miracle. Hundreds of people started coming to place he was standing to have his sight and blessings.