SEMINAR PROCEDINGS: Sri Guru Granth Sahib The sublime legacy     (Edited by: Dr. Sutinder Singh Noor)
Dr. Ujagar Singh Sehgal

Nathbani means the writings of the Naths (yogis) which is called Amritbani in Nathmat. 1 The Siddha is also used for the Nath yogis because they had theorized certain principles of Nathmat. They are referred to as Sidha, Audhu 3, Augdhoot 4, Auodhooti 5, Audhooti 6 and Jogi 7 in Gurbani. Their faith has been called Sidhamat, Sidha Marg, Yog Marg, Yog Sampardaya, Avdhootmat, Avdhoot sampardaya and Nathmat. Because of suffix Nath after the names of these yogis, it is called Nathomat also. The coinage of the word Nath, na means anadi (having no beginning) and tha means established in the three worlds. Thus the clear meaning of the word Nath is the one who is cause of the stability of the three worlds. In the ‘Shakti Sangam Tantra’ the meaning of na is given as enabling realisation of Nah Brahm and ‘tha’ means destroyer of ignorance. In other words, by taking shelter under Nath’s care one can realize God and the illusion of ignorance is destroyed. According to Nathbani, Adi Shiva is the founder of this faith but greater than Adi Nath is the Parbrahm:

Adi Nathai Parbhram Gsiva Shakti. 8
Machhinderanath is Shiva Hismself :
Adinath Nati Machhindranath Poota.9
But Gorakh Nath is revered most of all in the Nathmat. He was an end of nineth century mystic poet,who wielded lot of power and had undying talent.10. His personality and power to impress was so great that his disciples had begun to regard him as Adi Shiva:

Ghat ghat phirai Gorakh phirai nirta.
Ko ghat jagai ko ghat samanta:

(Gorakh dwells in all hearts….)

(a) Gur Isar Gur Gorakh Brahma Gur Parbati Mayee.13
(b) Gorakh so jin goe uthali kartai baar na lagai. 14
(c) Baba Gorakh jagain. 15

a) Shiva, Gorakh, Brahma and Parbati are stated to be Gurus.
b) Gorakh, the sustainer of earth..
c) Baba Gorakh gives the awakening call…

Reverence for Gorakh was so very deep in Nathmat that the yogis had begun to repeat Gorakh’s name in as meditation. Charpatnath, 16 Loharipa17, Bharathari18 Gopichand, 19 etc., the yogis with high attainments, are mentioned in Gurbani. Because of their impressive personality, right from Kabul-Kandhar to Kanyakumari, Bulochistan to Bengal, Assam and even Nepal, in all the languages of the country, folk-tales, literary works and traditions about the Nath yogis are still alive. Besides Gorakhnath’s Tilla in Jhelum (Pakistan), Gorakhnath’s Handi in Jawalamukhi, Gorakh Hatri and Talab in Peshawar (NWFP-Pakistan), Gorakh temple in Gorakhpur, Chapart’s temple in Chamba and Poorannath’s Dhooni in Abohar, the well of Gorakhnath and Pooran, etc., memorials, Tillas and Deras, etc in many parts of the country, throw a flood of light on the Nathmat. This gives an impression that in the North of India, before the Bhagati Movement, the most powerful movement was that of the Nath yogis, Yoga Marg. By then, they had been divided into many branches, about which mention is made in Gurbani.20

The Guru-poets had unique personality. They had the iron will. People revered them. They were free and liberal thinkers of their times. They, through their own insight and personal experience, accepted the good points based on truth and lasting value of the previous traditions like those of Indian philosophy, relgion and different sects, Mahayani, Vajaryani Budhists, Sahivas, Shaktas, Tantras, Saints, devotees, Nath yogis, etc. without any distinction or prejudice. Guru Nanak had exchange of ideas with his contemporary religious leaders, thinkers and learned men. Many changes had cropped up in the Nathmat by that time, which are bound to take place in any faith. It would be appropriate to say here that the influence of the Nathmat was not limited to the Hindu society only but among the Muslim too. During the Muslim rule, the yogis were respected and heard with rapt attention. Akbar and Jehangir used to go to pay obeisance to Nath yogis on Shivaratri and prided in collecting information about their faith. 21. The Gaddi (spiritual leadership-lineage) of Gorakhnath continued for a very long time through his succesors. According to the tradition of the times, his disciples added his name to their own names. Guru Nanak had met them also during his outings. Numerous discussions were held with these yogis, of which Sidhagoshta is written in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, which is of great importance in this regard. A study of this reveals that the Naths were highly accomplished yogis from religious angle. Guru Nanak calls Charpat Nath a yogi of great attainment as he could participate in question-answer sessions very well :

Duniya sagaar duttar kahiai, kio kar paiye paro.
Charpat bolai audhoo Nanak dehu saccha bicharo.
Aapai aakhai aapai samjhai tis kya uttar dijai
Sach kahaho tum pargrami tujh kya baisan dijay.4

The world is called an ocean difficult to get across.
Charpat asks Nanak to give his opinion on this point
What you ask me you already know well, I am sure.
Having crossed the ocean, you need no answer4. 22

The Guru poets were not opposed to the Yogamat as such. They had had exchange of views with talented yogis because such people lead a disciplined life which is their meditation. 23

Nam ratai Sidh goshat hoye, Nam ratai sada such hoye
Those who meditate reciting His Name, talk about it
Ever dwelling on His Name is the true state of penance.

Nathbani and Gurubani
Some writings connected with Nathbani are available in Hindi and Sanskrit but most scholars differ about their authenticity. Learned scholars have accepted the Hindi version edited by Dr. Pitambar Dat Barathwal as the genuine one. Its second part, containing the bani of other Naths could not be published. Nath Sidhon ki baniyaan and the writings of other Sidhas like Charpat are available but nothing can be said as to their authenticity. The hymns in “Gorakhbani” are mostly connected with Gorakhnath only in which there is a detailed exposition of the Nathmat, its ideology and principles. Gurubani means the hymns of the Sikh Gurus which is called ‘Nectar in words’ 25, Revealed words 26, True words 27, Anhad bani 28 and Khasam ki bani (Words of the Master)29. Guru Nank and Guru Arjan’s hymns are in larger number in Sri Guru Granth Sahib than those of other Gurus. Nathbani is connected with Guru Nanak’s time and its detailed mention in Guru Granth Sahib is but natural.

Ideological perspective:

Before analyzing Nathbani and Gurubani, it is necessary to make it clear that Nathbani or Gurubani is philosophical poetry. It is not a logical philosophy which is generally referred to as philosophy or scientific philosophy. Philosophy is said to be mainly the systematic study of metaphysics. It is highly intellectual and analysis of realism but the philosophical poetry is the expression of inner experience of bliss of the poet. In the philosophical poetry, the mysteries of personal experience and the ecstatic state reached in the process thereof are expressed in an aesthetic manner. According to Nathbani, the ultimate truth is the attainment of the reality of Brahm. He is Formless, attributeless, but He dwells in the heart of everyone. In His world play, He is like oil in the sesame seed and remains spotless even in the worldy soot.

Anjan mahin niranjan bhetya, til much bhetya telang
Moorat mahin amoorat parsya, bhaya nirantar khelang.30

Gorakh has exhorted the people to attain Supersoul by remaing untainted in the tainted world inspite of the criticism on the part of fake preachers. In Gurbani also the fake yogis have been condemned and the principle of keeping oneself pure among the all round impurities has been supported.

Jog na mundi moond mundaiai Jog na singi vaiai
Anjan mahi niranjan rahiyai, jog jugat iv paiai.

True yoga is not practiced by shaving ones head
Or blowing the horn.Yoga is the ability to remain spotless in the tainted world. 31
Anjan mahi niranjan paiya, joti jot milavania.
Finding the Nirnjan (Untainted) in the jet black soot
Helps one join ones light with the Supreme Light.

Nathbani and Gurubani lay emphasis on living in the world rather than running away to the jungles. 33

The Nathbani speaks of the realization of Brahm in one’s mind, as the rubbing of stones gives sparks, by churning curds, one gets butter, similarly following the true path laid down by Guru, one attains Him:

Chkmak tharkai agni jharai joon, dudh math ghrit kar liya.
Aapa mahin aapa pragtya, tab guru sandesa diya. 34
Guru Arjan expressing sujch thoughts says-
Sagal banaspati mahi baisantar,
Sagal doodh mhin ghia
Ooch neech mahin jote samani
Ghat ghat madhau jia.
(Just as fire is present in all vegetation And ghee in all milks
His light dwells in the high or low
And He the Master dwell in all hearts.

Shabad-guru (Word-guide)

In ‘Machhandar Gorakh Bodh’ and Sidha Goshta, the word has been termed as guru and thus held in the highest esteem:

Question: Swami, kaun mool, kaun bela
Kaun guru, kaun chela.

Answer: Avdhoo man mool pawan bela
Sabad guru surat chela.

(Question- What is root and what is branch
Who the disciple and who’s the mentor.)

Kavan mool kavan mat bela
Tera kavan guru jiska too chela
Pavan arambh Satgur mat vela.
Sabad Guru Surati dhun chela.
What is root and what’s branch ?
Beginning with air, the word of
True guidance leads the mind which
When attuned, becomes the disciple.
Which really is the disciple
Word is guide, and attunement, disciple.

(Human) Being.
In Nanakbani, many words, like jiv, jio, jia and also ‘mun’ have been used, for a being. According to Gorakh Nath, ‘mun’ (being) and ‘pavan’ (air) respectively reside in heart and navel but when heart, navel, day-night, sun-moon had not come into existence, that is, when the living ones had not yet been created, at that time this element was in ‘zero’ state or part of the Formless, Attributeless Brahm. 38 It has been stated in Gurubani when a being had not come into existence, at that time he was part of the Formless, Attributeless God. Simialry when heart and body had not come into bing, this detached mind was one with God. When the lotus of navel had nothing to support it, then his breaths were on their own and stayed put in their unwavering state. Similary, when the universe had not been formed, it lived in the unborn Brahm:

Eh man maigal kahan basialai kahan basai pavna.
Kaha basai su sabad audhoo takau chookai man ka bhavna.
Nadar karai taan Satguru mailai taan nijghar varj eh man paiye.
Aapai aap khaye taan nirmal hovai dhavat varj jahaye. Kiyo mool pachhanai aatam janai kiyo sasi ghar soor samavai. 39
Gurmukh haumai vichahu khovai tau Nanak sahej samavai. 39
Detailed discussion is available about this in the Sidha Goshta.

Creation of Universe
Endeavours have been made from the very beginning to unravel the mystery of creation of universe. No one knows whether the male or the female existed first, or air and clouds existed or there was nothing. Braham created the universe at the same time without any support and permeated Himself into it.

Jananai jo si jau nai bichari, pahela purakh ki nari ji
Bai nahin tahoon ba badal nahin,bin thambha babai mandap rachya 40

According to Gurubani the mystery of creation is known only to Brahma, the Creator-

Kavan so vaila vakhat kavan thiti kavan vaar.
Kavan si ruti mah kavan jit hoa aakar.
Vail na paya panditi, ji hovai lekh Puran
Vakhat na paeyo qadian, ji likhan lekh Quran.
Thit var na jogi janai rut mah na koyee
Ja karta sirthi kjau sajai aapai janai soyee. 41

(What was the time, date or day, the season, or month when the creation of the universe took place? The Pandits do not know, otherwise they would have written this in the Purans. The qadis too are unaware of this, otherwise there would hav been mention of this in the Quran. The jogis too do not know the date, day or the season or the month. Only the Creator knows about the creation.

The position prior to the creation has been stated in Gurubani that when there was no mind, it was absorbed in zero state. When the navel had not yet been formed, the air too was in the formless. Where there was neither name nor form, the sound lived in the unborn Being. When there was no sky, it floated in the space, that is, the universe was in the zero state. This has been discussed in detail in Machhandar Gorak Bodh 42

Gorakh: Suami hirdai na hota, tab kahan rehta man
Nabhi na hoti, tab kahan rehta pavan.
Roop na hota tab kaha rehta sabad.
Gagan na hota tab kahan rehta chand.27
(O master, when there were no heart, where could be mind? If there were no navel, where could be air? If there were no form, where could be the word? If there were no sky, where would be moon?

Machhandar: Avdhoo hirda na hota tab sunn rehta munn
Nabhi na hoti tab nirakar rehta pavan.
Roop na hota tab akulin rehta sabad
Gagan na hota tab antrikh rehta chand.28

(O avdhoo, if there were no heart, the mind would have been in the zero state. If there were no navel, the air would have been without form. If there were no form, the word would have remained unborn. If there were no sky, the moon would have been in space. Gorakh:

Suami, raat na hoti din kahan thai aeya.
Din prasarya raat kahan samaya.
Diva bujhana jot kahan liya baas
Pind na hota tab praan ke kaun besas.

(O master, if there were no night, where would the day have come from? And when day had come and pervaded, where had night gone? When the light of the lamp is blown out, where does it go? If there were no body, where would have breaths lived ?

Avdhoot raat na hoti din sahejai aeya
Din prasarya raat sahej samaya.
Diva bujhana joti nirantar liya baas
Pind na hota tab praan ka sunn baas.

(O avadhoot, if there were no night, day would have come from equipoise. And when day had dawned, night would have got into the equipoise. When the lamp was blown out, the light would go into infinite poise. And if there were no body, the air would have been in Zero state.

Guru Nanak expresses the same view in Sidhagoshta 43 –
Hirda deh na hoti audhoo tau munn sunn rahai bairagi
Nabhi Kamal asthambh na hota
taan nij ghar bastau pavan anuragi
Roop na rekhya jati na hoti tau akulin rahtau sabad su saar.
Gaun gagan jab tabeh na hotau tribhuvan joti nirankar.
Varan bhekh asuroop su aikau sabad vidani
Sach bina soocha ko nahi Nanak akath kahani. 67

(If there were no heart or body, the detached mind would have been in zero state. If there was no support of navel to lotus, the air would have dwelt in its own place of bliss. If there were no form or feature or a caste, the word would have remained unborn verily. If there was no soaring in the skies, His light would have pervaded in the three realms. The caste, the dress, the form, are all the wonders of One Word. None can be pure without truth, relateth Nanak the unrelalteable tale. )

The meaning of ‘sunn’ here is that of the supreme zeroness when, before the creation of the universe, all the energies were hidden in His Own Self. The Guru-poets explain this in a wonderful manner. At that time the Infinite Brahma was absorbed in Himself, that is, he was in His Own Exalted State. 44

Adi kau kavan bichar kathialai sunn kahan ghar vaso.
Gian ki mudra kathialai ghat ghat kavan nivaso.21
Adi ko bismad kathialai sunn nirantar vas liya.
Kalpat mudra gur gian bicharialai ghat ghat sacha sarab jia.
Gur bachni avigat samayeeai tsat niranjan sahej lahai.
Nanak dooji kar na karni, sevai Sikh so khoj lahai.
Hukum bismad hokum pachhanai jia jugati sach janai soyee
Aap mait niralam hovai antar sach jogi kahiai soyee. 23
(What can be said about the beginning, where is the abode of zero? State the poise of ‘knowing’, who lives in every heart? The beginning is stated to be so wonderous where zero lived for ever. With the begging bowl poise, pondering over the Guru’s teachings, the True One lives in one and all. Guru’s words enable one to know the implicit, the true and spotless in an equipoise. Sayeth Nanak there is nothing else; a Sikh who serves Him attains Him. He comes to know about his Divine Command, so wonderful, and knows all the truth. He negates himself, remains detached within himself. Such a one can be a true yogi.23

Maya (Illusion)
The ‘illusion’ has been dealt with in greater detail in the Indian thought. In Nathbani, Maya has been described as the cheat of the three worlds. By overcoming it, the yogi fixes his mind in Bhrahm, drinks the life-giving nectar, by which means the toxic effect of serpent like Maya loses its sting.

Marau, marau sarpani nirmal jal paithi,
Tribhavan dasti Gorakh Nath dithi.
Maarau sarpani jaga liya bhaura
Jin maari sarpani takau kaha karai jaura
Sarpani kahai main abla balya,
Brahm, Bisha, Mahadev chhalya.
Mati Mati sarpani dasai dis dhavai
Gorakh Nath gardi havan bang liavai.
Adi Nath naati Machhinder Poota
Sarpani mari lai Gorakh avadhoota.

(Kill this female serpent sitting in pure water
Gorakh Nath has seen her stinging the three worlds.
Kill this serpent which has awakened the black bee
One who kills it, has nothing to fear about.
The serpent says, I am all powerful indeed
I have duped Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva
The serpent in its arrogance runs in ten directions
But Gorakh Nath has caught it, controlled it
Sayeth Adi Nath Machhinder, kill this serpent
O Gorakha, the ascetic. 45)

It has been said in Gurbani – Eyon sarpan kai vass jiara antar haumai doye. 46
(Thus the serpent has controlled the mind in duality.

Maya jaal pasarya bhitar chog banai
(The illusion has spread its net to eat from within)
Maya mohi sagal jag chhaya
(The attachment to illusion is spread all over the world).48

By terming it as endowed with three qualities (satoguna, tamoguna and rajoguna), in accordance with the Vedandic thought, it has been explained in a specific way in Nathbani. It is like a pot with the potter, a camel with an ahir, a woman/wife with a Brahmin, a weapon with a ruler, a vine in the forest, oil with the oil maker, a buffalo with an ahir, the linga in the temple and asfoitida in the shop. It assumes countless forms. Braham has scattered this three-quality Maya throughout. According to Gorakh Nath, the true import of this illusion can be had only from the True Guide. In the Saint-poetry, the Naths have understood the nature of this. Like Gorakh Nath, Sant Namdev also termed this as the power of God, but the practice of the Nath yogis is breath-related and the practice of the Saints is devotional love.

In the Nath bani, with the use of words like ‘Ardhai jatai’ and ‘Urdhai jate’, its nature has been symbolized, the state of those caught in the web of Maya, or those who have freed themselves therefrom. When the human being loves Maya, he is in a state of ‘Ardhai Jatai’, that is, he is entangled in the worldly affairs but when he becomes one with God by controlling the evil instincts, he gets detached from the effect of Maya. And he is in a state of ‘Urdhai Jatai’, meaning thereby that his mind is fixed in Brahm.50 The knowledge of Brahm the shackles of Maya are broken but the awareness of this can be had only from the Guru.

Gorakh Swami kaun parchai maya moh tootai
Kaun parchai sasi ghar phootai
Kaun parchai lagai bandh
Kaun parchai thir hovai kandh

Avdhoo munn parchai maya moh tootai
Pavan parchai sahi ghar phootai
Gian parchai lagai bandh
Guru parchai ajravar kandh24. 51

(The import of the above questions and answers has been given in the above paragraph).

According to Gurbani the person led by his own instincts gropes in the dark because of ignorance, lives in ego, and under the influence of Maya (illusion) passes through the cycle of births and deaths but when he becomes aware of the ‘Sahej gufa ghar janai sacha’ ( In the cave of equipoise, he comes to know of the true place) he works against the spell of Maya and establishes oneness with the Formless:

Kiyo kar badha, sarpani khadha
Kiyo kar khoeya, kiyo kar ladha.
Kiyo kar nirmal, kiyo kar andhiara
Eh tatt bicharai so guru hamara.14
Durmat badha, sarpani khadha,
Manmukh khoeya gurmukh ladha.
Satgur milai andhera jaye
Nanak hamai mait samaye. 53

(How was it bound, eaten by serpent?
How did it lose, and how did it gain?
How did the dirtless, lost in darkness?
The one who unravels this mystery,
Is verily the true guide of ours.
Bound by evilmindedness, eaten by serpent.
It lost being dictated by his own mind
And it gained by turning guru-ward
The darkness vanishes on meeting True guru
Sayeth Nanak, the ego is destroyed this way.

Sunn nirantar dijai bandh. Uadai na hansa parai na kandh
Sahej gufa ghar janai sacha, Nanak sachai bhavai sacha.

(Continuous tranquility stops the wandering mind
With flights of imaginiation stopped, no walls rise.
Then he knows that being in the cave of equipoise is
Living in the true house. Nanak, the True ones like truth )

Mann (Mind)
A great energy lying in the human body is the mind. This has been called ‘chitt’ in Nathbani. Calling it indistinct like Brahm, it has been termed as the origin of the universe, the creation and melody. 55

Swami, kaise avai, kaise jayee
Kaisai jiya rahai samayee.
Kaise mann tann sada thir rahai
Satgur hoye so boojhia kahai.77

Machhandar Avadhoo sunnai aavai sunnai jayee
Sunnai jiya rahai samayee.
Sehaj sunn munn tunn thir rahai
Aisa bichar machhinder kahai. 78

Gorakh How does one go and then come
How can the being remain as one
How can mind and body be quiet
True guide makes one understand

Machhandar One comes quietly and goes as such
In quiet state the mind remains in one.
In equipoise can mind and body be quiet
Such is the view held by Machhinder.
Mind is the beginning and end of a being:
Munn adi mann mann ant madhai saar
Mann hi tai chhootai bhau bikhai bikar

It is said in Gurbani – Mann tai upjya, mann mahi samaye. 57 Sunno sunn upaida.
(Born of the mind, mingles with mind.
From quietude is quietude born. Mind has been termed as the energy, Shiva and the being consisting of five elements in Nathbani. If it is made pure and brought into the unmani poise (fixing both the eyes in the centre of the forehead), one can have an insight into the three worlds.

Yah mann shakti yah mann seeve
Yah mann paanch tatt ke jeeve 58
Yah mann lai jo unman rahai
Teen loke ki baatan kahai. 59

The same view has been expressed by Kabir in Sri Guru Granth Sahib –
Ehu mann sakti eh mann sio. Ehu mann panch tatt ka jio
Ehu mann lai jau unman rahai Tau teen loke ki batan kahai
Guru Amar Das calls the mind as very powerful. But when engrossed in evil ways, it suffers and it is through dwelling on His Name only that one can get rid of the evil –
Ehu manua ati sabal hai chhadai na kitai upaye
Doojai bhai dukh layenda, bahuti milai sajai.
Nanak naam lagai sai ubrai, haumai sabad jalai.
4.18.51 61 Transmigration.

In Nathbani, transmigration (of soul) has been termed as the wandering path. 62. But when in the company of Siddhas, and after giving up attachment to illusion, one knows one’s origin, one gets liberated of transmigration:

Phir phir manikha jana na payaba
Kar lai Siddha purush toon mela.
Accsording to Gurbani, when one forgets Brahm, one gets into the cyles of births and deaths (transmigration):
Avagavan sirjya too thir karnaiharo.
Jamman marna aye gaya badhik jio bikaro.
Bhudrai naam bisarya, boodrai kya tis charo.

(O constant Doer of everything, Thou hast created transmigration, that is, being born and dying; like a hunter the mind gets into evil. The wretched one has ignored dwelling on His Name, and now he has gone beyond redemption.)

According to Nathbani, one gropes in the dark because of the influence of of Maya out of ignorance but when one gets to know the efficacy of the Word by living in truth and getting rid of the influence of Maya and is liberated, he comes to know Brahm as Omnipresent, and remains engrossed in the word:

Gorakh: Swami, kaun su atma avai jaye
Kaun su atma rahai samai
Kaun so atma tribhavan bir
Kaun parchai bawan bir. 21

Machhandar: Avadhoo pavan so atma avai jaye
Mann so atma sunn samaye
Gyan su atma tribhavan bir
Shabad parchai bavan bir. 65
(Explained in the above para)

The same views have been expressed in Gurbani, in Siddhagosta. :

Kavan su gupta, kavan so mukta
Kavan su antar bahar jugta.
Kavan su avai, kavan su jaye
Kavan su tribhuvan rahya samai.
Ghat ghat gupta, gurmukh mukta
Andar bahar sabad su jugta.
Manmukh binsai avai jaye
Nanak gurmukh sahaj samai.22 66
What remains secret and what gets liberated?
What remains out and what keeps inside?
What goes out, and also comes in?
What remains pervaded in the three worlds?
Remains secret in all the hearts
But only guru-ward ones get salvation.
Whether in or out, it is the Word’s command
One led by his own mind dies, goes and comes
The one led by Guru’s exhortation lives in truth.

Sahaj (Equipoise)
In Nathbani, Sahaj has been explained in clear words. It is also the state in which there is no imagination and perfect quietude. This state of mind has been variously called as atamgyan (self-knowledge), sat gyan (true knowledge, parampad (the highest state), chauthapad ( the fourth stage), mukt padarath or turiya (salvation liberation), unmani (keeping eyes fixed between the eye-brows, advait awastha (non-duality, sami sunn (quietude), atit sunn (zero-imagination state) and sahaj sunn (equipoise in zero state) Three states of ‘quietude’ , are those of traigvatamak maya but the fourth state is that of Sahaj (equipoise), in which Maya is Braham’s maid. This state is of the unique type because no principle of material or natural powers is applicable to it. Birth-death, pain-pleasure, day-night, summer-winter, shade-sun, creation and destruction and the working of all the five elements come to an end but the light of Brahm’s existence continues to shine 67 :

Gorakh: Swami kaun udai maya sunn. Nau grih kaise paap na pun. Kaun grih lai unman rahai. Satgur hoye so boojhia kahai. 55
Machhandar: Avdhhot bolta jaise maya sunn. Navgrih bicharai paap na pun. Shiv Shaki lai unman rahai. Aisa bichar Machhinder kahai.56.
Gorakh: Swami kaun sunn utpana aiyee. Kaun sunn satguru bujhai. Kaun sunn meh rahya samayee. Eh tatava guru kahau samjhaiyee.61
Machhandar: Avdhoo sehaj sunn utpana aiyee. Sasi sunn satguru bujhayee. Atit sunn mahi rahya smayee. Param tatt mai kahoon samjhayee.62 (Explained in the above para)

In Gurbani, Guru Nankak calls this state as the aim of life. One who gets into the fourth state or in equipoise and comes to know the Quiet form of Brahm, he is able to visualize God everywhere. He helps others to know this, shows the path of liberation, he gets free of transmigration and helps others to do so. By doing so he is in the ‘Niranjan’ form, free of soot (of Maya).

Antar sunnang bahjar sunnang tribhavan sunnmasunnam
Chauthai sunnai jo nar janai, ta kau paap na punning. Ghat ghat sunna ka janai bheo. Adi purakh Niranjan Deo. So jan naam Niranjan jata. Nanak soyee purakh bidhata.51.
Sunno sunn kahai sab koyee. Anhat sunn kaha klai hoyee.
Anhat sunn ratai sai kaisai. Jis tai upjai tishi jaise.
Oye janam na mareh na avai na jahi.
Nanak Gurmukh munn samjhahi. 52

Nau sar subhar daswai poorai. Tah anhat sunn vajavai toorai. Sachai rakhai dekh hadoorai. Ghat ghat sach rahya bharpoorai. Gupti bani pargat hoye. Nanak partakh laye sach soye. (Explained above).

Kaya sadhna (Purification of body)

It would be proper to call Kaya sadhna of Nathbani as body-purification. Nine doors are open in this body but the tenth is shut. The key to this lies with the guru by whose grace this door opens. This is the abode of Paramashiva or Brahm which can be attained through ‘sadhna’ in an easy manner but very rarely can any one be able to conquer this fort:

Kaya gadh bhitar nav lakh khayee.
Dasvain duar avadhoo tali layee.
Kaya gadh bhitar dev dehura kashi.
Sehaj subhai milai abinashi.
Bandat Gorakhnath suno nar loyee
Kaya gadh jitaiga birla koyee. 69

So long as the mind is under the control of nine doors, it is difficult to control the body. From this fort (body) arise passion, anger, greed, attachment and ego which must be conquered to establish the rule of truth and contentment. Thereafter,it is possible to carry out the orders in regard to forgiveness and devotion:

Nav sutar upjai jantar phirai, tab kaya gadh liya na jayee
Anhad ghadi ghadyal bajayee lai, pa joti doi Deepak layee.
Kaam krodh doye garden maar lai, aisi adli patshahi babai adam chalayee. Taha satya bibi santokh shazada, khima bhagti dawaihayee. Adi Nath nati Machhinder poota, kaya nagari Gorakh vasayee. 70

In Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the kaya-sadhna of Sant Beni is like that of the Nathbani. According to him, the dasam duar (tenth door) is the valley of the inaccessible Supreme Lord. One should fix ones mind on it as exhorted by the guru. This pran-sadhna also assumes the form of Namdev’s devotion. It is important to state here that both Nathbani and Gurubani attached no importance to Hathayoga. Nath-poets and Guru-poets have no respect for Ridhies-sidhies (miraculous powers) because these powers, instead of leading to attainment, lead one to aberration.

Karam-kand nishedh (Rejection of ritualism)
In Nathbani no faith has been expressed in pilgrimages, idol worship and reverence of deities, gods and goddesses because their place is in the body. Outside is only aberration:

Ghat hi bhitar athsath tirath kaha bhramai rai bhai. 75

Regarding images or idols as God do not pass the test of logic and intellect as liberation is not poissbile by worship of lifeless stone idols.

Kaise bolai pandita dev kaunai thayee.
Nij tatt niharta ammai tummai nahi.
Pakhanchi devil, pakhan chi dev.
Pakhan poojla kaise phitila saneh.
Sarjiv terila nirjiv poojila
Paap di karni kaise duttar tirila. 76

Kabir has expressed this view of Nathbani in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, as under:

Pati torai malini, pati pati jio.
Jis pahan kau pati torai so pahan nirjio
Bhooli malini hai ehu. Satgur jagta hai deo. (Pause)
Brahm paati Bishan daari phool Sankar Deo.
Teen dev pratakh torai, karai kis ki seo.
Pakhan gadh kai moorat kini de kai chhati pao
Jai eh moorat sachi hai tau gadhanharai khao.
Bhat pahiti ar lapsi karkara kasar
Bhoganharai bhogya, is moortat kai much char.
Malini bhooli, jag bhulana, ham bhulanai nahai
Kahe Kabir ham Ram rakhai, kar Kripa Hari Rai.

(The flower girl plucks the petals while there is life in every petal. And the petals have been plucked for the stone which is lifeless. This flower girl has lost her head. The Satgur (true Guide) is a living one and awake. Brahma is the petal, Bishan the branch and the flower is Sankra. You have plucked three gods (broken them) and whose service are you engaged in? The idol has been made by the sculptor by chiseling the stone and keeping his foot on its chest. If the idol is true, it would devour the sculptor for showing irreverence. All the offerings made before the idol, like boiled rice, lintels, sweet pudding and fried flour have been partaken by the priest and only dust has gathered on the face of the idol. The flower girl is gone astray, this world is led astray, but not me. Kabir says that he has been protected by Ram by His Grace.

In Gurbani this has been stated as under:
Sil poojas bagul samadhang. Mukh Jhooth bibhukhan sarang. Traipal tihal bicharang. Gal mala tilak lilatang. 78 (Worship of a stone is like a crane sitting in meditation (but an eye on fish). It’s like telling lies but wearing the cloak of piety (reciting gayatari mantra, observing rituals like frontal mark, dhoti, etc.) and wearing the rosay around your neck.

In Nathbani, Jantar-mantar-tantar, avoiding the use of drugs, wandering in jungles, can’t lead to any good. Going on pilgrimages, hanging head-down in the wells, and doing penance in the hills also do not help one attain salvation. Calling oneself a Guru by having so many disciples, entering into arugments, staying in the graves and cremation grounds, sitting in meditation like a crane, do not help in raising one’s stature. Wine, hemp, opium and having carnal relationship with other’s wife are the doom of a person/practitioner. The true Sidhi is attained by repeating the Name of Waheguru and seeking shelter in Him.

Deval yatra sunn yatra, tirath yatra paani
Atit yatra saphal yatra, baliam amrit bani. 79
Tirath-tirath snan karila,
bahar hoye kaise bhitar bhedila
Adinathi nati Machhinder poota
Nij tatt nigrai Gorakh avadhoota. 80
Chhadol tant-mant-bedant,
jantar gutika dhat pakhand
Jati booti ka nav jin laehu
Raj duar pav jin daehu
Tirath vrat kadai na karau
Gir parbata chadh pran mahi haro.
Garau vaid banij vyopara
Padiba gunva lokachara.
Ras gayan gotia niwar
Ridhi paherau siddhi lehau bichar. 81

About this, Grabani says that Guru’s Mantra is God’s Name, and the great piligrimage centre is the purity of mind and showing compassion to the living beings.

Beej mantra sarab kau gyan.
Chahu vrna mahi japai koyoo Naam.82
Mool mantra Hari Naam Rasayan
Kahu Nanak Poora paya. 83
Athsath teerath punn pooja
Naam sacha bhaya 84
Athsath teerah sagal punn
Jia daya parvaan. 85

(The seed mantra is the total knowledge, if
Anyone in four castes dwells on His Name

Mool-mantra is His Name like ambrosia,
Any one taking it, says Nanak, attains Him.

(Instead of bathing) at sixty eight piligrim centres
Doing charities, worship, His Name is truly higher.
Compassion shown to others is more acceptable than
Bathing at sixty eight holy places and doing charities.

Sugam sadhana (Easy practice)
Sugam sadhana is the main principle of Nathbani. Controlling passion and anger, strengthening one’s mind and singing of His praises in the company of the righteous ones, is the real meditation. Intead of Hatha (Rgididity) this divine knowledge should be gained, smiling and frolicking:

Hasya, khelya, rahya rang, kaam krodh na karya sang
Hasya, khelya paya geet, dridh kar raakh apna cheet. 86

Hasya kehlya dharya dhyan. Ahnis kathya Brahm gyan.
Hassai, khailai na karai man bhang,
tai nihchal sada Nath kai sang. 87

According to Gurbani remaining under the care of the Guru, one gets liberated in life, laughing, playing, having food and drinking water.

Hasandiyaan, khelandiyan, painandiyan,
khavandi diyan,vichai hovai mukat. 88

In Nathbani 89 and Gurubani 90, this path is stated to be the path on the sharp edge of the double-sided weapon because very rarely can one tread this path. The Nath-poets 91 and Guru-poets 92 exhort us to repeat ‘Sohang’ with every breath in our life. One inhales 21600 times in eight pehars (twenty-four hours, a pehar is equal to three hours.).

Social and Moral code: Rejection of caste-system
Nath yogis showed the courage to reject the ancient caste and class system. In their view, rich and poor, Brahmin and Sudra, Budhist and Jain, the ruler and the ruled should be treated as equal.94 The Nath-Sidhas gave initiation to Hindus and Muslims as also those coming from other faiths. So mujch so that even Bharathari Hari, Gopi Chand, Mainawati, Pooran Nath, Raja Sehal Verma, etc, the princes and the princesses embraced Nathmat. The practice of congregation and eating together (community kitchen) in their deras (centres) and tillas (peaks) creates the feeling of equality. This was a great challenge to the Brahmin priests of the time. Caste-system has been condemned in the Gurbani also and to create a sense of equality in the human race, revolutionary steps were taken successfully. This is the basic tenet of the Sikh faith.

Esteem for women
Upto the time of Gorakh Nath-panth, the Shiva worship of tantra-mantra had taken firm roots and could influence the Nathmat. At the time of Machhandar Nath, it had left its original form, had merged with the Vam-marg (Left path) which gave birth to a new faith. This path was mainly concerned with the carnality of woman. Till that time, the yogis connected with the Vam-margis, Budhists and Shaivs as also other cults, had forgotten Shiva and Buddha, and had begun to hold woman ‘only’ in their esteem. A woman could become a nun and live with the celebate monks. A woman, though deified, remained the object of sexual passion. Upto the time of Gorakh Nath, the sadhaks had forgotten their spiritual aim, had begun to regard woman as a creeper only. In this way, the woman had become some sort of an unending stream of sexual indulgence. One who could fix his mind in Brahrmndhar, were not able protect themselves from woman’s charms, had begun to take part in sexual orgies in an unashamed manner.l This is an important aspect without which one cannot understand Gorakh Nath and his Yoga Marga. The lustful living was gaining ground in the higher strata of society and the priestly class. As a reaction to this, the moral decay (extra-marital relations, fornication, etc) had become quite common in society, which was getting rotten from within and had become hollow in the moral sense. At that time, except for Gorakh Nath, there was none to deliver the people from this mental turmoil and duality, in any faith, cult or order.

Calling woman an enchantress arousing passion, and morally corrupt inducing one to indulge in sexual activity, which stood in the way of yogic sadhna (practice), Gorakh Nath introduced a new tradition in the Yogamat. 96. A yogi should have nothing to do with a beautiful/passionate woman because in this situation, instead of realizing the Supreme Being, one gets destroyed. 97. Gorakh Nath’s condemnation of ‘kamini’ (arousing passion), has been inappropriately viewed by the present day scholars and it appears to be meaningless but it must be remembered that these things were said in reference to the yogis and avadhoots of those days who claimed themselves to be the real adherents of the faith. Gorakh Nath delineated separately the field of the Naths-yogis from others. It was a great achievement of Gorakh Nath to bring his guru Machhander Nath out of the woman-reverence. Such an instance is rare or hardly seen anywhere where a disciple cautions his mentor and brings him out of the Vamachar (left-fold) and exhorts him about the basic tenet of yoga. 98 This was a great setback for the Vampanthis of that time. If we consider this carefully it would be seen that Gorakh Nath had presented the true picture of the Indian society of that time in relation to woman. He had nothing in view except the purity of the Yogmat.

In the Nathbani, elderly women have been shown great respect . She is a mother who brings up her children. 99. She gives birth and therefore she is worthy of reverence by yogis. Of course, for a fake yogi, she is a sex symbol for man’s pleasure. If a widow become a yogin and then indulges in sex with a yogi, both of them become sinners and go to hell. 10l. In Nathbani, a yogi must renounce a woman (enchantress arousing passion) but the householder, who can observe complete discipline, and passes the very hard test of chastity (preventing emission of semen) and fire tests, becomes equal to Gorakh Nath and has the right to attain Siddhi. 102 If a householder yogi, observes the discipline and purifies his body and has no attachment to maya, he should be regarded equal to Brahm. 103 Such a yogi, as pure as the Gangajal (holy water of the river Ganges) 104, is held in high esteem even by Lord Shiva. 105. A yogi who gives up the company of an enchantress, Lord Vishnu washes his feet. 106. Similarly, a yogi, who is a householder also, but does not induge in sexual passion, is served even by Mother Parvati (Lord Shiva’s spouse). 107.

Guru Nanak views passion as such a human instinct, which disturbs the moral balance. Metaphorically viewing this, he says that passion is a deputy who is consulted and the blind people show it loyalty like a corpse. 108. In the Indian philosophy, for passion, the word

‘vashna’ has been used which is called ‘physical passion’ or ‘ominous passion’. In Gurubani, the forms of passion, its nature, its power and its ill effects are described. In the composition ‘Oamkaar’, it has been stated that ‘passion and anger’ smelters the body just as borax smelters gold. 109. The force of passion and deadly instinct drives one to hell, and to rot in various births (lives). 110 When Guru Nanak says ‘Sixthly, the passion does not ask for the caste’, he is giving the powerful nature of passion. 111 In Japuji, keeping the body pure, is stated to be the real way of Yoga. 112.

In Guru-poetry, passion as the base human instinct has been condemned but it has not been criticized from the sentient point of view. Being of pro-spiritual disposition life of a householder, married life, has been respected. In their view, extra-marital relations are an immoral instinct. 113 The house-holder’s life has been held to be best in Gurbani. 114 According to Guru Amardas, a househo=lder is far better than a fake yogi, as the former sustains others. 115. And as ordained by Guru Nanak, ‘A devout householder is like an udasin (who has renounced family life) and this the essence of true knowledge. This way, the family life is full of spiritual enviorenment. 117

Thus it can be said, taking an over all view, that the Nathbani and Gurubani present a very serious exposition of the Indian spiritualism. The time of ascendency of the Nath Yogis was prior to Nanak’s time. Their hymns are such a hisotoric and literary bridge across which we can go to study the religious and social traditions of the earlier times. This is the progress-line of the serious thought, the allusions to which are clearly found in the Saint-poetry and Guru-poetry.

Foot notes
  • Gorakhbai : transliteration, expalanation and editing by Dr. Ujagar Singh Sehgal, p.175, Punjab University, Patiala, 1989.
  • Sidh Sadhak Siyanai ketai, tujh bin kavan kahaye. Shabadarth p. 764 SGGS
  • Shiv-nagri meh asan audhoo, alakh agam apari, ibid, p.907
  • So audhoo aisi mat pavai, ahnis sunn samadh samavai. Ibid, p. 877.
  • So audhooti jo dhoopai aap, ibid.p.952
  • Duadas mudra munn audhoota, ibid p.840.
  • Ek drisht kar mamsar janai jogi kahiyai soyee. Ibid, p. 730.
  • Gorakhbani, p.247
  • Ibid, p.171
  • Gorakh Nath: Jeewan tai rachna, Dr. Ujagar Singh Sehgal, pp.9-10, Punjabi University, Patiala, 1985.
  • Gorakhbani, p. 85
  • Ibid, p.78
  • Shabadarth, p.2
  • Ibid, p.877
  • Ibid, p.877
  • Charpat bolai audhoo Nanak dehu sacha bicharo, ibid. p.938 Tis pakhandi jara na marna, bolai Charpat sat saroop. Ibid p.953
  • Gorakh poot Loharipa bolai jog jugat bidh sayee, ibid.p. 939,
  • Bolai Bharathari sat saroop. Ibid, p. 953
  • Bolai Goipi Chand sat saroop. Param tatt mahi rekh na roop, ibid.p.952
  • Barah mahi jogi bharmai Sanyasi chea char, ibid. p.941.
  • The religious policy of the Mughal emperors, SR Sharma, p. 24
  • Shabarth, p. 938
  • Ibid, p. j941
  • Gorakhbani, Dr. Pitambar Datt Barathwal, Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, Prayag.
  • Shabadarth, p. 941, 1243,1423
  • Ibid, p.628
  • Ibid, p.423, 1275
  • Ibid, p.894, 945
  • Ibid, p. 722
  • Gorakhbani, p.229
  • Shabadarth, p.730
  • Ibid, p.112
  • Darpan mahi darshan dekhya, nir nirantar jhanyee……Gorarakhbani p.222 Kahai re ban khojan jayee……Shabarth, p.684
  • Gorakhbani, p.l222
  • Shabadarth, p.617
  • Gorakhbani, p.208
  • Shabadarh, p.942-43
  • Gorakhbani, p.209, pada 25,26,27,28,28 and 30
  • Shabadarth, p.945
  • Gorakhbani, p.142
  • Shabdarth, p.4
  • Gorakhbani, p.209
  • Shabadarth, p.9454-46
  • Ibid, p.940
  • Gorakhbani, p.174
  • Shabadarth, p.63
  • Ibid, lp.50
  • Ibid, p.1342
  • Gorakhbani, p.172-73
  • Ardhai jata Gurdhai jata ……Ibid p.791
  • Ibid, p.208-209
  • Shabadarth, p.939
  • Ibid, p.239
  • Ibid, p.939
  • Gorakhbani, p.213
  • Ibid, p.147
  • Shabadarth, p.152
  • Ibid, p.1037
  • Gorakhbani, p. 88
  • Shbadarth, p.342
  • Ibid, p.33
  • Avagavan bharam ka marg……Gorakhbani, p. 228
  • Gorakhbani, p.122
  • Shabadarth, p.580
  • Gorakhbani, p.218
  • Shabadarth, p.030
  • Gorakhbani, p.211-12
  • Shabadarth, p.943-44
  • Gorakhbani, p.158
  • Ibid, p.161-62
  • Hath nigraha kaj kaya…..Shabarth, 905 Hath ahnankar karai nahi ….ibid, p.905 © Hath nigraha ati rehat…..ibidp.1305 Hath nigrha na triptavai……ibid. p.9054
  • Hath na kariba….Gorakhbani, p.83 Nath kahai tum aapa rakho…..p.93
  • Ridhi chhadya siddhi payee. Ibid,p.245
  • Aahi nath nathi sabh, Shabadarth, p. 6
  • Gorakhbani, p.113
  • Ibdi, p.169
  • Shabadarth, p.479
  • Ibid, p.l1353
  • Gorakhbani, p.99
  • Ibid , p.169
  • Ibid, p.197
  • Shabadarth, p.214
  • Ibid, p.1040
  • Ibid, p.766
  • Ibid, p.77
  • Gorakhbani, p.77
  • Ibid, p.77
  • Shabadarth, p.522
  • Khadai thai Khurasan duhela…..Gorakhbani, p.90
  • Khaneonh tikhi balahu nikki…Shabadarth, p. 918
  • Sohang hansa sumirai…Gorakhbani, p.87 Aisa jaap japahu…….ibid. p.64.
  • Sohan aap pachhaniai….Shabdarth, p. 60 Ajpa jaap na visrai….ibid, p. 29
  • Chhasai sahans ikisau …Gorakhbani, p. 164 Saas saas simrahu gobind…, Shabardarh, p. 295 Saas saas saas hai jaitai….ibid, p.981
  • Raja parja sam kar dekh. Gorakhbani, p.109
  • Jati ka garab na….Shabarth, p. 1128 Hamri jati pati….ibid, p. 731 © Janahu jati na …..ibid p. 349
  • Kamini bahta…..Gorakhbani p.140
  • Kadai na sobhai sundari…..ibid p.175
  • Ibid p.173 and 177
  • Avoh mayee dhar dhar…..ibid p.168 Thaan dei goriai….ibidp.175
  • Jin janani sansar dikhaya, ibid.p.178
  • Bidhwa naari nau sang…ibid.p.183
  • Bajri karanta amri….ibid.p.109
  • Bhag much bind …..ibid.p.110
  • Gharbari jo ghar ki….ibid p.86
  • Girhi so jo …..p.87
  • Brahm agni …..ibid p.80
  • Tajai Alingan…..ibid. p.79
  • Nadbid jakai ghat…ibid. p.80
  • Kaam neb sad….Shabardh, p.469-469
  • Kaam karodh kaya….ibid.p.932
  • Hey kamang narak…..ibid, p.1358
  • Kamini dekh ……ibid. p.1342
  • Khintha kaal kauri….ibid. p.4
  • akhi sutak vekhna…ibid kp.472 Partriya roop na….ibid p.275 © Takkai naar prayeean ibid. p.179
  • So girhi so …..ibid.p.952
  • Ibid, p.599
  • Ibid, p.599
  • Ik grih kutamb, ibid p.1046 Dhan girhi….ibid. p.1046 © Vichai grih sada …..ibid. p. 1070 So girhi so…..ibid.p.1332
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