Nath Sampradaya is a spiritual tradition or school of Shaivism, which is a major branch of Hinduism. It is primarily associated with the Nath yogis and is known for its emphasis on yoga, tantra, and the worship of Lord Shiva.
The Nath Sampradaya was founded by Matsyendranath, who was believed to be a disciple of Lord Shiva. Matsyendranath passed down his teachings to his disciple Gorakshanath, who became the second founding figure of the Natha Sampradaya.
The Nath Sampradaya is notable for its use of hatha yoga, a physical form of yoga that is meant to purify the body and prepare it for spiritual practices. The Nath yogis also place great importance on the awakening of the kundalini energy, which is said to reside at the base of the spine.
The Nath Sampradaya has had a significant influence on Indian culture, particularly in the areas of yoga, tantra, and Ayurveda. Many modern yoga practices, including the popular style of Hatha yoga, can trace their roots back to the Natha Sampradaya.
The word “nath” can have different meanings depending on the context, but in the context of the Natha Sampradaya, it is often translated as “lord,” “master,” or “protector,” which reflects the spiritual status of the Nath gurus within the tradition. An initiated into this tradition, will get a name ending in -nath.
The Nath Sampradaya’s focus on Hatha Yoga principles and the awakening of the kundalini energy has had a significant impact on the development of yoga as a practice and philosophy. The tradition’s emphasis on individual spiritual practice and the guidance of a guru also continues to influence many people who seek to deepen their understanding of yoga and spiritual growth.
There are similarities between Hinduism and Buddhism that can be seen in the Natha Sampradaya tradition. One such similarity is the inclusion of Buddhist gurus as part of the nine gurus of the Natha Sampradaya. This reflects the historical connection between Buddhism and Hinduism in India, and the influence that Buddhist teachings had on the development of Hinduism.
The use of yoga as a means of achieving spiritual states is a common thread between Hinduism and Buddhism. The Siddha tradition, from which the Nath Sampradaya is thought to have evolved, also explored the use of various techniques to achieve spiritual goals, such as meditation and physical practices like yoga.
While Hinduism and Buddhism have distinct differences, there are also many similarities between these two ancient traditions, and these similarities can be seen in the Natha Sampradaya tradition.
The nine gurus of the Nath Sampradaya tradition are traditionally believed to be:
Of these gurus, Matsyendranath and Gorakshanath are the most well-known and revered figures in the tradition.
There is some debate about whether some of the Natha gurus, such as Jalandharnath and Kanifnath, had Buddhist influences. It is believed that some Natha gurus may have had connections to Buddhist teachings or may have even been Buddhists themselves, and their inclusion in the Natha Sampradaya tradition reflects the historical connections between Buddhism and Hinduism in India.
It’s important to note that the Nath Sampradaya is primarily a Shaivist tradition of Hinduism, and while there may be some Buddhist influences or connections among the gurus, it is not a Buddhist tradition.
Abhyadattasri is one of the gurus included in the Nath Sampradaya tradition, believed to have been a Buddhist teacher who lived in the 8th or 9th century CE in the region now known as Nepal. He is said to have been a master of both the Buddhist and Hindu Tantric traditions and to have taught a synthesis of these teachings.
Abhyadattasri’s inclusion as a guru in the Nath Sampradaya reflects the historical connections between Buddhism and Hinduism in India and the influence that Buddhist teachings had on the development of Hindu Tantra. The Natha Sampradaya is primarily a Shaivite tradition of Hinduism, but its inclusion of Buddhist gurus like Abhyadattasri demonstrates the tradition’s openness to different spiritual paths and its recognition of the interconnectedness of different traditions.
The Hatha Pradipika is believed to have been written by Swami Svatmarama, a Hindu yogi who lived in India in the 15th century CE. Svatmarama is thought to have been a disciple of Gorakshanath, one of the nine gurus of the Nath Sampradaya tradition. Hatha Pradipika is a text on Hatha Yoga, a branch of yoga that emphasizes physical postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and other practices to purify the body and prepare it for spiritual pursuits.
The Hatha Pradipika is one of the most important texts on Hatha Yoga and has had a significant influence on the development of yoga practices in India and around the world.