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The Sanskrit word Nath means Lord, Protector, a Refuge. The Sanskrit term Adinath means first or original Lord, and is therefore a synonym for Shiva, Mahadeva, or Maheshvara, and beyond these mental concepts, the Supreme Absolute Reality as the originator of all things.
The Natha Tradition is a heterodox Siddha tradition containing many sub-sects. It was founded by Matsyendranath, and further developed by Gorakshanath. These two individuals are also revered in Tibetan Buddhism as Mahasiddhas (great magicians) and are credited with great powers.
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The Nath Initiation
The Nath initiation is conducted inside a formal ceremony in which some portion of the awareness and spritual energy (Shakti) of the Guru is transmitted to the Neophyte. The Neophyte, now a Nath, is generally also given a new Name with which to support their new identity. This transmission or "touch'" of the Guru is symbolically fixed by the application of ash to several parts of the body.
In The Phantastikos, Shri Gurudev Mahendranath wrote,
- "The passage of wisdom and knowledge through the generations required the mystic magick phenomenon of initiation, which is valid to this day in the initiation transmission from naked guru to naked novice by touch, mark, and mantra. In this simple rite, the initiator passes something of himself to the one initiated. This initiation is the start of the transformation of the new Natha. It must not be overlooked that this initiation has been passed on in one unbroken line for thousands of years. Once you receive the Nath initiation, it is yours throughout life. No one can take it from you, and you yourself can never renounce it. This is the most permanent thing in an impermanent life. Once you receive it you can pass it on to some other worthy person. And so, peace, freedom, and happiness can enter the lives of other people."
The Aims of the Naths
In The Magick Path of Tantra, Shri Gurudev Mahendranath wrote,
- "The Nath Tantriks value the development of the three super-psychic faculties of Insight, Intuition, and Imagination. These three super-faculties or master powers also enable them to create their own texts, mantras, and rituals, all having utility and being in harmony with Cosmic Law. The faculties of Insight, Intuition, and Imagination are the building blocks on which we build our occult world and magick way of life.
- "The Tantra or Nath way of life can best be described as a state of mind. In no way can it be mistaken for an agglomeration of rules, morals, or prohibitions. It assumes that human beings can and want to live without them. Even when it advises you to do or not to do something, it is not a rule but a guideline to spare you trouble and pain. But you are still free to do and think as you wish.
- "Of course, our way of life has many physical aspects, but our minds still determine the success or pleasure of an act. Our life should have a plan and purpose, since most people blunder their way through life and generate misery for themselves and for others too. Our aims in life are to enjoy peace, freedom, and happiness in this life, but also to avoid rebirth onto this Earth plane. All this depends not on divine benevolence, but on the way we ourselves think and act."
- Adityanath (2002). Nath FAQ (http://www.mahendranath.org/faq.mhtml). Retrieved Oct. 20, 2004.
- Mahendranath, Shri Gurudev. The Magick Path of Tantra (http://www.mahendranath.org/magickpath.mhtml). Retrieved Oct. 20, 2004.
- Mahendranath, Shri Gurudev. The Phantastikos (http://www.mahendranath.org/phantastikos.mhtml). Retrieved Oct. 20, 2004.