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The historical reason for this wide-spread popularity of the Nath literature throughout India is that the Nath movement was, and still is, an all-Indian movement – Obscure Religious Cults, Dasgupta
This text is from Hindu Castes and Sects, by Bhattacharya, Calcutta, 1916. Not only is this entry from his encyclopaedia out of print, it is also out of date, first being printed in 1899. It contains some inaccuracies regarding the nature and practices of the yogi panths but was a pioneering effort in its time, when little was known to those who were not members of the different sub-divisions of the sampradayas. Some of the material here is both interesting and unusual, particularly the stories Bhattacharya recounts.
A more reliable account is found in Gorakhnath & the Kanphata Yogis, G.W. Briggs, now once more in print, but one of the better descriptions is to be found in the English introduction to Siddha Siddhanta Paddhati & Other Works of the Nath Yogis, Mallik, 1953.
From a recent trip to India in November of this year, one mahant or abbot of a Nath ashram in Rajasthan estimated there were currently 100,000 yogis of the Bharo Panth or 12 panths still to be found in India. Notes to the original text are placed in parentheses. Ed.
JOGI; fem JOGIN. (1) — A devotee, a performer of jog. The Yoga system of philosophy, as established by Patanjali, taught the means whereby the human soul might attain complete union with the Supreme Being. The modern Jogi, speaking generally, claims to have attained that union and to be, therefore, a part of the Supreme (2) and, as such, invested with powers of control over the material universe. The history of the development of the modern Jogi out of the ancient professors of Yoga is as fascinating as it is obscure. But it would be entirely beyond the scope of this article, the object of which is to give a matter-of-fact account of the actual beliefs and customs of the latter-day Jogi.
The term Jogi may be said to include two very distinct classes of persons. First are the Jogis proper, a regular religious order of Hindus, which includes both the Aughar Jogis and the Kanphatta Jogi ascetics who are followers of Gorakh Nath and priests and worshippers of Shiva. (3) These men are fully as respectable as the Bairagis, Gosains and other religious orders. They are all Hindus, but the gharishti or secular Jogi, even if a Hindu, appears to be commonly called RAWAL and makes a living by begging, telling fortunes, singing and the like. (4) Another synonym for the Hindu Jogi is NATH. The second class is that miscellaneous assortment of low-cast faqirs and fortune-tellers, both Hindu and Musalman but chiefly Musalman, who are commonly known as Jogis. Every rascally beggar who pretends to be able to tell fortunes, or to practise astrological and necromantic arts in however small a degree, buys himself a drum and calls himself, and is called by others, a Jogi. These men include all the Musalmans, and probably a part of the Hindus of the eastern districts, who style themselves Jogis. They are a thoroughly vagabond set, and wander about the country beating a drum and begging, practising surgery and physic in a small way, writing charms, telling fortunes, and practising exorcism and divination; or, settling in the villages, eke out their earnings from these occupations by the offerings made at the local shrines of the malevolent godlings or of the Sayads and other Musalman saints; for the Jogi is so impure that he will eat the offerings made at any shrine. These people, or at least the Musalman section of them, are called in the centre of the Punjab Rawals, or sometimes Jogi-Rawals, from the Arabic rammal, a diviner, which again is derived from ramal, “sand,” which which the Arab magicians divine. (5) The Jogi-Rawals of Kathiawar are said to be exorcisers of evil spirits, and to worship a deity called Korial. In Sialkot, the Jogis pretend to avert storms from the ripening crops by plunging a drawn sword into the field or a knife into a mound, sacrificing oats, and accepting suitable offerings. Mr. Benton wrote:– “The Jogi is a favourite character in Hindustani fiction. The there appears as a jolly playful character of a simple disposition, who enjoys the fullest liberty and conducts himself in the most eccentric fashion under the cloak of religion without being called in question.” The Jogis used to be at deadly feud with the Saniasis and 500 of the former were once defeated by two or three hundred Saniasis. Akbar witnessed the fight and sent soldiers smeared with ashes to assist the Saniasis who at length defeated the Jogis. (6)
The Jogis as a body cannot be said to have any history; so numerous and indeterminate are the branches into which they have split up in the course of time. Regarding their origins the Jogis have a vast body of nebulous tradition, the debris of much primitive metaphysical speculation now hardly recognisable in its fantastic garb.
The Origin of the Jogis
According to the Taqiqat-i-Chishti, a devotee of Shiva, desired offspring, so the god, at Parbati’s intercession, gave him some ashes from his dhuni or fire and told him his wife should eat them. The wife, however, was incredulous and did not do so, but let the ashes fall on a heap of cowdung. Eventually the devotee found a child where the ashes had been thrown, and took it to Shiva, who said it would grow up a great ascetic and should be given to him. (7) He named it Gorakh Nath, from the place of his birth and instructed him to find a Guru. As Shiva could find no one worthy, Gorakh Nath set forth to seek a teacher, and reaching the sea, offered there a large loaf on a pipal leaf. This was swallowed by Rakho, the fish, who 12 years later restored not the loaf, but a child whom Shiva named Machchendra Nath and who became Gorakh Nath’s Guru. Another version makes Machchendra Nath the issue of Gorakh Nath himself.
Shiva then told Gorakh Nath that he must, though an ascetic, have children and advised him to make disciples. Shiva also gave him dubh grass, saying it should be their clothing, and a stick cut from an ak tree, saying it should be tied to his garments, and used as a nad, to be sounded thrice daily, in the morning, in the evening, and before the Guru. He also asked Parbati to bore Gorakh Nath’s ears and place earthen earrings in them. This she did and also mutilated herself, dyeing a cloth with the blood and giving it to Gorakh Nath to wear. Gorakh Nath then made twelve disciples:-
1. Sant Nath, 2. Ram Nath, 3. Sharang or Bharang Nath, 4. Dharm Nath, 5. Bairag Nath, 6. Darya Nath, 7. Kaik Nath, 8. Nag Nath (8), 9. Gangai Nath, 10. Dajja Nath, 11. Jalandhar Nath (9), 12. Nim Nath (10)
A tradition says that Narinjan Nirankar, the formless Creator, created Gorakh Nath from the sweat of his breast, whence is also called Ghor Nath (fr. ghor, filth). The Supreme then bade him create the universe, whereupon a creeping plant sprang from his navel, and a lotus blossomed on it. From this flower sprang Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva and Shakti, the last a woman who straightway dived beneath the waters, before earth or sky, air or fire had been created. As Earth was indespensable to the complete manifestation of the universe, the Supreme sent Vishnu down to the lower regions beneath the waters to bring Earth to the surface. When he reached the Patal Lok Vishnu saw Shakti with a dhuni in front of her, while light rayed from her body. A voice asked who had come, and Vishnu replied that his errand was to bring up Earth by the Supreme’s command. The Shakti answered that he could do so, provided he first wed her, but Vishnu urged that intercourse with her was impossible, since even at a distance of 12 kos he found her effulgence insupportable. So he returned unsuccessful. Brahma likewise failed, and so at last Shiva was sent. To his reply that ‘Shiva had come,’ the Voice said: ‘There have been crores of Shivas, which Shiva art thou?’ Shiva answered that he was the lord of Kailas, and he agreed to espouse Shakti when Earth and Sky had come into being. Shakti then gave forth the four vedas, and bestowed two handfuls of ashes with some smoke from her dhuni upon Shiva, who carried them up. The smoke when sent upwards became the sky, and the ashes when strewn upon the waters formed land. Hence the Jogis worship only Gorakh Nath and Shiva. By a process which reminds us of the myth of Hephaistos and Athene (11), Gorakh Nath became by a fish the father of Macchendra Nath, who forthwith went into the wastes to worship. When Gorakh Nath was reproached with his incontinence he felt that he must seek out a guru of his own, but finding none better than himself, he bethought him that his own son was fitted for the office and exclaimed:-
Barte khasm, nikalte puta,
He then sought out Machchendra Nath, who would have fallen at his feet, but Gorakh addressed him as his own guru This is how Macchendra Nath became Gorakh’s guru as well as his son.
The Brahmans tell quite a different tale: Basmasus, a rakshasa, had long served Shiva, who in return promised him any boon he might claim, so he demanded that which when placed on anything would reduce it to ashes. Shiva thereupon gave him his bangle. Bhasmasur coveted Parbati, Shiva’s wife, and he endeavoured to place the bangle on her husband’s head. Shiva fled, pursued by the demon, and at last hid in a cave on Kailas and blocked up its appearance with a stone. Bhagwan now assumed Parbati’s form and approached Bhasmasur, but whenever he tried to grasp the vision, it eluded his embrace, and at last declared that Shiva used to sing and dance before his wife. Bhasmasur avowed his readiness to learn and while wwas dancing as she taught him she bade him place his hand on his head. In it he held the bangle, and was burnt to ashes. Bhagwan then brought Shiva, who was afraid to show himself, out of the cave. Shiva’s curiosity was now arouded and he demanded that Bhagwan should again assume the form which had enchanted Bhasmasur. This was Mohni, Parbati’s double, but even more beauteous than she, and when her shape appeared Shiva by a process similar to that alluded to above became the father of Hanuman, who was born of Anjani’s ear, and of Machchendra Nath. By a cow he also fathered Gorakh Nath.
Once, says another legend, the sage Bashisht recounted the following story to Sri Ram Chandraji:- “My mind was ill at ease, and I wandered until I came to Bindra Chal, on which hill I spent a long period in worship. One day I saw the wife of Brahma, my father, coming towards me. She approached and said my father was wroth with her and I resolved to go to him, so I went and found a cave whose mouth was blocked by a stone. Unable to move it I created a man by my Brahm-tej (creative power) and he removed the stone. I then entered the cave, wherein I saw a world, like the one in which I lived. In it were all the gods, and I first made a reverence (parnam) to Brahma and then to all the other gods. But when I told them of my errand they warned me to quit the cave at once, since the day of judgment was at hand because wives were dissatisfied with their husbands. I did as they had bidden me, but meanwhile stillness had prevailed everywhere, and all the earth had turned to water. Soon a great sound arose from the waters, and endured for a long while, but when it had nearly died away Shakti appeared. I endeavoured to approach her, but could not even do obeisance, and stood like a statue before her. She then cast a ball into the waters, and it made a great sound. As it died away she again appeared. Thrice she did this, and the third time Vishnu appeared. Him she bade to wed her, but he refused and again she threw a ball upon the waters. Then Brahma emerged, but he too declined her hand, and again she cast a ball. Shiva then appeared in wrathful mood, and he promised to espouse her, but not yet. Though all these gods were free from maya, nevertheless through it they had appeared, and each claimed superiority over the others. Meanwhile a lotus blossomed on the surface of the waters, and they agreed that he who should trace it to its root should be deemed the chief. Neither Vishnu nor Brahma succeeded in his attempt, but Shiva, leaving his body, transformed himself into an insect and descended through the stem of the lotus. But his rivals besought Shakti to transfigure his body, so as to puzzle him on his return, and so she took some dirt off her body and of it made earrings (kundal). These she placed in the ears of Shiva’s form, boring holes in them, and thus re-animated the body. When it stood up she demanded fulfilment of Shiva’s promise, but his form refused to wed her, so in her wrath she threatened to burn it. The body, however, replied that her earrings had made him immortal. Subsequently the earrings were changes into mundras, as will be told later on. The Shakti then asked whose body it was, and it replied that it was Bhogu-rikh, whereby Jogis mean one who is immortal and has control over his senses. Hence Shiva is also called Bhoga-rikh.
Meanwhile Shiva returned, having traced the lotus to its root. Failing to find his own form he made for himself a new body (12) and in that married Shakti. The descendents of the pair were called Rudargan, those of Bhogu-rikh being named Jogijan. But Shiva’s progeny inherited his fierce temper, and eventually exterminated the descendants of Bhogu-rikh, who told Shiva that he, as a jogi, was free from joy or sorrow and was unconcerned at the quarrel between their children. But Shiva replied: ‘Thou are free from maya, yet dost owe thy existence to it. Do thy work, I will not interfere.’ So Bhogu-rikh began his task under Shiva’s counsel. Initiated by him he became known as Ude Nath Parbati (13) and founded the Jogi panth or ‘door’. (Bashisht’s tale would seem to end here.)
The following is a table of his spiritual descendants:-
After his initiation by Shiva Ude Nath made Rudargan a jogi and he by his spiritual power, initiated an evil spirt (dait) named Jalandhar, bringing him to the right way. He, in turn, made two disciples, Machchendra Nath and Jallandaripa. The latter founded the Pa panth; while Machchendra Nath made Gorakh Nath his disciple. And here we must tell the story of Machchendra Nath’s birth.
In the Satyug lived a Raja, Udho-dhar, who was exceedingly pious. On his death his body was burnt, but his navel did not burn, and the unburnt part was cast into a river, where a fish devoured it and gave birth to Macchendra Nath (14) — from machhi, ‘fish’. By means of his good deeds in a previous life he became a saint. Gorakh Nath was born of dung, and when Machhendra Nath found him he made him his disciple, and then left him to continue his wanderings. At length Machhendra Nath reached Sangaldip where he became a householder (15), killed the Raja and entered his body. He begat two sons, Paras Nath and Nim Nath. Raja Gopi Chand (16) of Ujjain was taught yog by his mother, and desiring to become a jogi sought out Jallandaripa, who taught him a certain maxim (shabd). Unable to understand this, he consulted his minister who falsely told him that its teaching was contrary to the Vedas and true religion, fearing that if he disclosed its real import, the Raja would abandon his kingdom and retire from the world. Hearing this false interpretation Gopi Chand had Jallandaripa cast into a well, into which he ordered horse-dung to be thrown daily. There he remained, until Gorakh Nath, resolved on his rescue, reached Ujjain. The seat of Jallandaripa at Ujjain was then occupied by Kanipa, the mahant. Gorakh Nath chose a lonely spot for his bathing-place and thither, according to Jogi usage, food was sent him from the kitchen of the monastery by the hands of a man who was not himself a Jogi. When this messenger, bearing food for one, reached Gorakh Nath he found two persons: when he took food for two, he found four, and so on. Hearing this Kanipa guessed it must be Gorakh, so he sent him a taunting message saying: ‘Thy guru is but a worldling, and thou canst not free him.’ But Gorakh retorted that Kanipa ought to be ashamed to let his guru remain so buried in the well. Upon this Kanipa, with the Raja’s leave, began to clear the well, but Gorakh declared that the horse-dung should ever increase, and left for Sangaldip. (17)
On arriving there, however, he found that the Raja had posted men to turn back any jogi trying to enter his kingdom, so he turned himself into a fly, and thus succeeded in entering the Raja’s court. There he caused all the instruments and the very walls to chant, ‘Awake Machhendra, Gorakh Nath has come’. The Raja bade him show himself, and he appeared before him among the musicians.
(There is clearly a gap in the recorded legend here (18). It continues:–)
The Raja’s queen died, and, after her death, Gorakh asked Machhendra to come away with him. On the way, after a repulsive incident, Gorakh killed Machhendra’s two sons and placed their skins on a tree. When Machhendra asked where the boys were, Gorakh showed him their skins, and then to comfort him restored them to life. FUrther on their road they were sent to beg in a village, where a man bade them drag away a dead calf, before he would give them alms. They did so and in return he gave them food, but when they reached Machhendra and Gorakh again they found it had turned to blood and worms. So Machhendra cursed the village (19) and when the people asked him to visit them he promised to do so in the Kaljug (Iron Age). (20) Paras Nath and Nim Nath then separated, and each founded a new panth, the Puj and the Sartora, with which other jogis have no concern. Gorakh and Machhendra now reached Ujjain, and found Jalandaradipa still buried in the well. With Kanipa they rescued him, turning all the horse-dung into locusts which flew away, and, when only a little was left, forming a human body with a blanket and infusing life into it: this man they bade bring the Nath out of the dung. (21) The man asked him to come out and give him bread, but the Bawa (saint Jallandaripa) asked who he was. He replied ‘Gopi Chand,’ and the saint thereupon burnt him to ashes seven times. But at the eighth time Gorakh asked Raja Gopi Chand to go himself to the saint. Jallandaripa then consented to come out, and declared that since he had not been consumed bu fire, he should become immortal, and this is why Gopi Chand never dies. (22) He was also made a Jogi by Kanipa, with the saint’s permission, and assumed the name of Sidh Sanskaripa, one of the 84 sidhs. The Jogis of this panth are called spadha, as they keep snakes. They are generally found in Bengal. One of them initiated Ismail, a Muhammadan into the panth, and he founded a new panth like that of Sidh Sanskaripa. (23)
Gorakh and Machhendra now left Ujjain and came towards the Jhelum. There they took up their abode on the hill of Tilla. Here they initiated the following as Jogis:- (i) Kapal Muniji, who in turn had two chelas, one Ajai-pal, who founded the Kapalani panth; the other Ganga Nath who established the panth called after his own name (24): (ii) Kharkai and Bhuskai, each of whom founded a panth: (iii) Shakar Nath. The last named in his wanderings reached a land where a Mlecch (low caste) Raja bore sway. By him the Jogi was seized and promised his liberty only if he would cause it to rain sugar, otherwise he would be put to the torture. But he induced the Raja to promise to become his servant if he performed this miracle. He succeded, and then seizing the Raja buried him in the ground. Twelve years later he returned, and found the Raja a skeleton, but he restored him to life and made him his disciple and cook. Nevertheless the Raja’s disposition was unchanged and one day he took out some of the pulse he was cooking and tasted it. (24) Bhairon chanced day to appear in person but he refused the proferred food and the ex-Raja’s villainy was detected. As a punishment a handi or earthen pot was hung round his neck and he was condemned to wander the livelong day getting his food out of the pot. His punishment lasted four years, and he was then pardoned, but his disciples were called Handi-pharang and the panth still bears that name : iv Another initiate was Sant Nath, whose disciple Dharm Nath founded the Dharm-nathi panth, which now has its head gaddi on the Godawari, having replaced the Ramke panth there: v The next initiate Santokh Nath, made one Ram Nath his chela, and he founded the Ram-ke panthwhich replaced on the Godawari by the Dharm-nathi, now has its chief gaddi in Delhi: vi Lachhman Nath succeeded Gorakh at Tilla and his panth is styled Darbari Tilla Bal Gondai. Subsequently was born a Jogi who founded a panth called the Sunehri Tilla, a famous order: vii Arjan Nanga, whose seat is near Jwalamukhi, founded the Man Manthi panth or ecstatics now settled at Bohar. If a faqir goes to the mahant of this panth he is given a hoe and some cord and told to go and cut grass. A long time ago one Sant Nath mahatma of the Dharm-nathis went to this mahant and was bidden to cut grass like any one else. So he asked whether he was to cut the grass from below or from above. He was told by a mahatma that he should so cut it that it would grow again. Accordingly ever since then when a chela is initiated into this ecstatic panth a guru dies. Sant Nathji’s panth is called the Bawaji ka panth. He had many chelas, of whom two deserve mention. These were Ranbudh and Mahnidata. Once as the Bawa wandered north his camels were stolen and when he told the people of that part that he was their pir or spiritual guide, they replied that he must eat with them. When this meal was ready he bade these two disciples eat with the people, promising them immortality, but forbidding them to found any more new panths. So they did not do so, and are called Nangas, and to this day two persons always remain in attendance at their tombs.
One account says that Sharang or Shring Nath, who attained to the zenith of spiritual power after Gorakh Nath’s death, introduced new rules of his own and bade his followers bore their ears and wear the mundra of wood. After his death the following sects or orders were formed:– (1) the Giri Nath, who marry and indulge in such luxuries as drinking, (2) The Parinama, some of whom are secular and eat meat, (3) the Saniasis, (4) the militant Nangas, (5) the Ajaipal whose founder was ruler of Ajmere and a profound believer in the ear-pierced Jogis. His followers are said to have once ruled India. (6) the Gwali-basda, (7) the Ismail Jogis — one follower of Ismail was Nona Chamari, a famous professor of the black art; (8) Agam Nath, (9) Nim Nath and (10) Jalandhar Nath.
The Mythology of Gorakh
The nine Naths and the 84 Sidhs always follow Gorakh in his wanderings, and the route can be traced by the small trees bearing sugarcandy which spring up wherever they go. It is related in the Bhagvat that Raja Sambhu Manu once ruled in Oudh over the whole world. When the four mid-born sons of Brahma refused to beget offspring, Brahma wept and a tear fell to the earth, whence sprang Sambhu. His descendants were:-
Sambu Manu (Swayambhuva, the self-existent)
Bharat with eight of his brothers ruled the 9 divisions (khandas) of the world: 81 became ascetics and Brahmans, and 9 became the Naths or perfected Jogis, whose names are given below.
The Naths are always said to be nine in number, in contradistinction to the panths which are, ideally, twelve. Their names and titles are variously give:-
1. Aungkar Adinath (Lord of Lords), Shiva.
Gorakh plays a leading part in the legend of Guga, and naturally therefore Jogis, both Hindu and Muhammadan, take offerings made to him, giving but a small share to the Chuhras; and also carry his flag, chhari, of peacock’s feathers, from house to house in Bhadon. (28)
The Sidhs, more correctly Siddhs, are properly speaking saints of exceptional purity of life who have attained to a semi-divine existence, but who in the eyes of the vulgar are perhaps little more than demons who obtained power from Gorakh. They are especially worshipped in the low hills (29), e.g. in Ambala and Hoshiarpur, in the forms of stones, etc., and under various names. The distinctive emblem of their cult appears to be the singi, a cylindrical ornament worn on a thread round the neck. Ghazidas is a Siddh of some repute near Una: Chanu is said to have been a Chamar, and people of that caste feast on goat’s flesh and sing on certain dates to his memory. Another Siddh is the jathera, or ancestor, Kala Pir, who is worshipped in the low hills and throughout the eastern Districts generally and more particularly, as Kala Mahar, by the Sindhu Jats as their forebear. His shrine is at Mahar in Samrala but the Sindhus of Khot in Jind have there set up a shrine with bricks from the original tomb and there they, and the Khatis and Lohars too, worship him. His shrine usually takes the form of a mud-pillar under a tree or by a pond, and images of him are worn in silver plates as charms. His samadh at Khot is in charge of the Ai-panth Jogis.
The mundra — How the kundal was turned into a mundra is explained in the following story:– WHen Bhartari was made a Jogi he was put to a severe test. Jallandaripa was his guru, but he was also a sadiq or pupil of Gorakh, and his chief companions were of the Kaplani panth, whence was known as Bhartari Kaplani and reckoned one of the 84 sidhs. One day he said to Jallandaripa: “Thou has put me to a severe test, but henceforth the faqirs of this panth will be mostly men of the world for they will mingle with such men.” Gorakh said that he would be the more pleased with them, and Bhartari asked for some mark to be given them to distinguish them from worldly people. According a hole three inches wide was made in the Jogi’s ears, and clay mundras were inserted in them. Subsequently the mundras were made of wood, then of crystal gilt, then of ivory. By wearing the mundras, a Jogi becomes immortal, as Bhogu-rikh had told Shakti. When this practice was permitted, two sidhs Kharkai and Bhuskai began to bore each Jogi’s ears, with Gorakh’s assent. The latter with these two sidhs and several other Jogis settled at a place on the road to Hinglaj in Balochistan, a place which every Jogi of this panth must visit if he wishes to be considered a perfect sadhu and attain yoga. Since then it has been usual to bore a Jogi’s ears, but once when the two sidhs tried to bore the ears of a Jogi who had visited that place they found that they healed as fast as they bored holes in them, so they gave up the attempt and Gorakh exclaimed that the pilgrim was ‘Aughar’. Thenceforth Aughars do not have their ears bored and form a body distinct from the other Jogis.
The Jogis claim, inter alia, power to transmute any metal into gold or solver. In the time of Altamsh, says one legend, a Jogi named Dina Nath begged a boy sitting in a shop with a heap of copper coin to give him a few pieces. The boy said the money was not his, but his father’s, and he gave the Jogi food. The Jogi prayed to Vishnu for power to reward the boy. Then he melted down the copper and turned the mass into gold by means of charms and a powder. Altamsh heard of the occurrence and witnessed the Jogi’s powers, but the latter declined to accept any of the gold he had made, so it was sent to the mint and coined, with his name as well as that of Altamsh upon it, Jogis allege that these ‘Dinanathi’ gold mohars are still to be found.
Similarly, the Jogis claim power over hailstorms, and in Sialkot the rathbana (30) is a Jogi who can check a hailstorm or divert it into waste land.
The connection between Jogis and snake-worship is naturally a close one. In some places Jogis are said to eat snakes — a kind of ritualistic cannibalism — and the snake is often styled jogi, just as the parrot is designated pandit. (31)
The cults of Jogis contain strong elements of nature-worship which finds expression in the names assumed by them after initiation. Such are Nim-nath (32), Kanak-nath (wheat), Nag-nath (snake), Tota-nath (parrot).
The Jogis hold everything made of earth in great respect, whence the saying:- Mitti ka asan, mitti ka basan, mitti ka sarhana, mitti ka bana – ‘The earthen asan (carpet), the earthen pitcher, the earthen pillow and the earthen woof’.
The Jogi Janeo
The Jogis generally wear a janeo of black wool, which is made by certain members of the order, not by any member, nor by a Brahman. It is 9 cubits long, made of 3 strands each, woven of 8 threads on a bobbin, and plaited into a bobbin-thread, like an English braid necklace. (33) Round the waist Jogis wear a similar thread of 2 separate bobbin-threads of 8 strands each, twisted together, with a loop at one end a button at the other.
The Kanphatta should be branded at Kaleswar near Dwarka with two concentric circles within a third incomplete one, both ends of which are finished off by a circular bend in the arm. (34)
The rudraksha (35) with two facets is sacred to Shiva, and can only be worn by the Jogi who has his wife with him: One with 5 facets is devoted to Hanuman; and one with 11 is highly prized, being sacred to Gauri Shankar and worn by celibate Jogis.
The Jogi funeral rites
A dying Jogi is made to sit cross-legged. After death the corpse is washed by the deceased’s fellow-Jogis, a langoti tied round its waist and ashes smared over it. A coffin is then made, if means permit, but a poor Jogi is simply wrapped in a blanket and carried by two men on two poles, and the body thrown into a river. A wealthy Jogi is, however, placed on a wooden chauki shaped like a palanquin, and upon this flowers are cast. The procession to the grave is called sawari and is headed by horses and bands playing music. The grave is made deep, with a spacious niche like that in Muhammadan graves, and the body placed in it cross-legged and facing the north. (36) The Jogi’s bairagan is palced before him, with a gourd full of water on his right, a loin-cloth, a kanak or staff of Mahadeo, a loaf of wheaten flour, and two earthen plates, one full of water, the other of rice and milk. An earthen potsherd is also placed on his head. Then a mound is raised over the grave, (37) and all the Jogis wash their hands with water supplied by the deceased’s disciples. They then bathe and the disciples give them sweets. On the third day they are also fed (churma alone being given if the disciples are poor). Later on the shradh is, if possible, performed thus:– Jogis are invited and keep a vigil all night. About a pahr before dawn they are fed with fish, or pakauras (vegetables coated with baisan or paste of powdered gram fried in mustard oil), or khir, i.e. rice boiled in milk, gram and ghungnian, or pilao, or rice, wine, flesh, fruit, etc. Seven thrones or gaddis are now erected to: (i) The Pir, (iiiii) Sakhya or witness, (iv) Bir, (v) the Bhandari of Guru Gorakh Nath, (vi) Guru Gorakh Nath, and (vii) to Neka. Mantras are then repeated, and clothes: gold, silver and copper: a cow and earth given away in charity. The wake is now attended only by Jogis but formerly men of all classes, even Muhammadans, used to take part in it. Lastly, after all these ceremonies, a council (pindhara) of Jogis is held, and one of the deceased’s disciples is elected Guru or Bir Mahant, three kinds of food, puri, kachauri and pilao being distributed. The deceased’s clothes and the coffin are given to the kotwals, or bankias, or else to Jangam faqirs. As the Jogi is not burnt his bones cannot be sent to the Ganges, so his nails are removed and taken to Hardwar. The samadh of a Jogi may be of earth or brick, and belpattar (leaves) are strewn over it. On it a lamp is also kept burning for 10 days, flowers and water being placed near it and a conch being blown. Rice balls are given in the name of the deceased for 10 days as among other Hindus. On the 10th day clothes are washed and on the 13th kirya karam ceremony is performed. The ceremonies are the same as among Hindus.
The following story is told to account for the fact that Jogis bury their dead: In Gorakh’s time, there arose a dispute between the Hindus and the Muhammadans, the latter saying they were masters of the earth and of all the living and the dead. Gorakh sat on the ground, placing all his food, etc., by his side, and bade the earth yield to him, if he too had a share in it. It opened and Gorakh sank into it and so Jogis usually bury their dead.
In theory any Hindu can become a Jogi, but in practice only those of the twice-born castes are admitted into the order. In theory caste is abandoned upon entering it, and as marriage is, in theory, forbidden, no question as to caste can arise in connection with it. But as marriage is in practice tolerated, the original caste is preserved in practice for matrimonial purposes, though in theory all Jogis are caste-less. Further, there is a tendency to avoid marriange in the same panth, as all the members of a panth are in theory spiritually akin. Within the order there is in theory equality and no restrictions are placed upon eating, drinking or smoking together, but even a Hindu of high caste who joins the panth of Jalandhar Nath is excluded by other panths. Moreover, the theoretical equality does not extend to the women, as the Jogi does not allow his women-folk to eat with him. Women of every panth may, however, eat together.
A would-be disciple is dissuaed from becoming a Jogy, the hardship of the life being impressed upon him. If he persists he is made to fast for two or three days. After this, a knife is driven into the earth and the novice is made to swear by it —
(i) not to engage in trade;
He is also required to protect his ears, for a Jogi whose ears were cut used to be buried alive, but is now only excommunicated. After this probation his ears are bored by a guru, or an adept, who is entitled to Rs.1-4 as an offering which may or may not be accepted.
Up to a certain point the Jogi initiatory rites resemble those of the Saniasis. The choti of the novice is removed by the guru: the janeo is also removed: and he is given saffron-coloured clothes to wear. Of these the kafni is worn compulsorily. The guru-mantar is then communicated, secretly. After this the Jogis of ‘a certain sect’ pierce the chela’s ears, and insert the kundal or earring, and the chela, hitherto an aughar, (38) now becomes a nath, certain set phrases (not mantras) being recited. According to Macauliffe Jogis smear ashes on their naked bodies as clothing or as a protection against the elements, (39) but the ashes appear to symbolize their death to the world, like the kafni.
We may thus safely distinguish three stages in a Jogi’s initiation. At first he is a chela (pupil or candidate), then an aughar or novice, (40) and finally a darshani, vulg kanphatta (or split-eared) (41). An Aughar is not entitled to all the privileges of the sect, e.g., at a feast he only receives half the portion of a Kanphatta. A Jogi who is fully initiated certainly loses all rights of inheritance in his natural family, but it is doubtful whether an Aughar would do so. It is also not clear whether initiation involves the loss of property already vested in the initiate, but presumably it would do so.
The derivation of Aughar is obscure. The grade or order, however we regard it, does not appear to be connected with the Aghori or Ghor-panthis who are cannibal faqirs of a singularly repulsive type. (42) The Aughars of Kirana in Jhang are of good repute and retain large jagirs granted them by the Sikhs. They are distinguished by an ochre-coloured turban over which is twisted a black net-work of thread covered with gold. The mahant is styled pir, and once elected may never again descend the hill.
To these three degrees may perhaps be added a fourth, that of mahatma, a dignity hardly alluded to in the accounts rendered of the sect. A Jogi who attains to great spiritual eminence is exempt from wearing mundras, the janeo, and so on.
After initiation a Jogi may apparently select the function which he is to fulfil. Thus he may become a militant member of the sect, vowed to celibacy and styled Nanga, Naga, Nadi, Nihang, Kanphara or Kanphatta.
Or he may relapse and, breaking his vow of celibacy, become a secular Jogi, designated Bindi-Nagi, Sanyogi (Samayogi), Gharbari or Grihisti.
Lastly, the initiate Jogi may join one of the various panths or orders. These panths are in theory limited to twelve in number, but in reality they number many more than twelve.
The Divisions and Offshoots of the Jogis
The grouping of the Jogis is exceedingly complex and and appears to vary in different parts of these provinces.
Thus in Kangra the Hindu Jogis are classed as ‘Andarla’ or Inner and ‘Bahirla” or Outer Jogis; and the forther are further divided into Darshanis and Aughars. (43)
The distinctions between these Inner and Outer groups are not specified, but they have different observances and their origin is thus accounted for:- Once when Gorakh gave two goats to Machhendra’s sons he bade them slaughter the animals at a place where none could see them. One boy killed his goat: but the other came back with his alive and said that he had found no such spot, since if no man were present the birds would witness the slaughter, or if there were no birds, the sun or moon. Gorakh seated the latter boy by his side and he was called Andarla, while the other was expelled and dubbed Bahirla. Both groups observe the usual Hindu social customs, except at death, the only difference being that the Bahirla only give Brahmans food and do not feast them, and at funerals they blow a nad instead of the conch, which is used by the Andarlas.
Elsewhere the Darshanis (44) appear as a group which is distinguished from the Nangas, who use flesh and spirituous liquor, which the former avoid. The latter are also said to wear no clothes — as their name denotes, but the Darshanis are said to be further divided into two classes, of which one is clothed, while the other, which smears the body with ashes and affects the dhuni, is not. However this may be the Darshanis must have their ears pierced and are thus identical with the Kanphata or Kanphatta Jogis. The latter are celibate and live by begging, in contradistinction to the Sanyogis who can marry and possess property. (45)
In Jind the Jogis are said to be classed as (i) Bari-dargah, ‘of the greater court,’ who avoid flesh and spirits, and as (ii) Chhoti-dargah (46), who do not. Both groups are disciples of Mast Nath, the famous mahant of Bohar. Jalandhar Nath was the son of a Raja, whose wife remained pregnant for 12 years without giving birth to her child, and she was thought to be afflicted with dropsy (jalandhar). At last the Raja vowed that, if a son were vouchsafed him, he would dedicate him to Gorakhnath. Jalandhar Nath was born in response to this vow, and founded the panth named after him.
Raja Bhartari was the son of Raja Bhoj, king of Dharanagar. He had 71 ranis, of whom one, by name Pingla, was a disciple of Gorakh (47) who gave her a flower saying it would remain ever fresh as long as her husband was alive. One day to test Pingla’s love Bhartari went a-hunting and sent back his blood-stained clothes and horse with the news that he had been killed, but the rani, seeing the flower still fresh knew that the Raja only doubted her love for him and in grief at his mistrust killed herself. When she was carried out to the burning-ground the Raja evinced great grief and Gorakh appeared. Breaking his chipi (48), the saint walked round it, weeping and Bhartari asked him why he grieved. Gorakh answered that he could get the Raja a thousand queens, but never a vessel like the one he had just broken, and he showed him a hundred ranis as fair as Pingla, but each of them said: ‘Hold aloof! Art thou mad? No one knows how often we have been thy mothers or sisters or wives.’ Hearing these words Bhartari’s grief was moderated and he made Gorakh his guru, but did not abandon his kingdom. Still when he returned to his kingdom the loss of Pingla troubled him and his other queens bade him seek distraction in hunting. In great pomp he marched forth, and the dust darkened the sun. On the banks of the Samru he saw a herd of deer, 70 hinds with a single stag. He failed to kill the stag, and one of the hinds besought him to kill one of them instead, since the stag was as dear to them as he was to his queens, but the Raja said he, a Kshatriya, could not kill a hind. So the hind who had spoken bade the stag meet the Raja’s arrow, and as he fell he said: ‘Give my feet to the thief that he may escape with his life; my horns to a Jogi that he may use them as his nad; my skin to an ascetic that he may worship on it; my eyes to a fair woman that she may be called mirga-naini, (49); and eat my flesh thyself.’ And to this day these things are used as the dying stag desired.
On his return the Raja was met by Gorakh who said he had killed one of his disciples. Bhartari retorted that if he had any spiritual powers he could restore the stag to life, and Gorakh, casting a little earth on his body, did so. Bhartari then became a Jogi and with his retainers accompanied Gorakh, but the latter refused to accept him as a disciple unless he brought alms from his ranis, addressing them as his mothers, and practised jog for 12 years. Bhartari did as he was bid, and in answer to his queens’ remonstrances said: “From the point of view of my raj ye are my queens, but from that of jog ye are my mothers, as the guru has bidden me call you so.” Thus he became a perfect jogi and founded the Bhartari Bairag panth of the Jogis.
Upon no topic is our information so confused, contradictory and incomplete as it is on the subject of the various sub-orders into which the Jogis, as an order, are divided. The following is a list of most of these sub-orders in alphabetical order with a brief note on each:
The Abha-panthi is probably identical with the Abhang Nath of the Tahqiqat i-Chishti.
The Aghori, Ghori or Aghor-panthi is an order which smears itself with excrement, drinks out of a human skull and occasionally digs up the recently buried body of a child and eats it; thus carrying out the principle that nothing is common or unclean to its extreme logical conclusion.
The Ai-panth is a well-known order, said to be ancient. (50) In Dera Ghazi Khan it is called the Bari-dargh and one of its saints (51) when engaged in jog, cursed one of his disciples for standing before him with only a langoti on and bade him remain naga or naked for ever. So to this day his descendants are called Nagas. Another account says that this and the Haith-panthi order were founded by Gorakh Nath.
The chief asan of the Ai-panth is at Bohar in the Rohtak district. It is said to have been founded by a famous guru called Narmai-ji (52) who was born only a few generations after Gorakh’s time at Khot, now in the Jind State. In veneration for him all the succeeding gurus adopted the termination Ai in lieu of Nath, and this is still done at Khot but not at Bohar. Five generations after Narmai, Mast Nath or Mastai-ji became guru at Bohar in Sambat 1788, and after him the affix Nath was resumed there, though the asan is still held by the Ai-panth. Mast Nath died in Sambat 1804, and a fair is held here on Phagan sudi 9th, the anniversary of his death. The asan contains no idols. Hindus of all castes are employed but those of the menial castes are termed Chamarwa, (53) but other initiates lose their caste, and become merged in the order. At noon bhog or sacramental food is offered to all the samadhs (of Baba Mast Nath and other lights of the order); and then the bhandar or refectory is opened and food distributed freely to all, no matter what their caste. A lamp, fed with ghi, is kept burning in each samadh. In a dharmsala near Bohar is a Sanskrit incription of Sambat 1333. The Bairag or Bhartari Bairag order was founded by Raja Bhartari, and ranks after the Sat-Nath. (54) But in the west of these Provinces the Bairag’s foundation is ascribed to Prem Nath of Mochh in Mianwali, the head-quarters of the order being at Miani in Shahpur. Like the Darya-nathi this order is an offshoot of that founded by Pir Ratn Nath of Peshawar. It has also representatives at Kalabagh and Isakhel.
The Bhartari Bairag Jogis found in the Bawal nizamat of Nabha are secular and belong to the Punia (Jat) got, which they retain. Their forebear Mai Nath was as a child driven from his home in Delhi district by famine, and the Muhammadan Meos of Solasbari in Bawal brought him up. When the Jats seized the village he lived by begging and became a jogi, so the Jats made him marry a girl belonging to a party of juggler Jogis. Then he went to Narainpur in Jaipur territory and became a chela of Gorakh Nath.
The Bharang Nath of the Tahqiqat is possibly the Handi-pharung.
The Brahma ka order appears to be the same as the Sat-nath.
The Darya-nathi order is chiefly found in the west, especially trans-Indus. It posseses gaddis at Makhad on the Indus, in Kohat and even in Quetta.
The Dhaj-panthi order is found in or at least reported from Peshawar and in Ambala. It may be that the order derives its name from dhaj meaning flag. Mr Maclagan mentions the Dhaj-panthi as followers of Hanuman. The Tahqiqat gives Dhaja-panthi as the form of the name.
The Dharm-nathi order is widely spread, but its head-quarters are on the Godawari. Its foundation is ascribed to a Raja Dharm.
The Ganga-nathi order was founded by one of Kapal Muni’s two disciples. It is mentioned in the Tahqiqat as Gangai-nath.
The origin of the Jalandhar-nath order has already been related. In Amritsar it is known as Bawa Jalandhar ke, and its members keep snakes.
The Kaniba-ki are said to be chelas of Jalandhar Nath. Of this branch are the Sapelas: Maclagan 55.
The Kaplani or Kapil-panthi order ascribes its origin to Kapal Muni, and is thus also known as Kapal Deo ke. Or it was founded by Ajai Pal, Kapal Muni’s disciple, and is thus cousin to the Ganga-nathi order.
The Kaya-nathi or Kayan-nathi is an offshoot of the Ganga-nathi. But in Dera Ghazi Khan it is said that they received their name from Pir Ratn Nath who made an image out of the dirt of his own body.
The Kanthar or Khantar order owes its origin to Ganesha. In Ambala it is said to be endogamous.
Lachhman Nath’s order is said in Hoshiarpur to be also known as the Darbari Nath Tilla Bal Gondai, but in Amritsar is said to be the same as the Natesri (as in Maclagan, 55).
The Mai-ka-panth are disciples of the Devi Kali.
The Man Manthi appear to be identical with the Man Nath, returned from Peshawar, and the Manathi or Mannati in Jhelum who ascribe their foundation to Raja Rasalu. Mr. Maclagan mentions the Man-Nath as followers of Rasalu, 55.
The Mekhla dhari is a class or order which is returned from Ambala and its name is said to mean wearer of the taragi.
The Natesri order appears to have no representatives in the Punjab but see above under Lachhman Nath’s order.
The Nim Nathia is distinct from the order founded by Paras Nath q.v. It is said to be also called Gaplani or Kisgai.
The Papanth appears to be also called Panathi or Panpatai, a sub-order founded by Jalandhar as a disciple of Mahadeo.
The Pagal appears to be identical with the Rawal-Ghalla.
The Paras Nath order is sometimes hsown as half an order, the Rawals being its other half. But Paras Nath was one of Machhendra’s two sons and he founded an order which soon split up into to distinct schools, (i) the Puj — who are celibate but live in houses and observe none of the rules observed by (ii) the Sartoras, who always wear a cloth over the mouths, strain water before drinking it, never kill aught that has life: further they never build houses, but lead a wandering life, eating only food cooked by others, and smoking from a chilam, never from a hukkah. That these two sub-orders are both Jains by religion, if not by sect, is perfectly obvious, and it is indeed expressly said that this Paras Nath is he whom the Jains revere.
The Ram-ke or Ram Chandra-ke, panth was founded by Ram Nath, a disciple of Santokh Nath, and had its head-quarters in the Godawari till it was replaced there by the Dharm-nathi. It appears to be sometimes ascribed to Ram Chandra, but erroneously so.
The Sant-nathi appear to be quite distinct from the Sat-nathi.
The Sat-Nath (or Brahma-ke, q.v.)
The Santokh Nathi are mentioned by Mr. Maclagan as followers of Bishn Narain, and are probably the Vishnu of Amritsar.
Other orders mentioned are the Bada ke, in Dora Ghazi Khan, the Baljati in Karnal, the Bharat in Dera Ghazi Khan, Haith-panthi in Ambala and Jhelum, Hariani, Latetri and Mai ka panth in Dera Ghazi Khan, the Path-sana in Karnal (Patsaina in Jind), Ridh Nath in Amritsar, Sahj in Ambala, and the Bishnu in Amritsar.
In Mr. Maclagan’s lists also appear the Kalepa and Ratn Nath: and in the Tahqiqat-i-Chishti the Dhar Nath, Darpa-Nath, Kanak Nath and Nag Nath (55) are also mentioned.
The Padha are described in Ambala as a caste, originally Jogis, but purely secular and now endogamous.
The influence of Jogis on and beyond the north-west frontier is one of the most remarkable features of the cult. Legend connects the Gorkhatri at Peshawar with Gorakh, and it was once a Jogi haunt, as both Babar and Abu’l-Fazl testify. The chief saint of the Hogis in the north-west is Pir Ratn Nath of Peshawar, (56) in whichdistrict as well as throughout Kabul and Khorasan, a kabit is said to be current which describes his power.
The disciples of Pir Ratn Nath do not wear the mundra, and to account for this tradition says that once when Jogis of the 12 orders had assembled at Tilla for a tukra observance, Ratn Nath, who had no earrings, (57) was only assigned a half share. He protested that a Jogi who had earrings in his heart need wear none in his ears, and he opened his breast to exhibit the mundra in his heart! So his disciples are exempt from the usual rule of the sect. They appear to beong to the Darya-nathi panth but the branch of Pir Ratn Nath’s dera at Miani in Shahpur is held by Bairag-ke-Jogis.
The Bacchowalia is a group of Muhammadan Jogis who claim descent from one Gajan Jat and yet have more than one Hindu got (Pandhi, Chahil, Gil, Sindhu and Rathora (58)). They are chroniclers or panegyrists, and live on alms, carrying a jholi (wallet) and a turban composed of two dopattas, each of a different colour, as their distinctive costume. Originally Hindus they adopted Islam and took to begging, their name being doubtless derived from H, biccha, ‘alms’. But they have, of course, a tale to explain their name and say that their forebears grazed a Kumhar’s baccha — a story inconsistent with the fact that they are not all of one and the same got, but which doubtless alludes to their ancient worship of the earth-god.
Another Muhammadan group is that of the Kal-pelina as the disiciples of Ismail are sometimes called. Little seems to be known about Ismail except that he was initiated by one of the Sidh Sanskaripa. He is also said to have been an adept in black magic and ‘a contemporary of one Kamakha devi‘. It is difficult to avoid the conjecture that he is in some way connected with the Ismailians.
The Rawals, however, are the most important of the Muhammadan Jogi groups. Found, mainly, in the western districts, they wander far and wide over the rest of India, and even to Europe where they practise as quack occultists and physicians. The name, is indeed, said to be a corruption of the Persian rawinda, ‘traveller’, ‘wanderer’: and tradition avers that when Ranjha, in his love for Hir, adapted the guise of a faqir and wandered till he came to Tilla, he became Pir Bala Nath’s disciple and thence went to Jhang where he sought for his beloved. All his disciples and companions were called Rawal. (59)
The Rawals are sometimes said to be divided into two groups, Mandia (60) and Ghal (61), but according to one account they form a half of one of the 12 orders, the other being the Paras Nath, i.e. the Jains. Probably this latter tale merely means that the Rawals like the Jains are an offshoot of the Jogi cults.
The Ja’fir Pirs
In the reign of Akbar there lived in Rajauri a Jogi named Shakkar Nath who was challenged by the Muhammadans to provide sugar in that country, in which the article was scarce. ‘Shakkar’ by his prayers caused it to rain sugar on the 10th of Rajab, 910 A.H. [Shakkar was the disciple of Badeshar Nath of Badeshar, and when Akbar visited that place and ordered a fort to be built there Badeshar Nath caused all the springs to dry up, by throwing a stone, which made Akbar abandon his project].
‘Pir’ Shakkar Nath on his death-bed, having no disciples, called to the only man near him, one Ja’fir, a Muhammadan and made him his successor, thus starting a new order. He advised Ja’fir to make only uncircumcised Muhammadans his disciples, and this rule is still observed by the order which employs Hindu cooks, and whose members bore their ears, but do not eat with other Jogis, though they enjoy all their privileges. The Jogis of Pir Ja’fir are Sant-nathias by sect.
The Jangam, or Jogi-Jangam as he is sometimes called in contradistinction to the Jogi proper, originated thus: When Shiva married Parbati no one would accept alms at his hands, so he created a man from his thigh (jang) and, giving him alms, promised him immortality but declared he should live by begging. The Jangams are divided into four groups (i) Mul, celibates, who practise jog in the pranayam form: (ii) Langoch, celibate, also who carry the image of Shiva in the Narbadeshwar incarnation in a small phylactery round the neck (chiefly foundd in the south of India): (iii) Sail, also celibate, found chiefly in the hills as they avoid mixing with worldly people; and (iv) Diru, found in the south-east Punjab. This last-named group is secular and is recruited from the Brahman, Rajput, Bhat, Jat and Arora castes. But the got appears to be often lost on entering the group, for it is said to comprise 15 gots:
Powar, Indauria, Bhat, Kajwahi, Sadher, Bainiwal, Tanur, Nehri, Chandiwal, Duple, Sahag, Redhu, Laran, Narre, Chhal.
Marriage is effected by exchange, two gots being avoided. (62) Rupees 50, 25, 15 or 10 are spent on a wedding, according to its class. Widows remarry, but, if a widow marry one who is excommunicated, the man is made to bathe in the Ganges and feast the brotherhood; then the pair are re-admitted into the caste.
Another version is that Shiva at his wedding created two recipients of his alms, one, Jangam, from the sweat of his brow, the other, Lingam, from his thigh. These Jangams accept alms from all Hindus, at least in the western Districts, whereas Lingams only take them from Jogis and Saniasis. But it is usually said that the Jangam accept alms from Jogis.
To the Jangam Shiva gave the bull’s necklace hung with a bell or jaras, and everything that was on his head, and so Jangams still wear figures of the moon, serpents, etc., on their heads. He also ordered them to live by begging, and so Jangams still sing songs about Shiva’s wedding, playing on the jaras as they beg. Instead of the mundra they wear brass flowers in their ears, carry peacock’s feathers, and go about begging in the bazars, demanding a pice from each shop. They are looked upon as Brahmans and are said to correspond with Lingayats of Central and Southern India.
The Sapelas or Sampelas
The sampelas, or snake-men, claim Kannhipi (Kanipa), the son of the Jhinwar who caught the fish from which Machhendra Nath had emerged: Kannhipi was brought up with him and became a disiciple of Jalandhar Nath. By which is meant that snake-charmers, like snakes, owe much to the waters. The sampelas are not celibate; though they have their ears bored and wear the mundra, with ochre-dyed clothes, and they rank lower than the Hindu Jogis because they will take food from a Muhammadan and eat jackal. They tame snakes, playing on the gourd-pipe (bin), and lead a wandering life, but do not thieve. Their semi-religious character places them above the Kanjars and similar tribes. Some of their gots are:-
Gadaria, Linak, Athwal, Tank, Chauhan, Sohtra, Phenkra, Tahliwal, Bamna.
In marriage four gots are avoided.
The Jogis as a Caste
The secular Jogi or Samyogi, as he should apparently be called, does in parts of the Punjab form a true caste. Thus in Kullu he has become a Nath and in Ambala a Jogi-Padha. In Loharu there is a small Jogi caste of the Jatu trible which was founded by a Rajput of that tribe. Of his two sons, the descendants of one, Bare Nath, are secular, when those of the other Bar Nath remain celibate, pierce their ears and wear the mundra, though how they are recruited is not explained. In all respects they follow the usual rites save at death. They bury the body seated, facing north and place a pitcher of water under its right arm and some boiled rice under its left arm. Widow remarriage is allowed.
In Ambala the Samyogis (not the Padhas) are said to have 12 sections, including the:-
Ai, Kanthar, Dhaj, Pagal, Sahj, Paopanthi, Hait, Rawal.
The Kanthars are said to be endogamous, but all the others intermarry. In Nabha the padhas, however, do not appear to be a caste, but are simply Jogis who teach children Hindi.
Though professing Jogis are forbidden to marry, many of them do so, and it is impossible to disentangle the Jogis who abandon celibacy from those who do not profess it at all and form a caste. In Dera Ghazi Khan, for instance, Jogis intermarry but not within their caste as Jogis. There is no bar to a Hindu or a Sanyasi taking a Jogi girl in marriage, but respectable Hindus do not do so. Their marriage ceremonies are generally like those of Hindus, as Brahmans perform them. A Jogi who marries is regarded with contempt by his brother Jogis, who do not smoke with him until he has given a feast at a cost of Rs. 12-8 to an assembly of Jogis at some sacred place, such as the bank of the Ganges, or a fair.
On the other hand Grihisti Jogis retain many outward signs of the professing Jogi. They wear saffron coloured clothes and sometimes smear ashes over the body. They use the janeo of black wool which is smaller than that worn by a Brahmin or other twice-born Hindu. They wear a nad of horn or else have a bit of wood made in the shape of a nad and attached to the janeo. They are obliged to wear a paunchi of wool round their hands and feet and a woollen string round the waist. They also use the rosary of rudraksh beads. Some have their ears bored while others go to Gorakh Nath’s gaddi and get a kanthi tied round the neck. Though the use of flesh and liquor is permissible they follow the Brahmans and abstain from them. They live on alms and by singing the love tales of Hir and Ranjha etc., and ballads like those of Jaimal and Fattah, etc. Otherslive by exhibiting nadia bulls. In Karnal the Jogis by caste are generally Hindus and receive offerings made to the impure gods. They form one of the lowest of all castes and practise witchcraft and divination, being also musicians.
(1) Jogini is a female demon, created by Durga, a witch or sorceress: see Platt’s n.v. The Yoginis or sorceresses of Hindu mythology may be a modification of the Yakshinis or Dryads of Buddhist iconography — Grunwedel, Buddhist Art in India, p.111. The jogini is a sprite common in modern Punjab folklore, especially in the Hills. Thus in Kullu beside the devtas there are other beings who must from time to time be propitiated, but who do not generally possess temples. The woods and waterfalls and hill-tops are peopled by jognis, female spirits of a malignant nature, the gray moss which floats from the branches of firs and oaks in the higher forests is “the jognis’ hair.” The jogni of Chul, a peak of the Jalori ridge, sends hail to destroy the crops if the people of the villages below fail on an appointed day to make a piligrimage to the peak and sacrifice sheep.
(2) Pandit Hari Kishen Kaul dissents from this view and would say:- “Some of the modern Jogis claim supernatural prowess, acquired by practising austerities or by black magic.” The point of the observation in the test is that the practice of austerities or religious exercises confers, directly or indirectly, dominion over the material universe.
(3) It might be more correct to say Bhairava, not Shiva.
(4) This was Sir Denzil Ibbetson’s view, but the Gharishti or Grihasti Jogi is now accurately described as distinct from the Jogi Rawal. The latter may be by origin a Jogi, but he is a degenerate and has now no connection with the Jogis properly so called.
(5) The derivation of Rawal from ramal appears quite untenable. The word Rawal is used as a title in Rajputana. It means “lord” or “ruler” and is thus merely a synonym of nath, but appears to be specially affected by Jogis of the Nag-nathia panth, see infra.
(6) E.H.I., V, p.318.
(7) An instance of a child being devoted to the god from birth. This legend is doubtless of quite recent origin, made up by ignorant Jugis out of fragments from the Puranas. No classical authority is or could be quoted for what follows. It is pure folklore, possibly ancient but probably modern.
(8) Jogis of the Nag-Nathia panth are called Rawals
(9) Jogis of the Jalandhar-Nathia panth are called pa instead of nath
(10) Jogis of the Nim-Nathia panth are called Gaphain.
(11) A. Mommsen: Feste der Stadt Athen, p.6 and Roscher, Lexikon, s, v, Hephaistos.
(12) The Jogis, it is said, do not admit that Shiva thus created a second body.
(13) Lit Noble lord (nath) of the mountain (parbati).
(15) Grihisht ashram. In other words he relapsed and abandoned the spiritual life. This appears more clearly in the following variant of the legend:– After making Gorakh his disciple Macchendra went off to Kamrup — not to Sangaldip — and there he found the country governed by two Ranis, who with magic aids chose themselves husbands. When Machhendra arrived he too fell into their toils and lost his reason, so the Ranis wedded him and posted watchmen to prevent any mendicants entering the kingdom to effect his rescue. Gopi Chand, however, succeeds in evading them, as will be described later.
(16) The variant makes Gopi Chand sister’s son of Bhartari, and his mother tries to make him a disciple of Jalandhar Nath, but instead he casts that saint into a well.
(17) Kamrup in the variant. On the road he meets a troupe of actors (rasdharis) on their way to Kamrup and is engaged by them as a servant. Bidden to carry all their stage properties he bears the whole burden by his spiritual power. On their arrival the rasdharis perform before Macchendra but not one of them was able to play on the tabla as Gorakh held it spell-bound and they had to get him to play it. As soon as it began to play, it rang ‘Awake! Macchendra!’ Rasdharis are found in Lahore and Amritsar and the adjoining Districts. They are said to be called bhagats, like worshippers of the Devi.
(18) The variant too is silent on this episode.It makes the two Ranis transform themselves into kites and pursued them for a while, oft compelling them to stop, but at last they escaped from Kamrup. As soon as they had got out of the country, they halted by a well, into which Gorakh threw four gold bricks and as many gold coins, which Machhendra had brought from Kamrup, and this so enraged the latter that he refused to go further. So Gorakh turned the water into gold, but Machhendra thinking this would cause disputes among the worldly, begged him to block up the well. Gorakh then turned the gold into crystal, the first ever created.
(19) A particular rite.
(20) In the variant this episode is different. Gorakh goes with the boys to beg alms at a bania’s (merchant’s) house, and they are made to take away the dead calf. When Gorakh sees their food transformed he catches them by the hand, takes them to the bania’s house and there murders them. Thereupon, all the Banias complain that he has polluted their jag (sacrifice) by this murder, and he retorts that they had polluted his chelas, but he agrees to restore them to life if the banias will henceforth worship him and no other. They assented, and this is why Gorakh left Paras Nath, one of the two boys, with the Banias, among whom the Jains deem him an incarnation of God.
(21) In the variant Gorakh makes seven bundles of grass, each of which says: “I am Gopi Chand,” in reply to Jalandhar Nath, and is burnt to ashes at his command.
(22) In the variant the slabs of the well were turned into kites, and the horse-dung into locusts and so they were created.
(23) So Gopi Chand also founded a panth, that called after his second name, viz Sidh Sanskaripa. See also infra.
(24) A Jogi of this panth in turn founded the Kajan or Kajan-nathi panth, found in the ancient town of Bhera on the Jhelum. This must be the Kaya-Natha panth.
(25) According to the doctrine of the panth the food thus became ‘leavings’ (juth).
(26) The Jain.
(27) See P.N.Q. II, 279.
(28) P.N.Q. I, 3.
(29) Not an inappropriate tract if we regard Shiva as the great hill god and the Siddhs as emanations from him through Gorakh.
(30) Fr. rath ‘hail’, and bana, ‘one who imprisons or checks’. This practice is alluded to in Prinsep’s Sialkot Settlement Rep., p. 37.
(31) P.N.Q., II, 245.
(32) At P.N.Q.. II, 562 it is noted that the chela gets a flower or plant-name for life, but animal-names appear to be also adopted.
(33) To the janeo is attached a circlet of horn (rhinoceros it should be), and to this is attached the nad or whistle, which makes a noise like a conch, but not so loud: P.N.Q. II, 126.
(34) P.N.Q. II, 345.
(35) Beads made of the seed of badar or jujube – P.N.Q. II, 558.
(36) But Jogis are said to bury their dead facing the east; Saniasis east or north-east. P.N.Q. II, 127. In the Simla hills the Jogis were originally mendicants but have now become householders. They burn the dead, and for every corpse get 4 annas in money, together with a plate of brass or kansi and a woollen or cotton cloth. They also get some grains at each harvest. They are considered defiled as they take offerings made at death, and the Kanets and higher castes will not drink with them.
(37) Over the grave an earthen potsherd is also placed ona three-legged stool.
(38) According to this account, aughar simply means ‘novice’. Nath is a title acquired by the fully initiate. An account of the Jogis of Ran Nath says that the candidate is given a razor and scissors seven times by his guru who deters him from entering the Jugi order, but if he perseveres the guru cuts off a tuft of his hair and he is then shaved by a barber. Then he is made to bathe and besmeared with ashes, a kafni or shroud, a langoti and a cap being given to him. The ashes and kafni clearly signify his death to the world. After six months’ probation his ears are pierced and earthen rings inserted in them.
(39) Sikh Religion, VI, p.242.
(40) It is indeed said that an aughar can become a Saniasi, an Udasi, a Bairagi, a Suthrashahi etc., etc., as well as a Jogi or a Jangam. On the other hand, some accounts represent the Aughars as a distinct order, followers of Kanipa Nath and Jalandhar Nath, while the Kanphattas are followers of Gorakh and Machhendra (in other words, the more perfect Jogis): or again they are connected with two schools of the Patanjali philosophy: while a third account splits up the Jogis into Shiv worshippers and Serpent worshippers.
(41) Jogis themselves do not use the word Kanphatta. It is a popular term. So too in common parlance Jogis are distinguished by various names according to the dress or they penances they observe, and so on. Such are the bastardhari who are decently clad and live in temples (among the Saniasis this term means ‘secular’); the dudhadhari who live on milk; the jatadhari who wear long matted hair; the munis who observe perpetual silence; and the khar tapesari who stand in contemplation. The atit, ‘destitute’ or liberated from worldly restraints does not appear to be a sect of the Jogis, as Macauliffe says (Sikh Religion, I, p.162), but a popular term for any mendicant: see Platts, p.18. It is believed that Jogis live for centuries as a result of their austerities.
(42) P.N.Q., I, 41, 136, 375, 473. There is no sufficient evidence to connect Aughar with ‘ogre’. Aghori = un-terrible, Monier-Williams, Sansk. Dicty., s, v. According to Platts (p.106) aughar means awkward, ungainly, uncouth.
(43) The Darshanis have four sub-groups: Khokhar, Sonkhla, Jageru and Natti; while the Aughar have six: Bhambaria, Biria, Awan, Jiwan, Kalia, Bharai and Saroe. It does not appear whether these are schools or sections.
The Bahirla are all Aughars and have a number of sub-groups: Raipur Maralu, Hetam, Daryethi, Molgu, Tandialu, Chuchhlu, Gugraon, Kehne, Tiargu, Dhamarehu, Phaleru, Sidhpuru, Karan and Jhak.
(44) e.g. in Ambala, Darshan is said to = mundra: it is ordinarily made of clay or glass, but wealthy gurus wear darshans of gold.
(45) So at least runs one version from Ambala.
(46) But in Dera Ghazi Khan we find Bari-dargah given as equivalent to Ai-panthi, and the Chhoti-dargah described as the foundation of a Chamar disciple of Pir Mast Nath, who bestowed the title in him in reward for his faithful service.
(47) Bhartari, it is said, had steadfastly refused to become a disciple of Jalandhar Nath though repeatedly urged to do so by Gorakh himself.
(48) Chipi, a kind of vessel made of cocoanut and generally carried by faqirs.
(49) With eyes like a deer — one of the chief points in Indian beauty.
(50) It is mentioned in the Dabistan: II, p.128.
(51) Pir Mast Nath, apparently.
(52) From narm, gentle. The meaning of di is unknown or is at any rate not disclosed.
(53) They also appear to be called Sirbhangi.
(54) At least in Dera Ghazi, in which district it is returned as Bairaj, another order (said to be derived from it) being styled Bairaj Marigka. In Ambala a Baraj order is mentioned. In Karnal Sairag and Bhartari appear as two distinct orders.
(55) Possibly the Rawals.
(56) There are Jogi shrines at Kohat, Jalalabad and Kabul, as well as at Peshawar, and the incumbent at the three last named is styled Gosain. Pir Bar Nath of Kohat was initiated on a stone near the Bawana springs. Even the fanatical Muhammadans of these parts reverence Pir Ratn Nath.
(57) As a novice (Aughar) he would wear no earrings and only be entitled to half a share. Another version is that Ratn Nath demanded a double share and, when objection was taken, created a man, named Kanjan Nath, from the sweat and dirt of his own body. Other stories explain that a Jogi of eminent piety is exempt from the rule requiring a Jogi to wear earrings and a janeo.
(58) Add Mandhar (Rajputs) and Sidhu, Chima, Sahuti, Saharan, Lit, Samrao and Hambar (Jats) in Babha. The Bachhowalia appears to be a numerous group in the Phulkian States.
(59) The story is clearly based on the time-honoured analogy which compares the desire of the soul to human passion. The word Rawinda is of considerable interest.
(60) Founded by Gorakh Nath.
(61) Founded by Mahadeo and also said to be called Pagal.
(62) Marriage by purchase appears to be forbidden, and if the bride’s family has not a boy eligible to marry at once, the bridegroom’s family will owe them a girl till one is required.
Artwork is © Jan Bailey, 1975-2021. Translations are © Mike Magee 1975-2021.Questions or comments to email@example.com