What do the words Nath and Adi-Nath mean?
The Sanskrit word Nath means Lord, Protector, a Refuge. The Sanskrit term Adi-Nath 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.
What is Tantra?
This is a large and mysterious subject, much misunderstood in the West. Space does not permit an exhaustive answer here, however such a important concept deserves some attention, albeit incomplete.
The term Tantra is used variously both as meaning a written treatise on occult lore or Magick, and also referring to an ancient pagan science of spiritual attainment. Important to Tantra are practices used to catalyse the realization and experience of the connection between the individual Microcosm and the divine Macrocosm.
Tantrik science is not exclusively about sexual practices. Indeed, vital attitudes and guidelines of our path must extend into all aspects of life experience. The Nath Tantrik regards sexuality and its expression as a divine offering or sacrament. The exploration and experimental use of this divine energy can be put into focus by the powers of concentration developed by the Nath Tantrik in meditation. In such a context, Tantrik sexual expression can be a powerful catalyst for the attainment of true spiritual Yoga (union) with the Macrocosm or Cosmic Spirit.
In the large sense, Tantra utilises any technique that awakens the flow of spiritual energy through the yogi's body/mind/spiritual energy centers. It is this experimental, pragmatic, and essentially amoral outlook which has caused confusion and fear in the minds of puritanical and dogmatic religious persons. Tantra may be viewed as a way of life, in which the yogi scientist uses any effective tools at hand to break the illusion of maya. "Tantra develops in the three aspects of higher thinking - Insight, Intuition, and Imagination. By these, developed in meditation, the mind awakens to understanding and union with the Cosmic Purusha and rebirth on the Earth Dimension is no more." —Shri Gurudev Mahendranath
Questions about the International Nath Order and MAGIKOS
What is the International Nath Order?
- Spiritual development towards Awakening,
- The development of Occult attainment (Siddhi),
- A new, better, and more enlightened Social Order based on our Pagan past.
In 1989, Shri Gurudev Mahendranath retired as head of the International Nath Order and appointed Shri Kapilnath of Seattle as his chosen successor and Imperator Magus Mundi of the International Nath Order. The Order continues the work started by Shri Gurudev Mahendranath, and is currently engaged in publishing Shri Gurudev's writings, as well as providing guidance and initiation to qualified aspirants.
Who is Shri Kapilnath?
Shri Kapilnath became the closest disciple of Shri Gurudev Mahendranath. By direct contact and the blessings of Gurudev Mahendranath, he progressed rapidly and within only a few years was much advanced. In 1989, he was appointed to lead and direct the International Nath Order and MAGIKOS on both spiritual and mundane levels.
What is MAGIKOS?
MAGIKOS: Magick and Gramarye Initiate Knights of Shambhala. MAGIKOS is comprised of only those initiates of the International Nath Order who have demonstrated and attained a high level of spiritual awareness and magick power. The membership and works of MAGIKOS remain concealed to outsiders. Any initiate of the International Nath Order may petition for membership in MAGIKOS. Upon registering their interest, they will be guided and progress monitored for future possible entrance into MAGIKOS.
Does the International Nath Order expect money from interested persons?
Many seekers have the worry of being exploited for monetary gain by organizations espousing spiritual teachings. The goal of the International Nath Order is not to build golden palaces or amplify the attachments to materialism that daily living already encourages. The important point of attention is the need of the organization to be supported by both personal and collective sacrifice. This support may take several levels of involvement such as personal contributions of time, material and yes, money.
Much work involves the relationship between service and reciprocity. This linkage to the work may take various forms. Yet some demonstratible personal offering is the primal link, without which the reciprocal benefits of group action cannot be achieved. It is through tangible outward signs of working, that a person gains a link on things: a connection. Financial offerings to cover the monetary needs of the organization are gladly accepted, the size of the offering being a personal consideration. It is not an "obligatory" connection, but a very real connection which should be viewed just as seriously as your individual spiritual work, commitments of time and materials.
Where can I find a member of the International Nath Order near me?
Questions about the goals, beliefs & practices of the Naths
Do Naths believe in God?
As a tradition, Nath Tantriks do not have a paternalistic monotheistic dogma. We use the concept of the Cosmic Spirit. Within this broad concept are many variations of qualities or degrees of manifestation which we link to the names of an endless variety of gods and goddesses. You are free to think of your own word for your personal link to the Cosmic Spirit.
What do the Naths believe?
- The International Nath Order has no rules, superstitions, or dogmas. Even after receiving initiation into the Nath Order, people are not bound to accept anything they wish to disbelieve and cannot harmonize with their own thinking. Teachings in the Nath Order are only guidelines to assist you to develop your own thinking: the transmutation of "think" onto a higher level.
What is Svecchachara?
- Sveccha means one's own wish or free will. Svecchachara means a way of life where one acts as one wishes and does what is right in one's own eyes. Doing one's own Will. The concluding Sanskrit expression in the Avadhoota Upanishad is "Svecchachara Paro."
- The term "Paro" means a mysterious or secret pattern to that action done by one's own Will. In other words, we do our Will but with discretion, not making it too obvious, nor to harm or hurt other people. Yet this is also a typical Nathism; a complete reversal of Vedic morals and philosophy.
Is the goal of the Nath yogi the liberation of the soul from the earth plane?
This is but one of several goals of the Nath yogi. Shri Gurudev Mahendranath writes, "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." The emphasis is on a continuum of spiritual practices designed to reduce and eventually erase the influences of past conditioning termed the five Kleshas (obstructions): ego, ignorance, repulsion, attachment, and clinging to life. Methods of removing these obstructions can lead to benefits experienced in this life, such as improved insight, tranquility and naturalness.
Could you say a bit more about the aims and goals of the Naths?
- 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.
- 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.
Do the Naths use Golden Dawn style banishings and rituals in their practice?
No. The Nath tradition is ancient and complete in itself. The use of modern magical rituals involving Judeo-Christian angels and names of God plays no part in the practices of the Naths. Of course, individual Naths may have also studied or practiced western magick before becoming Naths. These individuals are in no way prohibited from continuing to use practices from other traditions, but this in no way makes these practices part of or necessary to the Nath tradition.
Do Naths use austerities in their spiritual practice?
Some Naths do so, as a personal variation to their practice. Austerities have been used in many traditions as a technique to reduce the ego and body attachments. Austerities are like medical treatment: no one medicine for every patient. These can be quite useful tools, but must be tailored to individual needs. It should be noted that there has been no special emphasis on austerities in the Nath tradition, nor has there been any prohibition on such practices. Whenever practical, alternative methods to minimize the body/ego attachment are used instead of direct mortification of the body from fasting, special diets, etc. We see that these extreme practices may possibly increase "attachments-to-the-practice" in some yogis, yet may still function as a valid vehicle for other yogis of different temperment.
Questions about initiation and transmission
Who is suitable for membership in the International Nath Order?
The International Nath Order is a group of individuals brought together by a sincere interest in meditation, spiritual development and study of the precepts handed down through history in the Nath tradition. As such, there are various levels of association based on an individual's own commitment and understanding. The question of membership is perhaps too simple. Rather the question might be how active a participation in experimental Yoga is an individual ready to demonstrate. A person demonstrates such quality by harnessing their Insight, Intuition, and Imagination in the service of both personal spiritual development as well as group enhancement of magical and spiritual goals . The measure of success depends upon the intensity of involvement in both personal work and group experience. Spiritual progress is aided by a willingness to harmonize your work on yourself using Nath principles while actively participating with other seekers doing Group Work & experiments. Such association offers rewards which are beyond the common use of a word like "membership". Truly, the whole is greater than the parts. Do you wish to become a part of the Greater Work?
What is initiation?
Initiation is when a qualified guide of the International Nath Order transmits something of their own consciousness into the spirit of the initiate. Thus the initiation is a spiritual seed which the initiate may cultivate. This is an opportunity which if nurtured may lead to attainment, but if left unattended will remain dormant. Knowing that you are actually on a road with a connection to the Goal is a great aid to navigating. The "On Ramp" is not the destination. How many of the curious have a closet full of maps, yet have never traveled? The spark of spiritual transmission during the initiation is a manifestation of an unbroken spirit link with many Nath Sages and Saints of the past, currently offered by those who now tend the flame.
The Nath initiation is conducted inside a formal ceremony in which some portion of the awareness and spiritual 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.
- 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.
In order to find a guide who might eventually become your initiator, send an introductory email to initiators at nathorder.org.
Will any oaths be required of me during my initiation?
No. A Nath initiation does not require the taking of any oaths. Oaths are typical of Masonic and Masonic-styled western magical orders and typically limit the freedom of the initiate in some way. An example of a typical Masonic oath is an agreement to obey local laws and regulations. While the International Nath Order does not advocate the breaking of laws, requiring such an oath would be counter to the spirit of Freedom which has always informed the Nath tradition.
Does the process of instruction in the Nath path have rules?
"The Nath Order has no rules, superstitions or dogmas. Even after receiving initiation into the Nath Order people are not bound to accept anything they wish to disbelieve and cannot harmonise with their own thinking. Teachings in the Nath Order are only guidelines to assist you to develop your own thinking, the transmutation of 'think' on to a higher level." — Shri Gurudev Mahendranath, The Magick Path of Tantra.
It should be noted, that one who does not act on wise advice, is twice a fool: for important lessons must be repeated until they are mastered. Persons are free to make as many mistakes as they wish, and live with the results. Critical thinking starts with critical listening.
Questions about historical roots
Do the teachings of the Naths come from an ancient oral tradition?
Some of our teachings have undoubtedly been handed down through a spoken tradition extending back into time, while other ideas are more recent and have been written. The important distinction to make, is that in the Nath tradition the written word is in itself not sufficient to express the many aspects of our path. While many of our guidelines and principles have been written down, not all experience is expressible in words. Participation in direct experience illuminate the core teachings as no words can. The Nath Order not only offers the gems of ancient spiritual wisdom, but extends that wisdom with modern expression and experiment in Magick.
What is the Nath tradition?
The Nath 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.
What is the Adi-Nath Sampradaya?
The Adi-Nath Sampradaya was a Sadhu sub-sect of the greater Nath tradition. Followers of this tradition were given Sannyas Diksha, thus renouncing householder life, and thereafter lived as naked Sadhus. Believing that Sadhus should live alone until they had attained the goal, they lived in caves, huts, ruined buildings, or empty houses, and always away from towns and villages.
Does the Adi-Nath sect still exist?
No. The last Sadhu holding authentic guru status in the Adi-Nath Sampradaya was Shri Gurudev Mahendranath, who entered Mahasamadhi in 1991. Though he created, and gave Diksha into, a western householder variant of the Nath tradition, he intentionally terminated the Adi-Nath Sampradaya by refusing to bestow Sannyas Diksha, an initiation required for succession.
This intent is clear from Shri Gurudev's writings. In The Magick Path of Tantra, he wrote,
- I had decided not to initiate anyone of Indian origin into the Uttara Kaula or the Adi-Nath Sampradayas. As sannyasi or sadhu, there was the danger that after I had entered Mahasamadhi and was unable to deny, that someone might claim that they had been given Sannyas Diksha, and claim authority as guru by succession.
Further confirmation can be found in The Phantastikos:
- I myself have been an initiate and the final Guru of the Adi-Naths, one of the many subsects of the Great Natha stream and ancient tradition. With the birth of the International Nath Order, the Indian Adi-Nath sect became defunct, and I myself retired from public life.
For those still in doubt about this, please take the time to read From the Dark into Light, a letter dated 21 August 1985 from Shri Gurudev to the Nath community at large.
Thus, while the flame of the Nath tradition has been passed to the West, the Sadhu tradition of the Adi-Naths was laid to rest with Shri Gurudev Mahendranath.
Questions about other organizations
I was initiated into another organization. Is it for real?
Unfortunately, there are deceptive individuals and counterfeit organizations which may falsely claim to give Nath initiations. To determine whether you may have been deceived by such an organization, ask yourself the following questions:
- Did my initiator work with me for a period of several months or years before agreeing to initiate me?
- Did my initiator communicate the mantra invoking the Guru of the lineage, such as Shri Gurudev Mahendranath's personal mantra?
- Were both my initiator and myself naked during the initiation ritual?
- Did my initiator apply the marks of the Nath lineage to a specific number of points on my body?
- Did my initiator whisper mouth-to-ear a simple mantric key which unlocks the other mantras of the Naths?
- Did my initiator give me a cryptonym or new name as a Nath?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, then you did not receive an authentic Nath initiation. The following are a few danger signs by which a deceptive organization can be identified:
- The organization does not have a Guru and even claims that a Guru is not needed.
- The organization does not have a lineage or claims lineage from "Babaji."
- The organization teaches that one must "kill the Guru" in order to attain.
- The initiation requires the taking of some form of oath.
- The initiation purports to include some form of sexual activity.
- After initiation you are expected to make up your own name.
If any of the above are true, you may want to contact a qualified initiator of the International Nath Order (initiators at nathorder.org) to discuss the nature of the Nath lineage and initiation so as to be fully informed on the matter before committing to a potentially bogus initiation.