Nath-Panthis are a Shaivist sub-tradition within Hinduism. A medieval movement, combined ideas from Buddhism, Shaivism and Yoga traditions in India. The Naths have been a confederation of devotees who consider Adinatha, or Shiva, as their first lord or guru, with varying lists of additional lords.
Nath-Panthis are followers of Hindu yogi Gorakhnath and one time was popular all over North India. They believe in the power of uttering magical words (mantras) and adopting various kinds of austerities and secret rites. The path preached by them is referred to as tantra.
Tantra considers Prakriti to be animate with a will of its own, which is why in Tantra, nature is addressed as Shakti, or goddess. A follower of Tantra seeks power over nature. The references to the Nath-Panthis and Gorakhnath come from various sources from the 8th century to the
14th century, from Afghanistan, across Punjab, Sindh, Rajasthan, Gangetic plains, Bengal delta, Maharashtra, right down to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The influence of Nath-Panthis in general and Gorakhnath, in particular, has clearly been widespread and memorable.
Many of the followers of Nath-Panthis belong to the lower castes. They denounce the caste system and the privileges claimed by the Brahmanas. Their path is open to all, irrespective of caste distinctions.
A large number of Nath-Panthi preachers called Siddhas belonged.to the lower castes – doma, chamara, (tanners), washerman, oilman, tailor, fisherman, woodcutter, cobbler, etc. With the establishment of Turkish rule in northern India, the popularity of the Nath Panthi movement reached its peak during the 13th and 14th centuries. Anybody could be ‘ initiated into the sect of the Nath-Panthi yogis irrespective of caste.
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