Why Matsyendranath punished Gorakhnath?

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Great Masters / Storytelling


Gorakhnath's guru - Matsyendranath, considered by many as Shiva himself, was a realised being. What did Gorakhnath do to earn his guru's ire that he had to be punished? What is the story behind one of the most difficult Yoga posture called 'Gorakhnath asnaa' and what has it got to do with this punishment?


Duration: 8 min


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Why Matsyendranath punished Gorakhnath?

The following is an unedited transcript of Sadhguru's video. For better readability, breaks and highlights have been added by the editors.

Goraknath was a very, very accomplished yogi. In the whole history of Indian yogic culture, he’s a star who stands out in many ways. His Guru was Matsyendranath. Matsyendranath is looked upon by people as Shiva himself, he’s no less than him. Just that he came little later, but he is as much as Shiva, that’s how he is seen. So Goraknath was his disciple.

Goraknath was fiercely devoted to his Guru. Matsyendranath saw the young man is getting too soldier like, you know. He’s becoming very fierce, his love for the Guru is so intense that he’s becoming like a soldier, not like a yogi. So he told him to go away into the Himalayas and do 14 years of sadhana. So he went away. But he’s made like this, for him all this sadhana everything he does, only because the Guru says so. For him, the only thing is his Guru. Fiercely dedicated to his Guru. So when he sat in the Himalayas – 14 years, every day, every moment he was only counting the moments. When 14 years will be over and I’ll go back to my Guru. At the same time, he did the sadhana. Because of these 14 years of sadhana, he acquired many possibilities. He didn’t use it, he knew the possibilities.

Then he came back to the mountain which is the beginning of the Deccan Plateau, which is the beginning of the Western Ghats, just 160 to 200 kms south of Bombay. Now that mountain is called as Goraknath Mountain. It is named after him. Even today there are people, I had the thing of being with them for some time. So he came down all the way back. See, you must understand the whole set up. Walking all the way up to Himalayas, staying there for 14 years, and walking all the way down – with just one fierce thought and emotion, that he wants to be in the presence of his Guru. That’s not a small thing, that’s not a small exercise – to go up Himalayas, wait there for 14 years, and come back all the way walking down.

When he came, the cave in which Matsyendranath was staying, just outside there was a monk, there was another yogi who was manning that. So he came back and this yogi stopped him and said, “You cannot enter the cave.” Goraknath said, “What? I cannot enter the cave? I can’t see my Guru. I’ve been waiting for 14 years.” He said, “No, you cannot enter.” Goraknath lost his temper; he pushed that yogi aside and went into the cave. When he went into the cave, Matsyendranath was not there. The Guru was not there, so he became distraught, where is he? So he came out and asked the yogi, “Where is the Guru?” He said, “I won’t tell you. I told you not to enter the cave. You pushed me aside and went. I will not tell you.”

So what Goraknath did was, he used his occult and whatever was on the yogi’s mind, he got it out of him and went straight to where the Guru was. He divined the Guru’s hiding place. The moment he went there, there the Guru had left instructions with another yogi, saying he needs to go for another 14 years to Himalayas, because he misused the sadhana that I gave him. “I gave him sadhana for his spiritual growth, but he used it to divine into somebody else’s mind, which no yogi should ever do. Another 14 years.” So Goraknath asked, “Is there any way to shorten the period?” “So if you sit in an impossibly difficult posture, we will cut it down to half the term, seven years.”

This impossibly difficult posture is, he sat on his left toes like this, heel in the perineum, in the muladhara and the right leg crossed over – this is even today called as Goraknath asana. So he was just on his toes, up his muladhara, supported by the left heel and his right leg here. He sat like this for seven years. Either 14 years term or seven years rigorous. So then he came back.

There’s a whole lot of stories of how Matsyendranath tempered Goraknath’s love for him. You know there are many other incidents, wonderful incidents. How this man’s fierceness of love just drove him beyond all discipline many times and how Matsyendranath constantly controlled it, in so many different ways. Because he knows the potential of the man. This man is the kind who can change the world. He’s got that kind of capability, but he’s too much fire without being stabilized and channelized.

Gorakhnath went about, later on, after the passing of his guru, went about establishing one of the most widespread spiritual movements in India. If you see anybody with a large ring on his left ear, a large ring, usually a bone ring, that means he is a Gorakhnathi. Usually even today, the Goraknathis always carry a stick and a dog with them. They love dogs, they carry their dogs on their shoulders, they won’t let them walk. Ok? All the time, they have dogs which are pitch black in color, they won’t have any other dog, only black dogs. And they love their dogs so much, they are well fed, the dogs, really fat and nice. And they won’t let them walk, they’ll carry them and walk hundreds of miles.

So Goraknathis are generally known as, these days as nathis or they are known as kanfats, because they have a hole in the ear. So they are called kanfats, very fierce band of people even today. It’s fallen on many bad times, but still it’s one of the groups which really has true sadhakas, still going after thousands of years. There is a ashram of the Nathis, There’s large number of samadhis of Nathis who attained. Only those who attained got proper stone samadhis, others were buried under the trees. So you will see a larger number of that, showing the richness of that system, that so many people attained.

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