The annual fair held on 28th June, 2015, on the shrine of Siddha Goriya at village Swankha, is one of the important congregation of devotees who come together here to pay homage to a prominent Nath Yogi of medieval times and celebrate the centuries old legacy of the Nath Cult in Duggar.
The spiritual legacy of Nath Panth can be traced back to Guru Gorakhnath, the renowned yogi who during 11th-12th century spread the Nath tradition far and wide. According to scholars, the Sect of Nathas was a medieval period edition of age old principles of Yoga. The cult by incorporating the essential elements and Sadhana practices of Vajrayana Buddhist saints and Jain Munis, Shaiva cults, Shaktas, Vamamargis, Kapalikas, Lakulisha, Pashupatas, Vaishnavas and Ajivikas, presented before the masses a new revolutionary ascetic tradition which while holding the supremacy of Ishwaravad, initiated a movement against age-old conservative practices.
The Nath order was systematized by the Guru Gorakhnath, one of the most illustrious yogis of Navnath Sampradaye, who is widely credited with the formulation of Hatha Yoga. Adi Nath is the ‘first from all Nathas’, from whom Natha Sampradaye has arisen. There exist many different names associated with the sect, amongst them Nathas, Gorakshnathi, Yogis, Siddha Sampradaye, Kanphata Yogis’ are most popular. Although Natha yogis venerate Gorakh Nath as the actual founder of their order, the names of Matsyendra Nath along with Jalandhar Nath precede him in the lineage of succession. Matsyendra Nath is also known as the grand-father guru of all Nathas.
The name Siddha Sampradaye reveals that Nathas are descendants of the tradition of Mahasiddhas, which had reached its peak around 7th-9th centuries. The Siddha movement was started as the rebellion against the formalism and hypocrisy existing in the contemporary religious traditions. It rejected all double standards and superstitions, and emphasized the direct practice of Yoga as the only way to salvation.
Amongst one of the reforms carried on by Mahasiddhas, was the use of simple regional languages instead of traditional Sanskrit for worship as well as teaching of their doctrines. Siddhas, were renowned as powerful, semi-divine beings (often dwelling atop sacred mountains) capable of interceding in human affairs. They appear in Hindu, Jain & Buddhist religious and literary sources; in oral tales, court plays, and epics. From the 7th century onwards, the Siddhas were identified, within both Buddhist & Shaivite traditions, as yogis endowed with magical power; intermediaries who transmitted divine teachings.
In appearance, the Nath yogis closely resemble Kapalikas and were half-naked, besmeared with ash and keeping long mated hair. The new sect was well organized, disciplined and was having the simple and systematical teaching, which could be easily understood by people.
“The system introduced by the Guru Gorakh Nath, was based on the correct knowledge of the subtle structures existing in human body and the Cosmic Laws of the Universe. It emphasized the practice of Hatha Yoga and the power of austerity (tapa), and was almost totally denying the learning of scriptures as means of liberation. Gorakh Nath put the end to the practice by Kapalikas custom to carry female consort with them and condemned it as ridiculous and hypocritical”.
The Natha cult denied the authority of all previously existing non-spiritual philosophical traditions and Tantras. Instead it started the practice of passing knowledge from Guru to disciple in the line of direct transmissions. The esoteric part of the teaching was put in the form of short couplets called Mantras, which were easy to remember and were learnt by heart. Each of those couplets contained some elements of knowledge on particular topic, and was passed only from Guru to disciple. The other part of teaching addressed to wider public was included in Aarti- the songs of praise and prayer to the deity, to be sung daily as part of the morning and in the evening worship.
The Natha yogis are also known as Siddha yogis as they are expected to attain siddhi or self fulfillment while living in this gross body. Darsahani yogi is another name given to them as they are expected to acquire Darshan or true vision or perfect insight into the ultimate character of reality.
They must not aim at or be content with any lower form of Siddhi or occult power or vision which are petty things to a true practitioner of Yoga. A Yogi who attains highest state of self realization is called as Avadhuta, for whom the duality of right and wrong, purity and impurity have no meaning. He rises above the forces and laws of nature, and is beyond all distinctions. Sometimes his demeanor may resemble that of a child or a mad man and only an intelligent eye can distinguish him from the rest. A Kanphata Yogi, is the one who is in third or final stage of initiation by the Guru and the central hollow of his ears are pierced by in a ceremony and two long ear-rings are placed in them. The rings so worn by the Yogi are called as Mundras, Darshans, Kundals or Pabitris. The other members of this order who have not yet gotten their ears pierced but live the life of austerities and renounced worldly pleasures are called as Aughars. A distinctive feature of Aughars and Darshani Yogis is that they wear a sacred thread or Janeo made up of woolen material and a ring called Pabitri attached to it. A whistle called Nada and Rudraksha or rosary bead also hangs from Pabitri. The nada symbolizes the Anhata nada or unbroken sound of Omkar. The Rudraksha is the symbol of super conscious vision. The worship of fireplace (dhoona) plays important role in the daily lives of Natha yogis, they believe that fire represents the mother Goddess.
The Duggar region like many other parts of North India also came under the influence of the teachings of Guru Gorakh Nath. In folk lore of Duggar the name of Guru Gorakh Nath figures prominently. Being surrounded by numerous legends about his wonderful deeds, he is described as flying in air, turning mountain into gold, creating alive people by his yogic powers and doing many more supernatural miracles which contradict all laws of the modern science.
According to some legends about him, he was not bound to one physical body, and was able to easily leave own body and enter into other bodies, or to create one or few of them by his will and as such, he is an immortal. The Nathas believe that he is still alive and appears at different places, at the time when it is most relevant to protect Dharma. Guru Gorakh Nath’s powerful personality and the achievements in yoga created huge fellowship, and many of kings contemporary to him become his disciples.
In course of time, many folk deities and characters in Duggar came to be associated with the Natha Sampradaye. In Dogri folk songs some of the prominent personalities such as Sidha Goriya, Bawa Bipranath, Raja Mandlik, Raja Hori appear as disciples of Gorakh Nath. Puran Bhakt, whose folk ballad is very popular in Punjab, Duggar and parts of Uttar Pradesh, is also called as Sahaj Nath.
Along with Dogri folk songs and tales sung by the bards about Nath yogis and their miraculous deeds, resolute sadhana and self control, the continuing legacy of Nath Sampradaye is seen in form of many shrines and gaddis of Nath yogis in Jammu and surrounding areas. Some of the prominent ones are the temples of Sahaj Nath at Jandi near Hiranagar and at Jammu, Gaddis of Nath yogis at Suddha Mahadev temples, Panjvakhtar temple and Pir Kho at Jammu.
The fair held on the Ekadashi of Shukla Paksha, in the month of Aashad/June every year, at shrine of Nath Yogi Siddha Goria at Swankha village, eight kilometers west of from Vijaypur, Samba, celebrates the memory of one such Nath yogi who is said to belong to a royal family and was called ‘Khooni Raja’.
One day this raja ordered a tailor to make his dress without use of any stitch. The crestfallen tailor happened to meet Guru Gorakh Nath who after listening to tailor’s predicament created a dress without any stitch. When the ‘Khooni raja’ came to know about the miraculous deed of the Guru, he came to see the great Nath Yogi, who told him to leave the way of atrocities and initiated him into the path of Natha cult.
After becoming a yogi, he came to the region to propagate the message of his guru. He visited several places and finally reached Swankha where he settled down. The superhuman deeds of Sidha Goriya such as sprouting of dead Pipal tree near the house of Mata Mathro and Barhmin Datto and making them rich by one pinchful of bhabooti, are recounted in the ballads sung by folk singers.
As per the ballad Sidha Goriya took jalasmadhi at the present spot of the devasthan at Swankha village which is marked by samadhi situated in a pond. It is believed that the water of the holy pond has special curative powers. In due course of time, the Yogi’s samadhi developed into a shrine as the Yogi was raised to the rank of a deity.
Today, Bava Siddha Goria is the presiding deity of many clans and communities. During the seven-day long fair devotees from different parts of Duggar, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana come in large numbers to pay obeisance at the devasthan of Sidha Goriya. The devotees also take a customary dip in this pond with the belief that those suffering from body ailments or possessed by evil spirits are cured of their malady.
The fair of Sidha Goriya, the second largest fair of Duggar after Baba Jitto’s fair held at Chiri, presents the true colours of a rural mela. Among the attractions of the fair include the makeshift market, of temporary stalls and kiosks, selling variety of items of daily use, toys, and variety of eatables, giant wheels, merry-go-rounds, swings and slides. Many free langars for devotees are also set up by locals. Wrestling matches marked with participation of wrestlers from far and wide, are one of the added attractions of the fair.
In addition state government departments of Agriculture, Horticulture Animal/Sheep Husbandry, Handlooms, Handicrafts, Tourism, Health, Drug and Food Control, Sericulture, Employment, Social Welfare and other institutions put up their stalls on the occasion to make people aware about the latest schemes being implemented by them. The continuing worship of Nath Yogis and holding of fair at the devasthans like that of Sidha Goriya is a testimony to the fact that teachings and to some extant practices of the Nath Sampradaye stand ingrained in the socio-cultural and religious life as well as spiritual countenance of Dogras.