In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Nath Sampradaya was very much prevalent in Rajasthan and was also well organised. Seats and Gaddis of Naths were spread here throughout. Common people viewed them with awe and respect. The newly emerged Sants like Jambhoji sharply reacted against the Naths for their remoteness from normal life, aversion to common people, perverted and corrupt ways of Sadhana.
Poems by Nath Sampradaya
In the poems composed by the early Naths, traces of Rajasthani are clearly discernible and their form appears to be basically of Khadi Boli. However, it cannot be said with certainty that these poems are in fact the compositions of the persons to whom they are ascribed. There is intermixing of Van in the composition of Nath poets. The Nath poems deal with, the Sadhana, its processes, the state of Siddhi, its philosophy and preaching.
The Naths and their Sadhana, diction and style have influenced to some extent the Rajasthani Literature, particularly the Sant poetry. The Hatha Yoga-Sadhana has been indicated or described in almost every Sant's poetry. Some Sants have also adopted Nath diction but with a slightly different meaning.
Famous Siddhas of Nath Sampradaya
Gorakhnath is considered the originator of the Nath Panth. Besides Gorakhnath, two other Naths also deserve notice. Along with them, some other Naths are also discussed below:
Jalandharnath: Jalandharnath is said to be the originator of Pav Panth, the seat of which was at Jalore. This Panth was related at some time to the Vajrayana branch of the Buddhism. In some Rajasthani poems, faint semblances of the Buddhist traditions are found. The reason for this appears to be the impact of Jalandharnath and his Panth.
Carpat: The other notable Nath is Carpat who is credited with the exploration of Rasayan-Siddhi. He is the earliest Nath who has deprecated the importance of mere apparel and appearance of the Naths. The irony is that he himself had pierced ears and wore ear-rings and was therefore known as a Kanphata Nath. Exposure of defects and vices, and suggestion of remedies are the main notes of his poems.
Prithvinath: Prithvinath was the most celebrated Nath poet of this period. The genuineness of his poems is also beyond doubt. The frame of Prithvinaths language is Khadi Boli mixed with Rajasthani language and sometimes Braj also. His poems deal with various aspects of Nathism.
Bananath: Bananath of Jodhpur is well-known among the Nath Siddhas belonging to the first half of the 19th century. His works, “Anubhav Prakas” and “Parwana”, are famous in the poetry of Nath tradition. He has described the Kaya Siddhi and Hatha Yoga Sadhana, using popular similes through his poems. He also believed in Lord Rama or Hari Smaran as the means to achieve Siddhi.
Nawal Nath, Uttam Nath and Vivek Nath were notable poets in his tradition. Maharaja Maan Singh of Jodhpur was a poet, scholar and musicologist. Though his poetry is varied and extensive, his contribution to the Nath poetry and Nathism is of utmost importance.
It appears that the Nath-Vanis in the Deisi Bhasa were consolidated in the 16th century. Naths felt it necessary to give their scriptures respectability by consolidating them as the Vanis of recognized masters.
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