Monastic Wanderers: Nāth Yogī Ascetics in Modern South Asia

1st Edition

Veronique Bouillier

Published July 27, 2017
Reference - 360 Pages
ISBN 9781138095397 - CAT# Y366352

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How have the premodern Shaiva ascetic sect of the Nāth Yogīs (known also as the Yogīs with splitted ears) succeeded in maintaining its presence and importance until today? This book intends to give a general survey of this sampradāya which is said to have been founded by the Siddha Gorakhnāth, known for his strong link to Haṭha Yoga. However, rather than to Yoga, the history and expansion of the Nāth sect are linked to its rich legendary corpus. Dealing first with the marks of belonging (such as the huge earrings worn by the fully initiated Yogīs) which give the sect its unity, the book then focuses on its organization and explores the dialectics between the wandering Yogīs and the monastic settlements.

The Nāth monasteries belong to two categories: the pañcāyati maṭhs, collectively owned and managed by the sectarian authorities, which ensure the permanency of the sect, and the nījī maṭhs, owned on a personal basis and transmitted from guru to disciple, which permits innovative initiatives

The book gives a detailed account of two pañcāyati monasteries, the Kadri Maṭh of Mangalore where its head’s enthronement is spectacularly performed every twelve years, and the Caughera Maṭh of Dang Valley in Nepal, the royal foundation of which gives a glimpse of the complex relationships that can exist between monasteries and kingdoms. It then focuses on three nījī maṭhs: Amritashram in Fatehpur (Rajasthan), Ashtal Bohar in Rohtak (Haryana) and the Gorakhpur mandir (UP). Each of them shows a different mode of adaptation to a modern context and attests of the present importance and continuity of this pluri-secular tradition of asceticism.

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