Tracing the origins and the exact lineage of nAtha pantha is not an easy task. We started with taking a look at haThayoga pradIpikA and the lineage described there goes thus: AdinAtha, matsyendra, shAbara, Anandabhairava, chaurangI, mIna, virUpAkSha, bileshama, manthAna bhairava etc. It is interesting to note that this list treats mIna nAtha as distinct from matsyendranAtha. mAlunAtha, a disciple of shrI shivadina nAtha kesarI of Paithan lists the following seers as belonging to his lineage: AdinAtha, matsyendranAtha, gorakShanAtha, gaiNInAtha, nivR^ittinAtha and jnAnanAtha.
The gorakh panthins present before us the following list of nava(nine) nAThas:
This list does not make even a passing mention of gorakShanAtha!
Some other sampradAya-s of yogins list the following as dasha nAthas:
10. gopIchanda nAtha
When the shiShya-s and pra-shiShyas of these ten are considered, a list of eighty-four siddhas becomes available.
According to folklore, after the end of dvApara yuga, mahAdeva appeared to nArada in badarikAshrama and instructed him to instruct navanArAyaNa-s who were the son’s of king R^iShabha into the secrets of yoga shAstra. The list of navanArAyaNas furnished to us includes: kavi-nAryAyaNa, karabhAja-nArAyaNa, antarikSha-nArAyaNa, prabuddha-nArAyaNa, Avirhotra-nArAyaNa, pippalAyana-nArAyaNa, chamasa-nArAyaNa, hari-nArAyaNa and dramila-nArAyaNa. They were then instructed together by mahAdeva and nArAyaNa to incarnate at different places in the Arya desha and uplift true seekers. These navanArAyaNas incarnated as the nine nAthas:
- kavi-nArAyaNa incarnated as matsyendranAtha and was initiated by shiva
- Shiva himself incarnated as gorakShanAtha and received initiation from matsyendranAtha
- karabhAja- nArAyaNa as jvAlendranAtha and initiated by shiva
- prabuddha-nArAyaNa as kAriNapAnAtha (identified as kR^iShNAchArya or kanhapa) and initiated by jvAlendranAtha
- pippalAyana-nArAyaNa as charpaTanAtha and initiated by matsyendra
- chamasa- nArAyaNa as revaNanAtha and initiated by matsyendra
- hari- nArAyaNa as bhartR^inAtha and initiated by gorakSha
- dramila- nArAyaNa as gopIchanda nAtha and initiated by jvAlendranAtha
There is also one nAganAtha frequently mentioned in nAtha literature and it is safe to assume that he was a disciple of gorakSha.
shAbarI paramparA lists the following names in its lineage of teachers: nAgArjuna, shabara, indrabhUti, tilopA, nAropA, nAgArjuna, shabara, luipA, jAlandharI, kR^iShNa, shabarI, luipA, dArikpA, lIlApA, biruva, matsyendra, shabara, chaurangI, mIna and gorakSha.
The haTha-yoga paramparA lists: virUpAkSha, charpaTI, lUI, kukkurI, mIna, luI, nAgArjuna, shabara, lUI and charpaTI.
The chakra samvara tantra of the bauddhas provides a list which goes thus: jAlandharI, kR^iShNa, guhya, vijayapA, tilopA and nAropA.
gorakShopaniShad provides an entirely different list: mahAnanda devatA, icChA, jnAna, kriyA, piNDa, brahmANDa, jagattraya, AdinAtha, matsyendranAtha, udayanAtha, daNDanAtha, satyanAtha, santoShanAtha, kUrmanAtha and gorakShanAtha.
It may be relevant here to examine the oghatraya listed in mahAnirvANa tantra:
- divyaugha: mahAdeva, mahAkAla, bhairava, vighneshvara
- siddhaugha: brahmA, pUrNadeva, chalachitta, chalAchala, kumara
- mAnavaugha: vimala, bhImasena, sudhAkara, nIlAnanda, gorakSha, bhojadeva, vighneshvara, hutAshana, samaya, nakula
It is clear that this list somewhat matches with the standard list of oghatraya of kAlI-kula. Also seen in this list, especially in the case of divyaugha, is the attempt to assimilate under one roof the various shaiva or pro-shaiva schools: worshippers of shiva, bhairava, gaNesha, kumAra etc. Now that we mentioned kAlI-kula, the standard list of gurus provided by the well regarded text bhAvachUDAmaNi can be examined:
tatrAdau kAlikAdevI tasyA shR^iNu gurukramam |
mahAdevI mahAdevaH tripurashchaiva bhairavaH ||
divyaughA guravaH proktAH siddhaughAn kathayAmi te |
brahmAnandaH pUrNadevaH chalachittashchalAchalaH ||
kumAraH krodhanashchaiva varadaH smaradIpanaH |
mAyA mAyAvatI chaiva mAnavaughAn shR^iNu priye ||
vimalo kushalashchaiva bhImasenaH sudhAkaraH |
mIno gorakShakashchaiva bhojadevaH prajApatiH ||
mUladevo rantidevo vighneshvara-hutAshanau |
santoShaH samayAnandaH kAlikA-guravaH smR^itAH ||
Many of the standard nAthas make it to the oghatraya list for tArA mahAvidyA as well:
Urdhvakesho vyomakesho nIlakaNTho vR^iShadhvajaH |
divyaughA siddhidA vatsa siddhaughAn shR^iNu tattvataH ||
vasiShThaH kUrmanAthashcha mInanAtho maheshvaraH |
harinAtho mAnavaughA.anatha vakShyAmi sadgurUn ||
tArAvatI bhAnumatI jayA vidyA mahodarI |
sukhAnandaH parAnandaH pArijAtA kuleshvaraH |
virUpAkShaH kerarI (kesarI) cha kathitaM tAriNi-kulam || [bR^ihannIla tantre]
kAmAkhyA-guhya-siddhi lists a number of prominent nAtha yogins such as kAntideva, khageshanAtha, lochananAtha, mAta~NgIshanAtha, matsyendra, ugranAtha, hR^idayanAtha, kuNDalanAtha, charyAnAtha, chakrAnandanAtha, chandrAnandanAtha etc. There is no mention of gorakSha here.
The guru paramparA for shAbara tantras includes 24 kApAlikas, 12 gurus and 12 disciples. The seers named here are AdinAtha, anAdinAtha, kAlanAtha, atikAlanAtha, karAlanAtha, vikarAlanAtha, mahAkAlanAtha, kAlabhairavanAtha, vaTukanAtha, bhUtanAtha, vIranAtha, shrIkaNThanAtha. The list of prominent disciples includes nAgArjuna, jaDabharata, harishchandra, satyanAtha, bhImanAtha, gorakShanAtha, charpaTanAtha, advayanAtha, vairAgyanAtha, kabandhanAtha, jAlandhara and malayArjuna.
If one examines various works of the nAtha genre such as varNaratnAkara, gorakSha-siddhAnta-sa~Ngraha, mahArNava tantra, yogisampradAyAviShkR^iti, haThayoga pradIpikA, sudhAkara chandrikA etc., one can arrive at a list that contains as many as 137 names of nAtha yogins and siddhas, which includes various groups such as nava-nAthas, dasha-nAthas, kApAlikas, jnAna-nAthas, guru-siddhas etc. Most of the prominent nAthas figure in the list of eighty-four siddhas of vajrayAna. These siddhas attained great popularity in the later stage of vajrayAna, referred to as sahajayAna, and nAtha lineage seems to have been directly influenced by the sahajayAna cult.