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Guru Gorakhnath

  • Guru Gorakshanath (also known as Gorakhnath; c. early 11th century) was an influential founder of the Nath Hindu monastic movement in India.[1] He is considered as one of the two notable disciples of Matsyendranath. His followers are found in India's Himalayan states, the western and central states and the Gangetic plains as well as inNepal. These followers are called yogisGorakhnathiDarshani or Kanphata.[2]

    The details of his biography are unknown and disputed.[3] Hagiographies describe him as more than a human teacher and someone outside of laws of time who appeared on earth in different ages.[4] Historians state Gorakshanath lived sometime during the first half of the 2nd millennium CE, but they disagree in which century. Estimates based on archaeology and text range from Briggs' 11th- to 12th-century[4] to Grierson's estimate of the 14th-century.[5]

    Gorakshanath is considered a Maha-yogi (or great yogi) in the Hindu tradition.[6] He did not emphasize a specific metaphysical theory or a particular Truth, but emphasized that the search for Truth and spiritual life is valuable and a normal goal of man.[6] Gorakshanath championed Yoga, spiritual discipline and an ethical life of self determination as a means to reaching samadhi and one's own spiritual truths.[6] His followers are also famous for having been part of the warrior ascetic movement since the 14th-century,[7] to militarily resist persecution against the Islamic and British colonial rule, developing martial arts and targeted response against high officials.[8][9]

    Gorakshanath, his ideas and yogis have been highly popular in rural India, with monasteries and temples dedicated to him found in many states of India, particularly in eponymous city of Gorakhpur.[10][11] Among urban elites, the movement founded by Gorakhnath has been ridiculed.[10]