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Matsyendranāth(a)


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c.9th–13th centuries ce)

The legendary second Nāth (second only to Śiva), said to be the founder of the Yoginī Kaula sect. Although an elusive figure historically (according to a text attributed to him, he was from a caste of fishermen), a considerable hagiography has grown up around Matsyendranāth, which treats him as a semi-divine being who had been taught by Śiva himself. He is said to have been the guru of Gorakhnāth, and together, they are credited with systematizing haṭha yoga within the Śaiva Nāth Siddha tradition (one which includes the Kānphaṭa yogīs and the Gorakhnāthīs)—a sampradāya (institutionalized order) effectively created by them. According to legend, Matsyendranāth was continually having to be rescued from worldly and erotic entanglements by his more disciplined pupil. Eight works, exercizing a considerable influence on later Tantric authors, are attributed to him: chief among them is the Kaulajñānanirṇaya, a synthesis of the Siddha and Yoginī Kaula traditions, which derives its authority from the claim that Matsyendranāth had recovered Śiva's original Tantric teachings. He is the tutelary deity of Nepal.

Subjects: Hinduism.


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