Questions about the International Nath Order and MAGIKOS
- What is the International Nath Order?
The International Nath Order was founded in 1978 by Shri Gurudev Mahendranath. Shri Mahendranath intended the INO for people who want and will work for:
In 1989, Shri Gurudev Mahendranath retired as head of the International Nath Order and appointed Sri Kapilnath as his successor and Imperator Magus Mundi of the INO. INO initiates continue the work begun by Shri Mahendranath and are currently engaged in publishing Shri Gurudev’s writings, creating spiritual retreats and providing guidance and initiation to qualified aspirants.
- Who is Sri Kapilnath?
Sri Kapilnath became a trusted disciple of Shri Mahendranath. In 1989, he was appointed to lead and direct the International Nath Order and MAGIKOS on both spiritual and mundane levels. He currently lives in Costa Rica where he periodically offers retreats for the benefit of the INO, guides qualified aspirants and participates in managing this website.
- What is MAGIKOS?
MAGIKOS: Magick and Gramarye Initiate Knights of Shambhala. MAGIKOS is comprised of only those initiates of the International Nath Order who have demonstrated and attained a high level of spiritual awareness and magick power. The membership and works of MAGIKOS remain concealed to outsiders. Any initiate of the INO may petition for membership in MAGIKOS. Upon registering their interest, they will be guided and progress monitored for potential future election into MAGIKOS.
- Does the International Nath Order expect money from interested persons?
Many seekers have the worry of being exploited for monetary gain by organizations espousing spiritual teachings. The goal of the International Nath Order is not to build golden palaces or amplify the attachments to materialism that daily living already encourages. The important point of attention is the need of the organization to be supported by both personal and collective sacrifice. This support may take several levels of involvement such as personal contributions of time, material and yes, money.
Much work involves the relationship between service and reciprocity. This linkage to the work may take various forms. Yet some demonstrable personal offering is the primal link, without which the reciprocal benefits of group action cannot be achieved. It is through tangible outward signs of working, that a person gains a link on things: a connection. Financial offerings to cover the monetary needs of the organization are gladly accepted, the size of the offering being a personal consideration. It is not an “obligatory” connection, but a very real connection which should be viewed just as seriously as your individual spiritual work, commitments of time and materials. Please consider visiting our Donate page.
Questions about the goals, beliefs & practices of the Naths
- Do Naths believe in God?
As a tradition, the INO does not have a paternalistic monotheistic dogma. In the INO we use the concept of the Cosmic Spirit. Within this broad concept are many variations of qualities or degrees of manifestation which we link to the names of an endless variety of gods and goddesses. You are free to think of your own word for your personal link to the Cosmic Spirit.
- What do the Naths believe?
In The Magick Path of Tantra, Shri Gurudev Mahendranath wrote,
“The International Nath Order has no rules, superstitions, or dogmas. Even after receiving initiation into the Nath Order, people are not bound to accept anything they wish to disbelieve and cannot harmonize with their own thinking. Teachings in the Nath Order are only guidelines to assist you to develop your own thinking: the transmutation of “think” onto a higher level.”
- Is the goal of the Nath yogi the liberation of the soul from the earth plane?
This is but one of several goals of the Nath yogi. Shri Gurudev Mahendranath writes, “Our aims in life are to enjoy peace, freedom, and happiness in this life but also to avoid rebirth onto this earth plane. All this depends not on divine benevolence but on the way we ourselves think and act.” The emphasis is on a continuum of spiritual practices designed to reduce and eventually erase the influences of past conditioning termed the five Kleshas (obstructions): ego, ignorance, repulsion, attachment, and clinging to life. Methods of removing these obstructions can lead to benefits experienced in this life, such as improved insight, tranquility and naturalness.
- Could you say a bit more about the aims and goals of the Naths?
In The Magick Path of Tantra, Shri Gurudev Mahendranath wrote,
“The Nath Tantriks value the development of the three super-psychic faculties of Insight, Intuition, and Imagination… These three super-faculties or master powers also enable them to create their own texts, mantras, and rituals, all having utility and being in harmony with Cosmic Law. The faculties of Insight, Intuition, and Imagination are primary building blocks on which we build our occult world and magick way of life.
Of course, our way of life has many physical aspects, but our minds still determine the success or pleasure of an act. Our life should have a plan and purpose, since most people blunder their way through life and generate misery for themselves and for others too. Our aims in life are to enjoy peace, freedom, and happiness in this life, but also to avoid rebirth onto this Earth plane. All this depends not on divine benevolence, but on the way we ourselves think and act.”
- What is Tantra?
This is a large and mysterious subject, much misunderstood in the West. Space does not permit an exhaustive answer here, however such an important concept deserves some attention, albeit incomplete. The term Tantra is used as meaning both a written treatise on occult lore or Magick, and also referring to an ancient pagan science of spiritual attainment. Important to Tantra are practices used to catalyze the realization and experience of the connection between the individual Microcosm and the divine Macrocosm. Tantrik science is not exclusively sexual practices. Indeed, vital attitudes and guidelines of our path must extend into all aspects of life experience. The Nath Tantrik regards sexuality and its expression as a divine offering or sacrament. The exploration and experimental use of this divine energy can be put into focus by the powers of concentration developed by the Nath Tantrik in meditation. In such a context, Tantrik sexual expression can be a powerful catalyst for the attainment of true spiritual Yoga (union) with the Macrocosm or Cosmic Spirit. In the large sense, Tantra utilizes any technique that awakens the flow of spiritual energy through the yogi’s body/mind/spiritual energy centers. It is this experimental, pragmatic and essentially amoral outlook which has caused confusion and fear in the minds of puritanical and dogmatic religious persons. Tantra may be viewed as a way of life, in which the yogi scientist uses any effective tools at hand to break the illusion of maya. “Tantra develops in the three aspects of higher thinking – Insight, Intuition, Imagination. By these developed in meditation, the mind awakens to understanding and union with the Cosmic Purusha and rebirth on the Earth Dimension is no more. ” Shri Gurudev Mahendranath.
Questions about initiation and transmission
- Who is suitable for membership in the International Nath Order?
The International Nath Order is a group of individuals brought together by a sincere interest in meditation, spiritual development and study of the precepts handed down through history in the Nath tradition. As such, there are various levels of association based on an individual’s own commitment and understanding. The question of membership is perhaps too simple. Rather the question might be how active a participation in experimental Yoga is an individual is ready to demonstrate. A person demonstrates such quality by harnessing their Insight, Intuition, and Imagination in the service of both personal spiritual development as well as group enhancement of magical and spiritual goals. The measure of success depends upon the intensity of involvement in both personal work and group experience. Spiritual progress is aided by a willingness to harmonize your work on yourself using Nath principles while actively participating with other seekers doing Group Work & experiments. Such association offers rewards which are beyond the common use of a word like “membership”. Truly, the whole is greater than its parts. Do you wish to become a part of the Greater Work?
- What is initiation?
Initiation is when a qualified initiate of the International Nath Order transmits something of their own consciousness into the spirit of the new initiate. Thus the initiation is a spiritual seed which the initiate may cultivate. This is an opportunity which if nurtured may lead to attainment, but if left unattended will remain dormant. Knowing that you are actually on a road with a connection to the Goal is a great aid to navigating. The “On Ramp” is not the destination. How many of the curious have a closet full of maps, yet have never traveled? The spark of spiritual transmission during the initiation is a manifestation of an unbroken spirit link with many Nath Sages and Saints of the past, currently offered by those who now tend the flame.
The Nath initiation is conducted inside a formal ceremony in which some portion of the awareness and spiritual energy (Shakti) of the Natha is transmitted to the Neophyte. The Neophyte, now a Nath, is generally also given a new name with which to support their new identity. This transmission or “touch” of the Guru is symbolically fixed by the application of ash to several parts of the body.
In The Phantastikos, Shri Gurudev Mahendranath wrote,
“The passage of wisdom and knowledge through the generations required the mystic magick phenomenon of initiation, which is valid to this day in the initiation transmission from naked guru to naked novice by touch, mark, and mantra. In this simple rite, the initiator passes something of himself to the one initiated. This initiation is the start of the transformation of the new Natha. It must not be overlooked that this initiation has been passed on in one unbroken line for thousands of years. Once you receive the Nath initiation, it is yours throughout life. No one can take it from you, and you yourself can never renounce it. This is the most permanent thing in an impermanent life.”
- Will any oaths be required of me during my initiation?
No. The INO initiation does not require the taking of any oaths. The taking of oaths, as a self determined personal decision, is encouraged within the INO. Of course, this decision needs to be followed through on by practical action. At the same time, the requirement of oaths by any second party would be counter to the spirit of personal choice which has always informed the INO.
- Does the process of instruction in the INO have rules?
“The International Nath Order has no rules, superstitions or dogmas. Even after receiving initiation into the INO, people are not bound to accept anything they wish to disbelieve and cannot harmonize with their own thinking. Teachings in the INO are only guidelines to assist you to develop your own thinking, the transmutation of ‘think’ on to a higher level.” — The Magick Path of Tantra by Shri Gurudev Mahendranath.
It should be noted, that one who does not act on wise advice, is twice a fool: for important lessons must be repeated until they are mastered. Persons are free to make as many mistakes as they wish, and live with the results. Critical thinking starts with critical listening.
Questions about historical roots
- Do the teachings of the Naths come from an ancient oral tradition?
Some of our teachings have undoubtedly been handed down through a spoken tradition extending back into time, while other ideas are more recent and have been written. The important distinction to make is that in the Nath tradition, the written word in itself is not sufficient to express the many aspects of our path. While many of our guidelines and principles have been written down, not all experience is expressible in words. Participation in direct experience illuminate the core teachings as no words can. The INO not only offers the gems of ancient spiritual wisdom, but extends that wisdom with modern expression and experiments in Magick.
- What is the Nath tradition?
The Nath tradition is a heterodox Siddha tradition containing many sub-sects. Many believe that it was founded by Matsyendranath, and further developed by his disciple Gorakhnath. The Naths view a number of possible figures as their founder or Adi Guru. These founders could be Dattatreya, Adinatha or Shiva, etc.. Some traditions are only focused on the living and former guru. The Naths are not a monolithic sect where all initiates must share the same creation myth. The Naths are fundamentally understood to be Yogi’s. That is, practitioners of yoga. This yoga was primarily perfected by the practice of meditation.
- What is the Adinath sampradaya?
The Adinath sampradaya was a sub-sect of the greater Nath tradition. Initiates of this tradition were given Sannyas diksha, thus renouncing the world and thereafter wearing only the ochre robes of renunciation or living naked. Believing that initiates should live alone until they had attained the goal; they lived in caves, huts, ruined buildings or empty houses and always away from towns and villages.
- Does the Adinath sect still exist?
Shri Gurudev Mahendranath was the last initiate holding guru status in the Adinath sampradaya. He was initiated into the Adinath by Shri Sadguru Lokanath in 1953. After the passing of his guru, Shri Mahendranath became the sole guru of that tradition until his death or mahasamadhi in 1991. Though he created and gave diksha into a western householder variant of the Nath tradition (INO), he intentionally terminated the Adinath sampradaya by refusing to bestow sannyas diksha, an initiation and way of life required for succession in that sampradaya. These historical events have no effect on other Indian traditions involving the name Adinath as either adiguru or sect name. Those traditions have different gurus, histories and members. What is important to note here however, is that any party claiming guru status through Shri Mahendranath into the Uttara Kaula or Adinath is fabricating a story of their own creation. A story not based on facts or events as they actually occurred.
Shri Gurudev’s intent is clear in his writings. In The Magick Path of Tantra, he wrote,
” I had decided not to initiate anyone of Indian origin into the Uttara Kaula or the Adinath Sampradayas. As sannyasi or sadhu, there was the danger that after I had entered Mahasamadhi and was unable to deny, that someone might claim that they had been given sannyas diksha and claim authority as guru by succession.”
Further confirmation can be found in The Phantastikos:
“I myself have been an initiate and the final Guru of the Adinaths, one of the many subsects of the great Natha stream and ancient tradition. With the birth of the International Nath Order, the Indian Adinath sect became defunct, and I myself retired from public life.”
For those still in doubt about this, please take the time to read From the Dark into Light, a letter dated 21 August 1985 from Shri Gurudev to the Nath community at large.
Thus, while the flame of the Nath/Kaula tradition has been passed to the INO, the sadhu tradition of the Adinaths and Uttara Kaulas were laid to rest with Shri Gurudev Mahendranath.