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Posts tagged ‘naths’

  1. Armed Yogis – I

    “Never have I seen such yogis, brother.
    They wander mindless and negligent, proclaiming the way of Mahadeva.
    For this they are called great mahants.
    To markets and bazaars they peddle their meditation – false siddhas, lovers of maya.
    When did Dattatreya attack a fort?
    When did Sukadeva join with gunners?
    When did Narada fire a musket?
    When did Vyasadeva sound a battle cry?
    These numbskulls make war. Are they ascetics or archers?
    They profess detachment, but greed is their mind’s resolve.
    They shame their profession by wearing gold. They collect stallions and mares,
    acquire villages, and go about as millionaires.”
    Kabira-bijaka

    For my first post for 2017 I thought I’d explore an issue that I touched on in the introduction to the lecture I gave at Treadwells Bookshop in London – “Yogis Behaving Badly” last November – armed Yogis. Continue reading »

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  2. 2016 Lectures in London

    A quick post to announce two forthcoming lectures:

    Firstly, On Monday October 24, I will be presenting A Phallic (K)night for the London Fortean Society at Conway Hall (7.30-9.30pm).

    Richard Payne Knight by Thomas LawrenceA Phallic (K)night: will examine the life of Richard Payne Knight – collector, arbiter of taste and gentleman scholar whose book A Discourse on the Worship of Priapus proposes that all mythology and religion (including Christianity) is derived from primitive fertility cults. In such cults, he asserted, the male and female genitalia symbolise procreative power, and the primal life force is worshipped through this seemingly obscene imagery. “Priapus” caused scandal in the eighteenth century, but cast an influence that is still with us today – from psychoanalysis to contemporary Paganism. I will explore the key themes of “A Discourse on the Worship of Priapus” and its republication in the nineteenth century as both erotic and ethnographic text.

    Tickets available here: via Eventbrite and for more information about the London Fortean Society visit their website or the event’s Facebook page.

    My second lecture for 2016 is entitled Yogis Behaving Badly and will be held at Treadwells Bookshop on Monday November 21 (7.30-9.15pm). For more information and booking visit the Treadwells Bookshop website.

    Yogis Behaving Badly will examine the case of Raja Man Singh who, in the early nineteenth century, shared his kingdom with a group of Nath ascetics, to the extent that they became, effectively, “state-sponsored holy men”. It is not only a tale of political intrigue, assassination and poison, but also one which destabilises popular representations of Indian Yogis as being detached from the world and the state.

    Event Facebook Page

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  3. Book review: The Grade Papers of the Magical Order of AMOOKOS

    The Grade Papers of the Magical Order of AMOOKOSThis book consists of the collected Grade Papers of the East-West Tantrik order, Amookos. These papers were originally published back in 1989, under the title of Tantra Magick which has been out of print for a number of years. This is a welcome re-edition for Kindle (and also available as an epub for Adobe Digital Editions), which contains some extra material.

    Amookos emerged from the contact between Mike Magee and Leonard Miles (a.k.a. Dadaji). Dadaji was an early traveller to India who had arrived in India in the early 50s, pre-dating the hippy trail, and he was initiated into the Adi-Nath sampradaya in 1953. A fuller history of the sampradaya and Amookos can be found here. The book is a distillation of Mike’s experiences and Dadaji’s inspiration. It aims to turn the sometime obscurity of Tantrik material into something useful and usable. I think it succeeds admirably. Continue reading »

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  4. Book review: Yogi Heroes and Poets: Histories and Legends of the Naths

    I first heard about the Nath Sampradaya in 1986, through an initial meeting (and later practicing with) members of AMOOKOS, the West-East tantric magical “order” founded in 1978 at the behest of Shri Gurudev Mahendranath (Dadaji) – a.k.a Anton Miles, a “white sadhu” who had (or so I was told) been initiated into a branch of the Natha Sampradaya in the early 1950s (See here for some further discussion of AMOOKOS and its contested and convoluted history as a “western Natha Siddha Transmission”). Dadaji/Anton Miles certainly deserves more attention. Quite apart from his status as a sadhu, he is known to have fought in the International Brigade against Franco’s fascists in the 1930s, was arrested in Brighton for demonstrating for Unemployment benefit reform (an event which was briefly mentioned in the New York Post), and claimed an association with Gerald Gardner’s Bricket Wood Coven as well as a meeting with Aleister Crowley. The Naths though, were presented as “hardcore” tantric practitioners, as having “founded” hatha yoga, and as being an “outsider” tradition with little contact with mainstream culture, and moreover, that they were “dying out” as India modernised and became less amenable to tantric practices. In those days, there was not much in the way of scholarly work available on the Naths, apart from George Weston Briggs’ 1938 book, Goraknath and the Kanphata Yogis. Continue reading »

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