Eminent Nepalese scholar Dr Bholanath Yogi Saturday shared insights into the ancient Nath tradition, which once flourished in Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Attock, and other areas of Pakistan but dwindled with the passage of time, leaving behind only a few remnants.
Dr Bholanath Yogi addressed a gathering of intellectuals, scholars, and media personnel at the Nepalese embassy in the federal capital, where he highlighted the lesser-known Nath spiritual tradition.
He emphasised that the Naths were advocates of humanity and messengers of peace, following the teachings of their guru, Gorakhnath Ji, the founder of the Nath Hindu monastic movement.
Followers of Gorakhnath are referred to as yogis, and the name “Gurkhas” in Nepal is derived from this saint. Gorkha, a historical district of Nepal, bears his name.
Also read ‘Preserve folk literature for children’
He said in the pre-partition era, Rawalpindi and Peshawar were often referred to as the “Cities of Naths.” Even today, a Hindu temple called “Dargah Pir Ratan Nath Jee” dedicated to Sri Ratan Nath can be found in Peshawar’s Jhanda Bazar, he added. “Sri Ratan Nath, a traveller in search of truth, played a crucial role in spreading the Nath message of hope, peace, humanity, and truth.”
Dr Bholanath Yogi also expressed his intention to visit the temple, though he mentioned being denied access to Tilla Jogian, a site still bearing the imprints of the Naths.
He identified several places and cities across the region that were once home to Naths. The Nath tradition, he explained, boasts a history spanning over 2,000 years, with disciples dispersed across the continent.
He elaborated on the spiritual connotations of the word ‘Nath,’ emphasising its significance as a term granted to individuals by the divine. Dr. Yousuf Khushk, an esteemed scholar and former Chairman of the Pakistan Academy of Letters, recited a couplet by Sufi poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, where the term ‘Nath’ symbolized a state of spiritual eternity.
Read Ajrak: A time-honored tradition from the heart of Sindh
Ambassador Tapas Adhikari introduced Dr Bholanath Yogi, recounting his recent participation in the 6th International Conference on World Religions at Minhaj University in Lahore. The scholar’s visit to Islamabad was facilitated to enable him to meet with local journalists and share his knowledge.
Dr Bholanath emphasised the enduring friendship between Nepal and Pakistan, despite not sharing a border as they do with China and India. He emphasized the common values of truth, love, and peace that all religions, including Hinduism, Christianity, Sikhism, Islam, and Buddhism, seek to promote. He suggested that embracing these principles could help alleviate the violence seen in various parts of the world, such as Gaza.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 5th2023.