The Gorakhnath Math (Gorakhnath Mutt) is a [Nath] monastic group in the Nath tradition. The name Gorakhnath derives from the medieval saint, Gorakshanath (c. 11th century), a famous yogi who travelled widely across India and authored a number of texts that form part of the canon of the Nath sampradaya. The Nath tradition was founded by Matsyendranath.
The Gorakhpur district takes its name from Gorakshnath, who was a saint of 'Nath Sampradaya'. A famous shrine called Gorakhnath was built in his honour where he practised his austerities.
Gorakhpur comprised the districts of Kushinagar, Basti, Deoria, Azamgarh and parts of Nepal tarai. These regions, which may be called Gorakhpur Janpad, were an important centre of Hindu Vedic culture and civilization.
Gorakhpur was a part of the famous kingdom of Koshal, one of sixteen mahajanpadas in the 6th century BC. The earliest known monarch ruling over this region with his capital at Ayodhya was IKSVAKU, who founded the solar dynasty of Kshatriya. It produced a number of illustrious kings till the accession of Ram, who was the greatest ruler of this dynasty. Since then, it remained an integral part of the erstwhile empires of Maurya, Shunga, Kushana, Gupta and Harsha dynasties.
Today's Gorakhnath Math, centred at [Gorakhpur] in eastern Uttar Pradesh (also named after the saint), is a religious institution that runs two Gorakhnath temples, one in Nepal in the district of Gorkha (another word believed to be derived from Baba Gorakhnath), and the other a little south of Gorakhpur. The temple at Gorakhpur is said to contain the samadhi shrine (tomb) and gaddi (prayer seat) of Gorakshanath. These temples constitute the centre of most of the Hindu religious activity in this region.
Thousands of devotees come to these temples on the occasion of Makar Sankranti, when they offer khichdi to Gorakshanath Baba. The King of Nepal also occasionally visits one of these temples during this festival.
The Gorakhnath Math has a significant following in eastern Uttar Pradesh and the Terai regions of Nepal, and also among wider circles across the Nath groups. The monastic order, according to the principles of the saint Gorakhnath, does not follow caste conventions as other Hindu religious groups do. Thus, non-Brahmins may serve as priests.
It is widely believed that those who chant ShriGorakhnath Chalisa 12 times are blessed with a miracle jyoti (auspicious flame).
The Gorakhnath Math has been involved in political matters for decades. Avaidyanath had earlier been a leader of the rightist party, the Hindu Mahasabha, and had served in Parliament from Gorakhpur for four terms. Yogi Adityanath has been active in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and has moulded the Hindu forces in the region by a combination of alliances cutting across caste lines, and by raising demands for better economic livelihood.
Adityanath has been the Member of Parliament (MP) from the Gorakhpur (Lok Sabha Constituency) since 1998, and has emerged as a major power center in Uttar Pradesh. He founded the Hindu Yuva Vahini (Hindu Youth Force). The group has also been involved in much communally sensitive activity, including the Mau riots of October 2005 and the Gorakhpur riots of January 2007. The region was earlier known for its strong Hindu-Muslim ties; there were no riots here even after Babri Masjid.
In the General elections of 2007, the Hindu Yuva Vahini was at one point contemplating running the elections on its own, but finally a compromise was reached with the BJP.
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- Apoorvanand (2007-02-17). "Riot, manufactured in Gorakhpur". Tehelka. Retrieved 2007-04-26.
- Asghar Ali Engineer (February 1–15, 2006). "COMMUNAL RIOTS - 2005 (Part II): Major Riot in Mau (U.P.)".
- Atiq Khan (2007-03-28). "Yogi's revolt may hit BJP: Ex-BJP leader to go it alone in U.P". The Hindu. Retrieved 2007-04-26.