Gorakhnath and the Natha Sampradaya
The Natha Order
Amongst the variety of the numerous ascetic traditions existing in India, the Sect of Nathas is the one of most ancient and remarkable. The order itself appears to be about one thousand years old, but the principles on which it based trace their original to far remote past. Nathas are also known as Yogis, because the foundation of their order based on the ideas of Yoga.
As all other Shaiva ascetics, Nāthas wear saffron colored closes, or go around half-naked, after besmearing body with ash from their sacred fires. Many of them keep their hair matted, some are clean-shaven. The most striking detail of the Natha appearance, which makes them very easily distinguished from the ascetics of all others sects of India, is their huge earrings called kundala (kuṇḍala), inserted into lobes of their ears. The word kuṇḍala translated from Sanskrit means earring, ring, coil or circle of rope. From the same root comes word Kundalini (the coiled Goddess) the famous name of the mysterious Goddess Durgā.
The splitting lobe of ears and the inserting earrings is the important part of the Natha sadhanā and the second stage of their initiation. The Natha Yogis believe that the two important nadies (subtle channels) are become cut in the process, what becomes helpful for the permanent rising of Kundalini. Another purpose of this custom is to demonstrate the faith and determination of an adept, to follow the path once selected by him. The procedure of the splitting ears by itself is very painful, and traditionally no medicines were applied to keep the pain in control.