The cult of the Kanphata Yogis is a definite unit within Hinduism, and its study is essential for understanding this phase of the religious life of India.
In analysing the different aspects of this cult the author has drawn upon various the formulated texts of this sect.
The book is divided into three sections. The first two sections comprising chapters 1-13 deal with the cult and history of this sect. The third section containing chapters 14-16 opens with the Sanskrit Text Goraksasataka and its English rendering and annotations. It proceeds with the analysis of physiological concepts, chief aims and methods and then comes to conclusion. The subject matter of this study has been so arranged that the first two sections serve to illustrate the third. This book is fully documented. It has a Preface, Glossary, Bibliography, Plates and General Index.
THE cult of the Kanphata Yogis is a definite unit within Hinduism; but the ideas and practices of the sect reach a much wider distribution than the order. In this study of these Yogis what may seem like undue attention is given to legend and folklore in general, and to the description of institutions, but this has been necessary in order to create the proper background for the understanding of the special Yoga of the sect. The study has been carried on in the midst of regular tasks, both in India and in this country, over a long period of time. A good deal of the data supplied by others has been checked as the author has met with Yogis in many places, and with some Gorakhnathis many times.
The analysis of the subject-matter of this study has been made so that the first two sections of the book may serve to illustrate the third. The assumption has been maintained throughout, that folklore and tradition are indispensable to an understanding of the growth and influence of the sect; and that popular views concerning Yogis are as essential for an understanding of this phase of the religious life of India as are the formulated texts of the sect.
The use of various spellings of names and places corresponds with practice in different areas.
The Sanskrit text here presented has not been, so far as the author knows, heretofore translated into English. There are, in other works, quotations including in all practically every verse of the Goraksasataka, but the English translations of those verses are often in very free renderings. The translation here offered has been checked with the extensive commentary by Laksmi Narayana, attached to the 'Poona' copy of the Goraksasataka. The translations of passages from other Sanskrit texts of the sect are also by the author.
The attempt has been made to present the whole matter objectively and without comment, reserving a few paragraphs in the last chapter for some personal opinions. When the study was begun, the author had little idea that it would lead where it has. He has had no desire to hold up to view any unpleasant aspects of Hinduism and can only plead that Hindus are much more realistic and thorough in their criticisms of some of the practices here described.
Special thanks are due to the mahants and gurus of the order, more particularly to those at Gorakhpur, Devi Patan, Tilla and Dhinodhar; and to a few friends in this country for council and for reading certain chapters of the book.
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