Gorakhnath Yogis and Their Earrings


Introduction to the Gorakhnathi cult

The Gorakhnathi cult is a Yogic cult prevalent in Bharath for a very long time.

Yogi, Darshani, and Kanphata are some other names for this cult.

There are three distinctive features that identify this cult, different from all other cults existing in Bharath.

The name Yogi refers to the fact that the Gorakhnathis are usually practitioners of Hatha Yoga.

The name Gorakhnathi refers to the illustrious founder of this cult who was Gorakhnathji Maharaj.

Another distinctive feature of people belonging to this cult is that they wear huge earrings.

They pierce their ears which splits their ear cartilage.

Where are the Gorakhnathis usually found?


The Gorakhnathis, usually found in Punjab, in regions adjoining the Himalayan mountain range, live an austere life.

Some of them also live in Mumbai, a city in the state of Maharashtra, India .

The Gorakhnathis are also found in the region of caves, where other cults of Yogis are found along with them.

In the present day, Gorakhnathis live throughout India, in the Northern Deccan, In Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh, on the banks of the Ganga river and as far as Nepal.

Significance of the Name Kanphata

They got their name Kanphata which is a derogatory term, the Muslims used to describe the Gorakhnathis because they have split their ear cartilage.

There are other shades to this derogatory term.

It also means “one who is posing as a sage but actually is a charlatan..”

Certain other cults address the Gorakhnathis by the name Kanphata.

This is out of respect, quite contrary to the mood of Muslims.

Kanphata also means one who is practicing restraint, so that he could unite with God, Brahman.

How are the Gorakhnathis Connected with Maths?

These Yogis are always found in groups and never alone.

They abide in Maths (mutt) and in temples where they practice extensive meditation and other yogic forms to further themselves spiritually.

These Yogis also visit pilgrimages in groups as part of their spiritual regime.

Yogis belong to different maths.

The Mandelswaris is the head who runs the affairs of the respective maths.

The Gorakhnathis are extremely well networked with other fellow Yogis.

Why do Gorakhnathis wear Earrings?            

There is a ceremony popular with Gorakhnathis where the Guru pierces the ear of the disciple.

The Guru plugs the disciple’s ears with neem wood sticks till the time that the wound heals.

The Gorakhnathis believe that the point of ear piercing has a great Nadi or spiritual channel.

Cutting the point near the ear cartilage helps in faster spiritual progress.

Many believe that the ear-piercing develops many occult powers within the yogi.

Many also believe that piercing the ears, especially within the Gorakhnathi community grants immortality.

The Substance of the Earrings  

Gorakhnathis in different parts of Bharath wear rings made of different materials and dimensions.

The Gorakhnathis of western India usually wear rings that are 6.5 inches in circumference and weigh a little over 2 ounces.

In the Kutch region of the state of Gujarat, the yogis wear rings made out of gold.

At the time of initiation, the initiate wears clay rings.

The earring is very heavy.

Tying a string to the ring and passing it round the head helps the head support the ring.

Thus, the head supports the weight of the ring.

There is a story, where the founder of the cult, Sri Gorakhnath cut holes, three inches long and inserted clay earrings through the ear holes.

Many Yogis also continue to wear earthen earrings. However, there is a chance that earthen earrings could break.

Therefore many prefer to wear metallic rings.

The Gorakhnathis consider rhinoceros horn-made earrings as very auspicious.

Rings made of rhinoceros leather are also not uncommon among the Gorakhnathi sects.

Interesting Details about Gorakhnathi Earrings 

 Usually, Gorakhnathi earrings come in two shapes. One is flat while the other is cylindrical.

They call the flat variety as Darshan and the cylindrical variety as kundal.

Darshan means auspicious while kundal simply means rounded.

People consider both types of rings, as Pavitra or holy.

Why are Rhinoceros Horns used as Earring Material?     

The Rhinoceros is a sacred animal for the elite spiritualist of Bharath.

There is a legend that explains the use of rhinoceros horns as raw material for earrings.

In the great ancient war of Mahabharatha, the Pandavas won over the Kauravas.

But, they killed their cousins in the war of Dharma.

Since they killed their cousins, they were automatically disqualified for performing the last funeral rites of their kith and kin.

The killer cannot perform the killed person’s last rites.

They wanted to know from the Creator, Brahma as to what can qualify them to perform the final rites for their slain relatives.

The Creator commanded them to undertake a journey to the Himalayan terrain of Sri Badrinath and Kedarnath.

On the instructions of Sri Brahma, they undertook a pilgrimage.

On their return, they consulted with the Creator once again.

Now Sri Brahma said “Kill a rhinoceros, make a vessel out of its skin, and offer water to your blood relatives. then they shall ascend to Swarga.”

The Pandavas did accordingly.

After this event people considered the rhinoceros to be auspicious.

Dependence on Gorakhnathi Earrings 

The life of the Gorakhnathis is dependent on the earrings.

If by accident the earrings break, one should replace the ring immediately with a similar model, made of cloth.

No Yogi may perform any of his ablutions without the earring.

The Gorakhnathi should follow proper purificatory processes in case the ring breaks and replace the rings.

The Guru has to replace the broken ring of the disciple.

The disciple cannot have food or perform any of the divine rights without the ring in place.

In the old days, there are instances when a Gorakhnathi has lost his earrings.

As a result, he died because he failed to replace the ring without the proper purificatory rites.

The typical Gorakhnathi follows the practice of replacing the ring to this day if the ring breaks.

The yogi believes that a formally initiated Gorakhnathi, without the earrings, cannot survive for long.

The focus of the yogi’s life force is on the earrings.

Loss or failure to replace a broken earring means imminent death.

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