Gorakhnath Yogis, Sub Sects and More

The History Behind the Gorakhnathi Earrings

The huge earrings, piercing through the ear-lobes identifies the Gorakhnathis very easily.

Gorakhnat Yogis’s Earrings are very famous.

There is a conflict about the origin of wearing the earrings amongst the Gorakhnathis.

A legend goes, Shiva once separated from Shakti and some dirt was leftover as the residue of their separation. 

Shiva took the form of an insect and descended onto a lotus-stalk. 

Shiva, with pierced ears,  took the form of an insect.

With pierced ears, as per the belief systems of the Gorakhnathis, Shiva had become immortal.

Connection of Guru Macchendranatha with Gorakhnathi Earrings

The first piercing of the Gorakhnathi clan began with their founder preceptor, Guru Macchendranatha.

People believed that when Macchendranatha was expounding the Gorakhnathi philosophy for the first time, he saw that Shiva’s had his ears.

Shiva wore the big earrings. This inspired Macchendranath to include the piercing of ears and wearing of the Earrings as an essential aspect of the Gorakhnathi Panth.

Some other legends claim that when Macchendranath was born as a fish, he already had the rings pierced through his ears.


At Puri, Macchendranath made it public, that all the followers of the Panth (sect) should pierce their ears and wear the rings.

There was mandatory for all the followers of the Sect.

Connection of Gorakhnath with Gorakhnathi Earrings

Some trace the origins of wearing rings among the Gorakhnathi sect to Gorakhnath and not Macchendranath.

People say that it was Lord Shiva who asked Parvati to pierce the earlobes of Sri Gorakhnath for the first time.

From then on, piercing ears among the Gorakhnathis became obligatory.

There is also the practice among Gorakhnathi women of wearing a type of ring known as mudra.

Gorakhnathi women wearing the Mudra

When women became widows, they would wear mudra.

Parallelly, even wives of married Yogis adopted the custom of wearing mudras.

Some women abide by strict Gorakhnathi vows.

On attaining vows, the women undertake a pilgrimage.

Some women are also in control of certain Gorakhnathi Temples and maths.

In general, all Gorakhnathi women from the Garhwal and Kumaon region wear mudra.


But this is of course not in alignment with the Gorakhnati rules that define the wearing of mudra.

There are some followers of Gorakhnath that do not have their ears split.

This is strange but true.

Aughars do not have Pierced Ears

There is an interesting anecdote about Aughars, the followers of Gorakhnath, with ears not pierced.

Once, two Siddhas or perfected beings tried to split the ears of a Gorakhnathi candidate.

However, the slits closed up, very fast.

They tried to do it several times, but the slit closed up.

So, they abandoned their attempt.

Since then the Aughar sub-sect among the Gorakhnathis, never bother to pierce their ears.

Thus there is a division among Gorakhnathis, recognized separately as Aughars.

The Gudara sect of the Gorakhnathis

Among the Gorakhnathis are a further sub-sect known as Gudara.

These are mendicants who are Shaivites.

They always carry with them a pan of metal with a few burning sticks, that leave out the scent.

Wherever they go to beg alms, they show the scent towards the house of the givers.

They usually chant “ Alakh, Alakh”


They wear a large round cap and clothe themselves fully in a peculiar ochre frock.

In addition, they have their ears pierced like the Kanphatas.

However, they have wooden cylinders passed through their ear lobes.

They call these cylinders, Khecharimudra.

The Khecharimudra represents the seal of the deity.

In reality, the Gudara is a subsect of Aughars (Aughars with ears pierced).

The founder of this subsect is a disciple of Gorakhnath and named Brahmagiri.

Sri Gorakhnath left his cylindrical kundals for Brahmagiri.

Since then, this subsect continues to wear cylindrical kundals.

The Story of the Stag’s Horn

The stag’s horn is also a very interesting component of the Gorakhnathi paraphernalia.

There is an interesting legend associated with the use of stag’s own in the Gorakhnathi cult.

Bhartri was a king who had seventy queens.

The king thereby went hunting.

He chased a herd of seventy hinds and a stag.

The seventy hinds requested the stag to sacrifice himself and have the hinds saved.

The stag allowed the king to capture and kill him, at the request of the hinds, on the condition that Yogis will use his horns to blow the celestial whistle called singhanad.

So goes the Legend.

To this, the hinds agreed and the stag allowed himself to be shot by the king.

Other Paraphernalia of the Gorakhnathi Yogis 

Since then the yogi blows the staghorn in the form of the singhanad as he prepares to have his meals.

Even when the Yogi offers his evening prayers to the deities, he blows the singhanad.

There are other interesting aspects about the Gorakhnathi Yogis which are discussed below.

Yogis from the Gorakhnathi sect also wear the janeo or the investiture thread which the members of three Varna classes namely Brahmans, Kshatriyas, and Vaishyas wear.

Only Yogis with unparalleled spiritual eminence may not wear the janeo.

Such a Yogi may discard the thread and even the singhanad.

Yogi of his spiritual caliber argues that they have a spiritual investiture thread around them, not visible to the naked eye.

They may even discard their earrings and claim the existence of invisible earrings around their ear lobes.

The Rudraksha beads of the Gorakhnathis

One of the paraphernalia of Kanphatas and other types of Gorakhnathis is the rosary bead.

Many of them wear these rosary beads or mala made out of rudraksha beads around their necks.

The Yogis wear the mala around the neck which may have 32, 64, 84, and 108 beads, depending on the choice of the Yogi.


Then there is the small rosary.

The small rosary consists of prayer beads and, called the “sumirani”, which means beads for remembrance.

Japa or sumiran is the process of using the prayer beads and praying or remembering the names of the Lord.

When a person remembers the name of the Lord, he uses his finger to go bead by bead as he chants every single name of the Lord.

Thanks for reading!