Identifying Kanphata Yogis and Initiation

kanphata yogi inititations

Some Paraphernalia of the Gorakhnath Yogis

Gorakhnathis or Gorakhnath Yogis, as they are popularly Known, sometimes carry drums and hand-fans.

Some even carry peacock feathers.

They use the fan or the feathers to drive away flies.

Some of the Yogis also use peacock feathers in exorcism, to keep away evil spirits.

They also put to use these feathers, to relieve children from evil-eye. 

Many Yogis carry peacock feathers, but the Distinct Attire, Tilaka and Rudraksha Mala of Gorakhnath Yogis make them unique.

Some Occupations of the Kanphatas

  • Some Gorakhnath Yogis are creative and formulate certain charms that they use for themselves or even sell them.
  • They practice palmistry or juggling and even pronounce spells.              
  • They also tell fortunes and interpret dreams.              
  • Some of them sell woolen amulets for protecting children, in general.                
  • Some Yogis pose their skill in muttering mantras or Sacred Formula, over the sick.              
  • Exorcism remains an essential part of the Gorakhnathi culture.              
  • Some advanced Yogis also display magical feats and lure the common man.              
  • Some of the Yogis also practice Ayurvedic Medicine and employ ancient formulae followed normally in the hilly terrains of the Himalayas.                
  • There are others who are reputed in the art of transmuting base metals into gold.              
  • There is a worse kind amongst this group that indulges in gambling and swindling through the three-card game.              
  • Certain other Yogis are really powerful and have success in controlling hail storms and strong winds, thus averting destruction of some kind.              
  • Some of the Yogis were part of the king’s armed forces.                          

The Activities of Gorakhnathi Imposters


Some Yogis are tailors or sellers of milk. Some are weavers and so on.

However, the Larger Gorakhnathis community labels the ones involved with lower kinds of activity, actively participating in services and businesses as imposters.

There is a great section among the sect, who have, with the passage of time, become imposters.

People consider them degraded and despicable Yogis.

These counterfeit Yogis often enter into skirmishes with sadhus belonging to other systems and sects.

Sometimes, unneeded fights take place between them and sadhus, at pilgrimages, over bathing or on using public resources on a priority, thereby giving the feeling that they do not have even the basic etiquette of what Dharma preaches.

Some talented Yogis

Some of the Yogis also train dogs, monkeys, dogs, buffaloes, or other animals and keep them along.

The Bhartri Yogis are good music instrument players. 

The Indian Lute of the Sarangi is one such instrument that the Yogis play with ease.

Recruitment into the Gorakhnathi Sect

The Gorakhnathis select their members from the Dwija or the twice-born communities of Bharath.

This position is not very clear, because there are cases where Gorakhnathi Yogis are also found from the Shudra Class of the Varna System.

From Punjab, the Gorakhnathi Sect admits the “Chamarwa” within the Yogi sect, although these people belong to the menial class.

Later than 1901, the rules seemed to be more relaxed and there were many cases where the Gorakhnath Yogis admitted Musalmans.

At Dhinodhar, orphans, children of destitute people, lazy and indolent people, and people with ever so many troubles were also admitted.

This opened the doors of the Gorakhnathi Sect to one and all, without test or care.

Some Sects bar people from Other Religions.


At another place, where Gorakhnath Yogi initiation takes place, the Sect allows only Hindus (all castes) and close the door for Musalmans and Christians.

Some centres only recruit Ahirs, Rajputs and other clans belonging to the Warrior clans.

At a place known as Tilla, they recruit only the Khatris, Aroras and Brahmanas.

Recruitment At Gorakhpur (The Main Center)

The main centre is of course Gorakhpur.

Here the Sect tracks down each candidate down to their family, their past and the caste is totally confirmed before proceeding.

Each candidate also needs to get a No-Objection certificate from the Local Police Station.

The candidate has to prove that he has no criminal background before the Sect inducts him.

The candidate, after confirmation, has to create a record in the police station that he is wilfully becoming a Yogi and not being forced into it.              

How does Initiation happen in the Gorakhnathi Sect?

Initiation of Yogis is roughly divided into two stages.

There is a probation period to start with.

Then there are ceremonies leading to preliminary discipleship.

Then there is a secondary ceremony which includes the main ceremony of splitting the ears.

Only after this ceremony, the candidates obtain full-membership and become part of the Gorakhnathi Sect of Yogis.

The Aughars are the initiates in the first stage.

Only in the second stage, he becomes a full-fledged Yogi.

Months for Initiation

The months auspicious for initiation are “Poosh” (December-January), “Magh” (January-February), “Phagun”(February-March) and “Chait” (March-April). Initiations happen only during these months.

Initiations may happen at the Maths or during Pilgrimages.

It may also happen at Bhairon Temples.              

Criteria for Candidate Selection

The candidate is first observed, in a confined environment by the Guru.

The period of observation may range from forty days or three to six months.

At the end of the period, it is left to the Guru to decide whether he should accept this candidate as his disciple.

During this phase of scrutiny, the Gorakhnathi Community tests the candidate on his resolution to adapt and adopt the life of a Gorakhnathi ascetic.


There is a section of the already initiated Yogis, who try their best to dissuade this candidate from becoming a Yogi.

The Guru employs these people to test the resolution and grit of the candidate.

The fellow Yogis, highlight the hardships of life to the candidate and point out to him the pitfalls in becoming a Yogi.

They test the  candidate on a continuous basis and check him for a change of heart.

Final Induction of the Candidate into Gorakhnathi Fold

When the candidate satisfies the Guru is complete with his resolution and self-control, he has to immediately undertake a few days of fasting, as his final test.

At the end of this fast, the Guru choses the right day for initiation.

The candidate then bathes and appears before the Guru on the day of initiation.

The candidate carries with him a rupee and a quarter, a coconut, flowers and some sweets, for the ceremony.

He distributes sweets amongst the Yogis who gather to witness the initiation process.

The Guru accepts the candidate as an Aughar.

During the second stage of initiation the Guru splits the earlobes of the Aughar.

But before the actual splitting of the ears, the candidate is vehemently dissuaded three times from getting his ear split.

This is the final test of the Aughar’s resolution, before being allowed to be a full-time member of the Gorakhnathi Sect.

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