Nath, also called Natha, are a Shaiva sub-tradition within Hinduism in India and Nepal

A medieval movement, it combined ideas from Buddhism, Shaivism and Yoga traditions in India

The Naths have been a confederation of devotees who consider Shiva, as their first lord or guru, with varying lists of additional gurus

Of these, the 9th or 10th century Matsyendranath and the ideas and organization mainly developed by Gorakhnath are particularly important

Gorakhnath is considered the originator of the Nath Panth

Nath tradition has extensive Shaivism-related theological literature of its own, most of which is traceable to 11th century CE or later

However, its roots are in far more ancient Siddha tradition

A notable aspect of Nath tradition practice have been its refinements and use of Yoga, particularly Hatha Yoga, to transform one’s body into a sahaja siddha state of awakened self’s identity with absolute reality

An accomplished guru, that is, a yoga and spiritual guide, is considered essential, and they have historically been known for their esoteric and heterodox practices

Their unconventional ways challenged all orthodox premises, exploring dark and shunned practices of society as a means to understanding theology and gaining inner powers

They formed monastic organizations, itinerant groups that walked great distances to sacred sites and festivals such as the Kumbh Mela as a part of their spiritual practice

The Nath also have a large settled householder tradition in parallel to its monastic groups

Some of them metamorphosed into warrior ascetics during the Islamic rule of the Indian subcontinent

The Nath tradition was influenced by other Indian traditions such as Advaita Vedanta monism, and in turn influenced it as well as movements within Vaishnavism, Shaktism and Bhakti movement through saints such as Kabir and Namdev