Yesterday, we read about the legend associated with the Amarnath yatra. There is a different version which is diametrically opposite to the above in terms of the location of the divine discourse.
The followers of the Natha sampradaya, i.e. the Natha community, have a different version. A fisherman by the name of Matseyndra Nath (Matsya – fish), once got swallowed by a huge fish which had got entangled in his net. The fish took him deep under the ocean. Since Matseyndra Nath had done good deeds, he did not die. The fish went and settled outside a make-shift home created by Shiva to relate the mysteries of his immortality. Shiva had selected this location so that no mortal could hear it (as against the cave as we read in the Amarnath yatra earlier).
However, while the fish was resting, Matseyndra Nath heard the full discourse and later after twelve years when he came out of the fish, he went on to become the founder of the Natha sampradaya, a sect of yogis. The sampradaya does not believe in caste system and Kings and untouchables, alike, have been the followers of this sect. The objective of the sect is to enjoy peace and tranquillity, at the same time also seek release from the cycle of birth and death. They also feel that for this one does not need divine intervention, it is based on ones actions and karma. Among the major disciples of Matseyndra Nath were Gorakhnath and Caurangi, with the former being very influential and also instrumental in spreading the teachings of Matseyndra Nath. They consider Lord Shiva to be the first in the line by referring him as the Adi Nath.
Matseyndra Nath and the natha sampradaya have thier followers in different parts of the country, especially in Bengal, Bihar, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Nepal. Matseyndra Nath, Gorakhnath and other seven such teachers are collectively known as the Navnath. The natha sampradaya have their own following with different myths associated with Matseyndra Nath, which we will not get into at this stage.
This variation is important especially for its difference. The people from the hilly terrain associate the myth of the Amar Katha in a mountain, whereas those closer to the sea, have an underwater association. Though Nepal can be seen as an exception, but the association of Matseyndra Nath, who is better known as Machindranath, has been discussed earlier in another article (Ratha-Yatra – In India and Abroad – Part 1 Nepal ). One of the versions even had a similarity with the earlier myth, where instead of Parvati acknowledging during the discourse, it was Matseyndra nath doing the same from inside the fish, when Parvati had dozed off! However, when Shiva learnt that it was someone else, he did not want to eliminate him, but blessed him to spread the good word. The significance of the natha sampradaya is more so, as it takes a Puranic myth and weaves around it secular credentials and thus has a wider base.