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Kanifnath – Hindu Saint Associated With Nathapantha

Kanifnath is one of the nine nathas (nine gurus) who promoted the ancient sect known as Nathapantha. Information about the life of Kanifnath is found in Nathalilamrita. He was the son of the Kshatriya king of Bhadradesha, Surath. His mother’s name was Bhamini. The son was born to the couple with the blessings of Guru Jaladharnatha, also known as Hadipa in Punjabi. When Kanifnath grew up to adulthood, he renounced the mundane world and began wandering with his preceptor, Jalandharnath.

The sect established by Kanifnath was more akin to those of Tantra, one sect of which is known as Vamamarga. The core of this sect is based on the worship of Shakti (female divinity).

There is a very interesting episode that explains the spread of this sect in Bengal. When Kanifnath’s Guru, Jalandharnatha, during his pilgrimage, reached Bengal, the king’s mother, Mainavati, was so inspired by him that she became his disciple, and urged her son, King Gopichand to respect the wandering saint. Instead of paying heed to his mother’s advice, King Gopichand buried Guru Jalandharnath beneath a head of cow dung ash. However, the king later repented his deed when Kanifath reached the place and chastised him. It induced him to become a disciple of Kanifnath, and the sect that grew after him in Bengal gave rise to a caste known as Sepala or Sapude. These people live be begging. The keep matted hair and go around playing a string instrument, the tamburi. Catching snakes is their main occupation and they claim their spiritual descent from Guru Gorakhnath.