Monday, August 05, 2013


King Bhagiratha's legend tells us about the severe penance he did in order to bring Ganges down to planet earth. It involved penance to varying gods including ganga and to get them all to work in synch in order to accomplish the desired noble goal. His tapas has been immortalised in stone in the monolithic carvings in Mamallapuram.

Bhagiratha's penance

If one were to be a little creative, one can probably imagine what would the objective of his penance would be in today's context. Lets not be frivolous and think of some quick fix solutions for there is an immense impending crisis for humanity (for starters, imagine what would happen when we run out of oil?). But, instead if we can be very sincere in our desire to find this then one will look at all the varying dimensions of our society and understand their present state and be able to think of ways in which it can be better. Education, health, commerce, relationships, social structure, defence and every other external aspect of it may be considered. All these are issues external to the humans that make up the society. Then comes all the internal complexities of human beings - ambition, security, sensual needs, power needs etc. It will take time but if at all one is sincere then one will definitely consider all of that. If one were to consider all of this and then come up with a deep response from within, then, I am sure, it would be commensurate to Bhagiratha's effort.

Such a development of the individual is the fourth layer of the individual in the panca maya model (that which is food, that which needs food, that which analyses and manipulates the world, that which comes out of complete self analysis, that which is beyond the individual). Normally, an individual is just merely the set of all experiences, desires, ego etc. When the individual goes beyond all of this and discovers the deepest inner part and lets it flower in the world, that would be the vijnana maya.

Such a flowering of vijnana maya implies a certain posture that the individual is taking in his or her life. This posture can indeed be called Bhagirathasana.

But, sadly, in todays world rarely Bhagirathasana is practiced in this way. This is the function. Instead, it is only taught in its form.

 Form of bhagirathasana

This may help get some physical benefits. But the true idea behind the symbolism is mostly lost. When that happens, it becomes a caricature. But, if one practices this pose with the bhavana of bhagiratha in mind, then it will help develop the function.

Can we thus differentiate between form and function in every asana we do?


Rajesh K said...

The health benefits come first, because people can relate to the advantages of having healthier selves.

But, what is the purpose of this 'inner realization'? Is it not an end, than a continuation? Is it not the destination, than the journey? Is there hope, after realization, even if that hope is false?

If there are real benefits to inner realization and people are able to realize it, it will be easier for people to follow it.

Partha said...

thanks for sharing. we come from different paradigms. hope we get a chance to dialogue :)