Hatha Yoga Pradipika 13 — The Cow’s Face Asana

Chapter One — Gomukhasana

Continuing from The Good Luck Asana with one more verse.

The first translation and the Titles are from Swami Kripalu’s, Revealing the Secret, a commentary on the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

The second translation is from the Pancham Sinh edition.

Things in (parentheses) are from the edition concerned.
My own input amidst verses is in [brackets] and in color when commenting.

For persons using other editions, in this blog we are taking up at 20 in the Kripalu translation, which is 22 in the Sinh translation.

The Cow’s Face Posture

Place the ankle of the right foot under the left buttock and the ankle of the left foot under the right buttock; this posture that resembles the shape of a cow’s face is called the cow’s face posture.

Placing the right ankle on the left side and the left ankle on the right side, makes Gomukhasana, having the appearance of a cow.

Kripalu Commentary — Revealing the Secret

In yogic books, the authors describe one posture per couplet, so, due to the description’s extreme brevity, it remains incomplete. In this posture, only the position of the feet is pointed out; there is no clue as to the position of the hands. Despite being a defect, this is not a defect, because the aspirant knows the rest by means of the technique of yoga or by means of the teacher.

Consider this:  Each asana that has been selected is a teaching concerning sun-moon union (Hatha Yoga).

Gomukhasana, Swami Kripalu

The arousal of the life energy is a technique of yoga [a technique of yoga, not your technique but a technique of yoga itself]; through it, all the purifying actions of yoga occur of their own accord, but it is primarily useful to a brilliant liberation-seeking aspirant of a high class. Just as a poor person cannot maintain an elephant, an ordinary aspirant cannot remain stable in this systematic practice for very long.

“Brilliant”: he or she is liberation-seeking.  “High class”: he or she is surrendered to God and has advanced to a point where an understanding of the meaning can be reached. Others do what is ordinary, i.e., they sit a certain way.

A second point: This is purifying action yoga [kriya yoga]. In it, the revered truth teacher’s awareness of the essence and his guidance are indispensable. This cow’s face posture is the posture that begins [BEGINS] the purifying action in the root-base energy center [muladhara chakra, “root-holder wheel”].

This is the beginning of Hatha Yoga.

The first chapter of The Holy Bhagavad Gita is called “The Yoga of White One’s [Arjuna’s] Despondency”. When the root-base energy center is disposed toward purifying actions, accompanying this, the yoga of despondency begins. This is the first chapter of “The Song of Yoga”.

Bhagavad Gita means God’s Song, The Song of God. Kripau has used the title, “The Song of Yoga” here because the teachings of yoga are being made available to us by overhearing a dialogue between Lord Krishna and his disciple, Arjuna. The Bhagavad Gita consists almost entirely of this dialogue.

How can an ordinary soldier remain standing in the battlefield in which a great virile hero like White One, a great chariot warrior, his bow, Gandiva, the victor of wars, lying abandoned, is about to lose interest in the war?

In other words, if you lose interest and quit because you think you are  standing still (though things are about to get really interesting), how can others on your team be expected to go forward? If you think you are bored now, you are probably about to be really in for it ( i.e, kriya yoga, Real Yoga: sun-moon yoga).

… in the last chapter of The Holy Bhagavad Gita, White One’s [Arjuna] despondency is destroyed, because Revered Dark One [Krishna] was his charioteer. He was both his truth teacher and his adored God. In this battlefield, even if an ordinary soldier were to succeed in understanding a Gita of eighteen hundred thousand chapters (the Bhagavad Gita has eighteen chapters), his unending despondency would not be destroyed; abandoning his weapon, he would flee the battlefield.

At this point in yoga, even if an ordinary “soldier” (practicer of yoga) succeeded in understanding eighteen hundred thousand chapters of a Gita, he would still be unable to dispel his despondency and would quit. So what saved Arjuna from this fate? He put God in the driver’s seat and saw his truth teacher as God in a body serving him as his driver.

If you have taken my Ancient Mystical Writings course, you will remember that the chariot is the body.

The great speaker of The Holy Bhagavad Gita is giving instruction only to a great chariot-warrior sunk in despondency on the battleground, not under a canopy pitched up for narration of stories [for entertainment, moral teaching or inspiration].

The primary purpose of the Bhagavad Gita is to convey teachings to “brilliant, high class soldiers”. 

 ♦ ♦ ♦

go (cow) + mukha (face, facing; mouth, opening, entrance; upper part, head, top, tip or point of anything) + asana (seat, posture, position, disposition or situation).

Depression — The reduction of the level or strength of the energy of the body — not just the feeling the sadness, dejection or depression which may accompany it.  This is the theme of the first chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, in which the brilliant, high class soldier, our warrior-hero, Arjuna (White One), upon looking over the situation enters this state and throws in the towel (his bow) to quit. In the remainder of the Gita, Lord Krishna (Dark One) straightens him out. By the last chapter Arjuna finally gets it.  

Despondency, depression and dejection are synonyms in three dictionaries that I consulted.

_______________  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ _______________

Jaya Bhagavan,
Durga Ma

Durga Ma’s translation and synopsis of the Bhagavad Gita: The Song of God, the Bhagavad Gita in a Nutshell.

Durga Ma’s New Moon course, Ancient Mystical Writings.

One thought on “Hatha Yoga Pradipika 13 — The Cow’s Face Asana

  1. Pingback: Hatha Yoga Pradipika 14 — Virile Asana | Mystical Tidbits

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