#MythMonday : Vishvamitra

King Kaushika had absolutely EVERYTHING. He was extremely wealthy, had the largest army in the land, and had anything you could possibly think of at the tip of his fingers.

One day, while traveling with his large army, he came across the small, humble hermitage of the sage Vaśiṣṭha. They stopped to pay their respects, and as was customary, Vaśiṣṭha invited them to stay for a meal. Kaushika refused, saying there was no way that Vaśiṣṭha’s small home could provide enough food for the entire army. Vaśiṣṭha insisted, and Kaushika finally agreed, thinking they would be lucky if they even received a piece of bread each.

As the evening went on, more and more food kept coming out, and the entire army was completely satisfied. Kaushika was baffled, and asked Vaśiṣṭha how this was possible. Vaśiṣṭha told Kaushika that he had a magical cow named Nadini, that could provide whatever was asked for. Kaushika had never heard of a magical cow! He didn’t have one and he has everything, and demanded Vaśiṣṭha hand over the cow. Vaśiṣṭha was appalled. Nandini was part of the family, and Vaśiṣṭha could never give a family member away. Kaushika demanded Vaśiṣṭha give him the cow, or else he would declare war and just take the cow. Vaśiṣṭha said “Fine, go right ahead.” Kaushika thought Vaśiṣṭha was crazy. How could this little yogic sage defeat the largest army in the land? He couldn’t go back on his word, and so they went to war.

Battle after battle Vaśiṣṭha consistently won until Kaushika and his army couldn’t take it anymore and surrendered. Baffled again, Kaushika wondered how Vaśiṣṭha was able to defeat him. He realized there must be more to this yoga stuff than he realized, decided to give up everything except what he deemed essential, and went off to study yoga. After many, many years of study King Kaushika also became a yogic sage. His took the name Viśvāmitra (Viś = expansive/universe; mitra = friend) and dedicated his life to taking care of others and spreading the teachings of yoga.

Similar to King Kaushika having everything, viśvāmitrāsana also has a bit of everything! It is a side bend, shoulder opener, hip opener, standing āsana and arm balance all in one! You can not take this one by force! What’s interesting is the elements of vaśiṣṭhāsana (side plank) are also here, with the arm holding the foot representing the bow and arrow of war. Slow and steady wins this battle, and with patience you will find expansion and openess to all.

Drawing by @jason_crandell
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