I remember a line, from the Times of India Speaking Tree column, where King Janaka is told by this rishi, that self-realisation may be attained in a flash, even faster than a warrior leaping on to straddle his horse...somehow the power of that imagery stuck to me. Plus, when u `hear' these two men speaking, you realise that in Janaka, Astavakra has a competent student, because Janaka himself was a realised man. Their conversation is fascinating -- in Astavarka Gita, if you can get a copy (good place for these translation is the Ramakrishna Mission, great language, and inexpensive edititons).
So, I love this because this is a pose of a self-realised sage. His body was crooked because he was cursed by his father, for knowing too much! When his father recites veda to his mom, the child Astavakra -- still in the womb squirms -- when he hears the mistakes his dad is making -- that being the reason for his crooked body. The other version says that when the child corrects his father, from the womb itself, the irritated father curses the boy to be born crooked. Either version, I love this sage...
So, here is another story about him, which should explain why yoga has to take you beyond anything u can think of, change your mindsets, and prejudices...
So, here is the story of this beautiful pose, my favorite one. (Oh, btw this is also a pose so many of my current batch is picking up:) -- Sonia, Jit, Sai, Mayank, Claudia, Simrat, Manasi, they all have got it...
So, Astavakara, crooked and bent, walks a long, long way to come to Janaka's court where he had heard a learned debate is on. When he enters the court, the assembly of `wise' men laugh at him. So, Astavakra asks Janaka pointedly: "I thought this was to be a court of wise men. Seems I have come to a wrong place. This appears to a gathering of shoe-makers." Janaka is astonished, and asks him to explain. So Astavakra wonders, rhetorically, how men who judge a person from the outside, seeing what is just skin and bones, can debate the matter of spirit, since they do not see the real person. Since they see him only for how he appears and not what he really is, they must be shoe-makers, the skin and leather fellows!!
What a story...!!
The more one goes into yoga, the more humbling it makes one . In fact, I was reading about Sw Kuvalayananda's book and the intro has this description of him: that for him disrespect was ambrosia, and he used disrespect to grow even more in his sadhana and personality!
Mmm, now if someone calls me up on the phone and calls me Haram Zadi (a very elderly, former Urdu celebrity writer -- who used to write for the Sunday Review when I was a rookie -- did that to me, just last month, when I told her I was not doing private yoga classes any more!!)
So, I must grow from there, forgive her cranky self, be thankful that some lurking karma of mine got cleansed! Yippeee.. Self-realisation is just a flash away!! :)