Mythology behind Marichyasana or pose dedicated to the sage Marichi.

Marichi was the son of Brahma, the divine creator. Having created heaven and earth, Brahma went on to conceptualise and create seven sons (Mansaputras), of which Marichi was one. Marichi literally means a ray of light from either the moon or the sun, and Marichi was to be the chief of the Maruts (‘the shining ones’).

Marichi went on to have his own children. His son, Kashyap, was known as the ‘Lord of Creatures’; his grandson was the sun god Surya, the giver of life who is the god to whom Surya Namaskara (a salutation including Uttanasana, Adho Mukha Svanasana, Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, and Chaturanga Dandasana) is dedicated; and his great-grandson was Manu, the father of humanity. The first three letters of Manu are “man” which is a Sanskrit root meaning ‘to think’, and it is this same Sanskrit root that gave birth to the English word man.

The following story gives a taste of Marichi’s character.

One day Marichi went to the forest to collect wood and flowers and returned to his home extremely tired. He called to his wife, Dharmavrata, and told her that she was to wash his feet for him. Just as Dharmavrata began to wash her husband’s feet, Brahma arrived. Dharmavrata did not know what she should do, should she continue to wash her husband’s feet, or turn her attention to Brahma, who was Marichi’s father. She chose the latter and suffered the wrath of her husband. Marichi became extremely angry and put a curse on his wife, turning her into a stone.

Dharmavrata was naturally upset by this, believing that she was being punished unnecessarily. As a reaction to this, Dharmavrata began many years of meditation which were noticed by Lord Visnu who, impressed by her devotion, granted her a wish.

All Dharmavrata wanted was to have Marichi’s curse lifted. Unfortunately, Marichi was such a powerful sage that this was impossible to do. Instead, Dharmavrata was transformed into a holy stone, which was desired by all gods.

Judging by this story, Marichi was not a particularly a savoury character, but his position as a great sage and his status as the Sun God’s grandfather and the great-grandfather of the human race’s progenitor undeniably make him a key figure in Indian Mythology and may well explain why such a powerful, energy-giving lateral twist bears his name.

5 Responses

  1. classic a person considered a great sage but who abused his wife/slave and well, yeah that sucks but it doesn’t matter too much because he was a “great” sage. rampant sexism excused because boys will be boys. it’s always exciting to read a story where no women are mentioned in the lineage until their appearance serving a man and man’s needs and this transforms them into a wonderful object desired to be owned by men. yes let’s continue to exalt great sages like this and a lineage that doesn’t even bother to include the Other sex because they are not worthy enough to be considered as a part of Man. That super inclusive word that is a synonym for the Huma(y)n Race. Tired of this kind of practice where I have no one to look up to because I am a Woman. I don’t want to be a Man. They seem ignorant and full of their own egos. I’d rather practice following in the footsteps of someone who is kind and practices heart-thought and consideration of others as well as self-care, rather than “I think, therefore I am”. Isn’t the art of yoga about stilling the fluctuations of the mind? I wish yoga teachers would awknowledge its sexist cultural underpinnings and that it is primarily a practice built by men to enlighten men. Luckily this is a new world where women are considered people too, and have finally freed themselves from sexual oppression enough to gain back their own power and make their own decisions, including re-claiming yoga and all that it purports to stand for. Intersectionality is key. We all move through together. Perhaps it’s time to turn that inward listening outward too.

    1. I am hearing you and I agree with you. But this was published by an Iyengar publication in the intention to educate not to prime, to praise or to admire. For sure, We need to react against this but we need to acknowledge those stories to avoid to happen again. Thank you for your comment

    2. This is why he is not worshipped.
      These are just record of events that happened and not a enforced guideline for ideal way of life.
      Across India Shivalinga I.e a symbol of unification of masculine and Femine energy is worshiped as the Supreme.

    3. It was like that, it’s a part of our history, women weren’t allowed to learn or read or dance etc etc but as everything in this world we’re evolving and there is no need to wipe the history because we don’t agree with it now. What we think is wrong now – was normal back then. And I’m sure that what we think is normal now will be so wrong in far future…

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