Dear Yoga Mentor, My Question Is…

Sometimes students have written to or asked Swami Veda Bharati, Swami Ritavan Bharati, and other senior teachers in our tradition questions about practice.  This is one such “Question and Answer,” or Q&A.


What is Khechari? (Apart from the lingual frenulum cutting metaphor)


Four have answered this question: Pandit Hari Shankar Dabral, Stephen Parker (Stoma), Michael Smith, and Carolyn Hume.

From Pandit Dabral:

Khe Charati Iti Khechara: Khe means Akash (sky), Chara means walking; therefore Khechari means walking in to the Sky.

There is also a Khechari Mudra that which allows a Sadhaka to walk or roam into the Sky. The different layers into the Sky of a Sadhana.

This mudra is to do with very advance spiritual practices.

From Stephen Parker (Stoma):

Khecari, as Panditji says, is actually an experience at a certain depth of meditation when the prana is flowing upwards along the sushumna. The tongue spontaneously lengthens (no need to cut it as they do in the formal hatha yoga traditions) and rises into the juncture between the oral and nasal cavities accompanied by GREAT joy. It is discussed in some detail in several Kashmir Shaiva texts (Pratyabhijñā-hridaya, Netra Tantra and, I believe, in Vijñāna Bhairava).

From Michael Smith:

Swami Veda talked about Khechari Mudra in several of his lectures. Here are some things from Swami Veda’s Commentary on Patañjali’s Yoga-sutras, Vol. 2:

On page 761 of his Yoga-sutra Commentary (Vol. 2) Swami Veda has written that Rāmāyanda Yati has described certain fruits of the practice of pratyāhāra not found elsewhere:

"I shall teach the fruits of pratyāhāra, by practicing which, one may become a mover in space (khe-chara)."

Swami Veda then wrote in a footnote that what Rāmāyanda Yati is talking about is “closely related to the practice of the khe-charī mudra,” and that “the reference [above] is not to the physical position of the tongue or an external space but to the mind reaching out to the vastness of the unity of internal and the external spaces. A very special experience similar to the one described in Yoga-sutra I.36, jyotiṣhmatī, is explained by Vyāsa as the experience of the vastness of space.” (p. 761)

Then Swami Veda explained a characteristic of many yogic texts:

“Many words in the same text occur in one meaning in one section and in a subsequent chapter in a different, subtler meaning, as the text, and the initiate being taught experientially advance from bahir-aṅga [external limbs] to antar-aṅga [internal limbs]

. . . . For example, khechari, as commonly taught in hatha-yoga, is a very different from the way the word is understood in Tantra. The body-bound people keep cutting the base of the tongue and what not, because they seem to have read the Hatha-yoga-pradīpikā only up to III.32-41, but they have failed to notice IV.43 ff which conforms to the Tantric tradition’s usage of the word in the context of the kuṇḍalinī and its forces.” (p. 791)

From the talk “Philosophy of Hatha Yoga” by Swami Veda in Hong Kong in 2007:

“The last great [sage] whose place in hatha yoga is like that of Patanjali in Raja Yoga is Swatmarama. . . I’d like to tell you something. The . . . first half of it is with reference to physical practices. The second half is pure kundalini yoga – but the name of the text is Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

What is hatha yoga? In Sanskrit etymology the word hatha-yoga can be broken up in two ways: . . . by forcing the body, . . . but that is not how we take it in the traditions. . . . Ha is the bija mantra, the seed syllable, of the solar force. Tha is the seed syllable, bija mantra, of the lunar force. The union of the solar force and the lunar force through the central sushumna stream is hatha yoga, union of ha and tha. If you understand that, you understand the entire philosophy of hatha-yoga, raja-yoga, kundalini-yoga, mantra-yoga, all combined in that word.”

If one refers to those sections in Svatmarama’s Hatha-yoga-pradīpikā (The Light on Hatha Yoga), they show what Swami Veda first refers to when he cites Chapter 3, verses 32-41. A good translation and commentary of this has been done by Swami Muktibodhananda Saraswati under the guidance of Swami Satyananda Saraswati (in the Bihar School) and to get a good idea of khechari mudra entails, that book would be helpful.

In brief, these verses tell about two positions of the tongue at the back of the throat into the nasal cavity and beyond; the more intense version of the physical khechari mudra takes years of preparation to lengthen the tongue. Once the technique has been mastered, one is able to direct the flow of ida and pingala nadis. In Chapter Three many virtues are ascribed to the practice of khechari mudra and in tantric texts there are poetic ways of describing what occurs when the pranic force is channelized through sushumna.

3.44 – “With the tongue directed upwards, the knower of yoga drinks the fluid of the moon. Within fifteen days physical death is conquered.”

The Bihar commentary states:

"The process involves the release of the body fluid the yogi call amaravaruni. Amara refers to immortality and the moon and varuni is wine. Amaravaruni is the wine of immortality or of the moon. This wine is actually the chemical fluid secreted by bindu vasarga. Tis the nectar of pure consciousness. Just as the result of the union between a man and a woman is the release of reproductive secretions, so the union of ida and pingala with sushumna in ajna chakra releases the fluid from bindu. At that time one experiences the climax of spiritual experience which is more fulfilling than any empirical experience. With the release of amaravaruni, the body is impregnated with spiritual or cosmic force and gives birth to higher consciousness or atman.”

In regard to this Swami Veda has talked about the cryptic saying, “Eat meat and drink wine," and he has blessings which speak of "the wedding of the sun and the moon."

Following the verses from Chapter 3 (above) are the verses Swami Veda cited in Chapter 4.44 and beyond, and in the Bihar commentary the subtleties of khechari mudra, yoga-nidra and many poetic metaphors are explained.

The verses that Swami Veda is referring to can be read by clicking on this link:
http://www.swamij.com/hatha-yoga-pradipika.htm, however, again, the Bihar translation and commentary is recommended.

From Carolyn Hume:

Swami Veda Bharati in his booklet "Silence" wrote

“The word khechari means ‘that which takes one on a flight into the skies.’ The tongue is turned into the palate. Actually the particular nadi, the energy channel that has its location in the tongue, is turned back and is merged into that central energy channel which flows through the palate into the brahmarandhra, into the center of the sahasrara chakra. It is not an act of turning the tongue; it is the act of merging the oral, vocal energy into the path of sushumna and one cannot accomplish khechari, the practice of silence in meditation, until or/and unless one prepares for that union, that merger. It would become contrived, an effort like our asanas which similarly become an effort unless we understand the pranamaya kosha (the prana body). That is why in our philosophy we describe the practice of hatha yoga to be a practice not of annamaya kosha, not of the physical body, but the practice of the pranamaya kosha.”

And later

“If the silence grows deep and true, khechari will form by itself and you will become a sky-wandering one."


Editor’s Notes:

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