sākṣin: “one who possesses eyes “; an eye-witness; the Subject (as opposed to what is external. The blog title is really the compound aṣṭāṅgasākṣin,which has several meanings:
- One who observes and reflects upon his or her own Ashtanga practice.
- A witness to the larger world of Ashtanga, but standing somewhat part from it — which has been my situation as a mostly-isolated practitioner with no local Ashtanga community or regular teacher.
- One who increasingly sees the world through the lens of Ashtanga, albeit in ways that are not always easily articulated.
I am a mathematics professor at a small College in Kentucky, introduced to Ashtanga in 1998 and a steady practitioner since January 1999.
My online ID has always been “homerhaumat”. When I created my first account on the Internet I tried the username “homer” and found that it was taken, so I tacked on “hanumat”, and have lived with that moniker ever since. hanumat is the neuter form of the Sanskrit term hanumān, which means literally: “possessing a jaw.”
You probably know that Hanuman is the monky-hero Rama-devotee in the Ramayana. But do you know how he got his name? Towards the end of the Kishkindha section of the Ramayana, the monkeys in search of Sita have discovered that she is being held captive in the island city of Lanka by the powerful demon Ravana. Lanka is one hundred leagues out into the Southern Ocean. In order to encourage Hanuman to make the great leap to Lanka to find Sita, his friend Jambavan reminds him of how he got his name:
When you were a child in the great forest, you saw the rising sun and thought it was a fruit. Wishing to seize it, you lept up into the sky. You flew for three hundred leagues, O Great Monkey, and though you were tormented by the heat of the sun you did not grow discouraged. But as you flew quickly through the sky, the wise god Indra was filled with rage and hurled his thunderbolt at you. As you fell, your left jaw was broken on the tip of a mountain peak, and so you are addressed by the name “Hanuman.”