In this lesson we will describe stage 1 of the meditational method of trataka. The mudra that we will shortly describe, agochari mudra, is an excellent form of trataka. It is for this reason that we have introduced it at this stage in the book. Furthermore, this mudra is an important and integral part of kriya yoga, therefore it should be practised and perfected before undertaking some of the kriya yoga techniques.
At first agochari mudra will seem a little strange and difficult, for it requires a fixed gaze at the nose tip. The eyes have to assume a position to which they are normally unaccustomed. But with practice the eye muscles will adapt themselves to their new role, strengthening the eyes and in turn improving the eyesight. Agochari mudra, if practised for some time with awareness, can induce high states of concentration and tranquillity of mind.
Agochari Mudra (Nose Tip Gazing)
The word agochari literally means ‘unknown’, so it is possible to call this mudra the unknown mudra. However, in this context agochari comes from the Sanskrit word agocharam, which implies something that is beyond sense cognizance. In other words, this mudra is a mudra that allows one to transcend or go beyond normal awareness.
Another name for this mudra is nasikagra drishti. The word nasikagra means ‘nose tip’ and drishti means ‘to gaze’. Therefore, this alternative when translated gives an exact description of the technique, namely ‘nose tip gazing’.
It is worthwhile pointing out that this mudra is one of the oldest recorded yogic practices. It is depicted in the ancient ruins of Mohanjodaro, which was a nourishing society many thousands of years ago, even before the Vedas were recorded. The great archaeologist Sir John Marshall, who did much exploration of this ancient site, says the following: “It (the statue) represents someone seemingly in the pose of a yogi . . . the eyelids are more than half closed and the eyes are looking downwards to the tip of the nose.” So the ancient sculptor and the people of that time must have had some respect for this practice to depict it in stone for posterity.
This practice is mentioned in a number of ancient yogic texts. It seems so simple and inconsequential that one might easily regard it as insignificant. But in fact if it is done for a long time with intensity it can induce high states of introspection and in turn, meditation. The sublime and inspiring Bhagavad Gita refers to nose tip gazing in the following sloka (verse): “Holding his body, head and neck erect and motionless, the aspirant should gaze at the tip of his nose without once turning around.”
(6:13) This verse is included in the chapter describing the method that one should adopt in order to purify and steady the mind to make it one-pointed. The Bhagavad Gita says that by sufficient practice and by keeping the mind in a continual state of balance and concentration one attains meditation and higher illuminative knowledge.