Vyaghra Kriya

Dr. Swami Shankardevananda Saraswati

Vyaghra kriya is a variation of kunjal. It is the ideal technique for digestive upsets such as chronic dyspepsia or heartburn, which plague many people in the west.

The techniques of kunjal and vyaghra kriyas are known under the common title of vaman dhauti. Vyaghra is known by the name of vaman anna dhauti. 'Anna' means food and 'vaman' means vomiting. It is also known as baghi kriya and vyagra karma kriya. Both 'vyagra' and 'baghi' mean tiger. This technique is therefore known as the tiger action of regurgitation. It differs from kunjal in that it is performed three hours after taking a meal rather than on an empty stomach. The water expelled from the stomach therefore carries with it much undigested and semi-digested food.

The tiger as well as the cow, dog, monkey and other animals have been observed to vomit. The tiger gorges itself with its prey, including bones, and then regurgitates the remnants of the food from the stomach three or four hours after. Dogs and cats use this technique when they have eaten something that does not agree with them. They eat grass as an emetic and then vomit out the poisons that have entered their system. Thus it is a natural method, and like many yogic practices, it was copied directly from the animals.

The ancient yogis observed this sensible habit of the tiger and utilized it for their own benefit. They took their food in the normal way and then three hours later expelled the remaining undigested portions. This saved them from many intestinal ailments and discomforts, and allowed their energy to be directed towards more useful purposes.

Vyaghra kriya was also practised by the later emperors of the Roman Empire who used it to avoid indigestion after their famous orgies. This way, they could also eat more.

The technique

When the stomach feels uncomfortable, perform exactly the same procedure as for kunjal kriya. Drink six glasses (or as many as you are able) of warm saline water one after another as quickly as possible. Immediately lean forward and place the middle and index fingers of the right hand as far down the throat as possible. The fingernails should be short and clean. Rub and press the back of the tongue. This will induce a strong urge to vomit.

Do this two or three times so that the final time only pure water comes out and the stomach is perfectly clean. Traditionally vyaghra kriya is done three to six hours after taking food into the stomach. It can be followed forty-five minutes later by khir (milk rice pudding), though this is not essential.

While performing vyaghra kriya try to keep food particles from entering the nose. It is advisable to do neti straight after so as to clean the whole nasal passage in case irritating fluids or solids have entered.

We do not recommend that people suffering from active stomach ulcers, hernia, heart problems or high blood pressure attempt this practice. Note: Kunjal kriya can be done every day whether you are sick or in the best of health, but vyaghra kriya is done only when necessary.

Physical benefits

After eating a meal that does not agree with the digestive system, one feels uncomfortable and heavy. Performing vyaghra kriya restores the feeling of lightness and energy.

Vyaghra removes the burden of indigestible foods that create nausea or discomfort; it removes the chronic conditions of heartburn and indigestion that are so common in the world today. It removes poisons that we may have unknowingly consumed before they have a chance to do harm to the body.

Daily practice of vyaghra removes problems of the lungs such as cough. Like kunjal, vyaghra kriya is good for asthmatics and people with chest conditions. This is because a heavy stomach makes breathing difficult and can cause an acute attack of asthma. It also helps to clear the lungs of mucus.

It is helpful in cases of biliousness, when bile enters the stomach and creates nausea.

Vyaghra allows the most nutritious components of the meal to be absorbed, undiluted by the less pure and occasionally poisonous elements that are becoming more prevalent in today's adulterated commodities.

Mental benefits

Knowing that a technique such as vyaghra kriya is available, and has been practised for many centuries by yogis and animals, gives us confidence to face any emergency. Vyaghra kriya allows people with chronic indigestion and heartburn to eat with a relaxed mind and enjoy their food. When indigestion is eliminated, the whole world looks brighter and life takes on new meaning and purpose.

Pranic benefits

The digestion of pure foods requires very little energy or prana. The process is a smooth and continuous flow with each part of the digestive system acting in its correct sequence, quantity and quality. However, unlike pure food which gives energy, the digestion of impure food uses up a lot of energy. Vyaghra eliminates this unnecessary expenditure of energy, thus allowing the prana to energize the brain and other body systems. Vyaghra thus removes the tendency to sleep after a meal and the lethargy that comes into our daily activity around the middle of the day. As in kunjal, the gag reflex produces prana which energizes the body.

Conclusion

One of the most common ailments today is indigestion and heartburn, caused by eating too much or too quickly, or by eating food that is not nutritious and acts as a poison. The body reacts to this by churning the food in the stomach, allowing the fluid and the easily digestible portion to move quickly into the intestines. More energy is then expended by the stomach to digest the remaining food. This often produces excess acid which causes heartburn.

If we eat something which is poisonous, the stomach may hold onto it until the brain signals its unwelcome presence by inducing a feeling of nausea. But many people do not vomit until the poisons have entered the blood stream in sufficient quantities to make them thoroughly sick. Then they vomit copiously and continue to do so even when the stomach is empty.

In the normal process of digestion, food is fully churned and then the various nutrients and elements are absorbed into the bloodstream. Eventually all the goodness is extracted, leaving only waste residue to be expelled. However when we ingest something poisonous, or reduce our energy level by overeating, the digestive system slows down. As a result we do not get the correct quantities and balance of nutrients from our food. Vyaghra kriya will help solve this problem. If, after three hours, there is still heaviness, discomfort, belching, or bringing up of contents from the stomach, then do vyaghra kriya. This will energize the whole body by freeing the energy that is being engaged in digesting unnecessary food.

Another use for vyaghra kriya is illustrated by the following story:

Swamiji was invited to be the chief guest speaker at a convention. The banquet held in his honour consisted of meat, chicken, scorpions, snakes, snails, brains and other delicacies of that country, which to the yogic appetite are repulsive. Of course, as a sannyasin and chief guest, Swamiji had to eat the 'delicacies' so that his hosts would not be offended. This is a part of renunciation, as Swamiji renounced his renunciation of eating meat.

When he got back to his hotel room, Swamiji simply performed vyaghra kriya and everyone was happy.