The Binding Woman

Because the aim of yogic practice (according to Patanjali¹s Yoga Sutras) is the achievement of liberation by isolating purusa from prakrti, from which "all change and multiplicity" come,2

And while yogis fear the goddess, or prakrti, the gods fear a successful yogi. The dangers are twofold: through austerities, or tapas, the ascetic generates great heat which can become destructive, and, by redirecting his sexual power into such practice, he ceases to take (his necessary) part in cycle of creation. In Kalidasa's play, "Sakuntala and the Ring of Recollection," the heroine's parents met in the following way:

Once when this great sage was practicing terrible austerities on the bank of the Gautami river, he became so powerful that the jealous gods sent a nymph named Menaka to break his self control.3


As the buffoon later says, "But if that woman grabs my hair tuft, it will be like a heavenly nymph grabbing some ascetic . . . there go my hopes of liberation!"4