Bhramari: The Goddess of the Black Bees
I have a lot of friends that swear by yoga. A very healthy addiction, these mates won’t miss a class and tell me about the incredible sense of painlessness, calm, core physical strength, and, perhaps most importantly, mental resilience they gain from their regular practice. I remember one yogi told me about this specific type of “pranayama” breathing they learnt in one of their classes called “bhramari”– a kind of controlled breathing through the nose that makes a sound a lot like bees buzzing!
Little did I know that this yoga technique – which is said to more generally control blood pressure and even treat a range of stress-related disorders – comes from a Hindu myth about Bhramari, Goddess of Black Bees, and she is symbolically connected to bees, hornets and wasps, which cling to her body.
Let’s travel to the city of demons where a very furious demon named Arunasura lives. Each day, Arunasura went to the banks of the Ganges river where he practised many types of devotions to the Hindu creator god, Brahma, who he believed would protect him. He meditated and fasted and paid his penance for some tens of thousands of years until his body was withered, but a halo of light shone out from his body. For his sacrifice and devotion, Brahma blessed him with protection from two- and four-legged creatures; however, this inflated the ego and power of the demon who then planned to stage a war against the gods. Brahma and the other gods got together to figure out how they would defeat Arunasura, but while they were chatting, the demon and his army used their growing powers to possess parts of the cosmos – the Sun and Moon among other forms. With the situation so dire, the gods turned to Parvati – the Hindu goddess of fertility, love, beauty, marriage, children, devotion, divine strength and power. With her help, the gods decided to kill the demon with the use of SIX-legged creatures.
Parvati appeared on the battlefield and grew to a massive size, armed with a mace, trident, long sword and shield in her four hands. Concentrating with all her might, she summoned forth countless bees, hornets, wasps, flies, termites, mosquitos and spiders from the skies. They crawled onto her body and clung on, which transformed her into the divine form of Bhramari Devi. The now Bhramari sent all her insects to attack Arunasura, the demon, saving the day and the cosmos at large! What a tale of bees saving the day!