What Gharmya Means

Gharmya is a word from Sanskrit, the mother tongue of the yogic sciences, including Ayurveda.

A gharmya a sacred vessel in which milk is heated for oblation—for offering to the divine.

When I learned of this word, gharmya, it spoke to me.

In my own studies with my teacher, the great myth of Samudra Manthan has been activated inside of me—the story of the churning of the ocean of milk, the purification of every aspect of myself into pure nectar, amrita, the true reality of immortality in each of us.

I’ll unfold a portion of this myth for you here, and if it resonates in you, I encourage you to explore it more yourself.

Bazaar art print of the churning of the ocean of milk. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

In the Samudra Manthan, the demons (asuras, or forces from below) and the gods (devas, or forces from above) are at war with one another, yet working together to bring this amrita to the surface of the great ocean of milk.

Vasuki, the king of serpents, is wrapped around the sacred Mount Mandara, rooted amidst the great ocean of milk. The demons toil at one end of the serpent and the gods at the other in an epic tug of war.

As they work together but in opposing directions, the sacred mountain rotates, churning the ocean of milk.

As it churns, poisons surface first. Then herbs are poured into the ocean, and treasures begin to emerge, including the devi Lakshmi, the goddess of abundance—and, in my own experience, mother of “the milk of human kindness” (which I also think of as the milk of humankind).

Last to emerge from the ocean is the deva Dhanvatari, the celestial physician and forever benefactor of Ayurveda. He is holding a sacred vessel of amrita, the nectar of immortality.

All of this ties back into Gharmya in the way that each of us is a sacred vessel of the precious milk of humankind.

Through the simple health-giving practices I have embodied and guide my clients into, we purify that which is toxic inside of us, working steadily toward the complete realization of what it is to live life fully with these genius human bodies we are given.

Each of us is a hallowed vessel with the potential to overflow with the milk of human kind-ness, to pour fully—joyfully, gratefully—into life.