By Swami Harshananda
Gomukha literally means ‘mouth of the cow’.
Origin of River Gaṅgā
Gomukha is the place of origin of the river Gaṅgā. It is considered a highly sacred place. Sixteen kilometers (ten miles) from Gaṅgotri in Uttaranchal, a rivulet Devagāḍ joins the Gaṅgā. At a further distance of 6.5 kms. (4 miles) there is pine-grove. Gomukha is further up from here.
The river Gaṅgā emerges below a glacier. Water of the river is extremely cold. Pilgrims are advised to visit before the sun rises up, as the heat of the sun’s rays will start melting the rocks of ice. Then it becomes very difficult for them to walk back.
Gomukha is also the name of one of the yogāsanas described in Haṭhayoga.
A Cloth Bag
Vaiṣṇava sādhakas, generally use an L-shaped cloth bag to conceal their japamālā (rosary) while doing japa. This is called ‘gomukha’.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore