VI. Prana (III)
As it is desirable that as much as possible should be known about Prana, I give below some quotations on the subject from the Prasnopnishat. They will give additional interest to the subject, and present it in a more comprehensive and far more attractive garb.
Six things are to be known about Prana, says the Upanishad:
“He who knows the birth (1), the coming in (2), the places of manifestation (3), the rule (4), the macrocosmic appearance (5), and the microcosmic appearance of Prana becomes immortal by that knowledge.”
Practical knowledge of the laws of life, i.e., to live up to them, must naturally end in the passing of the soul out of the shadowy side of life into the original light of the Sun. This means immortality, that is, passing beyond the power of terrestrial death.
But to go on with what the Upanishad has to say about the six things to be known about Prana:
The Birth of Prana
The Prana is born from the Atma; it is caused in the atma, like the shadow in the body.
The human body, or any other organism, becomes the cause of throwing a shade in the ocean of prana, as it comes between the sun and the portion of space on the other side of the organism. Similarly, the prana is thrown as a shade in the macrocosmic soul (Iswara) because the macrocosmic mind (manu) intervenes. Briefly the prana is the shade of Manu caused by the light of the Logos, the macrocosmic center. The suns are given birth to in this shade, by the impression of the macrocosmic mental ideas into this shade. These suns, the centers of Prana, become in their turn the positive starting point of further development. The manus throwing their shade by the intervention of the suns, give birth in those shades to planets, etc. The suns throwing their shades by the intervention of planets, give birth to moons. Then these different centers begin to act upon the planets, and the sun descends on the planets in the shape of various organisms, man included.
The Macrocosmic Appearance
This prana is found in the macrocosm as the ocean of life with the sun for its center. It assumes two phases of existence: (1) the prana, the solar, positive life-matter, and (2) the rayi, the lunar, negative life-matter. The former is the northern phase and the eastern; the latter is the southern phase and the western. In every Moment of Terrestrial life, we have thus the northern and southern centers of prana, the centers from which the southern and northern phases of life-matter take their start at any moment. The eastern and western halves are there too.
At every moment of time – i.e., in every truti – there are millions of truti – perfect organisms – in space. This might require some explanation. The units of time and space are the same: a truti.
Take any one truti of time. It is well known that every moment of time the tatwic rays of prana go in every direction from every point to every other point. Hence it is clear enough that every truti of space is a perfect picture of the whole apparatus of prana, with all its centers and sides, and positive and negative relations. To express a good deal in a few words, every truti of space is a perfect organism. In the ocean of Prana that surrounds the sun there are innumerable such truti.
While essentially the same, it is easy to understand that the following items will make a difference in the general color, appearance, and forms of these trutis:
- distance from the solar center;
- inclination from the solar axis.
Take the earth for illustration. That zone of solar life, taking into consideration both the distance and the inclination in which the earth moves, gives birth to earth-life. This zone of earth-life is known as the ecliptic. Now every truti of space in this ecliptic is a separate individual organism. As the earth moves in her annual course, i.e., as the truti of time changes, these permanent truti of space change the phases of their life. But their permanency is never impaired. They retain their individuality all the same.
All the planetary influences reach these trutis always, wherever the planets may be in their journey. The changing distance and inclination is, of course, always causing a change of life-phase.
This truti of space, from its permanent position in the ecliptic, while maintaining its connection with all the planets, at the same time sends its tatwic rays to every other quarter of space. They also come to the earth.
It is a condition of earth life that the positive and negative currents, the prana and the rayi, be equally balanced. Therefore, when the two phases of life matter are equally strong in this ecliptical truti, the tatwic rays that come from it to the earth energize gross matter there. The moment that the balance is disturbed by the tatwic influence of the planets, or by some other cause, terrestrial death ensues. This simply means that the tatwic rays of the truti that fall on earth cease to energize gross matter, although they do fall there all the same, and although the truti is there all the same in its permanent ecliptical abode. In this posthumous state, the human truti will energize gross matter in that quarter of space whose laws of relative, negative and positive predominance coincide with that state. Thus, when the negative life matter, the rayi, becomes overly strong, the energization of the truti is transferred from the earth to the moon. Similarly it may pass to other spheres. When the terrestrial balance is restored again, when this posthumous life has been lived, the energization is transferred to the earth again.
Such is the macrocosmic appearance of Prana, with the pictures of all the organisms of the earth.
The Coming In Of Prana
How does this prana maya kosha – this truti of the macrocosm – come into this body? Briefly, “By actions at whose root lies the mind”, says the Upanishad. It was explained previously how every action changes the nature of the prana maya kosha, and it will be explained in the essay on the “Cosmic Picture Gallery” how these changes are represented in the cosmical counterpart of our life-principle. It is evident that by these actions change is produced in the general relative nature of the prana and the rayi, which has been spoken of previously. It is hardly necessary to say that the mind – the human free will – lies at the root of those actions that disturb the tatwic balance of the life-principle. Hence, “The prana comes into this body by actions, at whose root lies the mind.”
The Places of Manifestation
“As the paramount Power appoints its servants, telling, ‘Rule such and such villages’, so does the Prana. It puts its different manifestations in different places. The apana (this discharges faces and urine) is in the Payu (anus) and the upastha. The manifestations known as sight and hearing (Chakahus and Srotra) are in the eye and ear. The prana remains itself, going out of mouth and nose. Between (the places of prana and apana, about the navel) lives the Samana. It is this that carries equally (all over the body) the food (and drink) that is thrown in the fire. Hence are those seven lights (by means of prana, light of knowledge is thrown over color, form, sound, etc.)
“In the heart is of course this atma (the pranamaya kosha) and in it, of course, the other coils. Here there are a hundred and one nadi. Of these there are a hundred in each. In each of these branch nadis there are 72,000 other nadi. In these moves the vyana.
“By one (the Susumna) going upward, the udana carries to good worlds by means of goodness, and to bad ones by means of evil; by both to the world of men.
“The sun is, of course, the macrocosmic prana; he rises, and thereby helps the eyesight. The Power that is in the earth keeps up the power of apana. The akasa (the ethereal matter) that is between heaven and earth, helps the samana.
“The ethereal life-matter (independent of its being between heaven and earth) which fills macrocosmic space, is vyana.
“The taijas – the luminiferous ether – is udana; hence he whose natural fire is cooled down approaches death.
“Then the man goes toward the second birth; the organs and senses go into the mind; the mind of the man comes to the Prana (its manifestations now ceasing). The prana is combined with the taijas; going with the soul, it carries her to the spheres that are in view.”
The different manifestations of Prana in the body, and the places where they manifest themselves have been dwelt upon. But other statements of interest appear in this extract. It is said that this atma, this prana maya kosha, with the other coils of course, is located in the heart. The heart, as has been seen, represents the negative side of life, the rayi. When the positive prana impresses itself upon the rayi – the heart and the nadis that flow from it – the forms of life and the actions of man come into existence. It is therefore, properly speaking, the reflection in the heart that works in the world, i.e., is the proper lord of the sensuous and active organs of life. If this being of the heart learns not to live here, the sensuous and active organs both lose their life; the connection with the world ceases. The being of the brain that has no immediate connection with the world, except through the heart, now remains in unrestrained purity. This means to say that the soul goes to the suryaloka (the Sun).
The next point of interest is the description of the functions of the External Prana, which lie at the root of, and help the working of the individualized prana. It is said that the Sun is the Prana. This is evident enough, and has been mentioned man times before this. Here it is meant to say that the most important function of life, inspiration and expiration, the function of which, according to the Science of Breath, is the One Law of existence in the Universe on all the planes of life, is brought into existence and kept in activity by the sun in himself. It is the solar breath that constitutes his existence, and this reflected in man producing matter gives birth to human breath.
The Sun then appears in another phase. He rises, and as he does, he supports the eyes in their natural action.
Similarly, the power that is in the earth sustains the apana manifestation of prana. It is the power that draws everything towards the earth, says the commentator. In modern language, it is gravity.
Something more might be said here about the udana manifestation of prana. As everybody knows, there is a phase of microcosmic prana that carries everything, names, forms, sight, sounds, and all other sensations, from one place to another. This is otherwise known as the universal agni, or the Tejas of the text. The localized manifestation of Prana is called udana, that which carries the life-principle from one place to another. The particular destination is determined by past actions, and this universal agni carries the prana, with the soul, to different worlds.