The Praśnopaniṣat – Part 6
The Ācārya, sage Pippalāda, gives an example to show that from Ātman alone prāṇa emerges:
आत्मन एष प्राणो जायते । यथैषा पुरुषे च्छायैतस्मिन्नेतदाततं मनोकृतेनायात्यस्मिञ्शरीरे ॥ ३ ॥
आत्मनः from Ātman एष this प्राणः prāṇa जायते emerges यथा just as एषा this पुरुषे in man च्छाया shadow एतस्मिन् in this एतत् this आततं cast मनोकृतेन by mind’s resolve आयाति comes अस्मिन् in this शरीरे body
This prāṇa is born of Ātman. As a shadow is cast by a person, so this prāṇa is, by Ātman. Through the activity of the mind it comes into this body.
This prāṇa, explained in the foregoing, is born of the Ātman the Supreme Puruṣa known as the Akṣara, Imperishable, which is the Satya, ever-existent, Truth. How does this happen? Here is an analogy. Just as in the world when the cause in the form of a man endowed with head, hands, etc. is present, a shadow, the effect, is born. Actually the shadow is not born; it just appears as a necessary effect when the required conditions are present. Similarly in Brahman, that is in the presence of Brahman, this entity known as ‘prāṇa’ which is akin to the shadow, which is in any case false as it is not the man, is manifest in the real man. This happens just as a shadow appears ‘in’ the body, owing to the resolve effected by the mind, in the form of desire, etc. In the sequel it will be stated: ‘puṇyena puṇyam’ [‘by virtuous deeds to virtuous worlds’] (Pra.up.3.7) etc. This idea itself is seen reflected in another passage: ‘saktaḥ saha karmaṇā’ [‘Because of attachment, the transmigrating self, together with its work…’ (Bṛ.up. 4.4.6). Prāṇa, by this means, comes into this body.
यथा सम्राडेवाधिकृतान्विनियुङ्क्त एतान्ग्रामानेतान्ग्रामानधितिष्ठस्वेत्येवमेवैष प्राण इतरान्प्राणान्पृथक्पृथगेव संनिधत्ते ॥ ४ ॥
यथा just as a सम्राडेव the emperor alone अधिकृतान् officials विनियुङ्क्ते enjoins एतान् these ग्रामान् villages एतान् these ग्रामान् villages अधितिष्ठस्व preside/officiate इति thus एवम् एव so too एष this प्राणः prāṇa इतरान् others प्राणान् sense organs पृथक्पृथक् separately एव alone संनिधत्ते employs
As an emperor commands his officials, saying “Rule these villages or those,” so this prāṇa employs the other prāṇas (the organs), each in its separate place.
In the world, a King allocates and posts officials to govern particular villages to each of them. He does that because he finds that employing officials on his behalf to carry out the local administration in those far off localities would be a better way of governing the whole kingdom, by delegating authority and have them report to him periodically. Similarly the prāṇa delegates each function in the body to a certain sense/motor organ to carry out the overall functioning of the body. It has been expounded in the earlier questions that the sense and motor organs function on the power derived from prāṇa and that if the prāṇa leaves the body these cannot stay there any longer.
पायूपस्थेऽपानं चक्षुःश्रोत्रे मुखनासिकाभ्यां प्राणः स्वयं प्रातिष्ठते मध्ये तु समानः । एष ह्येतद्धुतमन्नं समं नयति तस्मादेताः सप्तार्चिषो भवन्ति ॥ ५
पायूपस्थे excretory and genital अपानं apāna चक्षुःश्रोत्रे eyes and ears मुखनासिकाभ्यां by mouth and nose प्राणः prāṇa स्वयं himself प्रातिष्ठते installs मध्ये middle तु however समानः samāna एष he हि indeed एतत् this हुतम् offered अन्नं food समं equally नयति distributes तस्मात् hence एताः these सप्त seven अर्चिषः flames भवन्ति arise
Prāṇa engages apāna in the organs of excretion and generation; he himself moves through the mouth and nose and dwells in the eye and ear. In the middle is samāna; it distributes equally what has been offered as food in the fire in the stomach. From this prāṇa fire arise the seven flames.
Here is how the allocation of portfolios takes place. Prāṇa, in the form of apāna, discharges feces and urine from the outlets excretory (anus) and genital organs. And the eyes and ears are the abodes of prāṇa himself, who is like the King, without delegating to others this function, by motioning through the mouth and nose. By breathing function, the prāṇa himself governs the eye and ear organs. In the mid region, between the regions of the prāṇa (upper) and apāna (lower) is situated the samāna that carries the eaten and drunk food equally, sama, distributing to various parts. Since it is samāna that distributes the food offered as oblation to the self-fire in the stomach, from the eaten and drunk food-fire of the stomach, reaching the heart region, it issues forth as seven flames. The purport of this mantra is that prāṇa that is of the head region, enables the functions such as seeing and hearing, in their respective fields of forms etc.
हृदि ह्येष आत्मा । अत्रैतदेकशतं नाडीनां तासां शतं शतमेकैकस्या द्वासप्ततिर्द्वासप्ततिः प्रतिशाखानाडीसहस्राणि भवन्त्यासु व्यानश्चरति ॥ ६ ॥
हृदि in the heart हि indeed एष this आत्मा self अत्र here एतत् this एकशतं one hundred नाडीनां nerves/arteries तासां their शतं शतम् एकैकस्याः of each hundred द्वासप्ततिः द्वासप्ततिः seventy two each प्रतिशाखानाडीसहस्राणि thousand each भवन्ति branch off आसु in these व्यानः vyāna चरति moves about
The ātman dwells in the heart, where there are one hundred and one arteries (nāḍi-s); for each of these there are one hundred branches and for each of these branches, again, there are seventy two thousand subsidiary vessels. Vyāna moves in these.
The jīvātmān is present in the heart. ‘Heart’ is the fleshy formation in the shape of a lotus. In this location is the jīvātman, the subtle-body, liṅgātmā, who is ever associated with the Paramātman. It is the subtle body that transmigrates whenever the gross body dies. While the subtle body is always present till final emancipation, the gross body comes and goes. In this heart there are a hundred and one main nāḍi-s. Each of these main nāḍi-s is further divided into one hundred branches. Further, each of these divided branch is subdivided into seventy two thousand sub-branches. Thus the sub-branches are 727,200,000 and the total number of all nāḍi-s put together is 727,210,201 (ref: footnote on p.443 of Swami Gambhirananda’s translation). Vyāna, a form of prāṇa, moves about in these nāḍi-s. Vyāna gets its name because it is all-pervading. Just as the rays issuing forth from the sun pervade everywhere, so too the vyāna, through the nāḍi-s issuing forth from the heart region, pervade the whole body. Vyāna functions particularly in the joints, shoulders, and vital parts, and the region between the prāṇa (upper) and apāna (lower), contributing to the functions requiring strength.
अथैकयोर्ध्व उदानः पुण्येन पुण्यं लोकं नयति पापेन पापमुभाभ्यामेव मनुष्यलोकम् ॥ ७ ॥
अथ And एकया through one of them ऊर्ध्वः upward उदानः udāna पुण्येन by virtuous acts पुण्यं virtue लोकं world नयति leads पापेन by sinful deeds पापम् sinful world उभाभ्याम् by both एव alone मनुष्यलोकम् world of humans.
And then udāna, ascending upward through one of them, conducts the departing soul to the virtuous world, for its virtuous deeds; to the sinful world, for its sinful deeds; and to the world of men, for both.
Of the one hundred and one nāḍis, the udāna vāyu that is present from head to toe, ascends through one of them called suśumnā. It is this vāyu that leads the jīva endowed with puṇya karma resulting from adherence to the scriptural injunctions, to the world of meritorious beings such as the gods. Those jīvas who have only sinful deeds to their credit are led by the same udāna through that very path to appropriate worlds of animals, etc. And by the same path does a jīva whose actions are characterized by both merit and demerits, pass to the world of humans, led by udāna alone.
आदित्यो ह वै बाह्यः प्राण उदयत्येष ह्येनं चाक्षुषं प्राणमनुगृह्णानः । पृथिव्यां या देवता सैषा पुरुषस्यापानमवष्टभ्यान्तरा यदाकाशः स समानो वायुर्व्यानः ॥ ८ ॥
आदित्यः sun ह वै indeed verily बाह्यः external प्राणः prāṇa उदयति rises एष he हि indeed एनं this चाक्षुषं eye-located प्राणम् prāṇa अनुगृह्णानः blesses पृथिव्यां in the world या that देवता deity सा she एषा that पुरुषस्य of man अपानम् apāna अवष्टभ्य controlling अन्तरा between यत् that आकाशः space स he समानः samāna वायुः air व्यानः vyāna
The sun, verily, is the external prāṇa; for it rises, favouring the prāṇa in the eye. The deity that exists in the earth controls the apāna of man. The space, ākāśa, between heaven and earth is samāna. The air is vyāna.
Āditya, the well-known sun, is the cosmic prāṇa. He rises and blesses the eye, situated in the individual body, with the prāṇa, life force, by providing it with the ocular light with which it sees. And the cosmic deity that is popular in the pṛthivī, earth, is the one that controls the apāna, lower, actions, in the individual’s body. How does it help the individual? It keeps the body pulled to the ground alone and thereby the man is able to stand firm on the ground. If this particular function of the prāṇa (as apāna) were not there, then the body might simply fall because of its weight, or when conditions prevail, could even fly upwards. And in the interim space between the earth and heaven that air which exists is called ‘ākāśa’ (‘space’) just as a man sitting on a scaffolding is referred by the name ‘scaffolding’ in the sentence ‘the scaffolding shouts’. This air is ‘samāna’ as it blesses the ‘samāna’ (form of prāṇa) in the body. The two ‘samāna-s’, of the cosmos and the individual, have a common feature: both are in space, the cosmic one is in the space between the earth and heaven and the individual samāna is located in the body-space. The general vāyu that pervades the cosmos is vyāna for there is a similarity between this cosmic vāyu and the individual specific vāyu which also pervades the body through the countless nāḍis (ref.3.6 above). And the cosmic vyāna blesses the individual vyāna. In this mantra the special feature is that a relationship between the cosmos, adhidaivatam, and the individual, adhibhūtam, is stated as the former blessing the latter.