The Science of Breath & the Philosophy of the Tatvas


Essays 5 to 7


Part One

00. Preface
01. The Tatvas
02. Evolution
03. The Mutual Relation of the Tatvas & Principles
04. Prana (1)
05. Prana (2)
06. Prana (3)
07. Prana (4)
08. The Mind (1)
09. The Mind (2)
10. The Cosmic Picture Gallery
11. The Manifestations of Psychic Force
12. Yoga ~ The Soul (1)
13. Yoga (2)
14. Yoga (3)
15. The Spirit

Part Two

The Science of Breath & The Philosophy of the Tatvas


05. Prana (2)

The Pranamaya Kosha (Coil of Life) changes into three general states during day and night: the waking, the dreaming, and the sleeping (jagrata, swapna, susupti). These three changes produce corresponding changes in the manamaya Kosha (the mental coil), and thence arises the consciousness of the changes of life. The mind, in fact, lies behind the prana. The strings (tatwic lines) of the former instrument are finer than those of the latter; that is, in the former we have a greater number of vibrations than in the latter during the same space of time. Their tensions stand to each other, however, in such a relation that with the vibrations of the one, the other of itself begins to vibrate. The changes give to the mind, therefore, a similar appearance, and consciousness of the phenomenon is caused. This, however, some time after. My present object is to describe all those changes of prana, natural or induced, that make up the sum total of our worldly experience, and which, during ages of evolution, have called the mind itself out of the state of latency. These changes, as I have said, divide themselves into three general states: the waking, the dreaming, and the sleeping. Waking is the positive, sleeping the negative state of prana; dreaming is the conjunction of the two (susumna sandhi). As stated in the foregoing essay, the solar current travels in a positive direction during the day, and we are awake. As night approaches the positive current has made itself lord of the body. It gains so much strength that the sensuous and active organs lose sympathy with the external world. Perception and action cease, and the waking state passes off. The excess of the positive current slackens, as it were, the tatwic chords of the different centers of work, and they accordingly cease to answer to the ordinary ethereal changes of external nature. If at this point the strength of the positive current passed beyond ordinary limits, death would ensue, prana would cease to have any connection with the gross body, the ordinary vehicle of the external tatwic changes. But just at the moment the prana passes out of the heart, the negative current sets in, and it begins to counteract the effects of the former. As the prana reaches the spine, the effects of the positive current have entirely passed of, and we awake. If at this moment the strength of the negative current passes the ordinary limit by some cause or other, death would ensue, but just at this moment the positive current sets in with midnight, and begins to counteract the effect of the former. A balance of the positive and negative currents thus keeps body and soul together.  With excess in the strength of either current, death makes its appearance. Thus we see that there are two kinds of death: the positive or spinal, and the negative or cardiac. In the former the four higher principles pass out of the body through the head, the brahmarandhra, along the spine; in the latter they pass out of the mouth through the lungs and the trachea. Besides these there are generally speaking about six tatwic deaths. All these deaths chalk out different paths for the higher principle. Of these, however, more hereafter. At this stage, let us investigate the changes of prana more thoroughly.

There are certain manifestations of prana that we find equally at work in all three states. As I have said before, some writers have divided these manifestations into five heads. They have different centers of work in different parts of the body, from whence they assert their dominion over every part of the physical coil. Thus:

Positive: (1) Prana, right lung; Negative: Prana, left lung. Prana is that manifestation of the life coil which draws atmospheric air from without into the system.

Positive: (2) Apana, the apparatus that passes off feces, long intestine, etc.; Negative:  Apana, the urinary apparatus. Apana is the manifestation that throws, from the inside, out of the system, things that are not wanted there.

Positive: (3) Samana, stomach; Negative: Samana, duodenum. Samana is that manifestation which draws in and carries the juice of food to every part of the body.

Positive: (4) Vyana, all over the body, appearing in varying states with different organs (on the right side); Negative: Vyana, all over the body (on the left side). Vyana is that manifestation which inclines the currents of life back to the centers -- the heart and the brain. It is, therefore, this manifestation that causes death, local or general.

Positive: (5) Udana, at the spinal and cardiac centers (right side), and the region of the throat; Negative: Udana, the spinal and cardiac centers (left side).

If Prana recedes from any part of the body (for some reason or other), that part loses its power of action. This is local death. It is in this way that we become deaf, dumb, blind, etc. It is in this way that our digestive powers suffer, and so on. General death is similar in its operations. With the excess of the strength of either of the two currents, the prana remains in the susumna, and does not pass out. The acquired power of work of the body then beings to pass off. The farther from the centers (the heart and the brain), the sooner they die. It is thus that the pulse first ceases to be felt in the extremities, and then nearer and nearer the heart, until we find it nowhere.

Again, it is this upward impulse that, under favorable conditions, causes growth, lightness, and agility.

Besides the organs of the body already mentioned or indicated, the manifestation of vyana serves to keep in form the five organs of sense, and the five organs of action. The organs of the gross body and the powers of prana that manifest themselves in work have both the same names. Thus we have:

Active Organs & Powers: (1) Vak, the coal organs and the power of speech; (2) Pani, the hands and the manual power; (3) Pada, the feet and the walking power; (4) Payu, anus; (5) Upastha, the generative organs and the powers that draw these together.

Sensuous Organs & Powers: (1) Chaksus, eye and ocular power; (2) Twak, skin and tangiferous power; (3) Srotra, ear and sonoriferous power; (4) Rasama, tongue and gustatory power; (5) Cobrana, nose and odoriferous power.

The real fact is that the different powers are the corresponding organs of the principle of life. It will now be instructive to trace the tatwic changes and influences of these various manifestations of life.

Prana: During health prana works all over the system in one class of tatwic centers at one time. We thus see that both during the course of the positive and negative current we have five tatwic changes. The color of prana during the reign of the positive and negative current is pure white; during that of the positive, reddish white. The former is calmer and smoother than the latter.

The tatwic changes give to each of these five new phases of color. Thus:

Positive ~ reddish white/ Negative ~ pure white:

(1) The vayu tatva, blue; (2) The agni tatva, red; (3) The prithivi, yellow; (4) The apas, white; (5) The akasa tatva, dark

It is evident that there is a difference between the positive and negative tatwic phases of color. There are thus ten general phases of color.

The positive current (reddish white) is hotter than the negative (the pure white). Therefore it may be generally said that the positive current is hot, and the negative cool. Each of these then undergoes five tatwic changes of temperature. The agni is the hottest, the yellow next to it; the vayu becomes cool, and the apas is the coolest. The akasa has a state that neither cools nor heats. This state is the most dangerous of all, and if prolonged it causes death, disease and debility. It is evident that, if the cooling tatwa does not set in to counteract the accumulated effect of the latter in due time, the functions of life will be impaired. The just color and the just temperature at which these functions work in their vigor will be disturbed, and disease, death and debility are nothing more than this disturbance in various degrees. The case is similar if the heating tatva does not set in in due time after the cooling one.

It will be easy to understand that these changes of tatwic colors and temperatures are not abrupt. The one passes of easily and smoothly into the other, and the tatwic mixtures produce innumerable colors -- as many, in fact, as the solar prana has been shown to possess. Each of these colors tend to keep the body healthy if it remains in action just as long as it ought, but no sooner does the duration change than disease results. There is a possibility, therefore, of as many and more diseases as there are colors in the sun.

If any one color is prolonged, there must be some one or more that have given the period of their duration to it; similarly, if one color takes less time than it ought to, there must be some one or more that take its place. This suggests two methods of the treatment of diseases. But before speaking of these, it will be necessary to investigate as fully as possible the causes that lengthen and shorten the ideal periods of the tatvas.

To return at present to Prana: This pulmonary manifestation of the principle of life is the most important of all, because its workings furnish us with a most faithful measure of the tatwic state of the body. It is on this account that the name prana has been given by pre-eminence to this manifestation.

Now, as the prana works in the pulmonary taijas centers (i.e., the centers of the luminiferous ether), the lungs are thrown into a triangular form of expansion, atmospheric air runs in, and the process of inspiration is complete. With every truti, a backwards impulse is given to the currents of prana. The lungs are thrown into their stationary state with this returning current, and the excess air is expelled. The air that is thus thrown out of the lungs bears a triangular form. To some extent, the water vapor that this air contains furnishes us with a method of testing this truth by experiment. If we take a smooth, shining looking glass, put it under the nose, and breath steadily upon its cool surface, the water vapor of the air will be condensed, and it will be seen that this bears a particular figure. In the case of pure agni, this figure will be a triangle. Let another person look steadily at the looking glass because the impression passes off rather quickly.

With the course of the other tatvas the lungs are thrown into their respective shapes, and the looking glass gives us the same figures. Thus, in apas we have the semi-moon, in vayu the sphere, and in prithivi the quadrangle. With the composition of these tatvas we may have other figures: oblongs, squares, spheroids, and so on.

It may also be mentioned that the luminiferous ether carries the materials drawn from the atmospheric air to the centers of the luminiferous ether, and thence to every part of the body. The other ethers also carry these materials to their respective centers. It is not necessary to trace the working of the other manifestations one by one. It may, however, be said that although all the five tatvas work in all the five manifestations, each of these manifestations is sacred to one of these tatvas. Thus in prana the vayu tatva prevails, in samana the agni, in apana the prithivi, in vyana the apas, in udana the akasa. I may remind the reader that the general color of prana is white, and this will show how the apas tatva prevails in Vyana. The darkness of akasa is the darkness of death, etc., caused by the manifestation of udana.

During life these ten changes are always taking place at the intervals of about 26 minutes each. In waking, in sleep, or in dream, these changes never cease. It is only in the two susumnas or the akasa that these changes become potential for a moment, because it is from these that these tatwic manifestations show themselves on the plane of the body. If this moment is prolonged, the forces of prana remain potential, and in death the prana is thus in the potential state. When those causes that tended to lengthen the period of i, and thus cause death, are removed, this individual prana passes out of the potential into the actual, positive, or negative state as the case may be. It will energize matter, and will develop it into the shape towards which its accumulated potentialities tend.

Something may now be said about the work of the sensuous and active organs.

It may be generally said that all work is tatwic motion. This work is capable of being carried on during the waking state, and not in sleep or dream. These ten organs have ten general colors, generally thus:

Sensuous Organs: (1) Eye, agni, red; (2) Ear, akasa, dark; (3) Nose, prithivi, yellow; (4) Tongue (taste), apas, white; (5) Skin, vayu, blue;

Active Organs: (1) Hand, vayu, blue; (2) Foot, i, yellow; (3) Tongue (speech), apas, white; (4) Anus, akasa, dark; (5) Genitals, i, red.

Although these are the generally prevalent tatvas in these various centers, all the other tatvas exist in a subordinate position. Thus in the eye we have a reddish yellow, reddish white, reddish dark, reddish blue, and similarly in the other organs. This division into five of each of these colors is only general; in reality there is an almost innumerable variation of colors in each of these.

With every act of every one of these ten organs, the organ specially and the whole body generally assumes a different color, the color of that particular tatwic motion which constitutes that act.

All these changes of Prana constitute the sum total of our worldly experience. Furnished with this apparatus, prana begins its human pilgrimage, in company with a mind, which is evolved only to the extent of connecting the "I am" of the ahankara or vijnana, the fourth principle from below, with these manifestations of prana. Time imprints upon it all the innumerable colors of the universe. The visual, the tangible, the gustatory, the auditory, and the olfactory appearances in all their variety gather into prana just as our daily experience carries many messages at one and the same time. In the same way do the appearances of the active organs, and the five remaining general functions of the body, gather up in this prana to manifest themselves in due time.

A few illustrations will render all this clear:

Sexual Relations ~

The generative agni tatva of the male is positive, and that of the female is negative. The former is hotter, harsher, and more restless than the latter; the latter is cooler, smoother, and calmer than the former. These two currents tend to run into each other, and a feeling of satisfaction is the result if the two currents are allowed to take their course; if not, a feeling of uneasiness is the result. The genesis of these feelings will be my subject under the head of the manomaya kosha (mental principle). Here I shall only speak of the coloration of prana by the action or inaction of this organ. The positive agni tends to run into the negative, and vice versa. If it is not allowed to do so, the repeated impulses of this tatva turn upon themselves, the center gains strength, and every day the whole prana is colored deeper and deeper red. The centers of the agni tatva all over the body become stronger in their action, while all the others contract a general tinge of the red. The eyes and the stomach become stronger. This, however, is the case only within certain limits and under certain circumstances. If the agni gains too much strength, all the other centers of the remaining tatvas become vitiated in their action by an over-coloration of agni, and disease and debility result. If, however, man indulges in this luxury more often than he should, and in more than one place, the male prana gets colored by the female agni, and vice versa. This tends to weaken all the centers of this tatva, and gives a feminine color to the whole prana. The stomach becomes cooled down, the eyes grow weak, and virile manly power departs. If, however, more than one individual female agni takes possession of the male prana, and vice versa, the general antagonistic tatva becomes deeper and stronger. The whole prana is vitiated to a greater extent, greater debility is the result, and spermatorrhea, impotence, and other such antagonistic colors take possession of the prana. Besides, the separate individualities of the male or female agni that has taken possession of any one prana will tend to repel each other.

Walking ~

Suppose now that a man is given to walking. The prithivi tatva of the feet gains strength, and the yellow color pervades the whole prana. The centers of the prithivi all over the body begin to work more briskly; agni receives a mild and wholesome addition to its power, the whole system tends towards healthy equilibrium, neither too hot, nor too cold, and a general feeling of satisfaction accompanied with vigor, playfulness, and a relish of enjoyment is the result.

Speech ~

Let me take one more illustration from the operation of Vak (speech), and I shall be done with the organs of action. The power (Sakti) of speech (Vak, saraswati) is one of the most important goddesses of the Hindu pantheon. The apas tatva is the chief ingredient of prana that goes towards the formation of this organ. Therefore the color of the goddess is said to be white. The vocal chord with the larynx in front form the vina (musical instrument) of the goddess.

In the above figure of the vocal apparatus, AB is the thyroid, a broad cartilage forming the projection of the throat, and much more prominent in men than in women. Below this is the annular cartilage C, the crecoid. Behind this, or we may say on this, are stretched the chord a and b.

Atmospheric air passing over these chords in the act of breathing sets these chords in vibration, and sound is the result. Ordinarily these chords are too loose to give any sound. The apas tatva, the milk-white goddess of speech, performs the all-important function of making these chords tense. As the semi-lunar current of the apas tatva passes along the muscles of these chords, they are as it were shriveled up and curves are formed in the chords; they become tighter.

The depth of these curves depends upon the strength of the apas current. The deeper these curves, the tenser are the chords. The thyroid serves to vary the intensity of the voice thus produced. The thyroid serves to vary the intensity of the voice thus produced. This will do here, and it is enough to show that the real motive power in the production of voice is the apas tatva or Prana. As will be easily understood, there are certain ethereal conditions of the external world that excite the centers of the apas tatva; the current passes along the vocal chords, they are made tense, and sound is produced. But the excitement of these centers also comes from the soul through the mind. The use of this sound in the course of evolution as the vehicle of thought is the marriage of Brahma (the Vijana mayakosha, the soul) with Saraswati, the power of speech as located in man.

The apas tatva of the vocal apparatus, although it is the chief motive power in the production of sound, is modified according to the circumstance by the composition of the other tatvas in various degrees. As far as human ken reaches, about 49 of these variations have been recorded under the name of swara. First, there are seven general notes. These may be positive and negative (tivra and komala), and then each of these may have three subdivisions. These notes are then composed into eight raga, and each raga has several ragini. The simple ragini may then be compounded into others, and each ragini may have a good many arrangements of notes. The variations of sound thus become almost innumerable. All these variations are caused by the varying tensions of the vocal chords, the Vina of Saraswati, and the tensions vary by the varying strength of the apas current, caused by the superposition of the other tatvas.

Each variation of sound has a color of its own that affects the whole prana in its own way; the tatwic effect of all these sounds is noted in books of music. Various diseases may be cured, and good or bad tendencies imprinted on the prana by the power of sound. Saraswati is an all-powerful goddess, and controls our prana for good or evil as the case may be. If a song or note is colored by the agni tatva, the sound colors the prana red, and similarly the vayu, the apas, the akasa, and the prithivi, blue, white, dark, and yellow. The red colored song causes heat; it may cause anger, sleep, digestion, and redness of color. The akasa colored song causes fear, forgetfulness, etc. Songs may similarly give our prana the color of love, enmity, adoration, morality, or immorality, as the case may be.

Let us turn to another key. If the words we utter bear the color of the agni tatva -- anger, love, lust -- our prana is colored red, and this redness turns upon ourselves. It may burn up our substance, and we may look lean and lank and have 10,000 other diseases. Terrible retribution of angry words! If our words are full of divine love and adoration, kindness and morality, words that give pleasure and satisfaction to whoever hears them -- the colors of the prithivi and the apas -- we become loving and beloved, adoring and adored, kind and moral, pleasing and pleased, satisfying and ever satisfied. The discipline of speech itself -- the satya of Patanjali -- is thus one of the highest practices of Yoga.

Sensuous impressions color the prana in a similar way. If we are given to too much of sight-seeing, to the hearing of pleasant sounds, to the smelling of dainty smells, etc., the colors of these tatvas will be overly strengthened, and will gain a mastery over our prana. If we are too fond of seeing beautiful women, hearing the music of their voices, heaven help us, for the least and most general effect will be that our pranas will receive the feminine coloration. If it were only for the love of women, man should avoid this over-indulgence, for feminine qualities in men do not obtain favor in the eyes of women.

These illustrations are sufficient to explain how the tatwic colors of external nature gather up in prana. It may be necessary to say that no new colors enter into the formation of prana. All the colors of the universe are present there already, just as they are in the sun, the prototype of prana. The coloration I have spoken of is only the strengthening of this particular color to an extent that throws the others in shade. It is this disturbance of balance that in the first place causes the variety of human prana, and in the second those innumerable diseases to which flesh is heir.

From this point it is evident that every action of man gives his prana a separate color, and the color affects the gross body in turn. But when, at what time, does the particular tatwic color affect the body? Ordinarily it is under similar tatwic conditions of the external universe. This means that if the agni tatva has gained strength in any prana at any one particular division of time, the strength will show itself when that particular division of time recurs again. Before attempting a solution of this problem, it is necessary to understand the following truths:

The sun is the chief life-giver of every organism in the system. The moment that a new organism has come into existence, the sun changes his capacity in relation to that organism. He now becomes the sustainer of positive life in that organism. Along with this the moon begins to influence the organism in her own way. She becomes the sustainer of negative life. The planets each establish their own currents in the organism. For the sake of simplicity, I have as yet spoken only of the sun and moon, the respective lords of the positive and negative currents of the right and left halves of the body, of the brain and the heart, of the nerves and the blood vessels. These are the two chief sources of life, but it must be remembered that the planets exercise a modifying influence over these currents. The real tatwic condition of any moment is determined by all the seven planets, just like the sun and the moon. Each planet, after determining the general tatwic condition of the moment, goes to introduce changes in the organism born at that moment. These changes correspond with the manifestation of that color of prana that rose at that time. Thus, suppose the red color has entered prana when the moon is in the second degree of the sign of Libra. If there is no disturbing influence of any other luminary, the red color will manifest itself whenever the moon is in the same position; in the other case, when the disturbing influence is removed. It may show itself in a month, or it may be postponed for ages. It is very difficult to determine the time when an act will have its effect. It depends a good deal upon the strength of the impression. The strength of the impression may be divided into ten degrees, although some writers have gone further.

  1. Momentary: This degree of strength has its effect then and there;
  2. 30 degrees strength: In this case the effect will show itself when each planet is in the same sign as at the time of the impression;
  3. 15 degrees strength: Hora;
  4. 10 degrees strength: Dreskana;
  5. 200 degrees strength: Navaansha;
  6. 150 degrees strength: Dwadasansa;
  7. 60 or 1 degree strength: Trinsansa;
  8. 1" strength: Kala;
  9. 1''' strength: Vipala;
  10. 1'''' strength: Truti.

Suppose in any prana, on account of any action, the agni tatva obtains the strongest possible prevalence consistent with the preservation of the body, the tatva will begin to have its effect then and there until it has exhausted itself to a certain extent. It will then become latent and show itself when at any time the same planets sit in the same mansions. Examples will illustrate better. Suppose the following advancement of the planets at any moment denotes the tatwic condition when any given color has entered the prana:

The 3rd of April, Tuesday ~

Planet Sign Degree Minute Second
Sun 11 22 52 55
Moon 8 16 5 9
Mercury 10 25 42 27
Venus 11 26 35 17
Mars 5 28 1 40
Jupiter 7 15 41 53
Saturn 3 9 33 30

It is at this time, we suppose, that the act above referred to is committed. The present effect will pass off with the two hours' lunar current that may be passing at that time. Then it will become latent, and remain so till the time when these planets are in the same position again. As has been seen, these positions might be nine or more in number.

As soon as the exact time passes of when a color has obtained predominance in prana, the effect thereof on the gross body becomes latent. It shows itself again in a general way when the stars sit in the same mansions. Some of the strength is worn off at this time, and the force becomes latent to show itself in greater minuteness when at any time the half-mansions coincide, and so on with the remaining parts noticed above. There may be any number of times when there is only an approach to coincidence, and then the effect will tend to show itself, though at that time it will remain only a tendency.

These observation, although necessarily very meager, tend to show that the impression produced upon prana by any act, however insignificant, really takes ages to pass off, when the stars coincide in position to a degree with that when the act was committed. Therefore, a knowledge of astronomy is highly essential in occult Vedic religion. The following observation may, however, render the above a little more intelligible.

As often remarked, the prana mayokosha is an exact picture of the Terrestrial Prana. The periodical currents of the finer forces of nature that are in the earth pass according to the same laws in the principle of life; just like the Zodiac, the prana mayakosha is subdivided into mansions, etc. The northern and southern inclinations of the axis give us a heart and a brain. Each of these has 12 ramifications branching off from it; these are the 12 signs of the Zodiac. The daily rotation than gives us the 31 chakras spoken of previously. There is the positive semi-mansion and the negative semi-mansion. Then we have the one-third, the one-ninth, the one-twelfth, and so on to a degree, or the divisions and subdivisions thereof. Each chakra, both diurnal and annual, is in fact a circle of 360 degrees, just like the great circles of the heavenly spheres. Through the chakra a course of seven descriptions of life-currents is established:

  1. Solar
  2. lunar
  3. Mars, agni
  4. Mercury, prithivi
  5. Jupiter, vayu
  6. Venus, apas
  7. Saturn, akasa.

It is quite possible that along the same chakra there may be passing all or any one or more of these differing currents at one and the same time. The reader is reminded of the telegraph currents of modern electricity. It is evident that the real state of prana is determined by the position of these localized currents. Now if any one or more of these tatwic currents is strengthened by any act of ours, under any position of the currents, it is only when we have to a degree the same position of the currents that the tatwic current will makes it appearance at full strength. There may also be appearances of slight power at various times, but the full strength will never be exhausted until we have the same position of these currents to the minutest division of a degree. This takes ages upon ages, and it is quite impossible that the effect should pass off in the present life. Hence rises the necessity of a second life upon this earth.

The accumulated tatwic effects of a life's work give each life a general tinge of its own. This tinge wears off gradually as the component colors pass off or weaken in strength, one by one. When each of the component colors is one by one sufficiently worn off, the general color of a life passes off. The gross body that was given birth to by this particular color ceases to respond to the now generally different colored prana. The prana does not pass out of the susumna. Death is the result.

Death ~

As already said, the two ordinary forms of death are the positive through the brain, and the negative through the heart. This is death through the susumna. In this all the tatvas are potential. Death may also take place through the other nadis. In this case there must always be the prevalence of one or more tatvas.

The prana goes towards different regions after death, according to the paths through which it passes out of the body. Thus:

(1) The negative susumna takes it to the moon; (2) the positive susumna takes it to the sun; (3) the agni of the other nadi takes it to the hill known as Raurava (fire); (4) the apas of the other nadi takes it to the hill known as Ambarisha, and so on, the akasa, the vayu, and the prithivi take it to Andhatanusra, Kalasutra, and Maha kala (See Yoga Sutra, pada 111, Aphorism 26, commentary).

The negative path is the most general one that the prana takes. This path takes it to the moon (the chandraloka) because the moon is the lord of the negative system, and the negative currents, and the negative susumna the heart, which therefore is a continuation of the lunar prana. The prana that has the general negative color cannot move but along this path, and it is transferred naturally to the reservoirs, the centers of the negative prana. Those men in whom the two hours' lunar current is passing more or less regularly take this path.

The prana that has lost the intensity of its terrestrial color energizes lunar matter according to its own strength, and thus establishes for itself there a sort of passive life. Here the mind is in a state of dream. The tatwic impressions of gathered up forces pass before it in the same way as they pass before it in our earthly dreams. The only difference is that in that state there is not the superimposed force of indigestion to render the tatwic impressions so strong and sudden as to be terrible. That dreamy state is characterized by extreme calmness. Whatever our mind has in it of the interesting experiences of this world, whatever we have thought, heard, seen or enjoyed, the sense of satisfaction and enjoyment, the bliss and playfulness of the apas and the prithivi tatva, the languid sense of love of the agni, the agreeable forgetfulness of the akasa, all make their appearance one after the other in perfect calm. The painful impressions make no appearance, because the painful arises when any impression forces itself upon the mind that is out of harmony with its surroundings. In this state the mind lives in Chandraloka, as will be better understood when I come to speak of the tatwic causes of dreams.

Ages roll on in this state, when the mind has, according to the same general laws that obtain for prana, worn out the impressions of a former life. The intense tatwic colors that the ceaseless activity of prana had called into existence now fade away, until at last the mind comes upon a chronic level with the prana. Both of them have now lost the tinge of a former life. It may be said of prana that it has a new appearance, and of the mind that it has a new consciousness. When they are both in this state, both very weak, the accumulated tatwic effects of prana begin to show themselves with the return of the stars to the same positions. These draw us back from the lunar to the terrestrial prana. At this stage, the mind has no individuality worth taking account of, so that it is drawn by prana to wherever its affinities carry it. It comes and joins with those solar rays that bear a similar color, with all those mighty potentialities that show themselves in the future man remaining quite latent. It passes with the rays of the sun according to the ordinary laws of vegetation into grain that bears similar colors. Each grain has a separate individuality, which accounts for its separate individuality from others of its brothers, and in many there may be human potentialities giving it an individuality of its own. The grain or grains produce the virile semen, which assumes the shape of human beings in the wombs of women. This is rebirth.

Similarly do human individualities come back from the five states that are known as hells. These are the states of posthumous existence fixed for those men who enjoy to an excessive and violent degree the various impressions of each of the tatvas. As the tatwic intensity, which disturbs the balance and therefore causes pain, wears off in time, the individual prana passes off to the lunar sphere, and thence undergoes the same states that have been described above.

Along the positive path through the brahmarandhra pass those prana that pass beyond the general effects of Time, and therefore do not return to the earth under ordinary laws. It is Time that brings back prana from the moon, when he is even the most general, and the least strong tatwic condition comes into play with the return of identical astral positions; but the sun being the keeper of Time himself, and the strongest factor in the determination of his tatwic condition, it would be impossible for solar Time to affect solar prana. Therefore, only that prana travels towards the sun in which there is almost no preponderance of any tatwic color. This is the state of the prana of Yogin alone. By the constant practice of the eight branches of Yoga, the prana is purified of any very strongly personifying colors, and since it is evident that on such a prana Time can have no effect, under ordinary circumstances, they pass off to the sun. These prana have no distinct personifying colors; all of them that go to the sun have almost the same general tinge. But their minds are different. They can be distinguished from each other according to the particular branch of science that they have cultivated, or according to the particular and varying methods of mental improvement that they have followed on earth. In this state the mind is not dependent, as in the moon, upon the impressions of prana. Constant practice of Yoga has rendered it an independent worker, depending only upon the soul, and molding the prana to its own shapes, and giving it its own colors. This is a kind of Moksha.

Although the sun is the most potent lord of life, and the tatwic condition of prana now has no effect upon the prana that has passed to the sun, the planetary currents still have some slight effect upon it, and there are times when this effect is very strong, so that the earthly conditions in which they have previously lived are called back again to their minds. A desire to do the same sort of good they did the world in their previous life takes possession of them, and impelled by this desire they sometimes come back to earth. Snakaracharya has noticed in his commentary of the Brahmasutra that Apantaramah, a Vedic rishi, thus appeared on earth as Krishna-dwaipayana, about the end of the Dwapara and the beginning of the Kaliyuga.

06. Prana (3)

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: (1) distance from the solar center; (2) 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.

07. Prana (4)

This Prana is then a mighty being, and if its localized manifestations were to work in unison, and with temperance, doing their own duty, but not usurping the time and place of others, there would be but little evil in the world.

But each of these manifestations asserts its sole power over the bewildered human soul. Each of these claims the whole life of man to be its own proper domain:

"The akasa, the vayu, the agni, the prithivi, the apas, speech, sight and hearing -- all of them say clearly that they are the sole monarchs of the human body."

The principal prana, he whose manifestations all these are, tells them:

"Be not forgetful; it is I who sustain the human body, dividing myself into five."

If the five manifestations of Prana with all their minor subdivisions revolt against him, if each begin to assert its own lordship and cease to work for the general benefit of the lord paramount, the real life, misery makes its sad appearance to harass the poor human soul. "But the manifestation of prana, blinded by ignorance," would not "put forth" in the admonitions of their lord. "He leaves the body, and as he leaves, all the other minor pranas leave it too; they stay there as he stays." Then their eyes are opened. "As the bees follow the queen bee in every posture, so does prana; these, speech, the mind, the eye, the ear, follow him with devotion, and thus praise him."

"He is the agni, the cause of heat; he is the sun (the giver of light); he is the cloud, he is the Indra, he is the Vayu, he is the prithivi, he is the rayi, and the deva, the sat, and the asat, and he is the immortal.

[Rayi and asat are the negative, deva and sat the positive phases of life-matter.]

"Like the spokes in the nave of a wheel, everything is sustained in prana: the hymns of the Rik, the Yajur, and the Sama Veda, the sacrifice, the Kshatriya, and the Brahmin, etc.

"Thou art the Progenitor; thou movest in the womb; thou art born in the shape of the father or the mother; to thee, O Prana, that puts up in the body with thy manifestations, these creatures offer presents.

"Thou art the carrier of offerings to the deva, thou art the carrier of oblations to the fathers; thou art the action and the power of the senses and other manifestations of life.

"Thou art, O Prana, in power the great lord, the Rudra [the destroyer] and the Preserver; thou movest in the sky as the sun, thou art the preserver of the light of heaven.

"When thou rainest, these creatures are full of joy because they hope to have plenty of food.

"Thou art Prana, pure by nature; thou art the consumer of all oblations, as the Ekarshi fire [of the Atharva; thou art the preserver of all existence; we are to thee the offerers of food; thou art our father as the Recorder [or, the Life-giver of the Recorder].

"Make healthy that appearance of thine which is located in the speech, the ear, the eye, and that which is stretched towards the mind; do not fly away.

"Whatever exists in the three heavens, all of it is in the power of prana. Protect us like a mother her offspring; give us wealth and intellect."

With this I conclude my description of Prana, the second principle of the Universe, and the human body. The epithets bestowed upon this mighty being in the above extract will be easy of understanding in the light of all that has gone before. It is now time to trace the working of the universal Tatwic Law of Breath on the next higher pane of life, the mind (manomayakosha).