Prashna upanishad: Nature of Prana

The Prashna upanishad is a series of answers to questions. The question asked in the third chapter is related to Prana. Irrespective of which angle you approach the upanishads, “Prana” is a very important concept, from which a number of later concepts are built. For e.g., the surya siddanta states in verse 11:

prANAdiH kathito mUrtastruTayAdyomUrtasMjnakaH 
prANAdi + kathito + mUrta + atra + aTa + AdyA + mUrta + saMjna + kaH
via praNa + is related + form + herein + going + primitive + image + named + kaH = which
 
Related through prana is form herein, which is named as the primitive form 

From here, the surya siddanta builds up every other parameter of study. Thus, understanding what Prana is very important to understanding the higher concepts proposed.

Prana has been translated as breath in the standard translations. But, this translation does not augur well when you look at the calculations of Surya Siddanta. For e.g., the above verse goes on to say below:

ShaDibhaH prANairvinADI syAt tatShaShTayA nADikA smRtA
ShaDibhaH + prAna + viNaDi + syAt + tat + ShaShTaya + nADikA + smRtA
a sixth + prAnA + is viNaDi + maybe + that + consisting of sixty + a nADikA + stored

Maybe a sixth of the prAna is viNaDi and a sixty of viNADi is naDi and that is persisted

If Prana is considered to be breath, then it is highly variable between various times for even a single person. So, Prana has to be a concept which is independent of the living being. It is quite possible that Prana projects itself as breath in the external environment, but it should be taken into account that this projection cannot be the basis of other definitions.

The Prashna upanishad talks about Prana as translated below. Based on the translation of Surya Siddanta (I will write another blog), the definition of the environment of reality, what awareness is and various layers of awareness (You can read about this in the book A Research of Shiva: The Enigma), I find PraNa has to mean a “detectable change” in the underlying environment which we detect.

These verses talk about 4 other concepts besides PraNa. From the below descriptions, I find that these should be characteristics that affect the PraNa. They are apAna, udana, samAna and vyanA. They affect change in different manner and is defined as:

  • apAna is the negative feedback that arrest change,
  • udana is the positive feedback that affects change,
  • samANa is equal change
  • vyAna is diffusion of change.

I have translated with the above a as the meaning for these words in the below verses.

Atmana eSha prANo jAyate
Atmana + eSha + prANo + jAyate
due to the self + seeking / looking for + praNa + is produced / generated / caused

yathaiShA puruShe chAyaitasminnetadAtataM manokRtenAyAtyasmiNsharIre
yatha + iShA + puruShe + chAya + ita + asmi + eta + dAtataM + mano + kRt + enA + yAt + yasmin + sharIre
as how / in which way + potential + soul of the becoming + shadow / reflection + this + "I" + gives + come near + manas + made + this + join / unite + "I" + body

This translates to:

Due to seeking for the self, change is born, as how the reflection of the soul of the becoming of potential gives this “I” impending the making of this manas to unite with the body.

yathA samrAdevAdhikRtanviniyuNkte
yatha + samrA + deva + adhi + kRt + anvi + niyunkte
as how / in this manner + possessor / owner + energy + upon + making + be guided by + bound

etangrAmAnotAnprAmAnadhitiShTasvetyevamevaiSha prANa itarAnprANAnpRthakpRthageva sannidhatte
etan + grAmA + not + ant + prAmANya + adhi + ShTa + sva + etya + evam + eva + iSha + prANa + itarAn + prANA + pRtak + pRtak + eva + sannidhatte
in this manner + space of inhabitation + nearly + boundary + is established + upon + lived in + self + having approached + in this way + even so + potential + change + other + of changes + separate + separate + even so + proximity

Translates to:

In this manner the possessor of energy besides being made is guided and bound. As how boundary of space of inhabitation is established upon being lived in, self approached in this manner, certainly potential change is separate from other change, even so separate in proximity

pAyUpastheapAnaM cakshuHstrotre mukhanAsikAbhyAM prANaH svayaM prAtiSHTate madhye tu samAnaH
pAyu + upasthe + apAnaM + cakshuH + strotre + mukha + nAsika + abhyAM + prANaH + svayaM + pratiShTate + madye + tu + samAnaH
the rear + middle + apAnaM + perceive + hearing / listening + countenance + nasal + to advance violently against + of praNa + spontaneous + established + middle + regard + equally 

eSha hyetaddhutamannaM samaM nayati tasmAdetAH saptArciSho bhavanti
eSha + hyet + addha + uta + mannaM + samaM + nayati + tasmAd + etAH + sapta + arciSho + bhavanti
seeking + is due to + in this way + woven + manas + equal + guiding + hence + arrive / come near + seven + one of twelve + becomes 

Translates to:

From the rear and middle negative feedback from perception of sound, countenance, smell advance violently against change spontaneously establishing in the middle an equilibrium. Seeking in this way indeed weaves the manas equally guiding that seven, one of twelve becomes

Here, there are references to seven and twelve. These seem to be defined in the Surya Siddanta, where it states that seven of (10 Pranas) circle together with one manas and also talks about 4 dimensions with 3 sub-dimensions in them and hence 12 dimensions totally that change. Based on my research of these various ancient texts, I will be writing a Book 2 to the book A Research of Shiva: The Enigma. In Book 1, I explain how I find that the ancient literature is really talking about Shiva as an environment of reality, while in Book 2, I aim to explain the description and details that is given for this environment.

hRdi hyeSha AtmA
The heart is the self

atritadekashataM nADInaM tAsAM shataM shatamekaikasyA dvAsaptatirdvasaptatiH pratishAkhAnADIsahastrANi bhavantyAsu vyAnakShcarati
atra + tad + eka + shataM + nADinaM + tAsAM + shataM + shatam + ekakaika + asya + dva + saptati + dva + saptatiH + prati + shAkhA + nADi + sahas + trANi + bhavanta + yAsu + vyAna + carita
in this place + that + one + hundred + of nADis + those + hundred + hundred + one by one + exists + two + seventy + two + of the 70 + every + branch + nADi + at once + thrice + has become + which + diffusion of change + attained

Translates to:

The heart is the self. In there are one hundred, of those 100 nADis, each and every 100 is twice seventy, of that twice 70, every branch nADi at once has become three times due to diffusion of change.

Here again it talks about 70 nADis which is present in Surya Siddanta, seven sets of 10 pranas which is 70 nADis.

athaikayoshrva udAnaH puNyena puNyam lokaM nayati pApena pApamubhAbhyAmeva manuShyalokam
atha + ekaya + Urdhva + udAnaH + puNyena + puNyaM + lokaM + nayati + pApena + pApam + ubha + abyAma + eva + manuShya + lokam
but + that one + rising up + positive feedback change + that which is purely + pure + world + guide + that which is imperfectly + imperfect + both + approaching + even so + human world

Translates to:

But, there is one going upwards, a change due to positive feedback, which is world of purely pure, guiding the imperfection of the imperfect, both approaching even into the world of humans

Adityo ha vai bAhyaH prANa udayatyeSha hyenaM cAkshuShaM prANamanugRhNAnaH
Adityo + ha + vai + bAhyaH + prANa + udayat + eSha + hyenaM + cAkshuShaM + prANa + anugrahAnaH 
light + is + certainly + external + prANa + rising up + seeking + is + visible + prANa + facilitation

pRthivyAM yA devatA saiShA puruShasyaapAnamavaShTabhyAntarA yadAkAshaH sa samAno vAyuryAnaH
pRthivI + yA + devatA + sa + iShA + puruShasya + apAnam + avaSHTabhya + antarA + yada + akAshaH + sa + samAno + vAyur + vyAnaH
of matter + attain + energies + their + potential + of the soul of the becoming + apAnam + arresting + in between + indeed + akAsha + their / that + equally + turbulence + diffused change

Translates to:

Due to light is certainly the external change, rising of seeking is indeed visible due to reinforcement of change. Due to matter attaining energies, that potential of the soul of the becoming, arresting negative feedback in the middle, if turbulence equally diffuses change in that space.

tejo ha vA udAnastasmAdupashAntatejAH
tejo + ha + vA + udAna + stasma (tasmAt) + ada + upashAnta + tejAH
entropy / uncertainty + is / indeed + that / certainly + positive feedback change + therefore + consume + harmonised + entropy / uncertainty

punarbhavamindriyairmanasi sampadhyamAnaiH 
punar + bhAvam + indriyai + manasi + sampad + dhya + mAnaiH
repeatedly + being + sensory + of the manas + growth + thinking + by the manas

Translates to:

Due to uncertainty indeed is positive feedback of change, thus consuming harmonised uncertainty, repeatedly being in sensory manas growing thoughts by the manas

yaccittastenaiSha prANamAyAti prANastejasA yuktaH
yat + cit + tasta + ena + eSha + prANa + ayAti + prANa + asta + tejasA + yuktaH
which + awareness + exists + this / that + seeking / looking for + change + not gone + change + exists + entropy / uncertainty + yoked / joined / united

sahAtmanA yathAsaMkalpitaM lokaM nayati 
sa + AtmanA + yathA + saMkalpa + itaM + lokaM + nyati
that + self + in this manner / as how + notion / idea / thought + of this + world + lead / guide / direct

Translates to:

When awareness exists this potential has not gone, change is yoked to change. That self in this manner thoughts of this world are directed