Prasna Upanishad, Class 12


Greetings All,

Swamiji continued his talks on Prasna Upanishad.

Third Question

Summarizing his talks up to Shloka # 5 Swamiji says the third student asks for some more details about Prana. The third question has following five questions:

  1. From where does this Prana (Vyashti and Samashthi) come from? What is the origin of Hiranyagarbha or of Brahma?
  2. How does Prana enter this physical body?
  3. How does that one Prana divide itself into the five fold functions and support this body?
  4. Through which part does the Prana go out of this body at death?
  5. How does this Prana (Samasthi) sustain the external universe? How does the Prana, as Vyashthi, sustain the individual or the 19 sense organss

Answers to the questions are:

  1. Origin of Prana is Brahman or Atman. Prana is compared to a shadow or Chaya. It is an apparent creation. The Shadow does not have a reality.  Independent of the Brahman.
  2. How does Prana enter the body?  It is through the Mind, representing Prarabhda Karma born out of Sankalpa and Kama, that the Prana enters the body. Sankalpa is considered mild while Kama is considered intense.
  3. How does Prana divide into five fold functions? Here Prana is compared to an Emperor who delegates responsibilities to others. He delegates powers to Apana, Udana, Samana and Vyana. He also keeps some powers to himself such as the power of respiration.
  4. What parts of body are supervised by the Pancha Pranas?

Shloka # 5:

Swamiji says, Pippalada continues answering the above question.  The role of each Prana is now pointed out.

Apana: Deals with Excretion and reproduction. It removes waste.
Prana: deals with the face including Eyes, Ears, Mouth and Nostrils.  He controls inhalation and exhalation as well.
Samana: Deals with digestive power in the middle. The food, considered an offering or oblation, a Hutam (Homa Agni), is divided equally. The annum is broken into nutritious ingredients equally and distributed. The flame of oblation comes out in seven flames or Seven Sense organs, which are all kindled. The seven sense organs are: Two eyes, two ears, two nostrils and the tongue in the mouth. These seven organs function well when food is provided. The fire kindles the organs and activates their perceptual powers.

Shloka # 6:

Vyana: Affects whole body and it moves through the Nadi’s that pervade all over the body. All Nadis are connected to Hridayam. From Hridayam, Nadis branch out. Hridaya is the place of Atman. This Aproksha Atma resides in antahakaranam or the Hridayam (the physical heart).

In Physical heart is the subtle body and within it is located the subtle mind. In the subtle mind is located the Atma or Chaitanya.  From Hridayam 100 Nadi’s emerge. Shankara and some other Upanishads say there are 101 Nadi’s. These are the main Nadi’s. Each of them in turn has 100 Sub-Nadi’s. Thus, these 10,000 Nadi’s further divide into 72,000 Prathi- Shaka Nadi’s. Into all these Nadi’s Vyana travels. Thus Vyana travels through the whole body.

Shloka # 7:

Udana: affects the neck and above portion of body. It takes Prana above. Here it waits for Prana to leave the body.

This is the answer to question 3 and 4 as to how  Prana escapes and from where?

Prana escapes through Susuhumna Nadi. This happens only for Upsakas and not for normal people.  Who takes the Prana? Urdha Udana, at the upper part of body, leads Prana to various Lokas. At death, other Pranas are absorbed or merged in Udana.  At death everything stops.

To which Loka does it take?

Through Punyam, it takes to Punya Loka (Swarga Loka). For Papam, it takes to Naraka Loka (lower birth). If both, papam and punyam are joined, then it takes to Manushya Loka.

The last question: How is Prana sustaining the cosmos at Samashthi level and the Body at Vyashthi level?

Shloka # 8:

Prana manifests internally through the Pancha Pranas. They support at the Vyashthi level.

Corresponding to each Pancha Prana there is an objective manifestation at Samashthi level.


Prana                           Adiyya Devatha
(At Vyashthi level)

Apana                          Prithvi Devi

Samana                       Akasha Devatha (Antar Akasha or Anthariksham)

Vyana                           Vayuhu Devatha, all pervading.

Udanaha                       Agni Devata or Tejaha.

Adithya is the external expression of Prana. Between Vyashthi and Samashthi, Samashthi blesses Vyashthi. Vyashthi Prana blesses Vyashthi; Samashthi Prana blesses Samashthi Prana.  Adithya blesses the eyes as well as it can only see with light.  Adithya while blessing all Pranas specially blesses eyes.

Prithvi supports Vyashti Apana and holds her down

With best wishes,

Ram Ramaswamy