Manifestations Of Prana
( Originally Published 1908 )
WHAT we know as the manifestations of Prâna are the periodic changes of its center of activity from one vital function to another in unvarying progression, apparently regulated in the order of manifestation by the changes in the flow of the Tattvas.
For these manifestations of Prâna are of course manifestations of various Tattvic activities. Concerning this the Upanishad explains: " As the paramount power appoints its servants, telling them, ` Rule such and such villages,' so does the Prâna. It puts its different manifestations (its elemental servants) in different places," and they follow in the order in which the flow of the Tatt-vas succeed one another; by the " flow " being meant the predominance of one Tattva more than the others. It is not to be understood, for example, when Vâyu is said to be flowing that Vâyu is the only Tattva present in the Prânic current; but it is in greater proportion — four atoms to one each of the other four — in order that its centers can be renewed. Whether waking or sleeping, while life animates the physical entity, these changes succeed one another ceaselessly and methodically.
According to the Shivâgama, the flow of the Tattvas is " Ghari by Ghari " (about twenty-four minutes), one after the other; and the current of Prâna is active in all the centers of the prevalent Tattva at the same time. This, however, does not agree with the teaching of the modern Guras and learned pundits of East India, but I believe I can reconcile the two.
The Shivâgama is none too clear in describing these changes, and the Upanishads are entirely in-definite on the subject. Therefore, it is not surprising that some students have confounded the Tattvic changes, or the manifestations of Prâna in Tattvic centers, with the changes of the Pranic currents which are much longer, and this has led to some confusion and diversity of opinion as to the changes of breath.
The succession of the Tattvas is not in the exact order of their evolution, and it varies also according to the part of the body in which the current of Praha is at the time active. Thus, while it is in the back part of the body on the right side, the Tattvas change from Vâyu to Tejas, Prithivi, and Apas and when the life-current passes into the front part of the right side they change from A pas through Prithivi and Tejas back to Vâyu. The changes on the left side are exactly reversed, for negative action is a reflection of the positive, receiving its impressions as does a mirror that of the object before it. If we could keep this always in mind it would explain many puzzling things. As I kâsha flows between every two Tattvas and is active in the Sushumnâ which intervenes between the changes of Prânic currents, the time of its flow is broken into shorter intervals ; and, therefore, the description " Ghari by Ghari" could not apply to it.
It is my belief that the meaning of the Shivâgama has been misunderstood, and that the description therein of the flow of the Tattvas applies to their changes in the solar and terrestrial currents of Prâna, and not at all to those in the human physique. Just as the planets are distinguished one from another by the predominance of a ruling Tattva, so also is every species of earth life thus differentiated; and the lower the grade of life the simpler the structure and, consequently, the vibration and the color. This is proved in the auras of minerals, which show only one color, and of the flora and fauna which display more and more complex colors as they ascend in the scale of life.
As you might conjecture from its life under the ground, in the busy ant Privithi is the dominant Tattva; and the reason the fly goes into hiding or persistently attacks the human being and all warm blooded creatures when cold winds blow and on raw, damp days, is that Tejas is its life element. I have found that the most obstinate nuisance will cease his persecutions on such days if a pitcher of hot water be placed nearby. He will hug it as long as warmth lingers. In the birds of the air Vâyu predominates over Prithivi, while in the quadruped who clings to the earth with four feet this is exactly reversed.
I have frequently given emphasis to the fact that upon man is placed the responsibility of choosing for himself what shall be the dominant Tattvic activities of his being, and that upon his choice depends not alone his own weal and woe but the comfort, happiness, and well-being of all whose lives are connected with him. Therefore, knowing as you do now the terrestrial influences of the various Tattvas, it must certainly appeal to you as more logical that some of them should have a greater normal flow than others; and this is exactly the teaching at the present time of the East Indian Guras. By this method, their order is as given above, but Vâyu is said to flow eight minutes; Tejas, twelve minutes; Prithivi,twenty minutes; Apas, sixteen minutes; and Akâsha, only four. As this totals sixty minutes, the rational conclusion is that the exact period is a fraction less and that there is one complete change of the Tattvas during the flow of each current of Prâna.
Now, if you remember that five Gharis are about equal to two hours you will understand that by the Shivâgama reckoning we are confronted with the puzzling statement, that there is only one complete change of the Tattvas during 'the flow of the two currents, that is during a positive period when the breath is in the right lung and the cur-rents are flowing from the northern to the southern center; and a negative one when the breath is in the left lung and the ,direction is reversed, the Prâna flowing from the heart, or southern center, northward on the left side. Yet the statement is also made in the Shivâgama that " In the left as well as in the right there is the five-fold rise " [of the Tattvas]. That the Tattvic changes in the world current are " Ghari by Ghari " is my conviction.
With regard to the two currents of Pratt, it is significant that the period of their flow exactly corresponds with a twelfth of the moon's eccentric diurnal orbit, during which period there is a marked change in her elongation, or angular distance from the sun, and this change in the wave vibrations is reflected in the breath. The Tantrists believed the lunar current to be most powerful during the rise of Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricornus, and Pisces; and the solar current to be dominant when Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius, and Aquarius are in the ascendant.
To understand this clearly we must grasp the conception of the wheel within wheels,— the ever-present positive and negative forces in every division of every activity down to the infinitesimal molecules Thus, though the lunar current is negative to the solar, it is itself compounded of positive and negative atoms and has its positive aspect. In no other way can we reconcile the flow of the lunar current southward on the right (the positive) side to the heart, during which time the breath flows from the positive nostril. Therefore, in its effects and action, or movement, it is like the solar current, for it is positively electrified. We are simply to understand that the course of the current through the body is influenced by the direction given to the moon's rays from its position in the heavens.
But always the Rayi—lunar current, or negative phase of Prâna — is the " cooler state of life-matter which is only the shade of Prâna, the original state." It " has the qualities of Amrita, the giver of eternal life; " and also, " In the left Nâdi, the appearance of the breath is that of the Amrita (nectar) ; it is the great nourisher of the world."
On the first lunar day that is, the first day of the " bright fortnight," or moonlight nights — the lunar current, which is then the stronger, is said to flow at the rising of the sun, and during the dark fortnight the solar current comes in first, the currents alternating one after the other as previously described. In spite of this normal order, however, Tantrik philosophy teaches that " It confers groups of good qualities " to cause the negative breath to flow at sunrise and the positive breath at sundown. Any electrician should under-stand the rationale of this, for it puts the body in a receptive condition towards the terrestrial Prâna, which is at the maximum of its positive phase at sunrise. If it is the normal condition for the lunar current to come in first during the bright fort-night, we need seek no further reason for its being considered the most fortunate half of the month, especially for women, who are the negative half of humanity.
The most important of the manifestations of Prâna are five in number, though the Hindu proness to the ultimate analysis rests not till it enumerates ten of these forces, or so-called Vâyus. But as the five minor ones are but modifications of the others, signs as it were of their activities, we will confine our examination to those governing organic functions.
The first is the act of breathing, and as this function is the key to the changes of the life-current, it bears the same name and is identified as Prâna, being, says Rama Prasâd, that manifestation of the life-coil which draws atmospheric air from without into the system. 1 âyu is the prevalent Tattva, and the right lung is the seat of its positive phase, and the left, of the negative. The pulmonary circulation of blood in the upper Chakra (the cavity of the chest) is positive to that in the lower Chakra (below the diaphragm), but also arterial blood in both Chakras, or systems of circulation, is positive to the negative veins. The capillaries are the Sushumnâ of the vascular system. Thus, again, you find the wheel within wheel.
The second manifestation of Patna is Samâna which governs the processes of digestion and assimilation, carrying the nutrient juices where needed. Tejas is the ruling Tattva, and the stomach and navel the seats of its positive phase, while the negative phase is active in the duodenum. Apâna, the third manifestation, governs the excretory functions, in which Prithivi predominates; the positive phase working in the long intestine, and the negative, in the kidneys. As Apâna is said to throw " from inside, out of the system, things which are not needed there," it is reasonable to conclude that the function of Prithivi in both skin and lungs is excretory, and that perspiration is also a manifestation of Apâna.
Vyana, the fourth manifestation, is the seat of Apas, and is present all over the body, being that force, which, during life keeps all parts in perfect shape and resists breaking down and disintegration. This preponderance of Apas — five-sixths of the human body is water — can be traced throughout the physical structure, its seats of influence being more clearly defined anatomically than those of any other Tattva. The semi-lunar valves in arteries and veins are among these.
The fifth manifestation is Udâna, the seat of A'kâsha. It is the power which inclines the life-forces back to the centers — northern or southern — and is regnant therefore in the spine and heart, and also in the throat. A lump in the throat, when the breath catches and almost goes, after a quick run, proclaims the presence of Udâna, and this manifestation is dangerous. It is evidence of the excess of one current, and if it passes to a certain delicate line beyond the ordinary limit, the opposite current fails to react, Prâna remains in the Sushumnâ, and death results. These are the moments when life hangs by a thread, so delicate is the balance. To stimulate the opposite current to flow is the need at this critical moment, and probably in most cases it is the positive current which has done the mischief.
Whole books of the Upanishads are devoted to poetical descriptions of these manifestations of Prâna, imagination revelling in depicting their power. Prâna is usually described as declaring " itself five-fold " through " unfolding the various elements, or Tattvas, in these several manifestations. There are said to be " five gates to the heart," for the Devas, or senses (remember that every sense corresponds to a special Tattva which stimulates its activity), and the heart is the ruler of the sensuous and active organs. The heart receives impressions from the positive Prâna, and it is the nature of the heart's reflection of these upon which human actions and the work of the world depend. The eastern gate is Prâna, manifested in " up-breathing." Apâna, the western gate, is described as down-breathing, and the deity that exists in the earth (in modern phraseology, gravity) is there to support man's Apâna, ever attracting its activities downwards.
Samâna, the northern gate, is described as on-breathing, because it impels the grosser materials of food to the A pâna, and conveys the finer and more subtle nutriment to the limbs. Vyana is the southern gate, and, pervading the blood-Nâdis, is recognized as back-breathing. Udâna is called the upper gate, and distinguished as out-breathing, being most perceptible in the throat. Now, this up-ward impulse has its normal beneficent phase, encouraging " growth, lightness and agility," and it is evil only when the currents are unbalanced; for the Tattvic Law of Harmony requires that these two vital creative forces be equally active, but alternately dominate one another.
As these manifestations change from one to an-other the state of Sushumnâ intervenes; therefore, the rays of Sushumnâ extend all over the body midway between the positive and negative Nâdis, and are the medium by which the Prana passes back and forth from the positive to the negative parts of the body and vice versa.
The rule holds good to all eternity that like seeks like. You must think in harmony with the purest vibrations of the external world, if you would reap the benefit of your kinship with all good and all power in the Universe. Understand well and clearly this fact: The very ability to think at all implies the freedom to use the power beneficently instead of harmfully,— to change your thoughts from one thing to another as easily as you do your garments. Nothing is impossible to the soul-directed thought; failure is through want of faith, of fixedness of purpose and aim; success is in direct proportion to the unswerving trust of our belief. It is we who fail; never the law! Our very failures testify to that.