Prasna Upanishad (Part-2)- Who Supports the Created Beings

Mantra 7

Prajaapatish-charasi garbhe tvameva pratijaayase | tubhyam praana  prajaastvimaa balim haranti yah pranaih pratitishhthasi || 7 ||

As Prajapati, the Lord of  living beings, you move about in the womb; it is you, indeed, who are born afterwards  as the child. O Prana, you dwell in the body as the chief of other organs. To  you alone all these living beings offer oblations. 

Continuing their praise of prana, the organs say ‘you are prajapati, the  Lord of beings which is another name for Brahma, the Creator. You move about in  the mother’s womb. When you are born, you have the likeness of your  parents’.  Sankara says “Because you, O  Prana, are Prajapati, you are the same in different bodies, in different  generations. You look like your parents and your parents look like you. This is  a predetermined fact since you are the one being coming back again and again”.  The idea is that parents are reborn as children.

The mantra says the sense organs bring offerings to prana. What does this  mean? Prana dwelling in the body is like a king and the sense organs are like  his subjects. Offerings or presents are tokens of love, reverence and respect  to another. If we see something, our eyes gather impressions which are conveyed  to prana for further processing which ultimately result in some form of action.  So is the case with the other sense organs. This conveying of impressions by  the sense organs to the prana is called here as offering oblations or offering  presents to prana. This is so because the impressions gathered by the sense  organs do not serve any purpose by themselves unless they are all gathered for  prana which converts them into the resultant action through mind and intellect.

Yah pranaih pratitishhthasi means these organs depend on prana, rest on  prana and hence they are paying tribute to prana.

Mantra 8

devaanaamasi vahnitamah pitrinaam prathamaa svadhaa | rishhiinaam  charitam satyam atharvaangirasaamasi || 8 ||

You are the chief carrier of  offerings to the gods. You are the recipient of food first offered to the souls  of departed ancestors. You are the Truth that sages practice. You also help  guide the organs so that they function correctly.

When, in a sacrifice, oblations  are offered to the gods, fire, Agni, carries them to the recipients. The organs  say here that Prana is the carrier and also the deity to whom the offering is  carried. Out of respect, the first offering is to the forefathers and the  ancestors. Now the organs say to prana that the offering is in fact offered to  prana to whom it is meant. It is prana that carries the offering to the  forefathers.

This mantra calls the sense  organs rishis – those who see the truth. If we have to experience the truth we  have to take the help of sense organs who reveal the truth. By living as a  human being and experiencing the things through the sense organs we realize that  all we see before us is God in different forms. So the organs say to prana “You  are that life working through the organs. You make them work correctly so that  the Truth may be known. According to scriptures, you are Atharva whom the sages  beginning with Angira worshipped”.

Mantra 9

indrastvam praana tejasaa rudro.asi parirakshitaa| tvam-antarikshe  charasi suuryastvam jyotishhaam patih || 9 ||

O Prana, You are Indra; you  are Rudra, too, in prowess. You are also their Protector. As the sun you move  about in the sky and you are the lord of all luminous bodies.

The organs praise Prana as Indra,  the Supreme Lord of all and as Rudra, the destroyer of all by his tejasa, power. Prana is also extolled as parirakshitaa, he who protects the  world, Vishnu. The eulogy continues: prana moves around the sky through the  endless process of rising and setting as the Sun; among the luminaries in the  sky such as stars and planets, he is the Lord of all the lights, jyotishhaam patih.

Mantra 10

yadaa tvam-abhivarshhasyathemaah praana te prajaah |  aanandaruupaastishhthanti kaamaayaannam bhavishhyati iti || 10 ||

O Prana, when, you pour down rain,  all living beings are delighted, who think that there will be as much food as they  would like to have.

Prana is the source of rain. When it rains all living beings are excited  at the prospects of having a good harvest and plenty of food to eat. Sankara  comments that all living beings are prana’s own progeny and they are not  separate from him.

Mantra 11

vraatyastvam praanaikarshhirattaa vishvasya satpatih | vayamaadyasya  daataarah pita tvam maatarishva nah || 11 ||

O Prana, you are by nature  pure. You are the sacred ekarshi fire, the consumer of everything, the gracious  Lord of the world.  We offer you  oblations, O all-pervading Air, you are our father.

Since prana was the first born there was none to perform the sacramental  initiatory rites for him and hence Prana is called vratya (some one who is fallen) in the mantra. But prana is pure by  nature and needs no sacramental rites in order to purify itself. This is an  instance in Sanskrit literature where praise is offered through pointing out  its blemish which is called “vyangyastuti”.

‘Ekarshi fire’ is a well known sacrificial fire ritual in  the Atharva Veda. Consumer of everything refers to the oblations in a  sacrifice. Prana is compared to air because we cannot subsist without air. So  the organs say that ‘we are all your children and we are all dependent on you’.  Hence he is “vishvasya satpatih” the  only gracious Lord of this universe.

Mantra 12

yaa te tanuurvaachi pratishhthitaa yaa shrotre yaa cha chakshushhi | yaa  cha manasi santataa shivaam taam kuruu motkramiih || 12 ||

Make auspicious that form of  yours which abides in our speech, in our hearing, in our seeing and which also  pervades the mind. Please do not go away from us!

According to the commentator Ananda Giri’s opinion, of the different  forms of prana, it is apana that  controls the organ of speech; vyana of hearing; prana (breath) of seeing; and samana, of thinking. If prana leaves the body none of those forms can  function and the organs will become inactive.

It is prana which supplies oil to the lamps of the senses which are kept  burning. Just as the whole crowd of bees keeps functioning so long as the  queen-bee is present, the senses keep functioning as long as prana is present.  With the withdrawal of prana the senses disintegrate - the lamps are there, but  the flame is gone for want of oil. Hence this appeal is made by the senses to  prana not to depart from them and to be always with them and make them work for  the benefit of others.

This mantra suggests that the form of prana is invisible - the eye cannot  see it, but the eye cannot function without it; the ear cannot hear it, but the  ear cannot hear without it and so on. The mantra adds that prana is  continuously existent in the mind. Does mind contain prana? How does it live in  the mind? It is this which forms the subject of the enquiry of the third  question which we will be studying later.

Mantra 13

praanasyedam vashe sarvam tridive yat.h pratishhthitam.h | maateva putraan.h  rakshasva  shriishcha pragyaam cha  vidhehi na iti || 13 ||
    All that exists here is under  the control of Prana and also what exists in heaven. Protect us as a mother her  sons; bestow upon us prosperity and wisdom.

Prana controls everything that  exists. We pray that prana may protect us just as a mother protects her  children.  We also pray that he may grant  us good fortune of divine qualities and wisdom by which success in spiritual  path is assured.

iti prashnopanishhadi dvitiiyah prashnah ||


We shall take up the Third  Question next time.


Receive Site Updates