Prasna Upanishad (Part-3)- How Does Life-Breath Function

Mantra 10

yachchittastenaishha praanamaayaati | praanastejasaa yuktah sahaatmanaa tathaasankalpitam lokam nayati || 10||

Whatever are one’s thoughts  (at the time of death) that thought remains with the outgoing prana.  Prana coupled with udana and Atman, leads to  whatever world has been conceived (in the last thoughts).

This Mantra explains who  determines the field of next activity when the udana leaves the body  along with the mind. It says that the last thoughts at the time of departure determine  the future field for the prana or ego-centre or jivatma (which is the  performer of action and the experiencer of the result) to live out in its next  birth. The after-death experience of the soul depends entirely upon the desires  it cherishes at the time of death. If it has attained peace and freedom before  death, it experiences them afterwards as well. (Ref: Gita 8.6)


Mantra 11

ya evam vidvaan.h praanam veda na haasya prajaa hiiyate.amrito bhavati tadeshhah shlokah || 11||

A wise man who knows Prana  thus does not lose his offspring and becomes immortal. As to this there is the  following verse:

All possible human wants have  been classified in Vedanta under three categories viz., desire for progeny,  desire for name and fame, and desire for wealth. Here desire for progeny  indicates human relationship with others in a society. Pippalada suggests that he  who meditates on the truth that one’s own microcosmic form with its activity centers  is nothing but a miniature universe with its cosmic forces in the macrocosm  will find his relationship with others in the world always congenial. He  attains the immortal nature of prana himself. This is supported by a Mantra in  the Rig Veda as under.

Mantra 12

utpattimaayatim sthaanam vibhutvam chaiva pajnchadhaa |

adhyaatmam chaiva praanasya vigyaayaamritamashnute

vigyaayaamritamashnuta iti || 12||

He who knows the origin of Prana,  its entry, its abode, its fivefold distribution, its omnipresence, its internal  aspect and also its external, obtains immortality; yea, he obtains immortality.

Explanation of these terms: Origin  of prana – From the Supreme self; Entry – Into the physical body through the  activity of the mind; Abode – in the different organs; Fivefold distribution –  Refers to the fivefold modifications and their respective functions; Internal  aspect – Control of the organs such as eye, ear etc; External aspect – Control  of sun, space etc. He who knows implies not merely intellectual understanding  but actual realization of the truth. Immortality means perfect identity with  total mind, the Hiranyagarbha. Repetition marks the completion of the  discussion. The gist of the discussions between the teacher and the student in  this third question of the Upanishad can be summarized in a table as under.

It is pertinent to note  here the similarity between the human body and a Hindu temple structure. In  Hinduism a temple represents the outer and the inner cosmos or as the symbol of  the cosmos both at the level of the universe and at the individual plane,  making it possible for the devotee to get inspired to achieve his own spiritual  transformation.

The outer cosmos is  expressed in terms of various astronomical connections between the temple  structure and the motions of the sun, the moon, and the planets. The inner  cosmos is represented in terms of the consciousness at the womb of the temple (Garbha  Gruha) and various levels of the superstructure that correspond to the  states of consciousness.

The main idol placed  within the brick structure of the altar represents the consciousness principle  within the individual just as a relic within a stupa. The position of the idols  within the temple is a symbolic representation of the spatial projections of  the cosmic purusha in his own body.

iti prashnopanishhadi tritiiyah prashnah ||


We shall take up the Fourth  Question next time.


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