Pranamaya and its role in Yoga
By Sri Janardana
Enthusiastic advocates of Pranayama have reduced it to mean exclusively 'breath-control', and have proceeded to evolve a Science out of it. The Science of Breath-Control; There can be no worse instance of incorrect meaning given to a key-word in Yoga and applied to practice with dire consequences.. It is not suggested here, that breath-control, as such, should not be organized scientifically, nor that it has nothing to do with Pranayama at all; but those that declare breath-control itself is Pranayama, have patently not bestowed any thought on the vital significance of what Pranayama really stands for, satisfied apparently with the superficial meaning of the term.
Pranayama is intimately connected with Yoga, and the unfortunate result of naming it breath-control has created the general impression, that those aiming at the practice of Yoga should perform a series of breathing exercises as an all-consuming first requisite. So much has this false and pernicious idea gained_ ground that Yoga, itself is getting to be looked upon as breath-control!!! This is really tragic.
A greater disastrous disservice to Yoga and Pranayama is unthinkable. In Yogic-literature, Pranayama occupies such an important place that it may be indisputably stated there is no Yoga without Pranayama, and no Pranayama which does not lead to one kind of Yoga or the other. It is advantageous to bear in mind here, that Yoga is not one but very many according to the objects of contact sought after, and of which the highest is Adhyatma-Yoga. Strictly the term 'Yoga' is applicable to this Science only, and not to any of those less in order such as Hatha-Yoga, Laya-Yoga, Ashtanga-Yoga and the like. Nor do these Yogas form the passage to the former directly.
Pranayama, which is a vital adjunct and the foremost act for the realization of any Yoga whatever it is, is also manifold likewise; and breath-control is one of those very many methods occupying the bottom-most rank. To students of Adhyatma Yoga, otherwise known as Brahma Yoga, or Suddha Yoga, or Raja Yoga, this practice of breath-control at any stage is dismissed as harmful and hindering progress - Taavata tasya rajayogadhikaribihi tyajyatvasya pratipadanena. Let us look into the correct, significance of the word 'Pranayama'; breath-control is its surface meaning only, the exact Sanskrit word for it being 'swasabandana'.
Quite obviously Pranayama must mean something deeper. It is so. Prana is a general word to indicate 'energy', 'life-force', 'intellect', 'spirit' and so on; and the approximating exact word to convey its idea is 'Consciousness'; similarly 'ayama' does not mean merely 'restrain', and 'control', but also means 'expand'; so that, its import is best conveyed by the term 'leading'. Pranayama thus comes to mean 'Leading the Consciousness'. Of course the Consciousness is led not towards anything else but God. Modern 'Yogins' may turn round and declare, breath-control is intended as a preliminary to lead the Consciousness Godward ultimately, and hence Pranayama is breath-control.
Though the act of substituting container for the contained, and of meaning one thing and stating another, may be euphemistically admirable in other spheres of knowledge, it has no place in an exact Science like Yoga, by which is meant here Adhyatma Yoga. The absoluteness of breath control postulated herein, is just untrue. It was already pointed out that this habit is harmful, because, in spite of the good motive behind it, and possible therapeutic value under certain conditions, the Consciousness is neither lead no Godward nor, in this practice, the Consciousness gets stultified by being subverted, cornered and eventually smothered, so much so, it takes to the course exactly opposite, eventually becoming unconscious. And out of this unconsciousness all those powers known as 'Siddhis', with which the modern demonstrator assuming the name 'Yogi' amuses the audience by getting himself buried alive and coming out unscathed, stopping heart-beats, swallowing nails, poisons, and molten liquid, fire-walking, rope-trick, and by a host of those feats. All these juggleries though excellent in themselves do not lead the Consciousness Godward surely. Hence there is no Pranayama here.
It may probably be stated as a tip to these people, that the highest power which this, practice can generate is 'Kechari-Siddhi' - the power to fly in the air, a power, which these breath-controllers do not seem to have developed so far. We have the birds flying, and there are the modern airplanes and hence the development of the power to fly carries no wonder with it, but does that lead one towards God even to a fraction of an inch. Most certainly it does not. Let us just look into this a little more. It is true those that resort to this practice do so accompanied with the intonation of certain 'mantras', and it is also said, they have for their object of realization, the God-head of the 'Nirguna' variety - God unassociated with trigunas, a very high order indeed, But, in actual effect, instead of attaining this goal they get the powers developed, since the mental contents behind the motive are so inclined, resulting in their acquisition accordingly. If it had been otherwise really, they would have long ago learnt the uselessness of tampering with the breath in any way for purposes of God realization. In Yoga literature, however, the exalted name of Pranayama is still conferred on the practice in view of the high motive behind it, but is set aside as 'Prakrita', because of its ill-direction by the development of 'Siddhis' thereby hindering God realization.
A second variety of this 'Prakrita-Pranayama' consists in the performance of 'devatarchanas' - worship of Gods by doing poojas associated with mantric rites and 'japers'. Those engaged thus do not practice breath-control nor do they bother themselves about the Science of Adhyatma, since their sole aim in worship is in securing certain material objects in view, on the well-established and legitimate belief that God is a boon-giver. This is known as 'Saguna' - worship of God with form both these varieties of 'Prakrita-Pranayama', consequently, have no place in a scheme which has for its object God-realization as such exclusively and unconditionally.
To get at this mental condition, one must be very courageous indeed to agree to a course of sustained discipline in' life, and should as a first step aim .t a correct knowledge of the Divine sought after by exercising the intellect. These two methods of 'Prakrita-Pranayama' are resorted to by those that go by the name of 'Pravrittas' - whose inclinations are merely materialistic. Let us now examine the type of Pranayama practiced by those called 'Gnanis'', who have devoted themselves to 'Atmavichara' - enquiry into Atman, as being free from and independent of Prakriti (Matter); and who form a distinct class from the other two. The Ishwara of the size of the thumb - 'Angushtamatra Purusha' residing in one's own heart is the goal of their aspiration.
To them, the World is 'mitya'- false, and governed by 'maya'-illusion, and hence to be rejected. They are those that go by the name of Vedantins. With this end in view, they forcefully starve out the turbulent senses as a point to be achieved, and resort themselves to the practice of what is famously known as 'citta vritti niroda.' - Suppression of mental modifications. Aiming desirelessness, they apply pressure to abstract the Manas with the Consciousness in it to one pointedness - 'ekagrasiddhi'. Though in this act of subduing the Man as, these 'Gnanis' are akin to the 'Prakritas' of the Nirguna variety, they differ in the conception of the Divinity as judged by the result. To the latter, the development of powers is God-given and therefore God-contacted, since their conception of 'Nirguna' aspect of God is one of store-house of powers merely without form; whereas with the former, God is of the form of 'Jyoti' - Light and is 'Sakshi' - a Witness, remote from the prakritic forces and entirely free from their influences. This idea, of the Gnanis, suggests itself into the theory of non-existence of the World, and with it, the sense and mental suppressions. The Atma-Jyoti or the Light of Atman is realized, no doubt, after a period of self-immolation; and all ties of attachments are broken asunder.
This type of practice is termed 'Atmeeya-Pranayama', since it aids the realization of the said Atman though at a great cost. In spite of the pure motivation that effects the release from the bondage of heart's knots, freedom in action - 'swatantra' - the hall-mark of success in Yoga is not there, since there ever persists a sense of went, even after the suppression of the demands of prakritic vehicles as being inimical. This want is due to the non-disappearance of the sense of I-ness and is traceable to that initial mistake in thought viz. that Atma (Spirit) and Prakriti (Matter) are unrelated and opposed to each other and that to realize Atria, Prakriti has to be suppressed. That these two are ever in unison, mutually interacting and influencing each other and that under no conditions whatsoever, one remains without the other in the World-Process are truths, which these people have yet to learn. Hence, Pranayama, of the 'Atmeeya' type, though helpful partially to those that have succeeded in their attempts at suppressions, does not conduce to the realization of the transcendent Wholeness which is Brahm, and with it Swatantra.
It is said, that the practice of the regulation of breath to a minimum extent to commence with is resorted to by these people, in accordance with the instruction. of the Guru, but is given up latterly. These people go by the name of 'Nivrittas' those whose inclinations are exclusively inward-turned. The variety of Pranayama practiced in Adhyatma-Yoga is named 'Suddha' and is free from the octopus of the two previous kinds. 'Susukam kartum' - most pleasurable in its performance is the encomium showered on it by the Gitacharya. In a World, where-in the play of opposites is the rule and not easily got over, the act of taking sides quickly yields results. Thus we have the Materialists, who act denying the Spiritual-Principle, and the Spiritualists bent on emasculating the ever-present and necessary material vehicles and their legitimate operations in like.
Their quarrel between each other and among themselves is legion. But, fruition in Adhyatma-Yoga is got, not by preferences by the one over the other but by Transcending the influence of opposites through the process of synthesis - Sameekarana by which the placements of the various_ parts are understandingly equated to the Whole. It is obvious To do so, the mind has got to be educated on proper basis. That basis is found on the three great Mahavakyas: 'Sarvam tat kalvidam Brahm, Sarvam Brahma swabhavajam, Sarvam avasyakam' - Everything is Brahm, Everything is of the Nature of Brahm, Everything is Necessity, which reveal the standpoint of synthesis. In that oft quoted slogan by the Seekers of Atman - 'Brahma satyam jagat mitya' - Brahm is true and Jagat is false the cleavage postulated and perpetuated has resulted in disastrous consequences. Their fundamental misconception in equating Atman into Brahm, requiring the liquidation of the World for its realization, not only has led to the most deplorable state of affairs in this land for the last so many centuries, but also has resulted in doubting the validity of the pursuit of this path as an excellence in many minds. Atman is not Brahm, since Brahm is a triune - Atma, Shakti, and Prakriti - each of these occupying a distinct and unique place in the scheme of Wholeness, interacting on each other mutually; nor could the World be rejected, since life is in it only. Atma abides in this World-Process as the Representative of Brahm, and its realization as a first step though important is not a completeness in itself nor does its realization require prakritic emasculation - a habit condemned in the Gita as asuric - Karsayanta sareerastam bootagramam achetasaha, mamchivanta sareerastam tan vidhyaaursara nischayan.
The overcoming of the prakritic influences, therefore, after fully understanding their extent and usefulness has to be done by degrees, through the process of harmonization. A study in synthesis thus reveals that great state of harmonized Wholeness, in which the three forces - Atma, Shakti and Prakriti - are in utter balance and equilibrium. This state goes by the names of Amanda, Paraam-Shanti, Nirvana, Yoga, Turiya, Avyakta, Atyantam- Sukham and so forth. The consequence of this study is the ability to overcome the inimical opposites, with a sense of friendliness in all relationship; and the striver gradually gets himself released from the baneful grip of I-mess and Mine-Mess - 'swarthadosha' and 'karpanyadosha', the seeds of manifold miseries in the World and of the never ending cycle of births and deaths.
The Senses and Manas are weaned away gradually from the attractive and repulsive nature of objects by degrees, until at last their effects are neutralized by the perception of truth in them getting thus sublimated. Such a study and objective practice arc necessary prerequisites that conduce to success in Suddha-Pranayama. Pranayama as such is the technical name given to that practice which is entirely subjective, since leading the Consciousness Godward is purely a mental act. Consciousness has its dominant seat in Manas-Mind-emotion plane. Manas by its nature is usually outward-turned towards objects and the Senses are its gateways through which the impressions made by objects are carried into it.
To divert the course of Manas from objects towards God, Pranayama is the First act prior to Dhyana (Meditation), which is an act of repeated and continuous thought bestowed on God. Certain external conditions are absolutely necessary while in the period of practice viz. solitariness (away from crowd), avoidance of overfeeding, austerity, quietude, and a frequent recalling at all times in the Mamas of Brahmic beatitudes; whereas, the actual act of practice consists in overcoming the sense of fatigue - Jitasrarnaha capacity to be seated in a firm posture for a time - Samaseenaha, raising the Consciousness to the top of the head -- Moordhnyatmanamadaya, and focussing the formative will of the Manas between the eye-brows - Bhruvormadhye Manas, always thinking of the nature of Atman - atmanam chintayet, and reducing Prana into Apana and vice versa - Pranapana gadee ruddhva pranaiyar e.parayanaha. Here, Prana indicates the Brahmic state of 'Turiya' (fourth) which is Avyakta or the Yogic-Plane, wherein, the three-aspects of Brahm-Atma, Shakti, and Prakriti are ever in Yoga and termed Paramatma or Sat-Chit-Ananda Roopa.
In the three lower levels of Mahat (Buddhi), Manas (Mind-emotion), and Indriya (Sense) planes these three aspects abide without harmony, and hence the dominance of one or the other as the case may be. This lower level is Apana. The act of reducing the lower into the higher is Prana, and vice versa is Apana: in other words, it is the act of equating One into Many and Many into One. In the Gita, the Lord explains this in the sloka - Yada bhoota prnitak bhavam ekatwam anupasyati, tata evacha vistaram Brahma sampadyate tata - When the aspirant perceives the Many (triple samsara) as focused in One (Unitary), as also emanating thence, he, then, understands Brahm. This process of mental harmonization is Pranayama of the Suddha variety.
Three essential features go to make up a complete Pranayama. They are the mental acts of (1) reducing the Many into the One Immanent-Divine-Essence, (2) retaining the idea of Wholeness in which the One and the Many abide as necessary auxiliaries always, and (3) dismissing-all those-hindrances that prevent the retention of this unique fact of knowledge. These three parts - angas of Pranayama are explained by Sri Hamsa Yogi in his inimitable style thus - (1) visuddha sarvabhavanam swatmaswaroope brahmani satvena samanayanan, (2) samaneeetanam cha teshambhavanam swatmaswaroopa Brahma swabhava siddhatvena chikyasya vignanam, (3) tadikya vignana pratibandhaka nanabhava parityagaha.
The technical names of Pooraka, Kumbhaka, and Recheka respectively are conferred on these three phases of practice. The act of inhaling, retention, and expelling of air in breathing exercises are also known by these three terms, but in this Pranayama which aims at the highest Yoga, such acts of breathing have no place. Manas, the eleventh Sense, the vehicle of meditation, and named Ishwara of the Senses, though receives its impressions through the Senses, is not exclusively conditioned by them, since it has its own independent movements of likes and dislikes.
The notion of separateness and opposites creates the said likes and dislikes, as also pleasure and pain in it. To raise the consciousness higher and to get at the idea of unity ekagrachitta - the overcoming of the dualities is necessary, and this is done, only by inculcating the idea of synthesis into it. Buddhi (intellect), the vehicle of Knowledge higher than Manas, is alone able to so influence, inculcate, and bring, about the needed condition in the Manas; and no sense-activity of any sort which includes breathing exercises can hope to affect a control of the Manas, since the former is subject to the latter.
What is sometimes notoriously stated as 'killing the Manas' to overcome its activities, is an untruth of the first class magnitude, having no place in Yoga. , If resorted to, it will terminate in unconsciousness. As the vehicle to receive the fruits of Yoga viz. Ananda and the like, Manas is ever present, and what is technically known as 'Laya' is attained by neutralizing the effects of opposites and many ness in it, whereby, the Avyakta-plane is contacted, the Atma Jyoti is seen, and in it the Paramatma. The duration of this contact, momentary at first, increases in intensity with practice, and that state of highest intensity is known as 'Samadhi', wherein, the consciousness is in full working order.
Of the three essentials that go to make up a complete Pranayama - Pooraka, Kumbhaka, and Rechaka, the practice commences with Pooraka. Literally it means the act of filling in. Pranayama, as a whole, as was already stated, is that act which conduces to lead the consciousness Godward - Parabhavabhi siddhi sampadana karma. By Godward should be known as that attitude of all-round supreme unity - antaryami paramatma bhava. Consciousness is indicated by the term 'Prana'. 'Pragna' also means consciousness, but the difference, between the two consists in the fact that while Pragna indicates general consciousness or awareness, Prana particularly denotes I-consciousness - Prano bhavet parambrahma jagat karanamavyayam - aham saddascha tattatwan…jagatam karanam - Prana is Param Brahm the_transcendental world cause; that which is denoted by the term 'Aham' ... is the world cause. So that, Prana is Aham or I-consciousness also.
This I-consciousness, which is the cause of the manifoldness in the world, though equally ell-pervasive in all the vehicular beings of men, has its main seat in the Mind-emotional plane - Manas; and in virtue of its close association with the inherent changeful dual nature of the said Minas plane, the ever-present synthetic background, it ignores, in preference to the opposed multiplicities of pleasure and pain etc. Here comes in the status of Jivatwa - individual soul, which is, as such said to welter, being a prey to the dual forces, in a dazed condition - bhramayan.
The recovery of a consciousness - Pragna, that is free from this I-ness, the cause of separativeness, by which Jivatwa is transmuted into Ishwaratwa is the main aim of Pranayama. And in this, Pooraka takes up the role of infilling the consciousness with the concept - bhava - of unity, which is Godliness, by frequently chastening and purging the Manas of its ahankaric-bhava of inimical opposites and many ness. It is not that either the I-ness or the Manas at any time ceases to exist, but that the bhava or the concept, which is the result of their conjunction , is oriented from its asat-bhava - that attitude causing the miseries, into its opposite-sat-bhava, by the practice of Pooraka.
This leads us to the conclusion that by Pooraka is generated the purification of concepts - bhava-samsuddhi, which also goes by the technical name of nadi-suddhi - purification of nerves. It may be stated in this connection, that the term 'bhava' conveys an importance of very vast significance in adhyatmic literature, requiring a careful comprehension, yielding as it does various meanings in connection with the context. Bhava may be generally translated to mean Motive. It is an offspring of the Manas-vehicle in man, which is the vehicle of desire - Iccha. Iccha is a most essential feature for human growth, and it is a serious mistake to say that it should be curbed, when, in fact, no such thing is possible except as a piece of meaning-less auto-suggestion. The bad or good effects of desire - Iccha depend on its bhava or motive, caused by the changeful characteristic of the Manas-vehicle, resulting thereby, in man's bondage or freedom - manaeva manushyanam karanam bhanda mokshayoho, as the Shrutis declare it; so that, bhava or motive becomes good or bad -satbhava or asatbhava accordingly.
The changeful nature of Manas is qualitative and functional Guna and Karma inherent therein, and the bhava gets colored as such. But, this bhava being Sat or asat depends on one's own knowledge. Sat-bhava, leading to synthesis and progress, is generated by proper knowledge therefore; whereas, asat-bhava, leading to conflicts and destruction, is the result of perverted knowledge which seeks to restrict the scope of life to one's own little personality or group or nation or race as the case may be, and this goes by the name of ignorance. Hence, a student of Pranayama has to seek the purification of his own Bhava, through a healthy bhavana or concept, possible by proper knowledge and as such bhavana samskara or purification of concepts constitutes the foremost of the three essentials in the practice of Raja-Yoga. For, it is only through a proper bhavana, that its second step karma can be undertaken effectively, wherein, Pranayama constitutes an important feature, leading on to the third step Dhyana or meditation by which the divine beatitudes are attained. Thus Pooraka is a mental act aimed incessantly to infuse in one's self the superb idea of the essential unity of the infinite creation, and hence Sri Hams Yogi defines it as was already stated thus - visuddha sarvabhavanam swatmaswaroope, brrhmani satwena samanayanam. The mark of success in Pooraka is associated with the acquisition of four fine characteristics in the individual aspirant, and they are catalogued: (1) vaseekaranam or the quality of attractive friendliness amounting to personal magnetism, (2) yojanam or the great capacity to synthesize by which animosities are rounded off, (3) sankhalpatyaga, whereby, the aspirant is freed from The tortures of personal seeking and scheming for possessions etc., (4) nirapekshastiti or the state of absolute wantlessness.
We also learn that in the 'Pranayama Gita', the Lord explains these four characteristics in one, efficient in Pooraka, in the sloka, thus: yada viniyatam chittamatmanyevavatishtate, nispruha sarvakamebhyo, yukta ityuchyate tada - he is deemed a Yukta, when his mind is well disciplined (properly directed), is centered on Atman, being detached from all passionings. From this, it may be seen, that success in the practice of Pooraka ipso facto results in the aspirant attaining the status of Yuktatma, the second in the four grades thereof - Mahatma, Yuktatma, Samatma, and Brahmatma, each being lower in their order than the previous one. Repeated eulogistic mention of the said status - Yukta is made in the Gita throughout, showing the importance of its attainment.
The second 'anga' or part of Pranayama goes by the name of Kumbhaka. It means retention - retention of the idea of synthesis in the Manas infused into it by Pooraka. The three great Mahavakyas which posit this idea of synthesis are sarvam tad kalvidam Brahm, sarvam Brahma swabhavajam, sarvam avasyakam. As such, the practice, in respect of this, need not be restricted to particular hours, but could be easily carried on trough out all hours, as a result of which, the aspirant will be able to realize in himself the development of four more different characteristics viz.: (1) achanchalamanaskatwam or the state of undistracted Manas.
What is termed in the shrutis as amanaskatwam does not mean the eradication of Manas, which is just aiming at the impossible but refers to this achanchala condition attained by it through Kumbhaka practice. The Manas in this condition is deemed to bear a striking resemblance to the unshaken flame of the lamp sheltered from the wind. The Lord in the Gita characterizes it thus - ratha deepo nivatasto nengate sopama smrita, yogino yatachittasya yunjato yogamatmanaha - as the flame of a lamp in a region screened from the winds burns un-flickering, such a simile suggests in regard to the steadiness of the yogic practice of a well-disciplined aspirant of Yoga.
This is followed by (2) ekagrachitta, by which the quieted Manas is able to hold on to the synthetic idea of immanence of the Ishwara in all the multiplicities, by virtue of which the aspirant is enabled to vision It in himself. The Gita implements this in the sloka - yatroparamate chittam niruddham yogasevaya, yatra chivatmanaatmanam pasyannatmani tushyati - in which state (of mental steadiness), the Manas governed by the practice of yoga attains to tranquility, wherein, the aspirant, even by the tranquil Mamas visioning the Atman, rejoices in it.
The exquisiteness of joy acquired by ekrgrachitta pertains to buddhic faculty and not to any sense-contacting, and as such, belongs to the category of saswatam-sukham or eternal bliss, which augments the acquisition by the aspirant of a firm foot-hold in the path, and is characterized as (3) achyutatwam or non-sliding, described in the Gita thus sukhamaatyantikam yattadbuddhigrahyamateendriyam, vetti yatra na chivayam stitaschalati tatwataha - whereby, he realizes that supreme ecstasy, comprehensible by the understanding, but beyond the senses; even abiding wherein, he declines not from the yogic state.
The non-declension from the yogic path is achyutatwam, which is got as a result of visioning the Atman in himself possible by him in whom the synthetic ideal is firmly ingrained. It terminates in the next characteristic (4) shaantatwam or the state of mental peace. One who tastes this great peace would hardly consider anything as higher acquiring, and hence Gita states - yam labdhva chaparam labham manyate nadhikam tataha, yasminsthito na duhkena gurunapi visalyate - attaining to which, he deems not any other acquisition as surpassing it; and established wherein, he is not distracted by intense pain and (pleasure). In this connection, it must be borne in mind, when Gita makes mention only of a positive or a negative aspect in a context as the case may be, that which is not mentioned must be also deemed as expressed, because, the Gita aiming at the teaching of transcendence does not make any preference in the dual field.
Thus when the Gita states 'duhkena gurunapi visalyate' - is not distracted by pain, it implies also 'is not distracted by pleasure also'. For sukha and duhkha - pleasure and pain are the dual opposites binding the Jiva; the transcendence thereof is Ananda or saswatesukha - happiness or eternal joy. It is this joy that can possibly lead the struggling aspirant to the state of shantatwam or peace that passeth understanding. The yogic state of attainment, Gita describes thus - tam vidyaat dukhasamyogaviyogam yogasamgitam, sa nischoyena yoktavayo yogoanirvinna chestasa - let that state be deemed yoga, which detaches him from association with pain and (pleasure); such yoga must be practiced with find conviction and with mind unassailed by despondency.
The latter exhortation by the Lord in the above verse stresses the fact, that unless the Mamas is always given an upward push through various means that go to maintain it in that condition, and of which understanding through synthetic knowledge is foremost and efficacious, it is liable to drop down again and again. Sri Hamsa Yogi explains this Kumbhaka practice in continuation of that which he relates about Pooraka, thus - samaneetanam cha tesham bhavanam swatmaswaroopa braema swabhavasiddhatwena chikyasya vignanam, which states the standpoint of retention. The term 'vignanam', denotes the generation of factual, knowledge in the cognitional or buddhic plane, described by the Lord as 'buddhi grahyam' - realized by buddhi. So that, it is through the practice of Kumbhaka only that the synthetic thought, which was previously an insipid idea only, gets established firmly in the aspirant by virtue of which he is able to take up to the third component of Pranayama namely 'Rechaka' with facility. Rechaka means expelling of those ideas which always seek to perpetuate discordant diversities, on the fertile soil of which, the aspirant, a prey to dushtaahankara or inimical I-ness, had been growing all along tasting pleasure and pain, and subject to the bondage of birth and death. This nature of Manas to return to taste them gets curbed automatically through Rechaka. Sri Hamsa Yogi describes this practice - tat vignana pratibhandaka nanabhava parityagaha - the abandonment of separative manyness which precludes the realization of unity. For, it is by curbing the tendency to fall, that the higher realms of yogic beatitudes are attained.
And in the Gita, the resulting exquisiteness of Rechaka is described - yujannevam sadaatmanam yogi vigatakalmasha sukhena Brahma samsparsamatyantam sukhamasnute the aspirant of yoga cleansed from all taints (of swartha-dosha or the dirt of ahankaric seeking), thus, directing the Manas by Yoga, attains the profound ecstasy of Brahmic contact. The contacting of Brahm is the realization of that eternal approximation to It, since Brahm is infinite as al so transcendent and an identity with it refers only to its atmic aspect atmabhaavasto, which is but a representative of Brahm and not Brahm itself; this is termed Prapti, the fifth Purusharta 'sameepya' mukti, being greater than the other three muktis known as 'saroopa, sayujya and salaka'. That this is got only subsequent to the visioning by the aspirant in himself o the Atmic-principle which is of the form of thumb angushtamatra purusha, through Kumbhaka practice, is clear from Rechaka coming after it.
It is because of the existence of this Atmic-principle in the bodies of one and all that the various activations of the body is possible, by securing a contact with it through the practice of Pranayama of Suddha variety, which does not need tampering with one's breath, man becomes capable to discharge his functions in the world with skill - Yogaha karmasu kousolam. It is this again that enables the aspirant when to stop operating his role in the world process; and the ability to desist therein completely is freedom, and goes by the name of Mukti, the result of Samnyasa and Tyaga, referred to already. Mukti, is followed by Prapti, and this goes on endlessly, alternating with each other, as planes after planes of consciousness are opened to the gaze of the liberated soul, for it to function therein.
This kind of Brahmic-contact spoken of by the lord is deemed to be attained by the practice of what is known as Suddhadwitanishtha, to which Rechaka leads to, and virtue of which the aspirant is enabled to cooperate in the divine plan of srishti, stiti and lay - creation, preservation and convergence, and also become fit to occupy the role of adhikara-purusha or office-bearer in the Divine Hierarchy controlling the cosmic world processes, under the direction of Bhagavan Sri Narayana. As such, Suddha-Pranayama generates the contact with Brahma-Shakti, by which the entire cosmic world processes are permeated and through which only the contact with .the Atmic principle become possible in the first place, and then Brahm. So that, through Pooraka, the sweekara or a conscious drawing in of the said Brahma-Shakti is aimed at, through Kumbhaka, the ability known as sandharana or upholding is generated, and through Rechaka, the power of that Shakti to expel the life-less opposing forces comes to the aspirant.
Such is the scope of Suddha-Pranayama which solely aims at constant mental practice even when one is actively engaged, by those who want to achieve the blessedness of Yoga, not requiring any tortuous physical practices and therefore open to all. However, it is supremely easy to practice by those that have realized the excellence of synthetic knowledge and hence, the Lord characterizes it as susukhamkartumavyayam - most pleasurable to practice and of everlasting bliss. Before closing, a very important feature of Suddha-Pranayama is well-worth bearing in mind in view of its two-fold efficacy.
Pranayama has been stated as an act of Karma. All acts, in general whatever they are, always yield certain definite results, being governed by the well-blown law of action and reaction. By acts, we normally understand as physical doings. That such doings are invariably induced by motives will be agreed on all hands. Even, what are known as instinctive acts are no exceptions.
Motive is the function of Manas within, and in so far no action is possible without Manas, it may be deemed as the actor itself, the physical limbs merely being its tools. Therefore the dictum is warranted that Manas is the Ishwara or God of the Senses or Lord of action. The Pranayama of the Suddha variety is, however, not a physical act, but exclusively mental, tackling the actor (Manas) itself, with a view to enable it to direct the physical working better, based as it is on synthetic knowledge. Manas, which is so invigorated is able to bring about efficient results all-round i.e. in the spiritual as also in the material spheres.
The far-reaching spiritual results, we have seen, and let us presently find out how it works in the material. What is known as Karana-sareera or casual body or cognitive vehicle in man is built up by him with great labor throughout the aeons of his evolutionary life, the matter particles thereof being said to be brilliant and shining in appearance, constituting the quintessence of great experiences he had undergone in the previous births. When in a particular life, if the aspirant desires either to change his mode of life or aim higher, all he has to do is to tap this great reservoir of Karana-sareera in himself, and bring down the energies stored up therein to the physical plane. This can be done only by what is termed as Namaskara or the humble mental prostration to the Divinity within and in all beings, and not by any other way. The Suddha-Pranayama and other acts associated with it, wherein, the mental act of reducing the many into the one and vice versa is exercised as was already explained, have the aforesaid Namaskara in view.
Through constant practice in this way, the spiritual Karana-sareera is
contacted; the energies imprisoned therein are tapped and also brought down
to the physical body. These energies, being spiritual and divine, yield
beneficent results all-round, without any doubt. Hence, it is, the prominence
of Suddha-Pranayama, which is well-worth adopting by those who desire spiritual
and material uplift.