UPANISHAD is one of the main classical texts about prana,
a key concept in yoga.
is usually translated as "energy" or "force,"
but these words are misleading because they have scientific
connotations for us which were unknown to the ancient
is also sometimes translated as "breath" or
"vital breath," but these terms are even further
from the mark.
best way to understand what prana meant to the ancient
Indians is to regard it as the answer to a very old
question: What gives the human body its ability to move?
specifically, why are people able to breathe? To digest
food? To see and shiver and sneeze and do all the other
things they do?
short, what makes a living person live?
ancient Indians came up with the following answer. There
must be some entity, they decided some
god or spirit or element or factor that enters
the bodies of living persons and animates them. When
the entity leaves, the person dies.
to the upanishad you are about to read, this entity
is a deva, a god, and the deva's name is Prana.
is the basic idea of the theory, but it quickly grows
more complicated. Prana divides itself into five parts,
each of which takes responsibility for a separate category
of bodily functions. Things get a bit confusing at this
point because the word prana is used both as a generic
term for all five types and as a particular term for
one of the five types. The five types are:
which causes defecation, urination, and processes
associated with the genitals;
which carries the soul out of the body at death;
which makes breathing happen (both inhalation and
exhalation), and also animates the eyes and ears;
which causes food to be digested; and
which causes most other life functions.
five kinds of prana are described in part three of the
About The Text
Prasna Upanishad was traditionally regarded as part
of the Atharva Veda, but modern scholars suspect that
it never really belonged to that larger work.
This upanishad is entitled Prasna, meaning "question,"
because each of its six parts consists of a question
translation was made by F. Max Müller, the famous
pioneering Sanskrit scholar, in the nineteenth century.
The copyright has expired.
-- Editor, Realization.org
May 30, 2000