Question 205-207: What is the vital breath and how is it managed?

 What is the vital breath and how is it managed?The conversation between the young Rama and the sage turns to stabilising chitta-consciousness, which then turns to an exposition on managing the vital breath – prana-vayu.


chitta San. noun. the mind (the seat of understanding and awareness, of intellect and will); memory, thought, reflection; the soul, heart. It is the individual consciousness, composed of intelligence and intellect (buddhi), ego (ahamkara) and mind (manas). In Vedanta, chitta is one aspect of Universal Consciousness (chit). The world hangs on the thread of consciousness – without consciousness, there is no world.

prana-vayu: the vital breath; the ‘wind of life’

vairagya: detachment

Yoga-Abyas (abhyaasa). Systematic, steady practice of yoga.

tattva San. n. ‘thatness’ – real nature, essence, principle; truth, reality, the Absolute (brahman);

ishthadeva San. m. the god of one’s choice that most appeals; the object of one’s desire, reverence and worship. The deity one meditates on;

shunya Hin., San. adj. var, sunya void, empty m. null, void, nothingness, emptiness, non-existence; solitude.

Khechari mudra is an advanced yogic technique that involves curling the tongue back and inserting it into the soft palate. This mudra is said to bestow a number of benefits upon the practitioner, including improved concentration, deeper meditation, and enhanced spiritual experiences

trikuti energy channel (brahma nadi) that runs between ajna and sahasrara (eyebrow and crown) chakras.


Question 205: Sir, kindly explain to me why chitta arises and also when does it become quiescent, so that I may try to stabilise it.

Answer: Ramji, chitta and ideation (or illusion) are identical. When one of them vanishes, both are supposed to have disappeared. There are two ways for the extinction of chitta—yoga and jnana (wisdom). To check the modifications of the chitta is yoga, and the perfect understanding of Atma is jnana (wisdom).

Question 206: Sir, how are the chitta modifications checked ? How are prana and apana stabilised with yoga?

Answer: Ramji, just as the water of a river flows on the earth, so prana flows through body vessels. There is only one prana-vayu, but because of the attribute of modification, it performs various functions, and various names have accordingly been given to it. Just as flowers and fragrance are inseparable just as snow and whiteness are inseparable, so are prana and chitta. When there is movement of prana-vayu in the body, chitta-kala (potency of the chitta) appears before ideation (sankalpa), and this is called chitta. Just as there is current in water, because of which waves, bubbles, etc., arise, so there is arousal of the chitta due to the movement of prana. Prana-vayu is the cause of the arousal of chitta. When prana is controlled, the mind becomes quiescent, and with this the universe and its objects vanish.

Question 207: Sir, how is prana-vayu controlled ?

Answer: Ramji, contemplation on scriptures, association with saints (satsang) and vairagya to material objects promote yogic discipline (yoga abhyas). There are many types of yoga practices, but I shall describe a few to you.

(i) As a result of holy association (satsang), an individual first cognises the world as unreal and then he meditates on his deity (Ishtadeva) for a long time. Concentrating in this manner for a considerable period, he becomes firm in the practice of one tattva, after which the movement of prana is checked.

(ii) When one practises methodically, over a period of time, rechaka (exhaling), puraka (inhaling) and kumbhaka (holding or cessation) — the steps in pranayama — and merges in the meditation on his deity (Ishtadeva), then also the movement of prana is checked.

(iii) The movement of prana is also checked with the fixation of chitta in the subtle rhythm of the sound at the end of the word AUM

(iv) With the practice of rechaka pranayama (exhaling), cognition merges in in the shunya state of akash (void) on the support of prana-vayu, and then also the movement of prana is stopped.

(v) Prana-vayu is also controlled by the practice of kumbhaka (breath retention).

(vi) When the tip of the tongue is fixed at the orifice of the palate, the prana-vayu goes up on account of khechari mudra, and then, too, the movement of prana is checked.

(vii) Within the distance of twelve digits (finger breadths) from the tip of the nose is the place of the gentle moon in sky and by fixing the vision on it the movement of prana is also checked.

(viii) When one concentrates on a spot twelve digits above the palate, then also the movement of prana is checked.

(ix) The movement of prana is also checked by concentrating on trikuti, the spot between the eyebrows.

(x) Free from all vasanas, when one meditates for a long time on the consciousness in the sky of the heart, then also the movement of prana is checked.


Prana is Brahman, because it is comprehended as such.

Prana meaning the vital breath or air, refers not to the ordinary sense of the word, but to Brahman only. That word is also often taken to mean the deities presiding over the Breath and Vital Airs, like Indra, Rudra, Vaayu etc. Even that meaning is inapplicable.

On one occasion, a seeker named Pratardana approached Indra, the Lord of the abode of Gods, and prayed to be instructed about what can endow man with that which is most beneficial to him. Indra directed him to know Him as life and meditate on Him as “Prana”.

Defining Praana and elaborating on its Glory, Indra told him: “This Prana is identified with consciousness” (Sa Esha Prana Prajnaatma). “It is Bliss, Ageless, Deathless” (Anando-Ajaro-Amrithah). That is to say Prana is the very embodiment of Bliss (Anandaswaroop), it has no decline or diminution (A-Jara), it is immortal (A-Mrita). That is the teaching. These characteristics belong to Brahman alone, not to Prana as commonly understood. “Prana” is only a symbol to bring Brahman to mind and not any other entity.

The question was about the most beneficial, the most essential entity, which man has to know and possess. Brahman alone is the source, substance and sustenance. So, “Prana”, the word used by Indra, can mean only Brahman and nothing else. The gross meaning of the word has to be discarded and the subtle meaning accepted. Men, generally speaking, consider wealth, power and fame as most essential and pursue these goals through every possible means. In this struggle man is wasting invaluable human qualities with which he is endowed. Besides this waste of allotted years of life, he plunges deeper and deeper into the darkness of ignorance (Ajnaana). He ignores and loses the awareness of his real nature (Swa-Swaroopa). Sutra Vahini 48


inhale - exhale


Hamsa Gayatri
Om Hamsaaya Vidmahe
Paramahamsaya Dheemahi
Tanno Hamsa Prachodayat

“May we realise Hamsa that is our own Self as the Swan. Let us meditate on that Paramahamsa, the Supreme Self. May Hamsa illumine us.”


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