Wednesday, February 20, 2008



Satyameva Jayate- Truth Alone Shall Prevail. So declares Mundakopanishad. These words are on our national emblem. They affirm that truth alone will prevail. Is it a mere declaration or a spiritual truth ? Let us analyze here.

What is truth ?
We should define Satyam before proceeding further.
Truth is a statement regarding existence. We cannot make a statement on non existent objects. Then it becomes an untruth.

Gita on Truth

In Bhagavad Gita , Sri Krishna says, (2nd chapter ,16th sloka)

nAsato vidyate bhAvo , nAbhAvo vidyate sata: |
ubhayorapi drushtontas tvanayos tattvadarshibhi: ||

"That which is untrue has no existence. The truth has no non existence. The conclusion about these two has been visualized by the knowers of truth."

Now, view the statement about truth vis a vis the above sloka. It says That the untruth has no existence! The material objects belong to the prakruti or nature. The nature is an ever changing entity. The human body and it five sheaths is also a part of nature and it is subject to birth and death.

In fact the changes in the body is so fast and persistent that it changes by the second, nay even millisecond so much so that the body you saw before closing your eyes is not the same when you opened your eyes. If you observe closely, you will realize that the body was not there when one was not born nor it will remain when one dies. The body travels from non existence to non existence. And ,the untruth has no existence. What else can one call the body and its extension , the nature except as an untruth ? All the theisms calling the body real are untrue!

Then , what is the true one ? That which exists always. What is that ? It is that which does not die when the body withers and that which is not born when a body is born. It is what we call as Atman (soul or spirit in English) . The atman, is never born , never dies, and it is changeless and eternal. It occupies all matter both living and non living.It is equally true for a human , an animal, a plant and the inanimate. In short , it is for all those which are subject to change. Atman is the absolute, and the material universe exists in relation to it.

Now, let us come to statements about truth. The statement on the law of change, for example , is always true since it reflects an eternal law. Same for the laws of motion, Gravity, Relativity etc.

The discoverers of Truth
Sanatana Dharma ( Hinduism) is a collection of theisms that focus on truths, the eternal truths. The only ancient society that discovered what remained changeless when everything was changing. The processes were subjective and objective enquiries. The Rishis , who founded Sanatana Dharma were rare beings who choose seclusion and introspection instead of wealth and pleasure.

As the pleasure objects were born and dying, so were the pleasures that were associated with them also were changing from birth to death. In short, they also travelled from non existence to non existence! So our Rishis wanted to hold on to the truth- the unchanging one. And they ended up finding the changeless, the birthless, deathless , ever blissful , omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient – The Atman.
And they thundered to the whole world
I have known that God, who shines like like the sun transcending the darkness; it is by knowing Him alone that you can conquer death, there is no other way” – svetasvara Upanishad- 3/8

And they roared
hear, ye children of the deathless (svetasvara Upanishad- 2/5)

The messengers of Untruth

So we know what are TRUTHS. We have been subject to an endless barrage of evangelists pouring untruths about creation and the creator. Apply their statements to the touchstones of Vedic wisdom and the hollowness of their statements stands out. Their concepts are the Untruth since they do not accept the Atman, the changeless. Instead, they glorify the human body, and even promise heaven with this body!

Such is their fear of death that their philosophy is afraid to talk even about it. They forget that they are preaching in a land that produced illustrious sons who found ways to conquer death and transcend birth and death. These missionaries fear death and glorify the body.

Vedas declare that death is only a transition and this knowledge is the Truth. The body is an instrument for realizing the truth.

Vedas- the fountains of Truth

Swamy Vivekananda- above

Our rishis explored the ‘Untruths’ also. They found that the untruth has no existence without the truth. Truth is the other side of Untruth. They have such a complimentary existence. Between the untruth and Truth, there exist various shades of truth. Swamy Vivekananda, the acetic extraordinaire of the last century declared “Man travels not from falsehood to Truth; But from Truth to Truth; from a lower truth to a Higher Truth”

The thought that ‘the body is a man’ is the absence of truth. The thought that ‘ the man is eternal and the body is not’ is the Highest Truth. Vedas, The scriptures of Sanatana Dharma, speak only the truth. Those that negate it have chosen the path of untruth.

Is it any wonder that the “Truth Alone Shall Prevail” ? It is a profoundly scientific, and spiritually satisfying statement.

‘Satyameva Jayate’

Friday, February 15, 2008



Lots of scriptures of Sanatana Dharma ( Hinduism) talk about Prana (or Vital Force). You may ask, what is special in it ? Many other books also talk about it. Many medical philosophers also talked about it. What’s so special about Hindu scriptures talking about Prana ?

The answer is : Hindu scriptures were the earliest to discuss this topic. We can even say that the source of all other writings about Prana are the Hindu scriptures.

Works of Sanatana Dharma talk about Prana in a complete holistic manner while the derived works used it for some specific purpose. For example the Chinese system discusses it for medical purposes. Homeopathy , perhaps was the first western system that developed a healing doctrine based on the life force.

So , what is prana ? We shall see here.

What is Prana ?

Prana is a general term used to denote the life force or Vital force in Man. The discovery of Prana dates back to the Upanishadic times, which is before Bhagavad Gita period, which places it to before more than five thousand years. It is discussed in the Mundakopanishad(3-1-9). The Gita also mentions the five pranas.

The Upanishadic masters found out that the prana is in fact flowing inside the body in the form of “Vayu” (air currents). Their further discovery was that there were slight variations in it and they sub divided Prana into ten. They are

  1. prAna
  2. apAna
  3. samAna
  4. udhAna
  5. vyAna

The above five are the first five principal pranas. The below five are the next set.

  1. nAga
  2. krukara
  3. kUrma
  4. devadatta
  5. dhananjaya

Srila PrabhupAda, founder Acharya of Iskcon, writes thus on these ten Pranas as they are manifest in the human body.

“...The movements of the body are first generated from the heart, and all the activities of the body are made possible by the senses, powered by the ten kinds of air within the body. The ten kinds of air are described as follows: The main air passing through the nose in breathing is called prana. The air which passes through the rectum as evacuated bodily air is called apana. The air which adjusts the foodstuff within the stomach and which sometimes sounds as belching is called samana. The air which passes through the throat and the stoppage of which constitutes suffocation is called the udana air. And the total air which circulates throughout the entire body is called the vyana air. Subtler than these five airs, there are others also. That which facilitates the opening of the eyes, mouth, etc., is called naga air. The air which increases appetite is called krukara air. The air which helps contraction is called kurma air. The air which helps relaxation by opening the mouth wide (in yawning) is called devadatta air, and the air which helps sustenance is called dhananjaya air.

All these airs are generated from the center of the heart, which is one only.”

Cosmic equivalents of Five Pranas:

The further discovery of the Vedic seers is that the first five pranas have their cosmic equivalents. Prasna Upanishad ( Atharva Veda) says (3.8)

“the sun is the reservoir of the cosmic light or Prana. He rises helping the microcosmic Prana to see objects. The goddess who presides over the Earth (Bhumi) is the cosmic Apana and she helps man by attracting the downwards the apana of the person. The space which is between the Earth and the Sun (antariksa) is the cosmic Samana, (and it helps the Samana inside man). The atmosphere or Vayu is cosmic Vyana (and helps the Vyana inside man).”
Attributes of Prana as a whole:

Prana or life force is part of ‘apara’ meaning the relative part of creation. The ‘para’ being the absolute. This can be explained in this way : When the very life or the ‘Atman’ leaves the body, the prana inside withers. Prana does not leave the body. Except the Atman, the rest form part of Prakriti, the nature.

Nature is the combination five elements controlled by the three Gunas (attributes – Sattva, Rajas and Tamas) and is subject to change. The vital force also is subject to change as it is strong in youth and weak in old age. Prana inside a living being is not renewable. A person with a sound prana is healthy and vice versa.

The prana counterpart of other living beings and also the cosmic prana can affect the individual prana. Thus disease spread from one to another. A diseased prana extends its sick aura to another. Conversely, the aura of a healthy or superior Prana affects a weakened one and rejuvenate it . That is how the healing methods like Reiki, Pranic healing etc become possible. The cosmic prana also can influence the individual prana. See how winds, rains, sun rays affect one’s health.

The Hatha Yoga and Pranayama are excellent routines in stabilizing and strengthening one’s Prana. Try doing pranayama late in the night. You will be wide awake in bed that night. This is the result of excess prana which made you fresh.

Where is Prana ?

There will still be a question about the possible location of prana. Given its air current like nature, can you pinpoint its location. Well, the Vedic seers answered that too. They found that the human body is made up of five sheaths. They are

a. The outermost is the Annamaya kosa , symbolizing the material body.

b. The second inner one is Pranamaya kosa , symbolizing the sheath of vital force or prana.

c. The third inner one is Manomaya kosa, symbolizing the sheath of the thoughts, the mana

d. The fouth inner one is the Vignyana maya kosa, symbolizing, the sheath of the intellect

e. The fifth and innermost is the Ananda maya kosa, symbolizing the sheath of Bliss.

Sickness, exists from the physical sheath to the mental level affecting the respective layers individually or collectively. It was Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of Homeopathy, who first pointed out the mental and psychical aspects of diseases. In other words , he found out that many purely physical diseases like a flu, a constipation or even cancer had an accompanying mental symptom showing the depth of the affection.

Medical aspect of Prana:

Ayurveda , Siddha, Unani , Traditional Chinese Medicine and Homeopathy are the primary systems that recognized Prana and have treatments accordingly. Homeopathy, though a western system, is 100 % based on the fundamental tenet that “ when a person is sick, it is his Vital force that is deranged”. ( In 1790, it was a revolutionary concept in Europe and the materialistic Allopathic school has been critical of them from then onwards. It continues even now and more vigorously.

The land that is Bharat

A typical Brahmin , when preparing to eat, says many mantras, for purification of the food and himself. Before eating , he tells , ‘prAnAya svAhA, apAnAya svAhA, samAnAya svAhA, udhAnAya svAhA, vyAnAya svAhA’ each time partaking a miniscule quantity of food and placing it deep in the tongue and swallowing it. I always wondered at the significance of this procedure. This procedure is as old as Hinduism itself. Roughly more than five thousand years !

Coming to the Brahmin’s eating ways, is it any wonder that the Brahmin remembers and honours the five fundamental pranas before eating ? Not only this, every ritual, even after some corruption over the millennia, still signify great scientific and spiritual temper. After all, they are from the land that is Bharat, that is the cradle of the greatest civilization the world has seen.
(Gita study group)