The Science of Breath
& the Philosophy of the Tatwas
(Translated from the Sanskrit with 15 Introductory &
Explanatory Essays on Nature’s Finer Forces)
The Theosophical Publishing Society, London (1890)
I. The Tatwas
III. The Mutual
Relation of the Tatwas & Principles ~
IV. Prana (I)
V. Prana (II)
VI. Prana (III)
VII. Prana (IV)
VIII. The Mind
IX. The Mind (II)
X. The Cosmic
Manifestations of Psychic Force
XII. Yoga ~ The
XIII. Yoga (II)
XIV. Yoga (III)
XV. The Spirit
The Science of
Breath & The Philosophy of the Tatwas
A word of explanation is necessary with regard to the book now
offered to the public. In the 9th and 10th volumes of the
theosophist I wrote certain Essays on "Nature’s Finer Forces".
The subject of these essays interested the readers of the
Theosophist so much that I was asked to issue the series of
Essays in book form. I found that in order to make a book they
must be almost entirely rearranged, and perhaps rewritten. I
was, however, not equal to the task of rewriting what I had once
written. I therefore determined to publish a translation of the
book in Sanskrit on the Science of the Breath and the
Philosophy of the Tatwas. As, however, without these
Essays the book would have been quite unintelligible, I decided
to add them to the book by way of an illustrative introduction.
This accordingly has been done. The Essays in the theosophist
have been reprinted with certain additions, modifications, and
corrections. Besides, I have written seven more Essays in order
to make the explanations more complete and authoritative. Thus
there are altogether 15 introductory and explanatory Essays.
I was confirmed in this course by one more consideration. The
book contains a good deal more than the essays touched upon, and
I thought it better to lay all of it before the public.
The book is sure to throw a good deal of light upon the
scientific researches of the ancient Aryans of India, and it
will leave no doubt in a candid mind that the religion of
ancient India had a scientific basis. It is chiefly for this
reason that I have drawn my illustrations of the Tatwic Law from
There is a good deal in the book that can only be shown to be
true by long and diligent experiment. Those who are devoted to
the pursuit of truth without prejudice will no doubt be ready to
wait before they form any opinion about such portions of the
book. Others it is useless to reason with.
To the former class of students I have to say one word more.
From my own experience I can tell them that the more they study
the book, the more wisdom they are sure to find in it, and let
me hope that ere long I shall have a goodly number of
colleagues, who will with me try their best to explain and
illustrate the book still better, and more thoroughly.
5 November 1889
Nature’s Finer Forces
& Their Influence on Human Life &
The tatwas are the five modifications of the great
Breath. Acting upon prakriti, this Great breath throws
it into five states, having distinct vibratory motions, and
performing different functions. The first outcome of the
Evolutionary State of parabrahma is the akasa tatwa.
After this come in order the vayu, the taijas,
the apas and the prithivi. They are variously
known as mahabhutas. The word akasa is generally
translated into English by the word ether. Unfortunately,
however, sound is not known to be the distinguishing
quality of ether in modern English Science. Some few might also
have the idea that the modern medium of light is the same as akasa.
This, I believe, is a mistake. The luminiferous ether is the
subtle taijas tatwa, and not the akasa. All the
five subtle tatwas might no doubt be called ethers, but
to use it for the word akasa, without any distinguishing
epithet, is misleading. We might call akasa the
sonoriferous ether, the vayu the tangiferous ether, apas
the gustiferous ether, and prithivi the odoriferous
ether. Just as there exists in the universe the luminiferous
ether, an element of refined mater without which it has been
found that the phenomena of light find no adequate explanation,
so do there exist the four remaining ethers, elements of refined
matter, without which it will be found that the phenomena of
sound, touch, taste and smell find no adequate explanation.
The luminiferous ether is supposed by Modern Science to be
Matter in a most refined state. It is the vibrations of this
element that are said to constitute light. The vibrations are
said to take place at right angles to the direction of the wave.
Nearly the same is the description of the taijas tatwa
given in the book. It makes this tatwa move in an upward
direction, and the center of the direction is, of course, the
direction of the wave. Besides, it says that one whole vibration
of this element makes the figure of a triangle.
Suppose in the figure:
AB is the direction of the wave; BC is the direction of the
vibration. CA is the line along which, seeing that in expansion
the symmetrical arrangements of the atoms of a body are not
changed, the vibrating atom must return to its symmetrical
position in the line AB.
The taijas tatwa of the Ancients is then exactly the
luminiferous ether of the Moderns, so far as the nature of the
vibration is concerned. There is no exception, however, of the
four remaining ethers, at all events in a direct manner, in
Modern Science. The vibrations of akasa, the soniferous
ether, constitute sound; and it is quite necessary to recognize
the distinctive character of this form of motion.
The experiment of the bell in a vacuum goes to prove that the
vibrations of atmosphere propagate sound. Any other media,
however, such as the earth and the metals, are known to transmit
sound in various degrees. There must, therefore, be some one
thing in all these media which gives birth to sound -- the
vibration that constitutes sound. That something is the Indian akasa.
But akasa is all-pervading, just as the luminiferous
ether. Why, then, is not sound transmitted to our ears when a
vacuum is produced in the bell-jar? The real fact is that we
must make a difference between the vibrations of the elements
that constitute sound and light, etc., and the vibrations in the
media which transmit these impressions to our senses. It is not
the vibrations of the ethers -- the subtle tatwas --
that cause our perceptions, but the ethereal vibrations
transferred to different media, which are so many modifications
of gross matter -- the sthula Mahabhutas. The
luminiferous ether is present just as much in a darkened room as
in the space without. The minutest space within the dimensions
of the surrounding walls themselves is not void of it. For all
this the luminosity of the exterior is not present in the
interior. Why? The reason is that our ordinary vision does not
see the vibrations of the luminiferous ether. It only sees the
vibrations of the media that the ether pervades. The capability
of being set into ethereal vibrations varies with different
media. In the space without the darkened room the ether brings
the atoms of the atmosphere into the necessary state of visual
vibration, and one wide expanse of light is presented to our
view. The same is the case with every other object that we see.
The ether that pervades the object brings the atoms of that
object into the necessary state of visual vibration. The
strength of the ethereal vibrations that the presence of the sun
imparts to the ether pervading our planet is not sufficient to
evoke the same state in the dead matter of the darkening walls.
The internal ether, divided from the eternal one by this dead
mass, is itself cut off from such vibrations. The darkness of
the room is thus the consequence, notwithstanding the presence
therein of the luminiferous ether. An electric spark in the
vacuum of a bell-jar must needs be transmitted to our eyes,
because the glass of the jar which stands in contact with the
internal luminiferous ether has a good deal of the quality of
being put into the state of visual vibration, which from thence
is transmitted to the external ether and thence to the eye. The
same would never be the case if we were to use a porcelain or an
earthen jar. It is this capability of being put into the state
of visual vibrations that we call transparency in glass and
To return to the soniferous ether (akasa): Every form of
gross matter has, to a certain extent, which varies with various
forms, what we may call auditory transparency.
Now I have to say something about the nature of the vibrations.
Two things must be understood in this connection. In the first
place the external form of the vibration is something like the
hole of the ear:
It throws matter which is subject to it, into the form of a
These dots are little points, rising above the common surface
so as to produce microscopic pits in the sheet. It is said to
move by fits and starts (sankrama), and to move in all
It means to say that the impulse falls back upon itself along
the line of its former path, which lies on all sides of the
direction of the wave:
It will be understood that these ethers produce in gross media
vibrations similar to their own. The form, therefore, into which
the auditory vibrations throw the atmospheric air is a true clue
to the form of the ethereal vibration. And the vibrations of
atmospheric air discovered by Modern Science are similar.
Now we come to the tangiferous ether (vayu). The
vibrations of this ether are described as being spherical in
form, and the motion is said to be at acute angles to the wave (tiryak).
Such is the representation of these vibrations on the plane of
The remarks about the transmission of sound in the case of akasa
apply here too, mutatis mutandis. The gustiferous ether
(apas tatwa) is said to resemble in shape the half moon.
It is, moreover, said to move downward. This direction is
opposite to that of the luminiferous ether. This force therefore
causes contraction. Here is the representation of the apas
vibrations on the plane of paper:
The process of contraction will be considered when I come to
the qualities of the tatwas.
The odoriferous ether (prithivi) is said to be
quadrangular in shape, thus:
This is said to move in the middle. It neither moves at right
angles, nor at acute angles, nor upwards, nor downwards, but it
moves along the line of the wave. The line and the quadrangle
are in the same plane.
These are the forms, and the modes of motion, of the five
Of the five sensations of men, each of these gives birth to
(1) Akasa, Sonorifierous ether, Sound; (2)
Vayu, Tangiferous ether, Touch; (3) Taijas,
Luminfierous ether, Color; (4) Apas, Gustiferous ether,
Taste; (5) Prithivi, Odoriferous ether, Smell.
In the process of evolution, these co-existing ethers, while
retaining their general, relative forms and primary qualities,
contract the qualities of the other tatwas. This is
known as the process of panchikarana, or division into
If we take, as our book does, H, P, R, V and L to be the
algebraic symbols for (1), (2), (3), (4), and (5), respectively,
the ethers assume the following forms:
One molecule of each ether, consisting of eight atoms, has four
of the original principle ethers, and one of the remaining four.
The following table will show the five qualities of each of the
tatwas after panchikarana:
light blue acid
It might be remarked here that the subtle tatwas exist
now in the universe on four planes. The higher of these planes
differ from the lower in having a greater number of vibrations
per second. The four planes are:
(1) Physical (Prana); (2) Mental (Manas); (3)
Psychic (Vijnana); (4) Spiritual (Ananda)
I shall discuss, however, some of the secondary qualities of
(1) Space ~ This is a quality of the akasa tatwa. It
has been asserted that the vibration of this ether is shaped
like the hole of the ear, and that in the body thereof are
microscopic points (vindus).
It follows evidently that the interstices between the points
serve to give space to ethereal minima, and offer them room for
(2) Locomotion ~ This is the quality of the vayu tatwa.
Vayu is a form of motion itself, for motion in all
directions is motion in a circle, large or small. The vayu
tatwa itself has the form of spherical motion. When to the
motion which keeps the form of the different ethers is added to
the stereotyped motion of the vayu, locomotion is the
(3) Expansion ~ This is the quality of the taijas tatwa.
This follows evidently from the shape and form of motion which
is given to this ethereal vibration. Suppose ABC is a lump of
If we apply fire to it, the luminiferous ether in it is set in
motion, and that drives the gross atoms of the lump into similar
motion. Suppose (a) is an atom. This being impelled to assume
the shape of the taijas, vibration goes towards (a’),
and then takes the symmetrical position of (a'). Similarly does
every point change its place round the center of the piece of
metal. Ultimately the whole piece assumes the shape of A’B’C’.
Expansion is thus the result.
(4) Contraction ~ This is the quality of the apas tatwa.
As has been remarked before, the direction of this ether is the
reverse of the agni, and it is therefore easy to
understand that contraction is the result of the play of this tatwa.
(5) Cohesion ~ This is the quality of the prithivi tatwa.
It will be seen that this is the reverse of akasa. Akasa
gives room for locomotion, while prithivi resists it.
This is the natural result of the direction and shape of this
vibration. It covers up the spaces of the akasa.
(6) Smoothness ~ This is a quality of the apas tatwa.
As the atoms of any body in contraction come near each other and
assume the semi-lunar shape of the apas, they must easily glide
over each other. The very shape secures easy motion for the
This, I believe, is sufficient to explain the general nature of
the tatwas. The different phases of their manifestation
on all the planes of life will be taken up in their proper
II. Evolution ~
It will be very interesting to trace the development of man and
the development of the world according to the theory of the tatwas.
The tatwas, as we have already seen, are the
modifications of Swara. Regarding Swara, we find
in our book: "In the Swara are the Vedas and the
shastras, and in the Swara is music. All the
world is in the Swara; Swara is the spirit
itself." The proper translation of the word Swara is
"the current of the life-wave". It is that wavy motion which is
the cause of the evolution of cosmic undifferentiated matter
into the differentiated universe, and the involution of this
into the primary state of non-differentiation, and so on, in and
out, forever and ever. From whence does this motion come? This
motion is the spirit itself. The word atma used in the
book, itself carries the idea of eternal motion, coming as it
does from the root at, eternal motion; and it may be
significantly remarked, that the root at is connected
with (and in fact is simply another form of) the roots ah,
breath, and as, being. All these roots have for their
original the sound produced by the breathing of animals. In The
Science of Breath the symbol for inspiration is sa,
and for expiration ha. It is easy to see how these
symbols are connected with the roots as and ah.
The current of life-wave spoken of above is technically called Hansachasa,
i.e., the motion of ha and sa. The word Hansa,
which is taken to mean God, and is made so much of in many
Sanskrit works, is only the symbolic representation of the
eternal processes of life -- ha and sa.
The primeval current of life-wave is, then, the same which in
man assumes the form of inspiratory and expiratory motion of the
lungs, and this is the all-pervading source of the evolution and
the involution of the universe.
The book goes on: "It is the Swara that has given form
to the first accumulations of the divisions of the universe; the
Swara causes involution and evolution; the Swara
is God Himself, or more properly the great Power (Mahashwara)."
The Swara is the manifestation of the impression on
matter of that power which in man is known to us as the power
that knows itself. It is to be understood that the action of
this power never ceases. It is ever at work, and evolution and
involution are the very necessity of its unchangeable existence.
The Swara has two different states. The one is known on
the physical plane as the sun-breath, the other as the
moon-breath. I shall, however, at the present stage of evolution
designate them as positive and negative respectively. The period
during which this current comes back to the point from whence it
started is known as the night of parabrahma. The
positive or evolutionary period is known as the day of parabrahma;
the negative or involutionary portion is known as the night of parabrahma.
These nights and days follow each other without break. The
sub-divisions of this period comprehend all the phases of
existence, and it is therefore necessary to give her the scale
of time according to the Hindu Shastras.
The Divisions of Time ~
I shall begin with a Truti as the least division of
26-2/3 truti = 1 nimesha = 8/45 second.
18 nimesha = 1 kashtha = 3-1/5 seconds = 8 vipala.
30 kashtha = 1 kala = 1-3/5 minutes = 4 pala.
30 kala = 1 mahurta = 48 minutes = 2 ghari.
30 mahurta = 1 day and night = 24 hours = 60 ghari.
30 days and nights and odd hours = 1 Pitruja day
and night = 1 month and odd hours.
12 months = 1 Daiva day and night = 1 year = 365 days,
15", 30', 31".
365 Daiva days and nights = 1 Daiva year.
4,800 Daiva years = 1 Satya yuga.
3,600 Daiva years = 1 Treta yuga.
2,400 Daiva years = 1 Dwapara yuga.
1,200 Daiva years = 1 Kali yuga.
12,000 Daiva years = 1 Chaturyugi (four yuga).
12,000 Chaturyugi = 1 Daiva yuga.
2,000 Daiva yuga = 1 day and night of Brahma.
365 Brahmic days and nights = 1 year of Brahma.
71 Daiva yuga = 1 Manwantara.
12,000 Brahmic years = 1 Chaturyuga of Brahma, and so
200 yuga of Brahma = 1 day and night of parabrahma.
These days and nights follow each other in eternal succession,
and hence eternal evolution and involution.
We have thus five sets of days and night: (1) Parabrahma,
(2) Brahma, (3) Daiva, (4) Pitrya, (5) Manusha.
A sixth is the Manwantara day, and the Manwantara
The days and nights of parabrahma follow each other
without beginning or end. The night (the negative period and the
day (the positive period) both merge into the susumna
(the conjunctive period) and merge into each other. And so do
the other days and nights. The days all through this division
are sacred to the positive, the hotter current, and the nights
are sacred to the negative, the cooler current. The impressions
of names and forms, and the power of producing an impression,
lie in the positive phase of existence. Receptivity is given
birth to by the negative current.
After being subjected to the negative phase of parabrahma,
Prakriti, which follows parabrahma like a shadow,
has been saturated with evolutionary receptivity; as the hotter
current sets in, changes are imprinted upon it, and it appears
in changed forms. The first imprint that the evolutionary
positive current leaves upon Prakriti is known as akasa.
Then, by and by the remaining ethers come into existence. These
modifications of Prakriti are the ethers of the first
Into these five ethers, as now constituting the objective
phase, works on the current of the Great Breath. A further
development takes place. Different centers come into existence.
The akasa throws them into a form that gives room for
locomotion. With the beginning of the vayu tatwa these
elementary ethers are thrown into the form of spheres. This was
the beginning of formation, or what may also be called
These spheres are our Brahmandas. In them the ethers
assume a secondary development. The so-called division into five
takes place. In this Brahmic sphere in which the new ethers have
good room for locomotion, the taijas tatwa now comes
into play, and then the apas tatwa. Every tatwic quality
is generated into, and preserved in, these spheres by these
currents. In process of time we have a center and an atmosphere.
This sphere is the self-conscious universe.
In this sphere, according to the same process, a third ethereal
state comes into existence. In the cooler atmosphere removed
from the center another class of centers comes into existence.
These divide the Brahmic state of matter into two different
states. After this comes into existence another state of matter
whose centers bear the names of devas or suns.
We have thus four states of subtle matter in the universe:
(1) Prana, life matter, with the sun for center; (2) Manas,
mental matter, with the manu for center; (3) Vijnana,
psychic matter, with Brahma for center; (4) Ananda,
spiritual matter, with parabrahma as the infinite
Every higher state is positive with regard to the lower one,
and every lower on is given birth to by a combination of the
positive and negative phase of the higher.
(1) Prana has to do with three sets of days and nights
in the above division of time: (a) Our ordinary days and nights;
(b) The bright and dark half of the month which are called the
pitrya day and night; (c) The northern and southern halves of
the years, the day and night of the devas.
These three nights acting upon earth-matter impart to it the
receptivity of the cool, negative shady phase of life-matter.
These nights imprint themselves on the respective days coming in
after it. The earth herself thus becomes a living being, having
a north pole, in which a central force draws the needle towards
itself, and a south pole in which is centered a for which is, so
to speak, the shade of the north polar center. It has also
always a solar force centered in the eastern half, and the lunar
-- the shade of the former -- centered in the western half.
These centers come, in fact, into existence even before the
earth is manifested on the gross plane. So too do the centers of
other planets come into existence. As the sun presents himself
to the manu there come into existence two states of matter in
which the sun lives and moves -- the positive and the negative.
As the solar prana, after having been for some time
subjected to the negative shady state, is subjected in its
revolutionary course to the source of its positive phase, manu,
figure of manu is imprinted upon it. This manu
is, in fact, the universal mind, and all the planets with their
inhabitants are the phases of his existence. Of this, however,
more heareafter. At present we see that earth-life or
Terrestrial Prana has four centers of force.
When it has been cooled by the negative current, the positive
phase imprints itself upon it, and earth-life in various forms
comes into existence. The essays on prana will explain
this more clearly.
(2) Manas: this has to do with manu. The suns
revolve round these centers with the whole of their atmospheres
of prana. This system gives birth to the lokas
or spheres of life, of which the planets are one class.
These lokas have been enumerated by Vyasa in his
commentary on the Yogasutra (III. Pada, 26th Sutra).
The aphorism runs thus:
"By meditation upon the sun is obtained a knowledge of the
On this, the revered commentator says: "There are seven lokas
(spheres of existence)."
(1) The Bhurloka: this extends to the Meru; (2) Antareikshaloka:
this extends from the surface of the Meru to the Dhru,
the pole-star, and contains the planets, the nakstatras,
and the stars; (3) Beyond that is the swarloka: this is
fivefold and sacred to Mahendra; (4) Maharloka: This is
sacred to the Prajapati; (5) Janaloka; (6) Tapas
loka, and; (7) Satya loka. These three (5, 6, and
7) are sacred to Brahma.
It is not my purpose to try at present to explain the meaning
of these lokas. It is sufficient for my present purpose
to say that the planets, the stars, the lunar mansions are all
impressions of manu, just as the organisms of the earth
are the impressions of the sun. The solar prana is
prepared for this impression during the manwantara
Similarly, Vijnana has to do with the nights and days
of Brahma, and Ananda with those of Parabrahma.
It will thus be seen that the whole process of creation, on
whatever plane of life, is performed most naturally by the five
tatwas in their double modifications, the positive and
negative. There is nothing in the universe that the Universal
Tatwic Law of Breath does not comprehend.
After this brief exposition of the theory of tatwic evolution
comes a series of Essays, taking up all the subtle states of
matter one by one, and describing more in detail the working of
the tatwic law in those planes, and also the manifestations of
these planes of life in humanity.
Mutual Relation of the Tatwas and of the Principles ~
The akasa is the most important of all the tatwas.
It must, as a matter of course, precede and follow every change
of state on every plane of life. Without this there can be no
manifestation or cessation of forms. It is out of akasa
that every form comes, and it is in akasa that every
form lives. The akasa is full of forms in their
potential state. It intervenes between every two of the five tatwas,
and between every two of the five principles.
The evolution of the tatwas is always part of the
evolution of a certain definite form. Thus the manifestation of
the primary tatwas is with the definite aim of giving
what we may call a body, a Prakritic form to the Iswara.
In the bosom of the Infinite Parabrahma, there are
hidden unnumerable such centers. One center takes under its
influence a certain portion of the Infinite, and there we find
first of all coming into existence the akasa tatwa. The
extent of this akasa limits the extent of the Universe,
and out of it the Iswara is to come. With this end comes
out of this akasa the Vayu tatwa. This pervades
the whole Universe and has a certain center that serves to keep
the whole expanse together, and separate as one whole, from
other universes (Brahmandas).
It has been mentioned, and further on will be more clearly
explained, that every tatwa has a positive and a
negative phase. It is also evident on the analogy of the sun
that places more distant from the center are always negative to
those which are nearer. We might say that they are cooler than
these, as it will be seen later on the heat is not peculiar to
the sun only, but that all the higher centers have a greater
amount of heat than even the sun itself.
Well then, in this Brahmic sphere of Vayu, except for
some space near the parabrahmic akasa, every atom of the
vayu is reacted upon by an opposite force. The more
distant and therefore the cooler one reacts upon the nearer and
therefore the hotter. The equal and opposite vibrations of the
same force cancel each other, and both together pass into the
akasic state. Thus, while some of this space remains filled up
by the Brahmic Vayu on account of the constant outflow
of this tatwa from the parabrahmic akasa, the
remainder is rapidly turned into akasa. This akasa
is the mother of the Brahmic agni tatwa. The agni
tatwa working similarly gives birth through another akasa
to the apas, and this similarly to the prithivi.
This Brahmic prithivi thus contains the qualities of all
the preceding tatwas besides a fifth one of its own.
The first stage of the Universe, the ocean of psychic matter
has now come into existence in its entirety. This matter is, of
course, very, very fine, and there is absolutely no grossness in
it as compared with the matter of the fifth plane. In this ocean
shines the intelligence of Iswara, and this ocean, with
everything that might be manifest in it, is the self-conscious
In this psychic ocean, as before, the more distant atoms are
negative to the nearer ones. Hence, except a certain space which
remains filled with the psychic prithivi on account of
the constant supply of this element from above, the rest begins
to change into an akasa. This second akasa is
full of what are called Manus in their potential state.
The Manus are so many groups of certain mental forms,
the ideals of the various genera and species of life to appear
further on. We have to do with one of these.
Impelled by the evolutionary current of the Great Breath, manu
comes out of this akasa, in the same way as Brahma
did out of the parabrahmic akasa. First and uppermost in
the mental sphere is the Vayu, and then in regular order
the taijas, the apas, and the prithivi.
This mental matter follows the same laws, and similarly begins
to pass into the third akasic state, which is full of
innumerable suns. They come out in the same way, and begin to
work on a similar plan, which will be better understood here
than higher up.
Everybody can test here for himself that the more distant
portions of the solar system are cooler than the nearer ones.
Every little atom of Prana is comparatively cooler than
the adjacent one towards the sun from itself. Hence equal and
opposite vibrations cancel each other. Leaving, therefore, a
certain space near the sun as always filled up with the tatwas
of Prana, which are there being constantly supplied from
the sun, the rest of the Prana passes into the akasic
It might be noted down here that the whole of this Prana
is made up of innumerable little points. In the future I
shall speak of these points of as trutis, and might say
here that it is these trutis that appear on the
terrestrial plane as atoms (anu or paramanu).
They might be spoken of as solar atoms. These solar atoms are of
various classes according to the prevalence of one or more of
the constituent tatwas.
Every point of Prana is a perfect picture of the whole
ocean. Every other point is represented in every point. Every
atom has, therefore, for its constituents, all the four tatwas,
in varying proportions according to its position in respect of
others. The different classes of these solar atoms appear on the
terrestrial plane as the various elements of chemistry.
The spectrum of every terrestrial element reveals the color or
colors of the prevalent tatwa or tatwas of a
solar atom of that substance. The greater the heat to which any
substance is subjected the nearer does the element approaches
its solar state. Heat destroys for the time being the
terrestrial coatings of the solar atoms.
The spectrum of sodium thus shows the presence of the yellow prithivi,
that of lithium, the red agni and the yellow prithivi,
that of cesium, the red agni, the green admixture, the
yellow prithivi, and the blue vayu. Rubidium
shows red, orange, yellow, green and blue, i.e., the agni,
prithivi and agni, prithivi, vayu
and prithivi, and vayu. These classes of solar
atoms that make up all put altogether, the wide expanse of the
solar prana, pass into the akasic state. While the sun
keeps up a constant supply of these atoms, those that are
passing into the akasic state pass on the other side into the
planetary vayu. Certain measured portions of the solar akasa
naturally separate themselves from others, according to the
differing creation that is to appear in those portions. These
portions of akasa are called lokas. The earth itself is
a loka called the Bhurloka. I shall take up the
earth for further illustration of the law.
That portion of the solar akasa that is the immediate
mother of the Earth, first gives birth to the terrestrial Vayu.
Every element is now in the state of the Vayu tatwa,
which may now be called gaseous. The Vayu tatwa is
spherical in shape, and thus the gaseous planet bears similar
outlines. The center of this gaseous sphere keeps together round
itself the whole expanse of gas. As soon as this gaseous sphere
comes into existence, it is subjected to the following
influences among others:
(1) The superposed influence of the solar heat; (2) The
internal influence of the more distant atoms on the nearer ones
and vice versa.
The first influence has a double effect upon the gaseous
sphere. It imparts more heat to the nearer hemisphere than to
the more distant one. The superficial air of the nearer
hemisphere having contracted a certain amount of solar energy,
rises towards the sun. Cooler air from below takes its place.
But where does the superficial air go? It cannot pass beyond the
limit of the terrestrial sphere, which is surrounded by the
solar akasa through which comes a supply from the solar
Prana. It therefore begins to move in a circle, and thus
a rotary motion is established in the sphere. This is the origin
of the earth’s rotation upon its axis.
Again, as a certain amount of the solar energy is imparted to
the gaseous terrestrial sphere, the impulse of the upward motion
reaches the center itself. Therefore that center itself, and
along with it the whole sphere, moves towards the sun. It
cannot, however, go on in this direction, for a nearer approach
would destroy that balance of forces that gives the earth its
peculiarities. A loka that is nearer to the sun than our
planet cannot have the same conditions of life. Hence, while the
sun draws the earth towards itself, those laws of life that have
given it a constitution, on which ages must roll on, keep it in
the sphere they have assigned to it. Two forces thus come into
existence. Drawn by one the earth would go towards the sun;
checked by the other it must remain where it is. These are the
centrifugal and the centripetal forces, and their action results
in giving the earth its annual revolution.
Secondly, the internal action of the gaseous atoms upon each
other ends in the change of the whole gaseous sphere, except the
upper portion, into the akasic state. This akasic state gives
birth to the igneous (pertaining to the agni tatwa)
state of terrestrial matter. This changes similarly into the apas,
and this again into the prithivi.
The same process obtains in the changes of matter with which we
are now familiar. An example will better illustrate the whole
Take ice. This is solid, or what the Science of Breath would
call in the state of prithivi. One quality of the prithivi
tatwa, the reader will remember, is cohesive resistance.
Let us apply heat to this ice. As this heat passes into the ice,
it is indicated by the thermometer. When the temperature rises
to 78 degrees, the ice changes its state. But the thermometer no
longer indicates the same amount of heat. 78 degrees of heat
have become latent.
Let us now apply 536 degrees of heat to a pound of boiling
water. As is generally known, this great quantity of heat
becomes latent while the water passes into the gaseous state.
Now let us follow the reverse process. To gaseous water let us
apply a certain amount of cold. When this cold becomes
sufficient entirely to counteract the heat that keeps it in the
gaseous state, the vapor passes into the akasa state,
and from thence into the taijas state. It is not
necessary that the whole of the vapor should at once pass into
the next state. The change is gradual. As the cold is gradually
passing into the vapor, the taijas modification is
gradually appearing out of, and through the intervention of akasa,
into which it had passed during latency. This is being indicated
on the thermometer. When the whole has passed into the igneous
state, and the thermometer has indicated 536 degrees, the second
akasa comes into existence. Out of this second akasa
comes the liquid state at the same temperature, the whole heat
having again passed into the akasa state, and therefore
no longer indicated by the thermometer.
When cold is applied to this liquid, heat again begins to come
out, and when it reaches 78 degrees, this heat having come out
of and through the akasa, into which it had passed, the
whole liquid had passed into the igneous state. Here it again
begins to pass into the akasa state. The thermometer
begins to fall down, and out of this akasa begins to
come the prithivi state of water --- ice.
Thus we see that the heat which is given out by the influence
of cold passes into the akasa state, which becomes the
substratum of a higher phase, and the heat which is absorbed
passes into another akasa state, which becomes the
substratum of a lower phase.
It is in this way that the terrestrial gaseous sphere changes
into its present state. The experiment described above points
out many important truths about the relation of these tatwas
to each other.
First of all it explains that very important assertion of the
Science of Breath which says that every succeeding tatwic state
has the qualities of all the foregoing tatwic states. Thus we
see that as the gaseous state of water is being acted upon by
cold, the latent heat of steam is being cancelled and passing
into the akasa state. This cannot but be the case, since
equal and opposite vibrations of the same force always cancel
each other, and the result is the akasa. Out of this
comes the taijas state of matter. This is that state in
which the latent heat of steam becomes patent. It will be
observed that this state has no permanence. The taijas
form of water, as indeed any other substance, cannot exist for
any length of time, because the major part of terrestrial matter
is in the lower and therefore more negative states of apas
and prithivi, and whenever for any cause any substance
passes into the taijas state, the surrounding objects
begin at once to react upon it with such force as at once to
force it into the next akasa state. Those things that
now live in the normal state of the apas or the prithivi
find it quite against the laws of their existence to remain,
except under external influence, in the taijas (igneous)
state. Thus an atom of gaseous water before passing into the
liquid state has already remained in the three states, the akasa,
the gaseous, and the taijas. It must, therefore, have
all the qualities of the three tatwas, and so it no
doubt has. Cohesive resistance is only wanted, and that is the
quality of the prithivi tatwa.
Now when this atom of liquid water passes into the icy state,
what do we see? All the states that have preceded must again
show themselves. Cold will cancel the latent heat of the liquid
state, and the akasa state will come out. Out of this akasa
state is sure to come the gaseous state. This gaseous (Vayava)
state is evidenced by the gyrations and other motions that are
set up in the body of the liquid by the mere application of the
cold. The motion, however, is not of very long duration, and as
they are ceasing (passing into the akasa state) the taijas
state is coming out. This too, however, is not of long duration,
and as this is passing into the akasa state, the ice is
coming into existence.
It will be easy to see that all four states of terrestrial
matter exist in our sphere. The gaseous (Vayava) is there
in what we call the atmosphere; the igneous (taijas) is
the normal temperature of earth life; the liquid (apas)
is the ocean; the solid (prithivi) is the terra firma.
None of these states, however, exists quite isolated from the
other. Each is constantly invading the domain of the other, and
thus it is difficult to find any portion of space filled up only
with matter in one state. The two adjacent tatwas are found
intermixed with each other to a greater degree than those that
are removed from each other by an intermediate state. Thus prithivi
will be found mixed up to a greater extent with water than with
agni and vayu, apas with agni
than with vayu, and vayu with agni more
than with any other. It would thus appear from the above,
according to the science of tatwas, that the flame and
other luminous bodies on earth are not in the terrestrial taijas
(igneous) state. They are in or near the solar state of matter.
IV. Prana (I)
The Centers of Prana; The Nadis; The Tatwic
Centers of Life; The Ordinary Change of Breath
Prana, as already expressed, is that state of Tatwic
matter which surrounds the sun, and in which moves the earth and
other planets. It is the state next higher than matter in the
terrestrial state. The terrestrial sphere is separated from the
solar Prana by an akasa. Thisakasa is the
immediate mother of the terrestrial vayu whose native
color is blue. It is on this account that the sky looks blue.
Although at this point in the heavens, the Prana
changes into akasa, which gives birth to the terrestrial
Vayu, the rays of the sun that fall on the sphere from
without are not stopped in their inward journey. They are
refracted, but move onwards into the terrestrial sphere all the
same. Through these rays the ocean of Prana, which
surrounds our sphere, exerts upon it an organizing influence.
The terrestrial Prana -- the earth-life that appears in
the shape of all the living organisms of our planet -- is, as a
whole, nothing more than a modification of the solar Prana.
As the earth moves round her own axis and round the sun,
twofold centers are developed in the terrestrial Prana.
During the diurnal rotation every place, as it is subjected to
the direct influence of the sun, sends forth the positive
life-current from the East to the West. During the night the
same place sends forth the negative current.
In the annual course the positive current travels from the
North to the South during the six months of summer -- the day of
the devas -- and the negative during the remaining six months --
the night of the devas.
The North and East are thus sacred to the positive current; the
opposite quarters to the negative current. The sun is the lord
of the positive current, the moon of the negative, because the
negative solar prana comes during the night to the earth
from the moon.
The terrestrial prana is thus an ethereal being with
double centers of work. The first is the northern, the second
the southern. The two halves of these centers are the eastern
and western centers. During the six months of summer the current
of life runs from the North to the South, and during the months
of winter the negative current goes the other way.
With every month, with every day, with every nimesha
this current completes a minor course, and while this current
continues in this course the diurnal rotation gives it an
eastern or western direction. The northern current runs during
the day of man from East to West, and during the night from West
to East. The directions of the other current are respectively
opposite to the above. So practically there are only two
directions -- the eastern and western. The difference of the
northern and southern currents is not practically felt in
terrestrial life. These two currents produce in the terrestrial
prana two distinguishable modifications of the composing
ethers. The rays of either of these ethereal modifications
proceeding from their different centers run into each other --
the one giving life, strength, form and other qualities to the
other. Along the rays emerging from the northern center, run the
currents of positive prana; along those emerging from
the southern, the currents of negative prana. The
eastern and western channels of these currents are respectively
called Pingala and Ida, two of the celebrated
nadis of the Tantrists. It will be better to discuss the other
bearings of Prana, when we have localized it in the
The influence of this terrestrial Prana develops two
centers of work in the gross matter that is to form a human
body. Part of the matter gathers round the northern, and part
round the southern center. The northern center develops into the
brain; the southern into the heart. The general shape of the
terrestrial Prana is something like an ellipse. In this
the northern focus is in the brain; the southern in the heart.
The column along which the positive matter gathers runs between
The line in the middle is the place where the eastern and
western -- right and left -- divisions of the column join. The
column is the medulla oblongata the central line is also susumna,
the right and left divisions the Pingala and Ida.
The rays of Prana that diverge either way from these nadis
are only their ramifications, and constitute together with them
the nervous system.
The negative Prana gathers round the southern center.
This, too, takes a form similar to the former. The right and
left divisions of this column are the right and left divisions
of the heart.
Each division has two principal ramifications, and each
ramification again ramifies into others. The two openings either
way are one a vein, and one an artery, the four opening into
four chambers -- the four petals of the lotus of the heart. The
right part of the heart again, with all its ramifications, is
called Pingala, the left Ida, and the middle
There is reason to think, however, that the heart only is
spoken of as the lotus, while the three foregoing names are set
apart for the nervous system. The current of Prana works
forward and backward, in and out. The cause of this lies in the
momentary of the being of Prana. As the year advances,
every moment a change of state takes place in the terrestrial prana,
on account of the varying strengths of the solar and lunar
currents. Thus, every moment is, strictly speaking, a new being
of Prana. As Buddha says, all life is momentary. The
Moment that is the first to throw into matter the germ that will
develop the two centers is the first cause of organized life. If
the succeeding Moments are friendly in their tatwic effect to
the first cause, the organism gains strength and develops; if
not, the impulse is rendered fruitless. The general effect of
these succeeding moments keeps up general life; but the impulse
of any one moment tends to pass off as the others come in. A
system of forward and backward motion is thus established. One
Moment of Prana proceeding from the center of work goes
to the farthest ends of the gross vessels -- nerves and blood
vessels -- of the organism. The succeeding moment gives it,
however, the backwards impulse. A few moments are taken in the
completion of the forward impulse, and the determination of the
backward one. This period differs in different organisms. As the
Prana runs forward, the lungs inspire; as it recedes, the
process of expiration sets in.
The Prana moves in the Pingala when it moves
from the northern center towards the east, and from the southern
towards the west; it moves in Ida when it moves from the
northern center towards the west, and from the southern center
towards the east. This means that in the former case the Prana
moves from the brain, towards the right, through the heart, to
the left and back to the brain; and from the heart to the left
through the brain to the right back to the heart. In the latter
the case is the reverse. To use other terms, in the former case
the Prana moves from the nervous system to the right
through the system of blood vessels to the left, and back again
to the nervous system; or, from the system of blood vessels to
the left through the nervous system to the right, and back again
to the system of blood vessels. These two currents coincide. In
the latter the case is the reverse. The left part of the body
containing the nerves and the blood vessels may be called Ida,
the right the Pingala. The right and left bronchi form
as well the part respectively of Pingala and Ida,
as any other parts of the right and left divisions of the body.
But what is susumna? One of the names of susumna
is sandhi, the place where the two -- Ida and Pingala
-- join. It is really that place from which the Prana
may move either way -- right or left -- or, under certain
circumstances, both ways. It is that place which the Prana
must pass when it changes from the right to the left, and from
the left to the right. It is therefore booth the spinal canal
and the cardiac canal. The spinal canal extends from the Brahmarandhra,
the northern center of Prana through the whole vertebral
column (Brahmadanda). The cardiac canal extends from the
southern center midway between the two lobes of the heart. As
the Prana moves from the spinal canal towards the right
hand to the heart, the right lung works; the breath comes in and
out of the right nostril. When it reaches the southern canal,
you cannot feel the breath out of either nostril. As, however,
it goes out of the cardiac canal to the left, the breath begins
to come out of the left nostril, and flows through that until
the Prana again reaches the spinal canal. There, again,
you cease to feel the breath out of either nostril. The effect
of these two positions of Prana is identical upon the
flow of breath, and, therefore, I think that both the northern
and southern canals are designated by susumna. If we may
speak in this way, let us imagine that a plane passes midway
between the spinal and cardiac canals. This plane will pass
through the hollow of the susumna. But let it be
understood that there is no such plane in reality. It will
perhaps be more correct to say that as the rays of the positive
Ida and Pingala spread either way as nerves, and
those of the negative as blood-vessels, the rays of susumna
spread all over the body midway between the nerves and blood
vessels, the positive and negative nadis. The following
is the description of susumna in the Science of Breath:
"When the breath goes in and out, one moment by the left and
the other by the right nostril, that too is susumna.
When Prana is in that nadi the fires of death
burn; this is called vishuva. When it moves one moment
in the right, and the other in the left, let it be called the
Unequal State (vishamabhava); when it moves thorough both
at once, the wise have called it vishuva"
"[It is susumna] at the time of the passing of the Prana
from the Ida into the Pingala, or vice versa;
and also of the change of one tatwa into another."
Then the susumna has two other functions. It is called
vedo-veda in one of its manifestations, and sandhyasandhi
in the other. As, however, the right and left directions of the
cardiac Prana coincide with the left and right of the
spinal current, there are some writers who dispense with the
double susumna. According to them, the spinal canal
alone is the susumna. The Uttaragita and Latachakra
nirupana are works in this class. This method of
explanation takes away a good deal of difficulty. The highest
recommendation of this view is its comparative simplicity. The
right side current from the heart, and the left side current
from the spine may both be reckoned without difficulty as the
left side spinal currents, and so may the remaining two currents
be reckoned as the right side spinal currents.
One more consideration is in favor of this view. The nervous
system represents the sun, the system of blood vessels the moon.
Hence the real force of life dwells in the nerves. The positive
and negative -- the solar and lunar -- phases of life matter are
only different phases of Prana, the solar matter. The
more distant and therefore the cooler matter is negative to the
nearer, and therefore, the hotter. It is solar life that
manifests itself in the various phases of the moon. To pass out
of technicalities, it is nervous force that manifests itself in
various forms, in the system of blood vessels. The blood vessels
are only the receptacles of nervous force. Hence, in the nervous
system, the real life of the gross body is the true Ida,
Pingala and susumna. These are, in such a case,
the spinal column, and the right and left sympathetics, with all
their ramifications throughout the body.
The development of the two centers is thus the first stage in
the development of the fetus. The matter that gathers up under
the influence of the northern center is the spinal column; the
matter that gathers up round the southern center is the heart.
The diurnal rotation divides these columns or canals into the
right and left divisions. Then the correlative influence of
these two centers upon each other develops an upper and lower
division in each of these centers. This happens somewhat in the
same way, and on the same principle, as a Leyden jar is charged
with positive electricity by a negative rod. Each of these
centers is thus divided into four parts:
(1) The right side positive, (2) the left side positive, (3)
the right side negative, and (4) the left side negative.
In the heart these four divisions are called the right and left
auricles and ventricles. The Tantras style these four divisions
the four petals of the cardiac lotus, and indicate them by
various letters. The positive petals of the heart form the
center from which proceed the positive blood vessels, the
arteries; the negative petals are the starting points of the
negative blood vessels, the veins. This negative prana
is pregnant with ten forces:
(1) Prana, (2) Apana, (3) Samana, (4) Vyana,
(5) Udana, (6) Krikila, (7) Naga, (8) Devadatta,
(9) Dhavanjaya, (10) Kurma.
These ten forces are called vayu. The word vayu
is derived from the root va, to move, and means nothing
more than a motive power. The Tantrists do not mean to give it
the idea of a gas. Henceforth I shall speak of the vayu
as the forces or motive powers of prana. These ten
manifestations of Prana are reduced by some writers to
the first five alone, holding that the remaining ones are only
modifications of the former, which are the all-important of the
functions of prana. This, however, is only a question of
division. From the left side positive petal the prana
gathers up into a nadi that ramifies within the chest
into the lungs, and again gathers up into a nadi that
opens into the right side negative petal. This entire course
forms something like a circle (chakra). This nadi
is called in modern science the pulmonary artery and vein. Two
lungs come into existence by the alternate workings of the
positive and negative prana of the eastern and western
Similarly, from the right side positive petal branch several nadi
that go both upwards and downwards in two directions, the former
under the influence of the northern, the latter under the
influence of the southern powers. Both these nadi open
after a circular march throughout the upper and lower portions
of the body into the left side negative petal.
Between the left side positive and the right side negative
petal is one chakra (disk). This chakra
comprises the pulmonary artery, the lungs, and the pulmonary
vein. The chest gives room to this chakra, which is
positive with respect to the lower portions of the body, in
which run the ramifications of the lower chakra, which
latter joins the right side positive and the left side negative
In the above chakra (in the cavity of the chest) is the
seat of prana, the first and most important of the ten
manifestations. Inspiration and expiration being a true index of
the changes of prana, the pulmonary manifestations
thereof have the same name. With the changes of prana we
have a corresponding change in the other functions of life. The
lower negative chakra contains the principal seats of
some of the other manifestations of life. This apana is
located in the long intestine, samana in the navel, and
Also, udana is located in the throat; vyana all
over the body. Udana causes belching; kurma in
the eyes causes them to shut and open; krikila in the
stomach causes hunger. In short, proceeding from the four petals
of the heart we have an entire network of these blood vessels.
There are two sets of these blood vessels side by side in every
part of the body, connected by innumerable little channels, the
We read in the Prasnopnisat:
"From the heart [ramify the] nadi. Of these there are
101 principal ones (Pradhana nadi). Each of these
branches into 100. Each of these again into 72,000."
Thus, there are 10,100 branch nadi, and 727,200,000
still smaller ones, or what are called twig-nadi. The
terminology is imitated from a tree. There is the root in the
heart. From these proceed various stems. These ramify into
branches, and these again into twig vessels; all these nadi
put together are 727,210,201.
Now, of these the one is the susumna; the rest are
divided half and half over the two halves of the body. So we
read in the Kathopnishat, 6th valli, 16th mantra:
"A hundred and one nadi are connected with the heart.
Of these one passes out into the head. Going out by that one
becomes immortal. The others become the cause in sending the
life principle out of various other states."
This one that goes to the head, remarks the commentator, is the
susumna. The susumna then is that nadi
whose nervous substratum or reservoir of force is the spine. Of
the remaining principal nadis, the Ida is the reservoir
of the life force that works in the left part of the body,
having 50 principal nadi. So also has the right part of
the body 50 principal nadi. These go on dividing as
above. The nadi of the third degree become so minute as
to be visible only by a microscope. The ramifications of the susumna
all over the body serve during life to carry the prana
from the positive to the negative portions of the body, and vice
versa. In case of blood these are the modern capillaries.
The Vedantins, of course, take the heart to be the starting
point of this ramification. The Yogis, however, proceed from the
navel. Thus in The Science of Breath we read:
"From the root in the navel proceed 72,000 nadi
spreading all over the body. There sleeps the goddess Kundalini
like a serpent. From this center (the navel) ten nadi go
upwards, ten downwards, and two and two crookedly."
The number 72,000 is the result of their own peculiar
reckoning. It matters little which division we adopt if we
understand the truth of the case.
Along these nadi run the various forces that form and
keep up the physiological man. These channels gather up into
various parts of the body as centers of the various
manifestations of prana. It is like water falling from a
hill, gathering into various lakes, each lake letting out
several streams. These centers are:
(1) Hand power centers, (2) Foot power centers, (3) Speech
power centers, (4) Excretive power centers, (5) Generative power
centers, (6) Digestive and absorbing power centers, (7)
Breathing power centers, and (8) the five sense power centers.
Those nadi that proceed to the outlets of the body
perform the most important functions of the body, and they are
hence said to be the ten principal ones in the whole system.
(1) Ghandari goes to the left eye; (2) Hastijihiva
goes to the right eye; (3) Pasta goes to the right ear;
(4) Yashawani goes to the left ear; (5) Alamhusha,
or alammukha (as it is variously spelled in one ms.)
goes to the mouth. This evidently is the alimentary canal; (6) Kuhu
goes to the generative organs; (7) Shankini goes to the
excretive organs; (8) Ida is the nadi that leads
to the left nostril; (9) Pingala is the one that leads
to the right nostril. It appears that these names are given to
these local nadi for the same reason that the pulmonary
manifestation of prana is known by the same name; (10) Susumna
has already been explained in its various phases and
There are two more outlets of the body that receive their
natural development in the female: the breasts. It is quite
possible that the nadi Danini, of which no specific
mention has been made, might go to one of these. Whatever it may
be, the principle of the division and classification is clear,
and this is something actually gained.
Centers of moral and intellectual powers also exist in the
system. Thus we read in the Vishramopnishat (The
following figure will serve to illustrate the translation):
"(1) While the mind rests in the eastern portion (or petal),
which is white in color, then it is inclined towards patience,
generosity, and reverence.
"(2) While the mind rests in the southeastern portion, which is
red in color, then it is inclined towards sleep, torpor and evil
"(3) While the mind rests in the southern portion, which is
black in color, then it is inclined towards anger, melancholy,
and bad tendencies.
"(4) While the mind rests in the southwestern portion, which is
blue in color, then it is inclined towards jealousy and cunning.
"(5) While the mind rests in the western portion, which is
brown in color, then it is inclined towards smiles, amorousness,
"(6) While the mind rests in the northwestern portion, which is
indigo in color, then it is inclined towards anxiety, restless
dissatisfaction, and apathy.
"(7) While the mind rests in the northern portion, which is
yellow in color, then it is inclined towards love and enjoyment
"(8) While the mind rests in the northeastern portion, which is
white in color, then it is inclined towards pity, forgiveness,
reflection, and religion.
"(9) While the mind rests in the sandhi (conjunctions)
of these portions, then disease and confusion in body and home,
and the mind inclines towards the three humors.
"(10) While the mind rests in the middle portion, which is
violet in color, then Consciousness goes beyond the qualities
[three qualities of Maya] and it inclines toward
When any of these centers is in action the mind is conscious of
the same sort of feelings, and inclines towards them. Mesmeric
passes serve only to excite these centers.
These centers are located in the head as well as in the chest,
and also in the abdominal region and the loins, etc.
It is these centers, together with the heart itself, that bear
the name of padma or kamala (lotus). Some of
these are large, some small, some very small. A tantric lotus is
the type of a vegetable organism, a root with various branches.
These centers are the reservoirs of various powers, and hence
the roots of the padma; the nadi ramifying these
centers are their various branches.
The nervous plexus of the modern anatomists coincide with these
centers. From what has been said above it will appear that the
centers are constituted by blood vessels. But the only
difference between the nerves and the blood vessels is the
difference between the vehicles of the positive and negative prana.
The nerves are the positive, and the blood vessels are the
negative system of the body. Wherever there are nerves there are
corresponding blood vessels. Both of them are indiscriminately
called nadi. One set has for its center the lotus of the
heart, the other the thousand-petalled lotus of the brain. The
system of blood vessels is an exact picture of the nervous
system; it is, in fact, only its shadow. Like the heart, the
brain has its upper and lower divisions -- the cerebrum and the
cerebellum -- and its right and left divisions as well. The
nerves going to very part of the body and coming back from
thence together with those going to the upper and lower portions
correspond to the four petals of the heart. This system, too,
has as many centers of energy as the former. Both these centers
coincide in position. They are, in fact, the same: the nervous
plexuses and ganglia of modern anatomy. Thus, in my opinion, the
tantric padma are not only the centers of nervous power
-- the positive northern prana -- but necessarily of the
negative prana as well.
The translation of the Science of Breath that is now
presented to the reader has two sections enumerating the various
actions that are to be done during the flow of the positive and
negative breath. They show nothing more than what can in some
cases be very easily verified, that certain actions are better
done by positive energy, and others by negative energy. The
taking in of chemicals and their changes are actions, as well as
any others. Some of the chemicals are better assimilated by the
negative for example, milk and other fatty substances), others
by the positive Prana (other food, that which is
digested in the stomach). Some of our sensations produce more
lasting effects upon the negative, others upon the positive prana.
Prana has now arranged the gross matter in the womb into
the nervous and blood vessel systems. The Prana, as has
been seen, is made of the five tatwa, and the nadi
serve only as lines for tatwic currents to run on. The centers
of power noticed above are centers of tatwic power. The tatwic
centers in the right part of the body are solar, and those in
the left are lunar. Both these solar and lunar centers are of
five descriptions. Their kind is determined by what are called
the nervous ganglia. The semi-lunar ganglia are the reservoirs
of the apas tatwa. Similarly, we have the reservoirs of
the other forces. From these central reservoirs the tatwic
currents run over the same lines, and do the various actions
allotted to them in physiological anatomy.
Everything in the human body that has more less of the cohesive
resistance is made up of the prithivi tatwa. But in this
the various tatwas work imprinting differing qualities
upon the various parts of the body.
The vayu tatwa, among others, performs the functions of
giving birth to, and nourishing the skin; the positive gives us
the positive, and the negative the negative skin. Each of these
has five layers:
(1) Pure vayu, (2) Vayu-agni, (3) Vayu-prithivi,
(4) Vayu-apas, (5) Vayu-akasa. These five
classes of cells have the following figures:
(1) Pure Vayu ~ This is the complete sphere of the Vayu:
(2) Vayu-Agni ~ The triangle is superposed over the
sphere, and the cells have something like the following shape:
(3) Vayu-Prithivi ~ This is the result of the
superposition of the quadrangular Prithivi over the
(4) Vayu-Apas ~ Something like an ellipse, the
semi-moon superposed over the sphere:
(5) Vayu-Akasa ~ The sphere flattened by the
superposition of the circle and dotted:
A microscopic examination of the skin will show that the cells
of the skin have this appearance.
Similarly, bone, muscle and fat are given birth to by the prithivi,
the agni, and the apas. Akasa appears in
various positions. Wherever there is any room for any substance,
there is akasa. The blood is a mixture of nutritive
substances kept in the fluidic state by the apas tatwa
It is thus seen that while Terrestrial Prana is an
exact manifestation of the Solar Prana, the human
manifestation is an exact manifestation of either. The microcosm
is an exact picture of the macrocosm. The four petals of the
lotus of the heart branch really into twelve nadi (K,
Kh, g, gn, n, K’, Kh’, j, jh, n, t, the). Similarly the
brain has twelve pairs of nerves. These are the twelve signs of
the Zodiac, both in their positive and negative phases. In every
sign the sun rises 31 times. Therefore we have 31 pairs of
nerves. Instead of pairs, we speak in the language of the
Tantras of a chakra (disk or circle). Wherever these 31
chakra connect with the 12 pairs (chakras) of
nerves in the brain, pass throughout the body, we have running
side by side the blood vessels proceeding from the 12 nadis
of the heart. The only difference between the spinal and cardiac
chakras is that the former lie crosswise, while the
latter lie lengthwise in the body. The sympathetic chords
consist of lines of tatwic centers: the padma or kamal.
These centers lie on all the 31 chakra noticed above.
Thus from the two centers of work, the brain and the heart, the
signs of the Zodiac in their positive and negative aspects -- a
system of nadi branch off. The nadi from either
center run into one another so much that one set is found always
side by side with the other. The 31 chakra are various
tatwic centers; one set is positive, and the other is negative.
The former owe allegiance to the brain, with which they are
connected by the sympathetic chords; the latter owe allegiance
to the heart, with which they have various connections. This
double system is called Pingala on the right side, and Ida
on the left. The ganglia of the apas centers are
semi-lunar, those of the taijas, the vayu, the prithivi,
and the akasa respectively triangular, spherical,
quadrangular, and circular. Those of the composite tatwa
have composite figures. Each tatwic center has ganglia of all
the tatwa surrounding it.
Prana moves in this system of nadi. As the sun
passes into the sign of Aries in the Macrocosm, the Prana
passes into the corresponding nadi (nerves) of the
brain. From thence it descends every day towards the spine. With
the rise of the sun it descends into the first spinal chakra
towards the right. It thus passes into the Pingala. It
moves along the nerves of the right side, at the same time
passing little by little into the blood vessels. Up to noon of
every day the strength of this Prana is greater in the
nervous chakra than in the venous. At noon they become of equal
strength. In the evening (with sunset), the Prana with
its entire strength has passed into the blood vessels. From
thence it gathers up into the heart, the negative southern
center. Then it spreads into the left side blood vessels,
gradually passing into the nerves. At midnight the strength is
equalized; in the morning (pratasandhia) the prana
is just in the spine; from thence it begins to travel along the
second chakra. This is the course of the solar current
of prana. The moon gives birth to other minor currents.
The moon moves 12 odd times more than the sun. Therefore, while
the sun passes over one chakra (i.e., during 60 ghari
-- day and night), the moon passes over 12 odd chakra.
Therefore we have 12 odd changes of prana during 24
hours. Suppose the moon too begins in Aries; she begins like the
sun in the first chakra, and takes 58 min. 4 sec. in
reaching the spine to the heart, and as many minutes from the
heart back to the spine.
Both these prana move in their respective course along
the tatwic centers. Either of them is present at any one time
all over the same class of tatwic centers, in any one part of
the body. It manifests itself first in the vayu centers,
then in the taijas, thirdly in the prithivi, and
fourthly in the apas centers. Akasa comes after
each, and immediately precedes the susumna. As the lunar
current passes from the spine towards the right, the breath
comes out of the right nostril, and as long as the current of Prana
remains in the back part of the body, the tatwa changes
from the vayu to the apas. As the current passes
into the front part of the right half, the tatwa changes
back from the apas to the vayu. As the prana
passes into the heart, the breath is not felt at all in the
nose. As it proceeds from the heart to the left, the breath
begins to flow out of the left nostril, and as long as it is in
the front part of the body, the tatwa change from the vayu
to the apas. They change back again a before, until the
prana reaches the spine, when we have the akasa
of susumna. Such is the even change of prana
that we have in the state of perfect health. The impulse that
has been given to the localized prana by the sun and
moon forces that give active power and existence to its
prototype Prana, makes it work in the same way forever
and ever. The working of the human free will and other forces
change the nature of the local prana, and individualize it in
such a way as to render it distinguishable from the universal
Terrestrial and Ecliptical prana. With the varying
nature of prana, the order of the tatwa and the positive
and negative currents may be affected in various degrees.
Disease is the result of this variation. In fact, the flow of
breath is the truest indication of the changes of tatwa
in the body. The balance of the positive and negative currents
of tatwa results in health, and the disturbance of their
harmony in disease. The science of the flow of breath is
therefore of the highest importance to every man who values his
own health and that of his fellow creatures. At the same time,
it is the most important, useful and comprehensive, the easiest
and the most interesting branch of Yoga. It teaches us
how to guide our will so as to effect desired changes in the
order and nature of our positive and negative tatwic currents.
This it does in the following way. All physical action is prana
in a certain state. Without prana there is no action,
and every action is the result of the differing harmonies of
tatwic currents. Thus, motion in any one part of the body is the
result of the activity of the vayu centers in that part
of the body. In the same way, whenever there is activity in the
prithivi centers, we have a feeling of enjoyment and
satisfaction. The causes of the other sensations are similar.
We find that while lying down we change sides when the breath
passes out of that nostril. Therefore we conclude that if we lie
on any side the breath will flow out the opposite nostril.
Therefore, whenever we see that it is desirable to change the
negative conditions of our body to the positive, we resort to
this expedient. An investigation into the physiological effects
of prana on the gross coil, and the counter effects of
gross action upon prana, will form the subject of the
V. Prana (II)
The Pranamaya Kosha (Coil of Life) changes into three
general states during day and night: the waking, the dreaming,
and the sleeping (jagrata, swapna, susupti). These three
changes produce corresponding changes in the manamaya Kosha
(the mental coil), and thence arises the consciousness of the
changes of life. The mind, in fact, lies behind the prana.
The strings (tatwic lines) of the former instrument are finer
than those of the latter; that is, in the former we have a
greater number of vibrations than in the latter during the same
space of time. Their tensions stand to each other, however, in
such a relation that with the vibrations of the one, the other
of itself begins to vibrate. The changes give to the mind,
therefore, a similar appearance, and consciousness of the
phenomenon is caused. This, however, some time after. My present
object is to describe all those changes of prana,
natural or induced, that make up the sum total of our worldly
experience, and which, during ages of evolution, have called the
mind itself out of the state of latency. These changes, as I
have said, divide themselves into three general states: the
waking, the dreaming, and the sleeping. Waking is the positive,
sleeping the negative state of prana; dreaming is the
conjunction of the two (susumna sandhi). As stated in the
foregoing essay, the solar current travels in a positive
direction during the day, and we are awake. As night approaches
the positive current has made itself lord of the body. It gains
so much strength that the sensuous and active organs lose
sympathy with the external world. Perception and action cease,
and the waking state passes off. The excess of the positive
current slackens, as it were, the tatwic chords of the different
centers of work, and they accordingly cease to answer to the
ordinary ethereal changes of external nature. If at this point
the strength of the positive current passed beyond ordinary
limits, death would ensue, prana would cease to have any
connection with the gross body, the ordinary vehicle of the
external tatwic changes. But just at the moment the prana
passes out of the heart, the negative current sets in, and it
begins to counteract the effects of the former. As the prana
reaches the spine, the effects of the positive current have
entirely passed of, and we awake. If at this moment the strength
of the negative current passes the ordinary limit by some cause
or other, death would ensue, but just at this moment the
positive current sets in with midnight, and begins to counteract
the effect of the former. A balance of the positive and negative
currents thus keeps body and soul together. With excess in
the strength of either current, death makes its appearance. Thus
we see that there are two kinds of death: the positive or
spinal, and the negative or cardiac. In the former the four
higher principles pass out of the body through the head, the brahmarandhra,
along the spine; in the latter they pass out of the mouth
through the lungs and the trachea. Besides these there are
generally speaking about six tatwic deaths. All these deaths
chalk out different paths for the higher principle. Of these,
however, more hereafter. At this stage, let us investigate the
changes of prana more thoroughly.
There are certain manifestations of prana that we find
equally at work in all three states. As I have said before, some
writers have divided these manifestations into five heads. They
have different centers of work in different parts of the body,
from whence they assert their dominion over every part of the
physical coil. Thus:
Positive: (1) Prana, right lung; Negative: Prana,
left lung. Prana is that manifestation of the life coil
which draws atmospheric air from without into the system.
Positive: (2) Apana, the apparatus that passes off
feces, long intestine, etc.; Negative: Apana, the
urinary apparatus. Apana is the manifestation that
throws, from the inside, out of the system, things that are not
Positive: (3) Samana, stomach; Negative: Samana,
duodenum. Samana is that manifestation which draws in
and carries the juice of food to every part of the body.
Positive: (4) Vyana, all over the body, appearing in
varying states with different organs (on the right side);
Negative: Vyana, all over the body (on the left side). Vyana
is that manifestation which inclines the currents of life back
to the centers -- the heart and the brain. It is, therefore,
this manifestation that causes death, local or general.
Positive: (5) Udana, at the spinal and cardiac centers
(right side), and the region of the throat; Negative: Udana,
the spinal and cardiac centers (left side).
If Prana recedes from any part of the body (for some
reason or other), that part loses its power of action. This is
local death. It is in this way that we become deaf, dumb, blind,
etc. It is in this way that our digestive powers suffer, and so
on. General death is similar in its operations. With the excess
of the strength of either of the two currents, the prana
remains in the susumna, and does not pass out. The
acquired power of work of the body then beings to pass off. The
farther from the centers (the heart and the brain), the sooner
they die. It is thus that the pulse first ceases to be felt in
the extremities, and then nearer and nearer the heart, until we
find it nowhere.
Again, it is this upward impulse that, under favorable
conditions, causes growth, lightness, and agility.
Besides the organs of the body already mentioned or indicated,
the manifestation of vyana serves to keep in form the
five organs of sense, and the five organs of action. The organs
of the gross body and the powers of prana that manifest
themselves in work have both the same names. Thus we have:
Active Organs & Powers: (1) Vak, the coal organs
and the power of speech; (2) Pani, the hands and the
manual power; (3) Pada, the feet and the walking power;
(4) Payu, anus; (5) Upastha, the generative
organs and the powers that draw these together.
Sensuous Organs & Powers: (1) Chaksus, eye and
ocular power; (2) Twak, skin and tangiferous power; (3)
Srotra, ear and sonoriferous power; (4) Rasama,
tongue and gustatory power; (5) Cobrana, nose and
The real fact is that the different powers are the
corresponding organs of the principle of life. It will now be
instructive to trace the tatwic changes and influences of these
various manifestations of life.
Prana: During health prana works all over the
system in one class of tatwic centers at one time. We thus see
that both during the course of the positive and negative current
we have five tatwic changes. The color of prana during
the reign of the positive and negative current is pure white;
during that of the positive, reddish white. The former is calmer
and smoother than the latter.
The tatwic changes give to each of these five new phases of
Positive ~ reddish white/ Negative ~ pure white:
(1) The vayu tatwa, blue; (2) The agni tatwa,
red; (3) The prithivi, yellow; (4) The apas,
white; (5) The akasa tatwa, dark
It is evident that there is a difference between the positive
and negative tatwic phases of color. There are thus ten general
phases of color.
The positive current (reddish white) is hotter than the
negative (the pure white). Therefore it may be generally said
that the positive current is hot, and the negative cool. Each of
these then undergoes five tatwic changes of temperature. The agni
is the hottest, the yellow next to it; the vayu becomes
cool, and the apas is the coolest. The akasa has
a state that neither cools nor heats. This state is the most
dangerous of all, and if prolonged it causes death, disease and
debility. It is evident that, if the cooling tatwa does
not set in to counteract the accumulated effect of the latter in
due time, the functions of life will be impaired. The just color
and the just temperature at which these functions work in their
vigor will be disturbed, and disease, death and debility are
nothing more than this disturbance in various degrees. The case
is similar if the heating tatwa does not set in in due
time after the cooling one.
It will be easy to understand that these changes of tatwic
colors and temperatures are not abrupt. The one passes of easily
and smoothly into the other, and the tatwic mixtures produce
innumerable colors -- as many, in fact, as the solar prana
has been shown to possess. Each of these colors tend to keep the
body healthy if it remains in action just as long as it ought,
but no sooner does the duration change than disease results.
There is a possibility, therefore, of as many and more diseases
as there are colors in the sun.
If any one color is prolonged, there must be some one or more
that have given the period of their duration to it; similarly,
if one color takes less time than it ought to, there must be
some one or more that take its place. This suggests two methods
of the treatment of diseases. But before speaking of these, it
will be necessary to investigate as fully as possible the causes
that lengthen and shorten the ideal periods of the tatwas.
To return at present to Prana: This pulmonary
manifestation of the principle of life is the most important of
all, because its workings furnish us with a most faithful
measure of the tatwic state of the body. It is on this account
that the name prana has been given by pre-eminence to
Now, as the prana works in the pulmonary taijas
centers (i.e., the centers of the luminiferous ether), the lungs
are thrown into a triangular form of expansion, atmospheric air
runs in, and the process of inspiration is complete. With every
truti, a backwards impulse is given to the currents of prana.
The lungs are thrown into their stationary state with this
returning current, and the excess air is expelled. The air that
is thus thrown out of the lungs bears a triangular form. To some
extent, the water vapor that this air contains furnishes us with
a method of testing this truth by experiment. If we take a
smooth, shining looking glass, put it under the nose, and breath
steadily upon its cool surface, the water vapor of the air will
be condensed, and it will be seen that this bears a particular
figure. In the case of pure agni, this figure will be a
triangle. Let another person look steadily at the looking glass
because the impression passes off rather quickly.
With the course of the other tatwas the lungs are
thrown into their respective shapes, and the looking glass gives
us the same figures. Thus, in apas we have the
semi-moon, in vayu the sphere, and in prithivi
the quadrangle. With the composition of these tatwas we
may have other figures: oblongs, squares, spheroids, and so on.
It may also be mentioned that the luminiferous ether carries
the materials drawn from the atmospheric air to the centers of
the luminiferous ether, and thence to every part of the body.
The other ethers also carry these materials to their respective
centers. It is not necessary to trace the working of the other
manifestations one by one. It may, however, be said that
although all the five tatwas work in all the five
manifestations, each of these manifestations is sacred to one of
these tatwas. Thus in prana the vayu tatwa
prevails, in samana the agni, in apana
the prithivi, in vyana the apas, in udana
the akasa. I may remind the reader that the general
color of prana is white, and this will show how the apas
tatwa prevails in Vyana. The darkness of akasa
is the darkness of death, etc., caused by the manifestation of udana.
During life these ten changes are always taking place at the
intervals of about 26 minutes each. In waking, in sleep, or in
dream, these changes never cease. It is only in the two susumnas
or the akasa that these changes become potential for a
moment, because it is from these that these tatwic
manifestations show themselves on the plane of the body. If this
moment is prolonged, the forces of prana remain
potential, and in death the prana is thus in the
potential state. When those causes that tended to lengthen the
period of i, and thus cause death, are removed, this individual
prana passes out of the potential into the actual,
positive, or negative state as the case may be. It will energize
matter, and will develop it into the shape towards which its
accumulated potentialities tend.
Something may now be said about the work of the sensuous and
It may be generally said that all work is tatwic motion. This
work is capable of being carried on during the waking state, and
not in sleep or dream. These ten organs have ten general colors,
Sensuous Organs: (1) Eye, agni, red; (2) Ear, akasa,
dark; (3) Nose, prithivi, yellow; (4) Tongue (taste), apas,
white; (5) Skin, vayu, blue;
Active Organs: (1) Hand, vayu, blue; (2) Foot, i,
yellow; (3) Tongue (speech), apas, white; (4) Anus, akasa,
dark; (5) Genitals, i, red.
Although these are the generally prevalent tatwas in these
various centers, all the other tatwas exist in a
subordinate position. Thus in the eye we have a reddish yellow,
reddish white, reddish dark, reddish blue, and similarly in the
other organs. This division into five of each of these colors is
only general; in reality there is an almost innumerable
variation of colors in each of these.
With every act of every one of these ten organs, the organ
specially and the whole body generally assumes a different
color, the color of that particular tatwic motion which
constitutes that act.
All these changes of Prana constitute the sum total of
our worldly experience. Furnished with this apparatus, prana
begins its human pilgrimage, in company with a mind, which is
evolved only to the extent of connecting the "I am" of the ahankara
or vijnana, the fourth principle from below, with these
manifestations of prana. Time imprints upon it all the
innumerable colors of the universe. The visual, the tangible,
the gustatory, the auditory, and the olfactory appearances in
all their variety gather into prana just as our daily
experience carries many messages at one and the same time. In
the same way do the appearances of the active organs, and the
five remaining general functions of the body, gather up in this
prana to manifest themselves in due time.
A few illustrations will render all this clear:
Sexual Relations ~
The generative agni tatwa of the male is positive, and
that of the female is negative. The former is hotter, harsher,
and more restless than the latter; the latter is cooler,
smoother, and calmer than the former. These two currents tend to
run into each other, and a feeling of satisfaction is the result
if the two currents are allowed to take their course; if not, a
feeling of uneasiness is the result. The genesis of these
feelings will be my subject under the head of the manomaya
kosha (mental principle). Here I shall only speak of the
coloration of prana by the action or inaction of this
organ. The positive agni tends to run into the negative,
and vice versa. If it is not allowed to do so, the repeated
impulses of this tatwa turn upon themselves, the center
gains strength, and every day the whole prana is colored
deeper and deeper red. The centers of the agni tatwa all
over the body become stronger in their action, while all the
others contract a general tinge of the red. The eyes and the
stomach become stronger. This, however, is the case only within
certain limits and under certain circumstances. If the agni
gains too much strength, all the other centers of the remaining
tatwas become vitiated in their action by an over-coloration of
agni, and disease and debility result. If, however, man
indulges in this luxury more often than he should, and in more
than one place, the male prana gets colored by the
female agni, and vice versa. This tends to weaken all
the centers of this tatwa, and gives a feminine color to
the whole prana. The stomach becomes cooled down, the
eyes grow weak, and virile manly power departs. If, however,
more than one individual female agni takes possession of
the male prana, and vice versa, the general antagonistic
tatwa becomes deeper and stronger. The whole prana
is vitiated to a greater extent, greater debility is the result,
and spermatorrhea, impotence, and other such antagonistic colors
take possession of the prana. Besides, the separate
individualities of the male or female agni that has
taken possession of any one prana will tend to repel
Suppose now that a man is given to walking. The prithivi
tatwa of the feet gains strength, and the yellow color
pervades the whole prana. The centers of the prithivi
all over the body begin to work more briskly; agni
receives a mild and wholesome addition to its power, the whole
system tends towards healthy equilibrium, neither too hot, nor
too cold, and a general feeling of satisfaction accompanied with
vigor, playfulness, and a relish of enjoyment is the result.
Let me take one more illustration from the operation of Vak
(speech), and I shall be done with the organs of action. The
power (Sakti) of speech (Vak, saraswati) is one of
the most important goddesses of the Hindu pantheon. The apas
tatwa is the chief ingredient of prana that goes
towards the formation of this organ. Therefore the color of the
goddess is said to be white. The vocal chord with the larynx in
front form the vina (musical instrument) of the goddess.
In the above figure of the vocal apparatus, AB is the thyroid,
a broad cartilage forming the projection of the throat, and much
more prominent in men than in women. Below this is the annular
cartilage C, the crecoid. Behind this, or we may say on this,
are stretched the chord a and b.
Atmospheric air passing over these chords in the act of
breathing sets these chords in vibration, and sound is the
result. Ordinarily these chords are too loose to give any sound.
The apas tatwa, the milk-white goddess of speech,
performs the all-important function of making these chords
tense. As the semi-lunar current of the apas tatwa passes along
the muscles of these chords, they are as it were shriveled up
and curves are formed in the chords; they become tighter.
The depth of these curves depends upon the strength of the apas
current. The deeper these curves, the tenser are the chords. The
thyroid serves to vary the intensity of the voice thus produced.
The thyroid serves to vary the intensity of the voice thus
produced. This will do here, and it is enough to show that the
real motive power in the production of voice is the apas
tatwa or Prana. As will be easily understood,
there are certain ethereal conditions of the external world that
excite the centers of the apas tatwa; the current passes
along the vocal chords, they are made tense, and sound is
produced. But the excitement of these centers also comes from
the soul through the mind. The use of this sound in the course
of evolution as the vehicle of thought is the marriage of Brahma
(the Vijana mayakosha, the soul) with Saraswati,
the power of speech as located in man.
The apas tatwa of the vocal apparatus, although it is
the chief motive power in the production of sound, is modified
according to the circumstance by the composition of the other
tatwas in various degrees. As far as human ken reaches, about 49
of these variations have been recorded under the name of swara.
First, there are seven general notes. These may be positive and
negative (tivra and komala), and then each of
these may have three subdivisions. These notes are then composed
into eight raga, and each raga has several ragini.
The simple ragini may then be compounded into others,
and each ragini may have a good many arrangements of
notes. The variations of sound thus become almost innumerable.
All these variations are caused by the varying tensions of the
vocal chords, the Vina of Saraswati, and the
tensions vary by the varying strength of the apas
current, caused by the superposition of the other tatwas.
Each variation of sound has a color of its own that affects the
whole prana in its own way; the tatwic effect of all
these sounds is noted in books of music. Various diseases may be
cured, and good or bad tendencies imprinted on the prana
by the power of sound. Saraswati is an all-powerful
goddess, and controls our prana for good or evil as the
case may be. If a song or note is colored by the agni tatwa,
the sound colors the prana red, and similarly the vayu,
the apas, the akasa, and the prithivi,
blue, white, dark, and yellow. The red colored song causes heat;
it may cause anger, sleep, digestion, and redness of color. The
akasa colored song causes fear, forgetfulness, etc. Songs
may similarly give our prana the color of love, enmity,
adoration, morality, or immorality, as the case may be.
Let us turn to another key. If the words we utter bear the
color of the agni tatwa -- anger, love, lust -- our prana
is colored red, and this redness turns upon ourselves. It may
burn up our substance, and we may look lean and lank and have
10,000 other diseases. Terrible retribution of angry words! If
our words are full of divine love and adoration, kindness and
morality, words that give pleasure and satisfaction to whoever
hears them -- the colors of the prithivi and the apas
-- we become loving and beloved, adoring and adored, kind and
moral, pleasing and pleased, satisfying and ever satisfied. The
discipline of speech itself -- the satya of Patanjali --
is thus one of the highest practices of Yoga.
Sensuous impressions color the prana in a similar way. If we
are given to too much of sight-seeing, to the hearing of
pleasant sounds, to the smelling of dainty smells, etc., the
colors of these tatwas will be overly strengthened, and
will gain a mastery over our prana. If we are too fond
of seeing beautiful women, hearing the music of their voices,
heaven help us, for the least and most general effect will be
that our pranas will receive the feminine coloration. If
it were only for the love of women, man should avoid this
over-indulgence, for feminine qualities in men do not obtain
favor in the eyes of women.
These illustrations are sufficient to explain how the tatwic
colors of external nature gather up in prana. It may be
necessary to say that no new colors enter into the formation of
prana. All the colors of the universe are present there
already, just as they are in the sun, the prototype of prana.
The coloration I have spoken of is only the strengthening of
this particular color to an extent that throws the others in
shade. It is this disturbance of balance that in the first place
causes the variety of human prana, and in the second
those innumerable diseases to which flesh is heir.
From this point it is evident that every action of man gives
his prana a separate color, and the color affects the
gross body in turn. But when, at what time, does the particular
tatwic color affect the body? Ordinarily it is under similar
tatwic conditions of the external universe. This means that if
the agni tatwa has gained strength in any prana
at any one particular division of time, the strength will show
itself when that particular division of time recurs again.
Before attempting a solution of this problem, it is necessary to
understand the following truths:
The sun is the chief life-giver of every organism in the
system. The moment that a new organism has come into existence,
the sun changes his capacity in relation to that organism. He
now becomes the sustainer of positive life in that organism.
Along with this the moon begins to influence the organism in her
own way. She becomes the sustainer of negative life. The planets
each establish their own currents in the organism. For the sake
of simplicity, I have as yet spoken only of the sun and moon,
the respective lords of the positive and negative currents of
the right and left halves of the body, of the brain and the
heart, of the nerves and the blood vessels. These are the two
chief sources of life, but it must be remembered that the
planets exercise a modifying influence over these currents. The
real tatwic condition of any moment is determined by all the
seven planets, just like the sun and the moon. Each planet,
after determining the general tatwic condition of the moment,
goes to introduce changes in the organism born at that moment.
These changes correspond with the manifestation of that color of
prana that rose at that time. Thus, suppose the red color
has entered prana when the moon is in the second degree
of the sign of Libra. If there is no disturbing influence of any
other luminary, the red color will manifest itself whenever the
moon is in the same position; in the other case, when the
disturbing influence is removed. It may show itself in a month,
or it may be postponed for ages. It is very difficult to
determine the time when an act will have its effect. It depends
a good deal upon the strength of the impression. The strength of
the impression may be divided into ten degrees, although some
writers have gone further.
(1) Momentary: This degree of strength has its effect then and
(2) 30 degrees strength: In this case the effect will show
itself when each planet is in the same sign as at the time of
(3) 15 degrees strength: Hora; (4) 10 degrees strength:
Dreskana; (5) 200 degrees strength: Navaansha; (6)
150 degrees strength: Dwadasansa; (7) 60 or 1 degree
strength: Trinsansa; (8) 1" strength: Kala; (9)
1’’’ strength: Vipala; (10) 1’’’’ strength: Truti.
Suppose in any prana, on account of any action, the agni
tatwa obtains the strongest possible prevalence consistent
with the preservation of the body, the tatwa will begin
to have its effect then and there until it has exhausted itself
to a certain extent. It will then become latent and show itself
when at any time the same planets sit in the same mansions.
Examples will illustrate better. Suppose the following
advancement of the planets at any moment denotes the tatwic
condition when any given color has entered the prana:
The 3rd of April, Tuesday ~
It is at this time, we suppose, that the act above referred to
is committed. The present effect will pass off with the two
hours’ lunar current that may be passing at that time. Then it
will become latent, and remain so till the time when these
planets are in the same position again. As has been seen, these
positions might be nine or more in number.
As soon as the exact time passes of when a color has obtained
predominance in prana, the effect thereof on the gross body
becomes latent. It shows itself again in a general way when the
stars sit in the same mansions. Some of the strength is worn off
at this time, and the force becomes latent to show itself in
greater minuteness when at any time the half-mansions coincide,
and so on with the remaining parts noticed above. There may be
any number of times when there is only an approach to
coincidence, and then the effect will tend to show itself,
though at that time it will remain only a tendency.
These observation, although necessarily very meager, tend to
show that the impression produced upon prana by any act,
however insignificant, really takes ages to pass off, when the
stars coincide in position to a degree with that when the act
was committed. Therefore, a knowledge of astronomy is highly
essential in occult Vedic religion. The following observation
may, however, render the above a little more intelligible.
As often remarked, the prana mayokosha is an exact
picture of the Terrestrial Prana. The periodical
currents of the finer forces of nature that are in the earth
pass according to the same laws in the principle of life; just
like the Zodiac, the prana mayakosha is subdivided into
mansions, etc. The northern and southern inclinations of the
axis give us a heart and a brain. Each of these has 12
ramifications branching off from it; these are the 12 signs of
the Zodiac. The daily rotation than gives us the 31 chakras
spoken of previously. There is the positive semi-mansion and the
negative semi-mansion. Then we have the one-third, the
one-ninth, the one-twelfth, and so on to a degree, or the
divisions and subdivisions thereof. Each chakra, both
diurnal and annual, is in fact a circle of 360 degrees, just
like the great circles of the heavenly spheres. Through the chakra
a course of seven descriptions of life-currents is established:
(1) Solar, (2) lunar, (3) Mars, agni, (4) Mercury, prithivi,
(5) Jupiter, vayu, (6) Venus, apas, (7) Saturn,
It is quite possible that along the same chakra there
may be passing all or any one or more of these differing
currents at one and the same time. The reader is reminded of the
telegraph currents of modern electricity. It is evident that the
real state of prana is determined by the position of
these localized currents. Now if any one or more of these tatwic
currents is strengthened by any act of ours, under any position
of the currents, it is only when we have to a degree the same
position of the currents that the tatwic current will makes it
appearance at full strength. There may also be appearances of
slight power at various times, but the full strength will never
be exhausted until we have the same position of these currents
to the minutest division of a degree. This takes ages upon ages,
and it is quite impossible that the effect should pass off in
the present life. Hence rises the necessity of a second life
upon this earth.
The accumulated tatwic effects of a life’s work give each life
a general tinge of its own. This tinge wears off gradually as
the component colors pass off or weaken in strength, one by one.
When each of the component colors is one by one sufficiently
worn off, the general color of a life passes off. The gross body
that was given birth to by this particular color ceases to
respond to the now generally different colored prana.
The prana does not pass out of the susumna.
Death is the result.
As already said, the two ordinary forms of death are the
positive through the brain, and the negative through the heart.
This is death through the susumna. In this all the
tatwas are potential. Death may also take place through the
other nadis. In this case there must always be the prevalence of
one or more tatwas.
The prana goes towards different regions after death,
according to the paths through which it passes out of the body.
(1) The negative susumna takes it to the moon; (2) the
positive susumna takes it to the sun; (3) the agni
of the other nadi takes it to the hill known as Raurava
(fire); (4) the apas of the other nadi takes it
to the hill known as Ambarisha, and so on, the akasa,
the vayu, and the prithivi take it to Andhatanusra,
Kalasutra, and Maha kala (See Yoga Sutra,
pada 111, Aphorism 26, commentary).
The negative path is the most general one that the prana
takes. This path takes it to the moon (the chandraloka)
because the moon is the lord of the negative system, and the
negative currents, and the negative susumna the heart,
which therefore is a continuation of the lunar prana.
The prana that has the general negative color cannot
move but along this path, and it is transferred naturally to the
reservoirs, the centers of the negative prana. Those men
in whom the two hours’ lunar current is passing more or less
regularly take this path.
The prana that has lost the intensity of its
terrestrial color energizes lunar matter according to its own
strength, and thus establishes for itself there a sort of
passive life. Here the mind is in a state of dream. The tatwic
impressions of gathered up forces pass before it in the same way
as they pass before it in our earthly dreams. The only
difference is that in that state there is not the superimposed
force of indigestion to render the tatwic impressions so strong
and sudden as to be terrible. That dreamy state is characterized
by extreme calmness. Whatever our mind has in it of the
interesting experiences of this world, whatever we have thought,
heard, seen or enjoyed, the sense of satisfaction and enjoyment,
the bliss and playfulness of the apas and the prithivi
tatwa, the languid sense of love of the agni, the
agreeable forgetfulness of the akasa, all make their
appearance one after the other in perfect calm. The painful
impressions make no appearance, because the painful arises when
any impression forces itself upon the mind that is out of
harmony with its surroundings. In this state the mind lives in Chandraloka,
as will be better understood when I come to speak of the tatwic
causes of dreams.
Ages roll on in this state, when the mind has, according to the
same general laws that obtain for prana, worn out the
impressions of a former life. The intense tatwic colors that the
ceaseless activity of prana had called into existence
now fade away, until at last the mind comes upon a chronic level
with the prana. Both of them have now lost the tinge of
a former life. It may be said of prana that it has a new
appearance, and of the mind that it has a new consciousness.
When they are both in this state, both very weak, the
accumulated tatwic effects of prana begin to show
themselves with the return of the stars to the same positions.
These draw us back from the lunar to the terrestrial prana.
At this stage, the mind has no individuality worth taking
account of, so that it is drawn by prana to wherever its
affinities carry it. It comes and joins with those solar rays
that bear a similar color, with all those mighty potentialities
that show themselves in the future man remaining quite latent.
It passes with the rays of the sun according to the ordinary
laws of vegetation into grain that bears similar colors. Each
grain has a separate individuality, which accounts for its
separate individuality from others of its brothers, and in many
there may be human potentialities giving it an individuality of
its own. The grain or grains produce the virile semen, which
assumes the shape of human beings in the wombs of women. This is
Similarly do human individualities come back from the five
states that are known as hells. These are the states of
posthumous existence fixed for those men who enjoy to an
excessive and violent degree the various impressions of each of
the tatwas. As the tatwic intensity, which disturbs the balance
and therefore causes pain, wears off in time, the individual prana
passes off to the lunar sphere, and thence undergoes the same
states that have been described above.
Along the positive path through the brahmarandhra pass
those prana that pass beyond the general effects of
Time, and therefore do not return to the earth under ordinary
laws. It is Time that brings back prana from the moon,
when he is even the most general, and the least strong tatwic
condition comes into play with the return of identical astral
positions; but the sun being the keeper of Time himself, and the
strongest factor in the determination of his tatwic condition,
it would be impossible for solar Time to affect solar prana.
Therefore, only that prana travels towards the sun in
which there is almost no preponderance of any tatwic color. This
is the state of the prana of Yogin alone. By the
constant practice of the eight branches of Yoga, the
prana is purified of any very strongly personifying colors, and
since it is evident that on such a prana Time can have
no effect, under ordinary circumstances, they pass off to the
sun. These prana have no distinct personifying colors;
all of them that go to the sun have almost the same general
tinge. But their minds are different. They can be distinguished
from each other according to the particular branch of science
that they have cultivated, or according to the particular and
varying methods of mental improvement that they have followed on
earth. In this state the mind is not dependent, as in the moon,
upon the impressions of prana. Constant practice of Yoga
has rendered it an independent worker, depending only upon the
soul, and molding the prana to its own shapes, and
giving it its own colors. This is a kind of Moksha.
Although the sun is the most potent lord of life, and the
tatwic condition of prana now has no effect upon the
prana that has passed to the sun, the planetary currents still
have some slight effect upon it, and there are times when this
effect is very strong, so that the earthly conditions in which
they have previously lived are called back again to their minds.
A desire to do the same sort of good they did the world in their
previous life takes possession of them, and impelled by this
desire they sometimes come back to earth. Snakaracharya has
noticed in his commentary of the Brahmasutra that
Apantaramah, a Vedic rishi, thus appeared on earth as
Krishna-dwaipayana, about the end of the Dwapara and the
beginning of the Kaliyuga.
VI. Prana (III) ~
As it is desirable that as much as possible should be known
about Prana, I give below some quotations on the subject
from the Prasnopnishat. They will give additional
interest to the subject, and present it in a more comprehensive
and far more attractive garb.
Six things are to be known about Prana, says the Upanishad:
"He who knows the birth (1), the coming in (2), the places of
manifestation (3), the rule (4), the macrocosmic appearance (5),
and the microcosmic appearance of Prana becomes immortal
by that knowledge."
Practical knowledge of the laws of life, i.e., to live up to
them, must naturally end in the passing of the soul out of the
shadowy side of life into the original light of the Sun. This
means immortality, that is, passing beyond the power of
But to go on with what the Upanishad has to say about
the six things to be known about Prana:
The Birth of Prana ~
The Prana is born from the Atma; it is caused
in the atma, like the shadow in the body.
The human body, or any other organism, becomes the cause of
throwing a shade in the ocean of prana, as it comes
between the sun and the portion of space on the other side of
the organism. Similarly, the prana is thrown as a shade
in the macrocosmic soul (Iswara) because the macrocosmic
mind (manu) intervenes. Briefly the prana is the
shade of Manu caused by the light of the Logos, the
macrocosmic center. The suns are given birth to in this shade,
by the impression of the macrocosmic mental ideas into this
shade. These suns, the centers of Prana, become in their
turn the positive starting point of further development. The
manus throwing their shade by the intervention of the suns, give
birth in those shades to planets, etc. The suns throwing their
shades by the intervention of planets, give birth to moons. Then
these different centers begin to act upon the planets, and the
sun descends on the planets in the shape of various organisms,
The Macrocosmic Appearance ~
This prana is found in the macrocosm as the ocean of
life with the sun for its center. It assumes two phases of
existence: (1) the prana, the solar, positive
life-matter, and (2) the rayi, the lunar, negative
life-matter. The former is the northern phase and the eastern;
the latter is the southern phase and the western. In every
Moment of Terrestrial life, we have thus the northern and
southern centers of prana, the centers from which the
southern and northern phases of life-matter take their start at
any moment. The eastern and western halves are there too.
At every moment of time -- i.e., in every truti --
there are millions of truti -- perfect organisms -- in
space. This might require some explanation. The units of time
and space are the same: a truti.
Take any one truti of time. It is well known that every
moment of time the tatwic rays of prana go in every
direction from every point to every other point. Hence it is
clear enough that every truti of space is a perfect
picture of the whole apparatus of prana, with all its
centers and sides, and positive and negative relations. To
express a good deal in a few words, every truti of space
is a perfect organism. In the ocean of Prana that
surrounds the sun there are innumerable such truti.
While essentially the same, it is easy to understand that the
following items will make a difference in the general color,
appearance, and forms of these trutis: (1) distance from the
solar center; (2) inclination from the solar axis.
Take the earth for illustration. That zone of solar life,
taking into consideration both the distance and the inclination
in which the earth moves, gives birth to earth-life. This zone
of earth-life is known as the ecliptic. Now every truti
of space in this ecliptic is a separate individual organism. As
the earth moves in her annual course, i.e., as the truti
of time changes, these permanent truti of space change
the phases of their life. But their permanency is never
impaired. They retain their individuality all the same.
All the planetary influences reach these trutis always,
wherever the planets may be in their journey. The changing
distance and inclination is, of course, always causing a change
This truti of space, from its permanent position in the
ecliptic, while maintaining its connection with all the planets,
at the same time sends its tatwic rays to every other quarter of
space. They also come to the earth.
It is a condition of earth life that the positive and negative
currents, the prana and the rayi, be equally
balanced. Therefore, when the two phases of life matter are
equally strong in this ecliptical truti, the tatwic rays
that come from it to the earth energize gross matter there. The
moment that the balance is disturbed by the tatwic influence of
the planets, or by some other cause, terrestrial death ensues.
This simply means that the tatwic rays of the truti that
fall on earth cease to energize gross matter, although they do
fall there all the same, and although the truti is there
all the same in its permanent ecliptical abode. In this
posthumous state, the human truti will energize gross
matter in that quarter of space whose laws of relative, negative
and positive predominance coincide with that state. Thus, when
the negative life matter, the rayi, becomes overly
strong, the energization of the truti is transferred
from the earth to the moon. Similarly it may pass to other
spheres. When the terrestrial balance is restored again, when
this posthumous life has been lived, the energization is
transferred to the earth again.
Such is the macrocosmic appearance of Prana, with the
pictures of all the organisms of the earth.
The Coming In Of Prana ~
How does this prana maya kosha -- this truti of
the macrocosm -- come into this body? Briefly, "By actions at
whose root lies the mind", says the Upanishad. It was
explained previously how every action changes the nature of the
prana maya kosha, and it will be explained in the essay
on the "Cosmic Picture Gallery" how these changes are
represented in the cosmical counterpart of our life-principle.
It is evident that by these actions change is produced in the
general relative nature of the prana and the rayi,
which has been spoken of previously. It is hardly necessary to
say that the mind -- the human free will -- lies at the root of
those actions that disturb the tatwic balance of the
life-principle. Hence, "The prana comes into this body
by actions, at whose root lies the mind."
The Places of Manifestation ~
"As the paramount Power appoints its servants, telling, ‘Rule
such and such villages’, so does the Prana. It puts its
different manifestations in different places. The apana
(this discharges faces and urine) is in the Payu (anus)
and the upastha. The manifestations known as sight and
hearing (Chakahus and Srotra) are in the eye and
ear. The prana remains itself, going out of mouth and
nose. Between (the places of prana and apana,
about the navel) lives the Samana. It is this that
carries equally (all over the body) the food (and drink) that is
thrown in the fire. Hence are those seven lights (by means of prana,
light of knowledge is thrown over color, form, sound, etc.)
"In the heart is of course this atma (the pranamaya
kosha) and in it, of course, the other coils. Here there
are a hundred and one nadi. Of these there are a hundred
in each. In each of these branch nadis there are 72,000 other nadi.
In these moves the vyana.
"By one (the Susumna) going upward, the udana carries
to good worlds by means of goodness, and to bad ones by means of
evil; by both to the world of men.
"The sun is, of course, the macrocosmic prana; he
rises, and thereby helps the eyesight. The Power that is in the
earth keeps up the power of apana. The akasa
(the ethereal matter) that is between heaven and earth, helps
"The ethereal life-matter (independent of its being between
heaven and earth) which fills macrocosmic space, is vyana.
"The taijas -- the luminiferous ether -- is udana;
hence he whose natural fire is cooled down approaches death.
"Then the man goes toward the second birth; the organs and
senses go into the mind; the mind of the man comes to the Prana
(its manifestations now ceasing). The prana is combined
with the taijas; going with the soul, it carries her to
the spheres that are in view."
The different manifestations of Prana in the body, and
the places where they manifest themselves have been dwelt upon.
But other statements of interest appear in this extract. It is
said that this atma, this prana maya kosha, with
the other coils of course, is located in the heart. The heart,
as has been seen, represents the negative side of life, the
rayi. When the positive prana impresses itself upon the
rayi -- the heart and the nadis that flow from it -- the
forms of life and the actions of man come into existence. It is
therefore, properly speaking, the reflection in the heart that
works in the world, i.e., is the proper lord of the sensuous and
active organs of life. If this being of the heart learns not to
live here, the sensuous and active organs both lose their life;
the connection with the world ceases. The being of the brain
that has no immediate connection with the world, except through
the heart, now remains in unrestrained purity. This means to say
that the soul goes to the suryaloka (the Sun).
The next point of interest is the description of the functions
of the External Prana, which lie at the root of, and
help the working of the individualized prana. It is said
that the Sun is the Prana. This is evident enough, and
has been mentioned man times before this. Here it is meant to
say that the most important function of life, inspiration and
expiration, the function of which, according to the Science of
Breath, is the One Law of existence in the Universe on all the
planes of life, is brought into existence and kept in activity
by the sun in himself. It is the solar breath that constitutes
his existence, and this reflected in man producing matter gives
birth to human breath.
The Sun then appears in another phase. He rises, and as he
does, he supports the eyes in their natural action.
Similarly, the power that is in the earth sustains the apana
manifestation of prana. It is the power that draws
everything towards the earth, says the commentator. In modern
language, it is gravity.
Something more might be said here about the udana
manifestation of prana. As everybody knows, there is a
phase of microcosmic prana that carries everything,
names, forms, sight, sounds, and all other sensations, from one
place to another. This is otherwise known as the universal agni,
or the Tejas of the text. The localized manifestation of
Prana is called udana, that which carries the
life-principle from one place to another. The particular
destination is determined by past actions, and this universal
agni carries the prana, with the soul, to different
VII. Prana (IV) ~
This Prana is then a mighty being, and if its localized
manifestations were to work in unison, and with temperance,
doing their own duty, but not usurping the time and place of
others, there would be but little evil in the world.
But each of these manifestations asserts its sole power over
the bewildered human soul. Each of these claims the whole life
of man to be its own proper domain:
"The akasa, the vayu, the agni, the prithivi,
the apas, speech, sight and hearing -- all of them say
clearly that they are the sole monarchs of the human body."
The principal prana, he whose manifestations all these
are, tells them:
"Be not forgetful; it is I who sustain the human body, dividing
myself into five."
If the five manifestations of Prana with all their
minor subdivisions revolt against him, if each begin to assert
its own lordship and cease to work for the general benefit of
the lord paramount, the real life, misery makes its sad
appearance to harass the poor human soul. "But the manifestation
of prana, blinded by ignorance," would not "put forth"
in the admonitions of their lord. "He leaves the body, and as he
leaves, all the other minor pranas leave it too; they stay there
as he stays." Then their eyes are opened. "As the bees follow
the queen bee in every posture, so does prana; these,
speech, the mind, the eye, the ear, follow him with devotion,
and thus praise him."
"He is the agni, the cause of heat; he is the sun (the
giver of light); he is the cloud, he is the Indra, he is
the Vayu, he is the prithivi, he is the rayi,
and the deva, the sat, and the asat, and
he is the immortal.
[Rayi and asat are the negative, deva
and sat the positive phases of life-matter.]
"Like the spokes in the nave of a wheel, everything is
sustained in prana: the hymns of the Rik, the Yajur,
and the Sama Veda, the sacrifice, the Kshatriya,
and the Brahmin, etc.
"Thou art the Progenitor; thou movest in the womb; thou art
born in the shape of the father or the mother; to thee, O Prana,
that puts up in the body with thy manifestations, these
creatures offer presents.
"Thou art the carrier of offerings to the deva, thou
art the carrier of oblations to the fathers; thou art the action
and the power of the senses and other manifestations of life.
"Thou art, O Prana, in power the great lord, the Rudra
[the destroyer] and the Preserver; thou movest in the sky as the
sun, thou art the preserver of the light of heaven.
"When thou rainest, these creatures are full of joy because
they hope to have plenty of food.
"Thou art Prana, pure by nature; thou art the consumer
of all oblations, as the Ekarshi fire [of the Atharva;
thou art the preserver of all existence; we are to thee the
offerers of food; thou art our father as the Recorder [or, the
Life-giver of the Recorder].
"Make healthy that appearance of thine which is located in the
speech, the ear, the eye, and that which is stretched towards
the mind; do not fly away.
"Whatever exists in the three heavens, all of it is in the
power of prana. Protect us like a mother her offspring;
give us wealth and intellect."
With this I conclude my description of Prana, the
second principle of the Universe, and the human body. The
epithets bestowed upon this mighty being in the above extract
will be easy of understanding in the light of all that has gone
before. It is now time to trace the working of the universal
Tatwic Law of Breath on the next higher pane of life, the mind (manomayakosha).
VIII. The Mind (I) ~
No theory of the life of the Universe is at once so simple and
so grand as the theory of breath (Swara). It is the one
universal motion, which makes its appearance in maya by
virtue of the unseen substratum of the Cosmos, the parabrahma
of the Vedantins. The most appropriate expression for Swara
in English is the "current of life". The Indian Science of
Breath investigates and formulates the laws, or rather the one
Universal Law, according to which this current of life, this
motive power of Universal Intelligence, running (as Emerson so
beautifully puts it) along the wire of thought, governs
evolution and involution and all the phenomena of human life,
physiological, mental and spiritual. In the whole length and
breadth of this universe there is no phenomenon, great or small,
that does not find its most natural, most intelligible, most
apposite explanation in the theory of the five modes of
manifestation of this universal motion: the five elementary tatwas.
In the foregoing essays I have tried to explain generally how
every physiological phenomenon was governed by the five tatwas.
The object of the present essay is to briefly run over the
various phenomena relating to the third higher body of man --
the manomaya kosha, the mind -- and note how
symmetrically and universally the tatwas bring about the
formation and work of this principle.
It is what is in general language called knowledge that
distinguishes the mind from physiological life (prana),
but it will be seen on a little consideration that different
degrees of knowledge might very well be taken as the
distinguishing characteristics of the five states of matter,
which in man we call the five principles. For what is knowledge
but a kind of tatwic motion of breath, elevated into
self-consciousness by the presence, in a greater or lesser
degree, of the element of ahankara (egoism)? His is no
doubt the view taken of knowledge by the Vedantic philosopher
when he speaks of intelligence as being the motive power, the
first cause of the universe. The word swara is only a
synonym of intelligence, the one manifestation of the One
descending into prakriti.
"I see something" means, according to our view of knowledge,
that my manomaya kosha has been put into visual
vibration. "I hear" means that my mind is in a state of auditory
vibration."I feel" means that my mind is in a state of tangible
vibration. And so on with the other senses. "I love" means that
my mind is in a state of amatory vibration (a form of
The first state, that of the anandamaya, is the state
of the highest knowledge. There is then but one center, the
substratum for the whole infinity of parabrahma, and the
ethereal vibrations of his breath are one throughout the whole
expanse of infinity. There is but one intelligence, but one
knowledge. The whole universe with all its potentialities and
actualities is a part of that knowledge. This is the highest
state of bliss. There is no consciousness of self here, for the
I has only a relative existence, and there must be a Thou or a
He before there can be an I.
The ego takes form when, in the second plane of existence, more
than one minor center comes into existence. It is for this
reason that the name ahankara has been given to this
state of matter. The ethereal impulses of those centers are
confined to their own particular domain in space, and they
differ in each center. They can, however, affect each other in
just the same way as the individualized ethereal impulses of one
man are affected by those of others. The tatwic motion of one
center of Brahma is carried along the same universal
lines to the other. Two differing motions are thus found in one
center. The stronger impulse is called the I, the weaker the
Thou or the He as the case may be.
Then comes manas. Viraj is the center, and manu
the atmosphere of this state. These centers are beyond the ken
of ordinary humanity, but they work under laws similar to those
ruling the rest of the cosmos. The suns move the virats
in the same way as the planets move around the sun.
The Functions of the Mind ~
The composition of the manu is similar to that of prana:
it is composed of a still finer grade of the five tatwas,
and this increased fineness endows the tatwas with different
The five functions of prana have been given. The
following are the five functions of manas, as given by
Patanjali and accepted by Vyasa:
(1) Means of knowledge (Pramana), (2) False knowledge (Viparyaya),
Complex imagination (Vikalpa), (4) Sleep (Nidra),
(5) Memory (Smrite).
All the manifestation of the mind fall under one or another of
these five heads. Thus, Pramana includes:
(1) Perception (pratyaksha), (2) Inference (anumana),
(1) Ignorance (avidya, tamas), (2) Egoism (asinita,
moha), (3) Retention (raja, mahamoka), (4)
Repulsion (tamisra, dwesha), (5) Tenacity of life (abhinwesha,
The remaining three have no definite subdivisions. Now I shall
show that all the modifications of thought are forms of tatwic
motion on the mental plane.
Pramana (Means of Knowledge) ~
The word pramana (means of knowledge) is derived from
two roots, the predicative ma, and the derivative root ana,
with the prefix pra. The original idea of the root ma
is "to go", "to move", and hence "to measure". The Prefix pra
gives the root idea of fullness, connected as it is with the
root pri, to fill. That which moves exactly up or down
to the same height with any other thing is the pramana
of that thing. In becoming the pramana of any other
thing, the first thing assumes certain qualities that it did not
have before. This is always brought about by a change of state
caused by a certain kind of motion, for it is always motion that
causes change of state. In fact, this is also the exact meaning
of the word pramana, as applied to a particular manifestation of
Pramana is a particular tatwic motion of the mental
body; its effect is to put the mental body into a state similar
to that of something else. The mind can undergo as many changes
as the external tatwas are capable of imprinting upon it, and
these changes have been classified into three general heads by
Pratyaksha (Perception) ~
This is that change of state which the operations of the five
sensuous organs produce in the mind. The word is a compound of
"I", each, and "aksha", sensuous power, organ of sense.
Hence is that sympathetic tatwic vibration that an organ of
sense in contact with its object produces in the mind. These
changes can be classified under five heads, according to the
number of the senses.
The eye gives birth to the taijas vibrations, the
tongue, the skin, the ear, and the nose respectively to the apas,
the vayu, the akasa and the prithivi
vibrations. The pure agni causes the perception of red,
the taijas-prithivi of yellow, the taijas-apas
of white, the taijas-vayu of blue, and so on. Other
colors are produced in the mind by mixed vibrations in a
thousand varying degrees. The apas gives softness, the vayu
roughness, the agni harshness. We see through the eyes
not only color, but also form. It will be remembered that a
particular form has been assigned to every tatwic vibration, and
all the forms of gross matter answer to corresponding tatwic
vibrations. Thus, form can be perceived through every sense. The
eyes can see form, the tongue can taste it, the skin can touch
it, and so on. This may probably appear to be a novel assertion,
but it must be remembered that virtue is not an act. The ear
would hear form, if the more general use of the eye and skin for
this purpose had not almost stifled it into inaction.
The pure apas vibrations cause an astringent taste, the
apas-prithivi a sweet, the apas-agni hot, the apas-vayu
acid, and so on. Innumerable other vibrations of taste are
caused by intermediate vibrations in various degrees.