Hope you enjoyed my previous post on “Pratyahara“. This post lets see What is Pranamaya Kosha?
Once we have been able to manage the normal activities of the mind, the thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and we are able to understand our rationality, then we begin to deal with Pranamaya Kosha or the dimension of energy. The name is pranamaya, the dimension filled with prana. The question naturally comes; what is prana? Generally, it has been translated as energy.
Prana has been defined as the force which governs the manifest dimension, or the life process. Yoga defines two qualities of prana. In one aspect prana governs the activities, the functions of body and mind. In the other aspect, prana manages the cosmos, the universe.
We have to understand prana from a different perspective in order to relate it to our life. Prana is the quality of elements. What is the quality of Agni tattwa – the fire element? Heat. What is the quality of Jal tattwa – the water element? Fluidity. What is the quality of Prithvi tattwa – the earth element? – it’s supportive nature. What is the quality of Vayu tattwa? – The air element? – it’s sustaining nature.
What is the quality of akasha tattwa – the space or sky element? It provides the right atmosphere for growth. There is a very beautiful statement in the Vedas which is Kham Brahman meaning space is higher consciousness. It is this space which has been recognized as the ultimate maha prana.
So, each of the five elements has a particular quality, attribute, and function. In the body, we experience head, which is the quality of Agni tattwa, the fire element. Our body is more than 80% liquid, that is the Jal tattwa or water element. The fusion of elements in different degrees gives rise to new life forms. These elements, along with their qualities, support the life forms, and their inherent quality is known as prana.
Prana is known by the yogis to exist in, animate beings and also in inanimate beings. Prana can have different colors and just as you mix two colors to create a third color, so two elements can create a third force of prana. You can imagine how many different types of pranas we have, with their combination of the five elements and also their individual pranic energy. The manifestation of these pranic forces is seen in Kundalini Yoga in the chakras.
In brief, prana is the factor which can either elevate the mind and consciousness and raise the energy, or bind one to a physical state of experience and to confines from which there is no escape, confines we experience in the form of different mentalities.
According to yoga, the pranic system is harmonized with the practices of pranayama and dharana. When we practice pranayama we are purifying, stimulating and awakening the physical pranic energy, but when we come to the state of dharana after practicing pratyahara, then we deal with the energy contained in the tattwas.
In Pranamaya Kosha there is another aspect, and that is of consciousness. Each aspect of prana has been linked with a definite state of consciousness and one of the instincts. In order to awaken one’s dormant potentials in the form of kundalini, yoga states that it is necessary to control these instincts.
For example, Manipura is governed by the instinct of craving for satisfaction and fulfillment which is known as ahara. It is necessary to sustain the individual personality. Just like food sustains the physical body, feelings sustain the mental body. From the good food we derive enjoyment and pleasure, and from good feelings, we also derive enjoyment and pleasure, and we nurture ourselves.
The instinct of sleep governs Anahata chakra. Here sleep is not to be understood in the same context as normal sleep. Sleep, or nidra, here means the absence of a solid base, which leads to the disconnection of the senses from the outer environment. Through the eyes, we are aware of the quality of vision.
When we close our eyes the external vision is not active, there is a disconnection of the visual sense from the world of senses and objects. We hear through the ears. If we plug our ears and do not hear any outside sound, that is known as disconnection from the world of sound. These different disconnections lead to the isolation of the mind from the world of senses and objects, and this isolation is known as nidra.
It has been defined as an instinct also because when the mind is overloaded with sensory inputs there is a natural and instinctive tendency for it to withdraw itself from the outside world. This withdrawal is experienced as deep introversion which physically manifests as sleep. So these are examples of the instincts which we try to overcome in the process of the awakening of pranamaya kosha.
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