Prasna Upanishad: Question III

1. Then Kausalya Asvalayana asked him, 'Blessed one, from where is the breath bom? How does it arrive in the body? How does it divide itself up and become established? How does it support what is outside and what is concerned with oneself?'

2. He told him, 'You ask very advanced questions: but since I think you are a most true Brahmana, I will tell you.

3. 'The breath is born from the self. It reaches up to it like the shadow to a person. It arrives in the body through the action of mind.

4. 'Just as a monarch appoints his officials, saying, "Take charge of these villages." Take charge of these villages,' the breath sets the other breaths in their various different places.

5. 'The lower breath (apana) is in the anus and the loins. The breath {prana) itself is established in the eye and the ear, the mouth and the nostrils. The central breath {samana) is in the middle: it makes equal (sama) all that is offered as food. From it the seven flames come to be.

6. 'The self is in the heart: here are the hundred and one channels. Each of them has a hundred; and every one of those has seventy-two thousand branch-channels. In them moves the diffused breath (vydna).

7. 'Through one of them, the up-breath (uddna) rises: it leads to a pure world through pure action, to an evil one through evil, through both to the human world.

8. 'The sun rises as the external breath, for it takes care of the breath of the eye—with the deity that is in the earth supporting the lower breath, and the space between as the central breath. Air is the diffused breath.

9. 'Heat (tejas) is the up-breath, so when one's heat has died down one goes on to rebirth, with faculties absorbed into mind.

10. 'With whatever consciousness30 one has, one goes to breath. The breath, joined with heat, along with the self, leads one to the kind of world that is fitting.

11. 'If one, knowing this, knows the breath, one's progeny do not cease. One becomes immortal. There is a verse about it:

12. 'Knowing the arising, the arriving, and the place And the pervading in five ways Of the breath in relation to the self, One attains immortality: Knowing, one attains immortality.'

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