[Advaita-l] Ramana Yoga Sutras (5)

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Wed Jul 14 21:22:00 EDT 2021

(Continued from previous post)
III. “pavana chalana rodhat” By controlling the movement of the breath
1. Bhagavan explains how one can enter the heart or
the state of thoughtlessness. He says it can be done by
controlling the movements of the breath. It is said that the
word ‘pavana’ here is used in a technical sense. It means
‘prana’ or the vital force. The vital force in the body works
mainly in five ways, and also in another five ways that are
subsidiary. The first five movements are called the pancha
pranas. The first force makes one breathe in and the second
enables one to talk. Another enables one to expel things
out of the body. Still another aids digestion, and the fifth
spreads all over the body, keeping it alive. The pavana of
the vital force here intended is that which makes one breathe
in and out. It is called the ‘mukhya prana.’
2. When the breath is held, it is observed that the
thoughts also decrease and finally, when the breath
movement is brought to a standstill, the thoughts also
completely subside. This is a practical tip given by Bhagavan.
He explains this rationale in a couplet of “Upadesa Saram”
where he says, “Force divides into two branches. One is
the mind and the second is the prana.” [Verse 12] They are
like two horses harnessed to a carriage. When the reins of
one are held tight, it naturally has to stop, thereby rendering
the other unable to proceed.
Contrary to what medical science says, stoppage of
breath does not result in an increase of carbon dioxide in
the blood, which should weaken one. Yogis have been said
to prolong their lives for hundreds of years by completely
stopping their breath (by adopting what is called
‘lambikayoga’). Now, completely stopping the breath is not
possible in the beginning; it is a matter of practice. Certain
other things are helpful (such as remaining fixedly in an asana)
for effecting control of breath.
By controlling any one prana it is seen, in practical life,
that you control the other pranas also.
3. When the movements of the vital force are controlled,
this vital force no longer gives any scope for the sense organs
to reach out towards worldly objects. Consequently the
vital force fills the body and returns to its source, the Atman,
where the mind also dissolves at the same time. It is, so to
speak, as if a dam were raised across a rushing torrent,
which would inevitably reverse the direction of its flow.
4. It is said that if one stops talking for a dozen years
the mind will be rendered fairly calm, at which time the
silencing of the thoughts altogether can be practiced. With
a dozen years of practice of the latter variety, the silence
attained will be profound and deep, and that is the state of
samadhi. Sri Rama Yogi, a well known disciple of Sri
Bhagavan, practiced the silence of the first variety and the
progress he made is described in Paul Brunton’s book, "A
Search in Secret India".
(Continued in next post)

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