I-1 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 9

Topic 9 - The word Prāṇa to be understood as Brahman

Sutra 1,1.23

अत एव प्राणः ॥ २३ ॥

ata eva prāṇaḥ || 23 ||

ata eva—For the same reason; praṇaḥ—(the word) Prāṇa (refers to Brahman).

23. For the same reason (the word) ‘Prāṇa’ (also refers to Brahman).

We read in the Chāṇḍogya (I, 10; ii), 'Prastotri, that deity which belongs to the Prastāva,' etc.; and further on, 'which then is that deity? He said--Breath. For all these beings merge into breath alone, and from breath they arise. This is the deity belonging to the Prastāva. If without knowing that deity you had sung forth, your head would have fallen off.' Here the word 'breath,' analogously to the word 'ether' denotes the highest Brahman, which is different from what is commonly called breath; we infer this from the fact that special characteristics of Brahman, viz. the whole world's entering into and rising from it, are in that text referred to as well-known things. There indeed here arises a further doubt; for as it is a matter of observation that the existence, activity, etc., of the whole aggregate of creatures depend on breath, breath--in its ordinary acceptation--may be called the cause of the world. This doubt is, however, disposed of by the consideration that breath is not present in things such as stones and wood, nor in intelligence itself, and that hence of breath in the ordinary sense it cannot be said that 'all beings enter into it,' etc. We therefore conclude that Brahman is here called 'breath' in so far as he bestows the breath of life on all beings. And the general result of the discussion carried on in connexion with the last two Sūtras thus is that the words 'ether' and 'breath' denote something other than what is ordinarily denoted by those terms, viz. the highest Brahman, the sole cause of this entire world, free from all evil, etc. etc.-- Here terminates the Adhikaraṇa of 'breath.' The subsequent Sūtras up to the end of the Pāda demonstrate that the being which the texts refer to as 'Light or 'Indra'--terms which in ordinary language are applied to certain other well-known beings--, and which is represented as possessing someone or other supremely exalted quality that is invariably connected with world-creative power, is no other than the highest Brahman.