II-4 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 5

Topic 5 - The chief vital force is different from air and sense functions

Sutra 2,4.9

न वायुक्रिये, पृथगुपदेशात् ॥ ९ ॥

na vāyukriye, pṛthagupadeśāt || 9 ||

na vāyukriye—Not air nor function; pṛthak—separately; upadeśāt—on account of its being mentioned.

9. (The chief Prāṇa) is neither air nor any function (of the organs) on account of its being mentioned separately.

Is this main vital breath nothing else but air, the second of the elements? Or is it a certain motion of the air? Or is it air that has assumed some special condition?--The first alternative may be adopted, on account of the text 'prāṇa is air.'--Or, since mere air is not called breath, while this term is generally applied to that motion of air which consists in inhalation and exhalation, we may hold that breath is a motion of air.--Of both these views the Sūtra disposes by declaring 'not so, on account of separate statement.' For in the passage 'From him there is produced breath, mind, and all sense-organs, ether and air,' &c, breath and air are mentioned as two separate things. For the same reason breath also cannot be a mere motion or function of air; for the text does not mention any functions of fire and the other elements, side by side with these elements, as separate things (and this shows that breath also cannot, in that text, be interpreted to denote a function of air). The text 'prāṇa is air,' on the other hand, intimates (not that breath is identical with air. but) that breath is air having assumed a special form, not a thing altogether different from it, like fire. In ordinary language, moreover, the word breath does not mean a mere motion but a substance to which motion belongs; we say, ‘the breath moves to and fro in inhalation and exhalation.'

Is breath, which we thus know to be a modification of air, to be considered as a kind of elementary substance, like fire, earth, and so on? Not so, the next Sūtra replies.

Sutra 2,4.10

चक्षुरादिवत्तु तत्सहशिष्ट्यादिभ्यः ॥ १० ॥

cakṣurādivattu tatsahaśiṣṭyādibhyaḥ || 10 ||

cakṣurādivat—Like eyes etc.; tu—but; tat-saha-śiṣṭyādibhyaḥ—on account of (its) being taught with them and other reasons.

10. But (Prāṇa is subordinate to the soul) like eyes etc. on account of (its) being taught with them and for other reasons.

Breath is not an element, but like sight and the rest, a special instrument of the soul. This appears from the fact that the texts mention it together with the recognised organs of the soul, the eye, and so on; so e. g. in the colloquy of the prāṇas. And such common mention is suitable in the case of such things only as belong to one class.--The 'and for other reasons' of the Sūtra refers to the circumstance of the principal breath being specially mentioned among the organs comprised under the term 'prāṇa'; cp. 'that principal breath' (Kh. Up. I, 2, 7); 'that central breath' (Bri. Up. I, 5, 21).--But if the chief breath is, like the eye and the other organs, an instrument of the soul, there must be some special form of activity through which it assists the soul, as the eye e.g. assists the soul by seeing. But no such activity is perceived, and the breath cannot therefore be put in the same category as the organs of sensation and action!--To this objection the next Sūtra replies.

 Sutra 2,4.11

अकरणत्वाच्च न दोषः, तथाहि दर्शयति ॥ ११ ॥

akaraṇatvācca na doṣaḥ, tathāhi darśayati || 11 ||

akaraṇatvāt—On account of (its) not being an instrument; ca—and; na—not; doṣaḥ—objection; tathā hi—because thus; darśayati—(Śruti) teaches.

11. And on account of (its) not being an instrument (there is) no objection, because thus (the scripture) teaches.

The kāraṇa of the Sūtra means kriyā, action. The objection raised on the ground that the principal breath does not exercise any form of activity helpful to the soul, is without force, since as a matter of fact Scripture declares that there is such an activity, in so far as the vital breath supports the body with all its organs. For the text (Kh. Up. V, 1, 7 ff.) relates how on the successive departure of speech, and so on, the body and the other organs maintained their strength, while on the departure of the vital breath the body and all the organs at once became weak and powerless.--The conclusion therefore is that the breath, in its fivefold form of prāṇa, apāna, and so on, subserves the purposes of the individual soul, and thus occupies the position of an instrument, no less than the eye and the other organs.

But as those five forms of breath, viz. prāṇa, udāna, &c., have different names and functions they must be separate principles (and hence there is not one principal breath)! To this the next Sūtra replies.

 Sutra 2,4.12

पञ्चवृत्तिर्मनोवद्व्यपदिश्यते ॥ १२ ॥

pañcavṛttirmanovadvyapadiśyate || 12 ||

pañcavṛttiḥ—Having fivefold function; manovat—like the mind; vyapadiśyate—it is taught.

12. It is taught as having a fivefold function like the mind.

As desire, and so on, are not principles different from mind, although they are different functions and produce different effects--according to the text, 'Desire, purpose, doubt, faith, want of faith, firmness, absence of firmness, shame, reflection, fear--all this is mind' (Bri. Up. I,,5, 3); so, on the ground of the text, 'prāṇa, apāna, vyāna, udāna, samāna--all this is prāṇa' (ibid.), apāna and the rest must be held to be different functions of prāṇa only, not independent principles.--Here terminates the Adhikaraṇa of what is 'a modification of air.'