Prana is a force and so it has vibrations. We are not able to perceive all vibrations because our senses do not perceive the vibrations above and below a certain intensity level. The whole universe is composed of subtle vibrations. All the forces of the universe are generalized as Prana.
Prana at the universal level (samashti)
“From Him originates Prana (vital force) as well as the mind, all the senses, space, air, fire, water and earth that supports everything” Mundaka upanisad, II, i, 3. At the end of a cycle, all the forms that are disintegrated as solid, liquid and gas resolve into akasa (ether), and all the forces resolve into Prana. The energies (forces) become potential energies and they remain in a non-vibrant state. At the beginning of the next cycle, Prana manifests akasa and from it the other pancha–bhutas (five basic elements) evolves out successively. The different combinations of the pancha-bhutas give different forms. The different energies in the universe are the different manifestations of the Prana. It is the Prana that is manifested as the motion, gravitation, and magnetism. Thought is the highest and finest manifestation of Prana. Prana is manifested as the actions of the body and as the nerve currents. From the thought force down to the lowest force, each energy is the manifestation of the Prana. The sum total of all the forces in the universe, whether mental or physical when resolved back to their original state is called Prana. Thus the sum total of all the energies become potential and toned down in the unmanifested period and the energies manifest as these forces in the manifestation period. Thus the energies evolve and involve through eternity.
Throughout the universe the Prana vibrates at different frequencies. The whole universe is of varying layers of Prana and each layer has different frequency of vibration. The different layers are the different vibrations of the same Prana. One order of vibration makes one plane. Millions of miles are set to one set of vibration. Then similarly millions of miles are set to another set of vibration and so on. In the Indian tradition these different layers of vibrations are called different lokas (spheres). Just like the “birds of a feather flock together”, beings with the same intensity of vibration recognize each other. The beings of one layer do not recognize the beings of the other layer. Depending on the vibration of the Prana the forms of the beings also differ. Each individual represent Prana in a certain state of vibration. It is possible to change the intensity of vibration of an individual by bhakti, yoga, positive or negative emotions. Thought is a finer manifestation of Prana, by intense thought we can change the intensity of vibration. Just like adjusting camera to get distant and close views, we can change the intensity of vibration by thoughts, yoga, bhakti etc., and can recognize the beings in the other intensity levels. Whether we want to recognize the higher intensity level or the lower intensity level is our choice, because it depends on how we tune the vibration level. All the beings including the divine beings are of the same ocean of Prana, they differ only in the rate of vibration. When we increase the rate of vibration, we recognize the divine beings, their forms, their ideas and words and so on. In the extreme higher levels of vibration, it is possible to understand the whole combination of creation. At this stage it is possible to understand the past, present, and future of each and every being of the different energy level. Any extraordinary display of power is the manifestation of the Prana. When the vibration of the Prana decreases, the beings at the lower vibration level are recognized. The people who do anything with the occult and mystical energies are trying to control the Pranic vibrations. In the normal state, an individual recognizes the other beings in their same layer of vibration.
According to Vedanta there is no difference between two forms, though it may differ scientifically. The whole universe with different forms is a mass of matter with the same operating energy, but with different vibrating frequency.
Prana at the individual level (vyashti)
“Energy if it vibrates, takes a form. Prana is the physical energy, which is the source of all physical creation. The whole existence is just a vibration”, Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev. The entire universe is composed of the subtle vibration of Prana. The knowledge and control of the Prana is Pranayama. The little wave of Prana which represent as our own energy, mental and physical is the nearest to us, of all the waves of the infinite ocean of Prana. Through the little wave of our own Prana, we get access to the infinite Prana. The most obvious manifestation of this Prana in the human body is the motion of the lungs. Pranayama means controlling the motion of the lungs, and this motion is associated with breath. The disturbance of the Prana in the body is called in medical terms as disease. Sometimes the movement of the Prana will not be stable and uniform in the body and the passage of energy will be blocked in the affected part of the body which causes irritation or pain. The uniform motion of Prana cures the pain.
It is the Prana which keeps the jiva and the physical body connected by its vibrations. When the Prana disconnects from the physical body, it is said that the body is dead. Only the gross body is dead, the subtle and causal bodies are intact and still vibrating at a low pace or almost in a sedate state. This is due to the existing karmas and they remain in that state till the Jiva takes a new body. ” Just as a man casts off worn-out clothes and puts on new ones, so also the embodied Self casts off worn-out bodies and enters others which are new” Baghavad Gita, 2, 22. When the physical body becomes weak due to old age, disease, etc, the vibration of the Prana to hold on the body also weakens by nature. Many of the old age problems like memory loss, blockage of veins and so on are caused due to the weakening of the vibration of the prana and its connection with the body.
If the damage to the body is sudden or unexpected at very young age like accident, murder etc, then the Prana is very vibrant, but the body is dead. The Prana cannot immediately reconstruct the body. It is highly possible that the Prana’s intense vibration may sometimes be felt by others, and this is what people commonly refer to as ‘ghost’. They need not be necessarily harmful or negative; they just hang around because they cannot accept the sudden damage to their body. When a person has intense desires, longings, ambitions etc, then their pranic vibration will be very high and it will take a long time to settle down.
After leaving the physical body, if the Pranic body (subtle body) is very vibrant due to unnatural death or so on, they cannot enter or take a new body. The Pranic vibration must be very low or in a sedate state to enter a new body. In the Indian tradition there are some ritual practices done by the relatives and friends of the departed jiva to lower the vibrancy to a sedate or a very low state, so that it can help them to take new bodies. Else they will hang around till their pranic vibration becomes low by nature, with the passage of time. However, this is not the case when a person leaves the body of old age or by natural death, because their prana has gone a full course by the exhaustion of their prarabdha karmas, and the vibration of the Prana is low while leaving the body. This helps them to take rebirths at a faster rate. The Prana reaches a certain level of sedateness and disentangle itself without any struggle or disturbance. The vibration of the Prana remains in the sedate state till it finds its new body (rebirth). If the Prana leaves the body without peace, then there is violence in it and it is carried as impressions in the subtle body which is not good for that Jiva or for the people around it.
A physical body takes form initially by the combination of the cells of the parents. This mass of cell grows in the mother’s womb. In the duration of forty to forty eight days of its formation, a jiva enters in to that mass of cell in the mother’s womb. The new body now becomes a Being, till then it is only a mass of flesh. According to the karmic account, the Jiva has the natural tendency to go in a certain direction to a certain mother’s womb. In a way it can be said that, the Jiva selects the parents, family, situations etc according to its past karmas. Once the Jiva enters the new body, the Prana regains its vibrancy to perform the new set of karmas. The Prana enhances the quality of the physical body according to the karmas. A mother or medical help alone is not responsible for bringing out a healthy and an intelligent child. The Pranic vibrations according to the karma play an important role in the health and the mentality of a child. Even the movement of the feotus inside the mother’s womb depends on the pranic vibration of that Jiva. No two individual’s personality is ever same because of their karmic structure and accordingly their Pranic vibrations differ.
If the vibration of the Prana reaches a tremendous high intensity, then the vibrations will become still. At this stage it cannot hold on to the body. One can reach this state of extreme vibrancy by yoga, bhakti, knowledge, or intense emotions. When the extreme vibrancy is reached consciously, it is called samadhi. Such beings will not seek another body because their vibrations are so intense to hold on to a body. Just like bursting of a bubble, they merge in infinity.
Prana is important not only during the lifetime; it also plays an important role after the lifetime to take rebirth. “Spirituality makes us realize that each individual is a little bit of energy caught in a karmic structure. When karma is removed, energy falls back to what it was”, Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev. If there are no karmas, the mental body and the energy body cannot hold themselves. It is the karma along with the ego (I sense) that gives the individuality. The karmas are destroyed by viveka (differentiation) of the Atma (Self) and anatma (non-Self). This knowledge is attained by Vedanta. The importance of the Prana is to be understood and has to be controlled or managed accordingly. Pranayama plays an important role in controlling the Prana.
Swami Vivekananda, Raja Yoga, Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata
Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev, Mystic’s Musings, Wisdom tree, New Delhi