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Is the amount of Prana we are born with is constant throughout our life or can it be increased?

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There is always a lot of confusion on prana as many people see and read many misleading statements on the nature of prana. Prana is Brahman. The vedas and the the upanishads state this very clearly. As it is Brahman, it neither increases or decreases. The Brahma Sutras has a discussion on Prana. (https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/brahma-sutras) Chapter 1, Section 1, Adhikarana XI. It states:

  1. Prana is Brahman, it being so comprehended (from the purport of the texts).

In the previous topic the fact that Brahman’s three feet (quarters) were spoken of in an earlier text as being in heaven heiped us to recognize that the same Brahman is spoken of as the light above heaven. The connection with heaven helped us to this recognition. Now another text is taken up for discussion, in which there is no such decisive factor.

In the Kaushitaki Upanishad there occurs the following conversation between Indra and Pratardana, in which the latter says to Indra :

“You yourself choose for me that boon which you deem most beneficial to man.”

Indra said,

“Know me only, that is what I deem most beneficial to man. . . . I am Prana, the intelligent self (Prajnatman), meditate on me as life, as immortality. . . . And that Prana is indeed the intelligent self, blessed, undecaying, immortal” (Kau. 3. 1-8).

The question is raised whether these passages refer to the god Indra, or the individual self, or the vital force, or Brahman. The decision is that as the characteristics of Brahman are more in evidence in these passages than those of the god Indra, individual soul, or the vital force (Prana), therefore Brahman is referred to in these passages; hence Prana here means Brahman.

The characteristics of Brahman referred to are:

(1) Indra says in reply to Pratardana’s request for that which is most beneficial to man, “Know me, I am Prana” etc., and since Brahman alone is most beneficial to man, Indra’s answer refers to Brahman.

(2) Prana is spoken of as blessed, undecaying, immortal, which can be true only of Brahman.

(3) The knowledge of this Prana is also said to absolve one from all sins : “He who knows me thus, by no deed of his is his achievement harmed, neither by matricide nor by patricide. . .” (Kau. 3. 1).

  1. If it be said that (Brahman is) not (referred to in these passages) on account of the speaker’s instruction about himself; (we reply not so), because there is abundance of reference to the Inner Self in this (chapter).

An objection is raised that the word ‘Prana’, cannot as stated in the last Sutra, refer to Brahman, since the speaker Indra describes himself by the word ‘Prana’ in, “I am Prana” etc. But as in this conversation there are profuse references, as already pointed out in Sutra 28, to the Inner Self or Brahman, ‘Prana’ here must be taken as Brahman. And Indra’s describing himself as Prana is apt, since he identifies himself with Brahman in that instruction, as did the Sage Vamadeva.

  1. But (Indra’s) instruction (to Pratardana is justified) by his realization of the Truth confirmed by the scriptures (viz. that he is Brahman), as did (the sage) Vamadeva.

Rishi Vamadeva having realized Brahman said “I was Manu, and the sun,” etc., which is justified by the passage r “Whichsoever of the gods knew It (Brahman) became That” (Brih. 1. 4. 10). Indra’s instruction also is like that. Having realized the truth, “Thou art That”, declared by the scriptures, he identifies himself in the instruction with the Supreme Brahman.

  1. If it be said that (Brahman) is not referred to on account of the characteristics of the individual soul and the vital force (being mentioned), (we say) not so, because (such an interpretation) would enjoin threefold meditation (Upasana); because Prana has been accepted (elsewhere in the sense of Brahman); and because here also (words denoting Brahman) are mentioned with reference to Prana. (Hence it is to be understood to mean Brahman).

The passages under discussion might as well refer to the individual soul and the vital force, for their characteristics also are found:

“One should know the speaker and not inquire into speech” (Kau. 3. 8),

“Prana, laying hold of this body, makes it rise up” (Kau. 3. 3).

The Sutra refutes such a view and says that Bradman alone is referred to by ‘Prana’; for the above interpretation would involve a threefold Upasana, viz. of the individual soul, of the chief vital force, and of Brahman, which is. against the accepted rules of scriptural interpretation. No single passage can be made to yield three different meditations in this way by splitting it up. Moreover in the beginning we have, “Know me only”, followed by, “I am Prana”, and in the end again we have, “And that Prana indeed is the intelligent self, blessed, undecaying, immortal”, which shows that the same topic is kept up throughout. Therefore ‘Prana’ must be taken in the sense of Brahman and that on the ground that Its characteristics are found in this passage which have already been referred to in Sutra 1. 1. 28. This meaning of ‘Prana’ is found in other scriptural passages, and we are justified in taking it in that sense here, since words denoting Brahman are mentioned with reference to ‘Prana’.

and further in Chapter 2, section 4, Adhikarana 4 and 5:

  1. And the chief Prana (vital force) (is also produced).

“From this (Self) is produced the vital force” Mu. 2. 1. 3); again we have, “By Its own law It alone was moving without wind (the vital force)” (Rig-Veda 10. 129. 2). Here the words “was moving” seem to refer to the function of the vital force, and so it must have existed before creation and was therefore not created. Hence there appears to be a contradiction with respect to its origination. This Sutra says that even the vital force is produced from Brahman. The words “was moving” are qualified by ‘without wind’ and so does not intimate that the vital force existed before creation. It only intimates the Brahman, the Cause, existed before creation, as is known from texts like “Existence alone was there before this” (Chh. 6. 2. 1). It is called the ‘chief’, because it functions before all other Pranas and senses, i.e. from the very moment the child is conceived, and also on account of its superior qualities; “We shall not be able to live without you” (Brih. 6. 1. 13).

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

In this Sutra the nature of the chief Prana is discussed. The opponent holds that there is no separate principle called Prana, but that it is only air and nothing else, which exists in the mouth as well as outside. The Sruti also says, “That vital force is air.” Or it may be the combined effect of the functions of all the eleven organs. Just as a number of birds in a cage, when they move, also move the cage, so also the eleven organs functioning together constitute life in the body. So the resultant of these functions is Prana. This is the view of the Sankhyas. Hence there is no separate principle called Prana (vital force).

The Sutra refutes these views and says that Prana is a separate principle, for it is mentioned separately from air and the sense functions. “The Prana (vital force) indeed is the fourth foot of Brahman. That foot shines and warms as the light called air” (Chh. 3. 18. 4), where it is distinguished from air. Again, “From that (Self) are produced the vitai force, mind, and all the organs” (Mu. 2.1.3), which shows that it is not a function of any organ, for in that case it would not have been separated from the organs. The text, “The vital force is air,” is also correct, inasmuch us the effect is but the cause in another form and the vital force is air functioning within the body (Adhyatma). The analogy of the birds in a cage is not to the point, for they all have the same kind of activity, viz, movement, which is favourable to the motion of the cage. But the functions of the organs are not of one kind, but different from one another; and they are also of a distinct nature from that of the vital force. Hence they cannot constitute life. Therefore Prana (vital force) is a separate entity.

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

If the vital force is a separate entity from the organs, which are subordinate to it, then it, like the soul, must also be independent in the body. The Sutra refutes this and says that the vital farce is subordinate to the soul. Why? Because in the conversation of the Pranas which we find in the Upanishads it is mentioned along with the sense-organs. Now in such grouping only those of a class are grouped together. So the vital force, like the organs, is subordinate to the soul. The other reasons referred to in the Sutra are its being composed of parts, its being insentient, and so on.

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

If the vital force, like the organs is also subordinate to the soul, then it must stand in the relation of an instrument to the soul like the organs. But as there are only eleven functions and as many organs already, there is no room for a twelfth organ in the absence of a twelfth sense-object. This Sutra refutes the above objection and says that the vital force is not an instrument or organ like the eyes etc., for the acceptance of which a twelfth sense-object would be necessary; yet it has a function in the body which no sense-organ is capable of, and that is the upkeep of the body. In the text, “Preserves the unclean nest (of a body) with the help of the vital force” (Brih. 4. 3. 12), the vital force is said to guard the body. Again, “From whatever limb the Prana goes, right there it withers” (Brih, 1. 8. 19); “Whatever food one eats through the Prana satisfies these (the organs)” (Brih, 1. 8. 18). All these texts shew that the function of the vital force (Prana) is the upkeep of the body, unlike those of the organs.

Nor is this the only function of the vital force. There are others, too, as the next Sutra declares.

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

“I alone dividing myself fivefold support this body and keep it” (Pr. 2. 3). Fivefold, i.e. as Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana, and Samana each of which has a special function, viz. breathing in, exhaling, functioning throughout the body and aiding feats of strength, helping the soul to pass out of the body, and digesting the food eaten and carrying it to all parts of the body. In this respect it resembles the inner organ, which though one has a fourfold aspect as mind, intellect, ego, and Chitta (memory).

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  • So what does "Prāṇāyāma" do with "Prāṇa" or how does "Prāṇāyāma" affect "Prāṇa", in accordance to this answer? Aug 10 at 15:23
  • I think the answer is nice, thank you Swami Vishwananda ji. I think it can be even better if the verbose discussion is reduced (reference is already there) while only relevant quotes to the question "can prana be increased?" are kept. Thank you.
    – sbharti
    Aug 11 at 1:23
  • your question was on 'prana' not 'pranayama'. If you have a question on pranayama, it should be a separate question, you can also do a search to see if its been answered already. The etymology of the word pranayama is from prana, but that also is a separate question.... Aug 13 at 10:52
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Yes a human beign alloted 100yr life span.. a human takes 21600 breath each day 21600 *360 *100 = 77,76,00,000

https://srsmatha.org/moolaraghupati/sankhya-rahasya-in-sri-harikathamruthasara/

Read the calculation derieved by sri Jangantha Dasa who is incarnation of Sahalda brother of prahalada and who was salya in mahabharata.

The story of sri jagnatha dasa himself, he got is lifespan extended by 50yrs he was given extension by yogi prana transfer from another Dasa i.e. GopalaDasa on the instruction of sri vijayadasa.. its imbibed in hindu culture when you prostate elders they will or keep there hands in head or open position that is why all god idols have the hands open position meaning prana is transferred from that elder person to younger person the whole of pranic healing and prana prathistapana of idols in temple is based on this concept

There is another way called phala mantrakshathay by many yathi or yogi, they will give their prana concerted in the mantrakshathay.

Ans: Yes prana can be transferred. The life of a normal human being is calculated by no. of breaths the person takes. The scale or unit of measure is no. breaths for living being. That is why you can tortoise lives more, Some sea snakes live for thousands of years and some whales live for 400 years because the breath rate is less in those living entity.

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  • Can you clarify in your answer - is it constant or can be increased?
    – Ketan
    Aug 9 at 20:00
  • What does the number 77,76,00,000 represent. How did you arrive at it. And how can prana be increased if possible. Aug 10 at 3:57
  • Have read the link @ExtremeDiscipline.. please go through the link.. you will get it clearly with all the source.. i said yes you can increase your life span by withholding prana.. but prana no. is constant = 777600000 breath..
    – Prasanna R
    Aug 10 at 4:42
  • 2
    Links are not an answer. You need to quote the specifics in words in the body of your answer, and use the link as a reference to your quote. Aug 10 at 12:26
  • 1
    Thank You for your answer. Aug 10 at 17:26

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