Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 3: Kampanadhikaranam: Topic 10 (Sutra 39)

The Prana in which everything trembles is Brahman.

Kampanat I.3.39 (102)

(Prana is Brahman) on account of the vibration or trembling (spoken of the whole world).

Kampanat: on account of shaking or vibration.

After discussing the side issues in Sutra 25-38 the Sutrakara or the author of the Sutras resumes the examination of the main issue.

An argument in support of Sutra 24 is given here.

The discussion of qualification for Brahma Vidya or knowledge of Brahman is over. We return to our chief topic i.e., the enquiry into the purport of the Vedanta texts.

We read in Kathopanishad II-3-2 "Whatever there is in the whole world has come out of Prana and trembles in the Prana. The Prana is a great terror, a raised thunderbolt. Those who know it become immortal."

The Purvapakshin maintains that the term Prana denotes the air or the vital force with its five modifications. The Siddhantin says: Here Prana is Brahman and not the vital force, because Brahman only is spoken of in the preceding as well as in the subsequent part of the chapter. How then can it be supposed that all at once the vital force should be referred to in the intermediate part?

"The whole world trembles in Prana." We find here a quality of Brahman viz., its constituting the abode of the whole world. That the word 'Prana' denotes the highest Self appears from such passages as 'the Prana of Prana' Bri. Up. IV-4-18. The scripture declares "No mortal lives by the Prana and the breath that goes down. We live by another in whom these two repose" (Katha Up. II-5-5.) In the passage subsequent to the one under discussion "From terror of it fire burns, from terror the sun shines, from terror Indra and Vayu and Death as the fifth run away." Brahman and not the vital force is spoken of as the subject of that passage, which is represented as the cause of fear on the part of the entire universe inclusive of the Prana itself. Brahman only is the cause of the life of the entire universe including the vital force.

Brahman is compared to a thunderbolt because he inspires fear in fire, air, sun, Indra and Yama. Further Immortality is declared to him who knows this Prana. "A man who knows him only passes over death, there is no other path to go." (Svet. Up. VI-15). Prana is also often used to denote Brahman in the Sruti.