Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 4: Pranasraishthyadhikaranam: Topic 4 (Sutra 8)

The chief Prana has also an origin from Brahman.

Sreshthascha II.4.8 (277)

And the best (i.e., the chief vital air or Prana is also produced).

Sreshthah: the best, the highest, the chief Prana (vital force or life-energy); Cha: and, also.

The chief Prana is being characterised now.

The chief Prana has also an origin. It is an effect of Brahman.

The Purvapakshin or the opponent says: "From this (Brahman) is produced the vital force or Prana" (Mun. Up. II.1.3). Again we have "By its own law the one was breathing without wind; there was nothing different from that or higher than that" (Rig Veda VIII.7.17). Here the words 'was breathing' which denote the proper function of breath show that breath or Prana must have existed before the creation. Therefore, it may be concluded that Prana was not created. There seems to be a contradiction with reference to its origination.

This Sutra refutes the above view and declares that even the chief Prana is produced from Brahman.

The words "was breathing" are qualified by the addition "without wind" and so do not intimate that Prana existed before creation.

Moreover scriptural passages such as "He is without breath, without mind, pure" (Mun. Up. II.1.2) declare clearly that Brahman is without any qualifications such as Prana and so on. Therefore the words "was breathing" have merely the purpose of stating the existence of the cause. They intimate that Brahman, the cause existed before creation as is known from the texts like "Existence alone was there before this" (Chh. Up. VI.2.1).

In the Sruti passage "Anidavatam", the word 'avata' shows that what is referred to is something which is anterior to Prana. Anit, therefore refers to Brahman.

The term "the best" denotes the chief vital air (Mukhya Prana) according to the declaration of scripture, "Breath indeed is the oldest and the best" (Chh. Up. V.1.1). The breath is the oldest or the chief because it begins its function from the moment when the child is conceived. The senses of hearing, etc., begin to function only when their special seats, viz., the ears, etc., are formed. They are, therefore, not the oldest. It is called the oldest or the chief on account of its superior qualities and on account of the passage "We shall not be able to live without thee" (Bri. Up. VI.1.13). The chief Prana is called the best, because it is the cause of the maintenance of the body.