[Advaita-l] BGBh and yoga - prANAyAma and pratyAhAra
svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Thu Jul 7 13:50:17 CDT 2005
To begin with, I apologize for the delay in posting this next mail in the
bhagavad gItA bhAShya (BGBh) and yoga series. In the previous mails in this
we discussed how our AchArya takes into account yama and niyama, as
instrumental causes (nimitta-kAraNa) or cooperative causes (sahakAri-kAraNa)
in the rise of right knowledge (saMyag-darSana). Among the yama-s and
niyama-s listed in the yogasUtra-s, tapas, svAdhyAya and ISvara-praNidhAna
are also described as constituting kriyA-yoga. The taittirIya upaniShat (TU)
also places great emphasis on tapas and svAdhyAya. I will discuss what
SaN^karAchArya says in the corresponding commentary (TUBh) in another mail.
Similarly, I will take up his comments vis-a-vis ISvara and vis-a-vis Asana
in other posts, because those discussions will have to involve texts other
than BGBh also. Moreover, they tie in closely with what SaN^karAchArya
describes as dhAraNa-yoga in BGBh.
In this post, we take up the BGBh references to prANAyAma and pratyAhAra.
Let us first see what the yogasUtra-s say about these two. prANAyAma is
defined in yogasUtra 2.49 simply as control of inhalation and exhalation of
breath - tasmin sati SvAsa-praSvAsayor gati-vichChedaH prANAyAmaH. More
descriptive terms like pUraka, rechaka and kumbhaka for the different types
of prANAyAma are not found in the yogasUtra itself, but only in the bhAShya
(YSBh) of vyAsa.
Similarly, BG itself does not refer to these technical terms, but talks of
controlling prANa and apAna -
apAne juhvati prANaM prANe.apAnaM tathApare |
prANApAna gatI ruddhvA prANAyAma parAyaNAH || BG 4.29
In the commentary, SaN^karAchArya takes this verse as a reference to the
pUraka, rechaka and kumbhaka kinds of prANAyAma. "apAne juhvati prANaM" is
explained as pUrakAkhyaM prANAyAmaM kurvanti, while "prANe.apAnaM tathApare"
is explained as rechakAkhyaM ca prANayAmaM kurvanti. The next pada,
"prANApAna gatI ruddhvA" is explained as kumbhakAkhyaM prANAyAmaM kurvanti.
Note also that the verb form "ruddvA" is elaborated in the commentary as
niruddhya, i.e. a participle form of the noun nirodha, which is more
familiar from yogasUtra.
The previous verse, BG 4.28, refers to dravya-yaGYa, tapo-yaGYa, yoga-yaGYa
etc. SaN^karAchArya takes the term yoga-yaGYa as follows -
prANAyAma-pratyAhArAdi lakShaNo yogo yaGYo yeShAM te yoga-yaGYAH - those who
consider prANAyAma and pratyAhAra as sacrifice are called yoga-yaGYa-s.
Thus, he sees this verse as a specific reference to prANAyAma and
pratyAhAra. This is the only reference in the commentary to pratyAhAra, as
far as I have been able to find.
It seems to me that SaN^karAchArya prefers to use terms related to
upasaMhAra much more, when he describes the withdrawal of the senses from
their objects and bringing them under control.
See for example, indriyANi indriyArthebhyaH sarvaviShayebhya upasaMharate
(BGBh 2.58) and SabdAdibhyo viShayebhyaH SrotrAdIni karaNAni manasy
upasaMhR^itya (BGBh 13.24).
Both are obtained from the same root hR^i, as pratyAhAra is a noun form
obtained from prati + A + hR^i, while upasaMhAra is a noun obtained from upa
+ saM + hR^i.
The next post will discuss Asana in BGBh and also in the brahmasUtra bhAShya
(BSBh). I will try to send posts in this series more frequently and not
space them too far from each other.
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