[Advaita-l] BGBh and yoga - prANAyAma and pratyAhAra

Vidyasankar Sundaresan 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.


Don’t just search. Find. Check out the new MSN Search! 

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list