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Mahavira's Scripture Of Health: [01.05] Existence And Health - Vital Energy (Prana)

Published: 10.03.2007
Updated: 06.08.2008

The fourth component of existence is the vital energy. It is fundamental to existence. The vital energy is the basis of the life of a human being or any living being. In prekshadhyan, when perception of breathing is practised, the instruction is to perceive the breath and perceive the vital energy along with the breath. Mahavira has mentioned 10 types of vital energy.

  • Five vital energy pertaining to the five senses,
  • the vital energy pertaining to respiration,
  • the vital energy pertaining to the body power,
  • the vital force pertaining to the mental power,
  • the vital power pertaining to speech power and
  • the vital energy pertaining to life-span.

The functioning of our body is governed by the vital energy. A large number of problems arising in the body are expressed through the medium of the body, but those problems do not originate in the body. Any disease is attributed to several causes. One cause of illness may be hereditary. Circumstances, atmosphere, virus, germs and so on also may cause diseases. When there is incongruity of the dhatus (constituent elements of the body), the organs of the body do not maintain equilibrium. It is in such a situation that a person contracts an illness. All these causes are not irrelevant. But they are not the only causes. When the balance of the vital force is disturbed, a person becomes ill although his bodily organs may be healthy.

The vital energy is the connecting link between the subtle body and the gross body. It is through the prana that we are related to the subtle body. Ayurveda regards karma as one of the causes of illness. An illness comes through karma also. We hold the same view in this matter from the point of view of the karma doctrine. The cause of some diseases can not be traced outside. The seeds of karma lie in subtle body in which old samskaras are accumulated and guide all our activities. When they enter the gross body through the vital energy, the illness relating to the vital energy is original. From this point of view the vital energy has a great significance for our health.

A person suffering from constipation takes all types of medicines for purgation, but to no effect. The question is: Why does this happen? The reason is that his flatus is not functioning properly. If there is irregularity in the functioning of his flatus, there would not be full evacuation of the bowels, even if one takes thousands of medicines. Flatus lies between the anus and the navel. If flatus is not in the proper condition, one could suffer from melancholia, restlessness, depression and dejection. The moment the flatus is restored to its proper condition, everything would function well.

Whether it is the question of behaviour psychology or physical treatment, the balance of the vital energy is necessary. The vital energy is meant for the adequate functioning of these things. You want to drive car, but there is no petrol so how long can you go on pushing the car? However much you strive, the car would not move without the fuel. The vital energy is our life. The life is governed by the vital energy. What leads to a heart disease? There are several causes for it, but if the vital energy functions properly, it would lend strength to the heart. It would not become weak. If prana does not function properly, the result would be the continuous state of lassitude.

A gentleman from Nepal said, "Sir, I got the by-pass surgery done for my heart, but I still continue to feel sad, restlessness and depressed. As a matter of fact, I am unable to get up in the morning before 11 o'clock. It seems that life is not moving at all, there is nothing in it to cheer. I am living a life in which there is nothing but worry.

I said, "Do not depend solely on medicines. Try some other methods at the same time. Practise perception of deep breathing and kayotsarga (relaxation)."

That gentleman practised these things. He was very intelligent and wealthy man. He told me on the third day,

"Maharaj. I was able to get up today at seven o'clock after several months. By practising deep breathing and kayotsarga for three days I feel there is 25% improvement. I am more cheerful and my mind is not so restless."

Is such a thing possible? How could he have improved by practising deep breathing and kayotsarga for three days when so many months of medical treatment did not help him? The only reason is that when vital energy is sufficiently active and the breathing process would be proper, the heart would get sufficient oxygen and its functioning and health would be maintained.

A politician from Rajasthan went to America for a bypass surgery. His by-pass surgery was done. The doctor said, "You have been breathing very well. Do you know how to take deep breath?" That politician said, "I have been practising prekshadhyana. Hence, I know to take deep breath."

  • Mahavira's Scripture Of Health by © Acharya Mahaprajna
  • Edited by Muni Dulheraj & Muni Dhananjay Kumar
  • Translated by Sarla Jag Mohan
  • Published by Adarsh Sahitya Sangh, New Dehli, India, 2000

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Ayurveda
  2. Body
  3. Karma
  4. Kayotsarga
  5. Mahavira
  6. Perception of Breathing
  7. Prana
  8. Prekshadhyan
  9. Prekshadhyana
  10. Rajasthan
  11. Samskaras
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