PranayAmam & its significance
Human activities cover a very wide range .It includes not only physical activities but also intellectual activities. For this wide range of activities of a human , only one raw material input is the food we take. The human body has to function as an individual complex , to convert this input into various requirements of the body to meet the needs of the different activities. In any Industrial plant , it is well known that for conversion of raw materials to end products , the plant has to be provided with energy .This is done through electricity in most plants.In the case of human body , how is this energy provided ??
The Vedic references mention about ‘Prana’ , as the source of energy for the activities of the human body.This is available everywhere in the universe. According to vedic tenets ‘Prana’ enters the body and divides itself into five forms to cover different zones and also assumes different names .’Prana’ is the prime source of energy and enters the body through respiration. The life energy or ‘Prana’ distributing itself all over the body is known as ‘Vyana’. The energy regulating excretory organs is known as ‘Apana’. The life energy catering for the neck region is known as ‘Udana’ The life energy covering nAbhi (navel) region to support digestion etc is known as ‘Samana’.These are known as ‘Pancha Pranas’ or five life energies . It is customary practice to make offerings to ‘Pancha Pranas’ before taking food .Thus respiratory system is a source of energy supply to the body .This apart, Vedic references mention also ‘ Chakras’ in our body as another source of supply. Of these , the respiratory source is considered very important and measures for respiratory control developed .The pranic energy referred to here is not of one particular type but a mixture of several types.They serve not only as source of energy but also provide faculties such as speech, hearing etc. They also influence personality. Vedic philosophies discuss this aspect .
Realising the importance of pranic energy, efforts were also made for their intake as a part of our living. Sages such as Manu, Yagnavalkya, ParAsara, Gautama and others in their ‘Smritis’ have given the art of living ( Dharma Shastra ) based on their experience .Their one objective was to enhance the nobility and respectability of humans and establish an ideal human society. Out of a rock lying uncared for and treaded by one and all, if an artisan carves an idol of God, it becomes worthy of worship. In the same manner, a human birth alone cannot reach a level of respect Some processing is necessary. This is called ‘SamskAras’ and are made integral part of living .These ‘SamskAras’ enable the individual to acquire various qualities through absorption of appropriate pranic energy.
Our predecessors realized that respiration held the key to health and personality of humans. Thus respiratory control or ‘PranayAmam’ was evolved. This view of the Indian sages was not acceptable to Scientists and the Western world. Hence, these remained as mere rituals. Around 1960, some studies of the brain and the Kirlian photography brought about a revolution. The approach of our sages received recognition. Since then lot of progress has been made.
This is also used in all Vedic rituals. Our sages have given a format for ‘PranayAmam’ .This format is discussed in the light of research of human body through Kirlian photography, brain studies etc. It will be seen from these discussions, that the format for ‘PranayAmam’ given by our sages is indeed unique and helps a great deal in preserving our physical health and also develop our personality