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Meaning Of Prana In Hinduism

 The word ‘prana’ is a commonly used Sanskrit word. It is used by people, who do not even know Sanskrit, as it is present in almost every Indian language. The widely used meaning of the word ‘prana’ is vital energy.

The word ‘prana’ is derived from the root word pra, which means filling, fulfilling, like, and resembling. When the suffixes ‘an’ and ‘ach’ are added to ‘pra’, the word ‘prana’ is derived.

Prana is divided into two major categories of maha, great and alpa, small. The number of pranas is variously said to be, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, and thirteen. Life remains as long as there is prana in the body. When prana leaves the body, death occurs. Prana is the dynamic force present in everything. The quantity and quality of prana within a living being changes continuously.

Good thoughts, elevated emotions, and spiritual practices increase the levels of prana. When energy is taken away from the senses and channelized into positive endeavours, prana is conserved. Every thought and food has a different quality and quantity of prana. Even the air that we breathe, has different levels of prana, depending on the quality of air.

However, prana is not just generated from external sources like air, food, and water, but can also be generated and refined by oneself. Prana can also generate more prana by itself.

The control of prana is called pranayama. By controlling prana, one can not only conserve it, but can reduce one’s dependence on it. Controlling prana makes the mind still and calm, and can lead to a steadiness of mind, where there are no thoughts.

Prana functions at two levels, the individual and the cosmic. When a person has completely controlled one’s individual prana and has attained a thoughtless state of mind, where effectively the mind ceases to exist, one can experience the cosmic prana. Then one becomes one with the cosmos and also realises one’s true nature, Brahman. This state is when the kundalini is awakened as kundalini is the same as cosmic prana. Such a state leads to one’s liberation from the transmigratory cycle of existence.