Indian Psychology - Body Mind and Prana
by Swami Veda Bharati
While the wellness of the body, mind and prana hang together, yogis can use a powerful prana field to prop up a frail body
It would be difficult to determine what comes first, the weakness of the body and mind, or of the prana, such is their interdependence. However, some discernment may be used.
Quite often, in spite of the prana field being strong, the simple body chemistry may suffer infections introduced from outside. Prana may resist, but cannot fully cancel the effect. In turn, if such a body condition persists, the prana’s resistance may not be strong enough to withstand the onslaughts of the disease.
I recall how my spiritual daughter, a Chinese Buddhist nun, who also took sanyasa vows from me, tricked me, and under the pretext of arranging public programmes, took me to her country, Taiwan, so that I could visit a far away Chinese medicine retreat clinic, and the traditional Chinese doctors could examine me.
They came to the conclusion: “We cannot give you acupuncture because your body is too weak to withstand it, but your chi (prana-energy) is six times stronger than that of an average person, and that is what is keeping you alive. This is a strange and rare case.”
So, sometimes, the strong prana and mind can temporarily mitigate the adverse conditions undergone by the body chemistry, but at the end, the aging process and so on, will take over.
On the other hand, there may be spiritual factors because of which a strong – that is, meditative – mind may choose not to apply the mind-field’s and the prana’s strength to his/her body.
Swami Vivekananda is said to have died of diabetes; Ramakrishna Paramahansa and Ramana Maharshi left their bodies through cancer.
It is said that as the doctors were trying to treat Ramana Maharshi’s cancer, he complained: “Having a physical body is the big disease imposed upon the soul. I am trying to use the small disease of cancer to rid myself of the big disease, and you all are thwarting my purpose!”
The great yogi Totapuri had the habit of taking on the disciples’ diseases upon himself, and then dissipating them. But he kept someone’s diabetes in his body. He was asked why he would not get rid of this diabetes as well. He replied: “I am keeping this as the last arrow in my quiver for the day I want to leave this body; this diabetes will come in useful then.”
My own master, Swami Rama of the Himalayas, had the same habit of taking on disciples’ diseases upon himself, and then discharging them to God knows where!
Sometimes, he had to let the diseases take their course, albeit much speedier, in his own body, and pay off the given disciple’s karma from his own ‘bank account’, or shall we say prana account?
Finally, when he decided to leave his body, the world’s highest specialist doctors could not
diagnose his disease. Today, one specialist was certain that it was something in the liver; next day another specialist came who found there was no sign of yesterday’s liver disease, it was some other equally sinister illness.
I recall asking, much earlier, following an acute surgery, as he was recuperating: “Maharajji, do you have much pain?” His reply was: “Do not remind!”
The yogi may thus switch off the body’s information network at will. His extremities have sent him a message: a certain part of the fortress is under attack, and a wall has been pierced. He tells the neurotransmitters: Message received, thank you; now don’t bother me.
One of my meditation students went through deep nasal-sinus surgery without anaesthesia, just using her teacher’s yoga-nidra cassette in preparation for, and throughout, the surgery.
I know another disciple of my master who harbours six or seven acute diseases in his body, but travels and guides people tirelessly. When asked, ‘Are you tired?’, the reply often is: “At present, I have suspended the body’s information systems; I will check in when I get time to rest.”
So, some of the common equations of mind-prana-breath-body relationships do not always apply. But it is a specialised art that yogis learn over many lifetimes. Only a strong mind can master such uses of its strength as described above.