Breath – The Best of All

I love stories; this one is from the Prashna-Upanishad. I invite you to enjoy it with me:

Once upon a time, Bhargava Vaidarbhi went to the sage Pippalada (whose name means “eater of the fruit of the scared fig tree”), fire-wood in hand as a symbolic offering and asked, “Good sir, how many powers are there that establish and maintain the universe and its creatures, and which one is the bst of all?” Pippalada thought a bit, then told this tale:

The powers—Space, Air, Fire, Water, Earth, Speech, Mind, the Eye, and the Ear—were talking among themselves, bragging really. They said: “We establish and maintain this universe and the body (hana, literally “reed” or “arrow”)?

Breath (prana) who was really the best of them all, happened to hear and rejoined: “Friends, don’t fool yourselves. I establish and maintain the universe and the body.” The other powers pooh-poohed and didn’t believe her.

So, Breath, rather miffed at not being believed, decided to teach them a lesson. She moved upward, and guess what? All the others moved upward too. Then Breath settled down and, yes, all the others settled down with her. It was just like a swarm of bees following their queen wherever she went. Now the powers realized their dependence on Breath and delighted, sang her praises… (excerpted from Pranayama: beyond the Fundamentals, by Richard Rosen, Shambhala Publications, 2006)

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