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The Ten Vital Energies

"The ten vital energies, the vital breath (Prana) and others, which circulate in the ten arteries, are called Prana, Apana, Samana, Udana, Vyana, Naga, Kurma, Krikara, Deva-datta and Dhanam-jaya. Of these, the five beginning from Prana are important and of these, again the first two. The Prana alone being the most important as it bears the living being." (Trishikhi Brahmana Up. 77-79.)

In order to locate the ten vital energies, they are usually associated with certain of the physical functions and reflexes such as breathing (prana), excreting (apana), circulation (vyana), coughing (udana), digesting (samana), eructation (naga), blinking (kurma), sneezing (krikara), yawning (deva-datta) and assimilation (dhanam-jaya).

The vital energies, however, are subtle energies, the coughing vital energy for instance is not merely related to the cough reflex but is an essential vital energy which, originating in the throat, is directed upward and controls the reflexes of the face and the faculties of the subtle body. Similarly, the digestive energy, samana, is a vital energy of fiery nature, located in the region of the navel from where it spreads equally on all sides, regulating all living functions as well as the balance of the body.

"The middle of the mouth and the nose, the heart, the navel region, the big toes of the feet, those are, O best of Brahmanas! the abode of the vital breath (Prana). The excretory energy (Apana) circulates, O Brahmana! in the anus, the sex organs, the thighs and the knees. The Samana has its habitat in the entire body, pervading it all. The Udana is located in all the joints of the legs and hands. The Vyana is in the two ears, the thighs, the hip and the ankles, the shoulders and the throat. The Naga and other five vital airs, are placed in the skin, bones, etc. The water, food and other liquids in the belly are assimilated. The vital breath that has reached the middle of the belly should separate them (into the several constituents of the body). The vital breath (Prana) does these and other actions itself remaining unaffected. The Apana air does the evacuation of urine and other things. The actions of the Prana and Apana and such like are carried out by the Vyana. By the Udana air, anything remaining in the body is carried upward. The Samana always does the work of nourishing the body and the like. The Naga does the work of belching and the like. The kurma does the work of closing the eyes and the like. The krikara does the work of the blinking of the eyelids. The Datta attends to the work of sleep. The swelling and the like of the dead body may be cited as the work of Dhanam-jaya." (Trishikhi Brahmana Up. 79-87.)

"The colors of the five pranas are in order. Prana is of the color of a blood-red gem. Apana in the middle of [the body], is of the color of the Indra-Kopa insect. Samana, between these two, is milk-white and shining. Udana is pale white, and Vyana bright like a flame." (Amrita Nada Up. 35-37.)

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