Prana, aka: Prāṇā, Prāṇa, Praṇa; 14 Definition(s)


Prana means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, the history of ancient India, Marathi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Hinduism

Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)

Prāṇā (प्राणा):—Third of the eight Mātṛs born from the body of Calanī, according to the Kubjikāmata-tantra. These eight sub-manifestations (mātṛ), including Prāṇā, symbolize a relation to the wind. Prāṇā itself represents prāṇa, one of the five vital airs. They are presided over by the Bhairava Asitāṅga. Calanī is the fifth of the Eight Mahāmātṛs, residing within the Mātṛcakra (third of the five cakras) and represents wind.

Source: Wisdom Library: Kubjikāmata-tantra

Prāṇa (प्राण).—Indian thought believes that between the body and the mind or between the material or physical energy and mental energy, there is prāṇa which is an intermediary link between the two. The word prāṇa has been variously translated as the vital force, biological energy, bio-plasma, etc. According to Indian Philosophy, between the body and manas or mind, there is prāṇa which serves as a link between the two.

Prāṇa is not mind; it is insentient, but it is not like gross physical energy which catches the vibrations of the mind and transmits them to the nerves and plexuses and also physical vibrations to the mind. By cotnrolling the mind one can control the prāṇa, and by controlling the prāṇa, one can control the mind. According to Śaivāgama, prāṇa is not something alien to saṃvit or consciousness, but the first evolute of saṃvit (consciousness). In the process of creation saṃvit or consciousness is at first transformed into prāṇa. So prāṇa is a phase of consciousness itself.

The word prāṇa is thus used in three senses—

  1. in a general sense of prāṇa-śakti or life-force,
  2. in a specific sense according to the various biological functions,
  3. in the sense of breath.
Source: Vijnana Bhairava or Divine Consciousness
Shaivism book cover
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Shaiva (शैव, śaiva) or Shaivism (śaivism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshiping Shiva as the supreme being. Closely related to Shaktism, Shaiva literature includes a range of scriptures, including Tantras, while the root of this tradition may be traced back to the ancient Vedas.

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Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

1) Prāṇa (प्राण).—Grandson of sage Bhṛgu. Bhṛgu got of his wife Khyāti a daughter named Lakṣmī and two sons named Dhātā and Vidhātā. They married Āyati and Niyati respectively and they got two sons named Prāṇa and Mṛkaṇḍu. Mārkaṇḍeya was the son of Mṛkaṇḍu. (Chapter 10, Aṃśa 1, Viṣṇu Purāṇa).

2) Prāṇa (प्राण).—A son born to the Vasu named Soma of his wife Manoharā. This Prāṇa was the younger brother of Varccas. These brothers had two other brothers named Śiśira and Ramaṇa. (Śloka 26, Chapter 66, Ādi Parva).

3) Prāṇa (प्राण).—Prāṇavāyu. The wind of life. (See under Parāvaha).

Source: Puranic Encyclopaedia

1a) Prāṇa (प्राण).—A son of Vidhātri and Niyatī (āyati-br. p.). His wife was Puṇḍarīkā and Dyutimān was his son.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa IV. 1. 44-45; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 11. 6-9, 40.

1b) A Vasu and a son of Dharma; married Ūrjasvatī. Father of Saha and two other sons.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa VI. 6. 11-12; Viṣṇu-purāṇa I. 15. 113.

1c) A Bhārgava and a sage of the Svārociṣa epoch.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 36. 17; Matsya-purāṇa 9. 8.

1d) A son of Dhara;1 a Sādhya.2

  • 1) Matsya-purāṇa 5. 24.
  • 2) Ib. 203. 11; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 3. 16.

1e) A son of Angiras;1 a Sādhya;2 a Tuṣita;3 an Ajitadeva.4

  • 1) Matsya-purāṇa 196. 2; Vāyu-purāṇa 65. 105.
  • 2) Ib. 66. 15.
  • 3) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 3. 19; Vāyu-purāṇa 66. 18.
  • 4) Ib. 67. 34.

1f) The antarātma; it is anna or food; anna is Brahmā, etc.; from this grows creatures. (cf. Upaniṣad; also Yajur Veda);1 one of the Vāyus which determine the karma of people;2 is jīva.3

  • 1) Vāyu-purāṇa 15. 14.
  • 2) Ib. 21. 47; 31. 41.
  • 3) Ib. 102. 101.

1g) A son of Dhātṛ and father of Dyutimat.*

  • * V. I. 10. 4-5.

1h) One of the seven seers of the Svārociṣa epoch.*

  • * Viṣṇu-purāṇa III. 1. 11.
Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

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Ayurveda (science of life)

Prāṇa (प्राण).—One of the five upadoṣas (sub-functions) of vāta (one of the three biological humors).—

Location of prāṇa: Head, chest and brain.

Functions of prāṇa: Perceptions and movements of all kinds, respiratory activity, swallowing of food, conversion of breath into life-force, spitting and sneezing.

Ailments of prāṇa due to vitiation: Hiccoughs, cough, bronchial asthma, cold, sore throat and other respiratory complaints, giddiness, syncope and other neurological disorders.

Source: Google Books: A Practical Approach to the Science of Ayurveda
Ayurveda book cover
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Āyurveda (आयुर्वेद, ayurveda) is a branch of Indian science dealing with medicine, herbalism, taxology, anatomy, surgery, alchemy and related topics. Traditional practice of Āyurveda in ancient India dates back to at least the first millenium BC. Literature is commonly written in Sanskrit using various poetic metres.

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Vyakarana (Sanskrit grammar)

Prāṇa (प्राण).—Air, which is instrumental in producing sound; cf. वायुः प्राणः कण्ठ्यमनुप्र दानम् (vāyuḥ prāṇaḥ kaṇṭhyamanupra dānam) R.Pr.XIII.1.

Source: Wikisource: A dictionary of Sanskrit grammar
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Vyakarana (व्याकरण, vyākaraṇa) refers to Sanskrit grammar and represents one of the six additional sciences (vedanga) to be studied along with the Vedas. Vyakarana concerns itself with the rules of Sanskrit grammar and linguistic analysis in order to establish the correct context of words and sentences.

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Jyotisha (astronomy and astrology)

Prāṇa (प्राण).—Unit of time equal to four sidereal seconds or one-sixth of a vināḍikā. Note: Prāṇa is a Sanskrit technical term used in ancient Indian sciences such as Astronomy, Mathematics and Geometry.

Source: Wikibooks (hi): Sanskrit Technical Terms
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Jyotiṣa (ज्योतिष, jyotisha or jyotish) basically refers to ‘astronomy’ or “Vedic astrology” and represents one of the six additional sciences to be studied along with the Vedas. Jyotiṣa concerns itself with the study and prediction of the movements of celestial bodies, in order to calculate the auspicious time for rituals and ceremonies.

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General definition (in Hinduism)

The first prana is known as Prana. It is located between the diaphragm and the throat. This prana is an upward flowing force. It maintains the function of the lungs and heart, and is responsible for inhalation and exhalation, and for the swallowing and regurgitation of food. Although it is an upward moving force in general, it also has the ability to move downward in that region.

Source: Yoga Magazine: Prana

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Prāṇa (प्राण, “respiration”) according to the 2nd-century Tattvārthasūtra 5.19.—The function of matter (pudgala) is to form the basis of the body (śarīra), the organs of speech (vāc), the mind (manas) and the respiration (prāṇa). What is the meaning of life force (prāṇa)? The cause of the life or to exist in a particular realm is called prāṇa (breathe or respiration).

Source: Encyclopedia of Jainism: Tattvartha Sutra 5: The category of the non-living
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Jainism is an Indian religion of Dharma whose doctrine revolves around harmlessness (ahimsa) towards every living being. The two major branches (Digambara and Svetambara) of Jainism stimulate self-control (or, shramana, ‘self-reliance’) and spiritual development through a path of peace for the soul to progess to the ultimate goal.

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India history and geogprahy

Prāṇa.—(CII 1), living being; same as prāṇin. (IE 7-1-2), ‘five’. Note: prāṇa is defined in the “Indian epigraphical glossary” as it can be found on ancient inscriptions commonly written in Sanskrit, Prakrit or Dravidian languages.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Indian Epigraphical Glossary
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The history of India traces the identification of countries, villages, towns and other regions of India, as well as royal dynasties, rulers, tribes, local festivities and traditions and regional languages. Ancient India enjoyed religious freedom and encourages the path of Dharma, a concept common to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.

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Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

prāṇa (प्राण).—m (S) A vital air. Five are enumerated, viz. prāṇa, apāna, vyāna, udāna, samāna. 2 The first of the five, used, from its seat in the lungs, preeminently, and expressing life or vitality. 3 fig. Anything dearly loved. 4 Breath, air inhaled. 5 Air or wind. For figurative senses, phrases, and applications of this word besides the few subjoined here see under jīva. ughaḍyā ḍōḷyānēṃ prāṇa jāta nāhīṃ One cannot die or rest in tranquility whilst his eyes are open (unto some iniquity or impropriety). prāṇa uraṇēṃ g. of s. To be but alive. prāṇa ōkaṇēṃ To indulge excessive sorrow. 2 To long after vehemently. prāṇa pl jāṇēṃ g. of s. To die. prāṇa ṭhēvaṇēṃ To set one's heart and affections upon. 2 Phrase. mī prāṇa ṭhēvaṇāra nāhīṃ I will not live. prāṇa dēṇēṃ To give up or resign one's life. prāṇa vāhaṇēṃ To devote one's self, soul and spirit, to the service of. Ex. prāṇa vāhilā pāyāvarī ||. prāṇa sōkhaṇēṃ g. of s. To be parched with thirst. 2 To long and pant for; to thirst after. prāṇa sōḍaṇēṃ To resign one's breath. prāṇācā vālhī Lord of one's life, viz. a husband. prāṇāpēkṣā kaṭhīṇa Worse than death. prāṇāśīṃ jāṇēṃ To lose life (through some violence or with prematureness).

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

prāṇa (प्राण).—m A vital air. Life. Anything dearly loved. Breath. Air. ughaḍyā ḍōḷyānē prāṇa jāta nāhīṃ One cannot rest in tranquillity whilst his eyes are open to some iniquity or impropriety. prāṇa uraṇēṃ To be just alive. prāṇa pl jāṇēṃ To die. prāṇa ṭhēvaṇēṃ To set one's heart and affections upon. mī prāṇa ṭhēvaṇāra nāhīṃ I will not live. prāṇa dēṇēṃ To give up or resign one's life. prāṇa vāhaṇēṃ To devote one's self or soul to the service of. prāṇa sōkhaṇēṃ To be parched with thirst. To thirst after. prāṇa sōḍaṇēṃ To resign one's breath. prāṇācā vālhī-lī Lord of one's life, viz. a husband. prāṇāpēkṣāṃ kaṭhīṇa Worse than death.

Source: DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
context information

Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

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Sanskrit-English dictionary

Praṇa (प्रण).—a. Old, ancient.

--- OR ---

Praṇa (प्रण).—1 P.

1) To bow down, salute, make a low obeisance to, be humble (with acc. or dative); न प्रणमन्ति देवताभ्यः (na praṇamanti devatābhyaḥ) K.18; तां भक्तिप्रवणेन चेतसा प्रणनाम (tāṃ bhaktipravaṇena cetasā praṇanāma) K. 228; Ku.7.27; तस्मात् प्रणम्य प्रणिधाय कायम् (tasmāt praṇamya praṇidhāya kāyam) Bg.11.44; R.2.21. (sāṣṭāṅgaṃ praṇam 'to fall down on the eight limbs'; see aṣṭāṅga; daṇḍavat praṇam 'to bow by throwing oneself down on the ground quite prostrate and flat like a stick placed horizontally, touching the ground at all points; cf. daṇḍapraṇāma.) -Caus. (praṇamayati) To cause to bow down; तामर्चिताभ्यः कुलदेवताभ्यः कुलप्रतिष्ठां प्रणमय्य माता (tāmarcitābhyaḥ kuladevatābhyaḥ kulapratiṣṭhāṃ praṇamayya mātā) Ku.7.27.

2) To bend, incline.

Derivable forms: praṇam (प्रणम्).

--- OR ---

Prāṇa (प्राण).—1 Breath, respiration.

2) The breath of life, vitality, life, vital air, principle of life (usually pl. in this sense, the Prāṇas being five; prāṇa, apāna, samāna, vyāna and udāna); प्राणैरुपक्रोशमलीमसैर्वा (prāṇairupakrośamalīmasairvā) R.2.53;12.54; (hṛdi prāṇo gude'pānaḥ samāno nābhisaṃsthitaḥ | udānaḥ kaṇṭhadeśastho vyānaḥ sarvaśarīragaḥ ||).

3) The first of the five life-winds or vital airs (which has its seat in the lungs); अपाने जुह्वति प्राणं प्राणेऽपानं तथापरे । प्राणापानगती रुद्ध्वा प्राणायाम- परायणाः (apāne juhvati prāṇaṃ prāṇe'pānaṃ tathāpare | prāṇāpānagatī ruddhvā prāṇāyāma- parāyaṇāḥ) || Bg.4.29.

4) Wind, air inhaled.

5) Energy, vigour, strength, power; as in प्राणसार (prāṇasāra) q. v.; युद्धातिथ्यं प्रदास्यामि यथाप्राणं निशाचर (yuddhātithyaṃ pradāsyāmi yathāprāṇaṃ niśācara) Rām.3.5.28; Bhāg.8.2.29; सर्वप्राणप्रवणमघवन्मुक्तमाहत्य वक्षः (sarvaprāṇapravaṇamaghavanmuktamāhatya vakṣaḥ) Mv.1.45.

6) The spirit or soul (opp. śarīra).

7) The Supreme Spirit; इमानि भूतानि प्राणमेवाभिसंविशन्ति (imāni bhūtāni prāṇamevābhisaṃviśanti) Bṛ. Up.1.11.5.

8) An organ of sense; स्पृष्ट्वैतानशुचिर्नित्यमद्भिः प्राणानुपस्पृशेत् । गात्राणि चैव सर्वाणि नाभिं पाणितलेन तु (spṛṣṭvaitānaśucirnityamadbhiḥ prāṇānupaspṛśet | gātrāṇi caiva sarvāṇi nābhiṃ pāṇitalena tu) || Ms.4.143; मरीचिमिश्रा ऋषयः प्राणेभ्योऽहं च जज्ञिरे (marīcimiśrā ṛṣayaḥ prāṇebhyo'haṃ ca jajñire) Bhāg.1.6.31.

9) Any person or thing as dear and necessary as life, a beloved person or object; कोशः कोशवतः प्राणाः प्राणाः प्राणा न भूपतेः (kośaḥ kośavataḥ prāṇāḥ prāṇāḥ prāṇā na bhūpateḥ) H.2.9; अर्थपतेर्विमर्दको बहिश्चराः प्राणाः (arthapatervimardako bahiścarāḥ prāṇāḥ) Dk.

1) The life or essence of poetry, poetical talent or genius; inspiration.

11) Aspiration; as in महाप्राण (mahāprāṇa) or अल्पप्राण (alpaprāṇa) q. v.

12) Digestion.

13) A breath as a measure of time.

14) Gum-myrrh.

15) Life, living (jīvana); दैवं च दैवसंयुक्तं प्राणश्च प्राणदश्च ह । अपेक्षापूर्वकरणादशुभानां शुभं फलम् (daivaṃ ca daivasaṃyuktaṃ prāṇaśca prāṇadaśca ha | apekṣāpūrvakaraṇādaśubhānāṃ śubhaṃ phalam) || Mb.12.36.14.

16) Food (anna); अनस्तिकानां भूतानां प्राणदाः पितरश्च ये (anastikānāṃ bhūtānāṃ prāṇadāḥ pitaraśca ye) Mb.12.12.4.

17) Name of Brahmā, Viṣṇu and other gods.

Derivable forms: prāṇaḥ (प्राणः).

--- OR ---

Prāṇā (प्राणा).—f. Name of Garuḍa's mother-in-law; L. D. B.

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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Relevant definitions

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