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By Ramana Maharshi


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What is absolute retention of breath?

Master: It is making the vital air stay firmly in the heart even without exhalation and inhalation. This is achieved through meditation on the vital principle, etc.



What is regulation of breath?

Master: It is making the vital air stay firmly in the heart through exhalation, inhalation, and retention, according to the instructions given in the yoga texts.



How is breath-control the means for mind-control?

Master: There is no doubt that breath-control is the means for mind-control, because the mind, like breath, is a part of air, because the nature of mobility is common to both, because the place of origin is the same for both, and because when one of them is controlled the other gets controlled.



Since breath-control leads only to quiescence of the mind (manolaya) and not to its destruction (manonasa), how can it be said that breath-control is the means for enquiry which aims at the destruction of mind?

Master: The scriptures teach the means for gaining Self-realization in two modes - as the yoga with eight limbs (ashtanga-yoga) and as knowledge with eight limbs (ashtanga-jnana). By regulation of breath (pranayama) or by absolute retention thereof (kevala-kumbhaka), which is one of the limbs of yoga, the mind gets controlled. Without leaving the mind at that, if one practises the further discipline such as withdrawal of the mind from external objects (pratyahara), then at the end, Self-realization which is the fruit of enquiry will surely be gained.

Copyright Sri Ramanasramam, Tiruvannamalai, India.



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This page was published on Realization.org on June 9, 2000.

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