Verse 29: Prana

Verse 29 discusses what the mind does. It does so by applying a pattern (that will be applied again in future verses): it places the mind in context. The context, in this case, is the framing of internal organs and external organs with the mind being one of the three internal organs.

This feels to me like a significant pattern. It seems to avoid a direct dictionary-like definition. The verse itself does not mention mind. Instead, the verse feels to me like an invitation to step back and look at the bigger picture that has been building up in previous verses – to see “mind” in context:

  1. Discerning Intelligence was established in verse 23.
  2. The I-Principle was established in verse 24.
  3. The ten objects-of-sense were established in verse 26.
  4. Mind was established in verse 27.

Now, the verse seems to imply that in order to understand what mind does, I need to step back and see the bigger picture … to see where mind sits as a member of the three internal organs in relation to the ten external organs.

The second part of the verse presents the word Prana. It is a central tenet in Yoga (and Ayurveda) and here it appears for the first time in this fundamental philosophical text. Its centrality is also touched on in the verse itself: Prana is what the three internal organs have in common, they exist when Prana is present and cease to exist when it is absent. Yet Prana itself is not one of the 24 principles of Samkhya. I am left wondering why that is.

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