apāne juhvati prāṇaḿ
prāṇe ’pānaḿ tathāpare
prāṇān prāṇeṣu juhvati
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 4.29
Still others, who are inclined to the process of breath restraint to remain in trance, practice by offering the movement of the outgoing breath into the incoming, and the incoming breath into the outgoing, and thus at last remain in trance, stopping all breathing. Others, curtailing the eating process, offer the outgoing breath into itself as a sacrifice.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
This system of yoga for controlling the breathing process is called pranayama, and in the beginning it is practiced in the hatha-yoga system through different sitting postures. All of these processes are recommended for controlling the senses and for advancement in spiritual realization. This practice involves controlling the airs within the body so as to reverse the directions of their passage. The apana air goes downward, and the prana air goes up. The pranayama-yogi practices breathing the opposite way until the currents are neutralized into puraka. equilibrium. Offering the exhaled breath into the inhaled breath is called recaka. When both air currents are completely stopped, one is said to be in kumbhaka-yoga. By practice of kumbhaka-yoga. one can increase the duration of life for perfection in spiritual realization. The intelligent yogi is interested in attaining perfection in one life, without waiting for the next. For by practicing kumbhaka-yoga. the yogis increase the duration of life by many, many years. A Krishna conscious person, however, being always situated in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, automatically becomes the controller of the senses. His senses, being always engaged in the service of Krishna, have no chance of becoming otherwise engaged. So at the end of life, he is naturally transferred to the transcendental plane of Lord Krishna; consequently he makes no attempt to increase his longevity. He is at once raised to the platform of liberation, as stated in Bhagavad-gita (14.26):
mam ca yo ’vyabhicarena
sa gunan samatityaitan
“One who engages in unalloyed devotional service to the Lord transcends the modes of material nature and is immediately elevated to the spiritual platform.” A Krishna conscious person begins from the transcendental stage, and he is constantly in that consciousness. Therefore, there is no falling down, and ultimately he enters into the abode of the Lord without delay. The practice of reduced eating is automatically done when one eats only krishna-prasadam, or food which is offered first to the Lord. Reducing the eating process is very helpful in the matter of sense control. And without sense control there is no possibility of getting out of the material entanglement.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
Others who are expert in pranayama offer the upward prana into the downward apana. At the time of fully inhaling, they merge the prana with the apana. At the time of fully exhaling (recaka) they offer the apana into the prana. At the time of kumbaka, they stop the movement of both prana and apana, and become completely absorbed in the practice of pranayama.
Others, desiring to conquer the senses, control the eating process; that is, they eat little. They offer the senses (pranan) into the pranas which are subsisting on restricted eating. When the pranas become weak, the senses, being dependent on the pranas, become incapable of grasping the sense objects, and become merged in the pranas.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
4.29 – 4.30 Other Karma Yogins are devoted to the practice of breath control. They are of three types because of the differences in inhalation, exhalation and stoppage of breath. Puraka (inhalation) is that in which the inward breath is sacrificed in the outward breath. Recaka (exhalation) is that when the outward breath is sacrificed in the inward breath. Kumbhaka (stoppage of breath) is that when the flow of both inward and outward breaths is stopped. The clause, restricting of diet, applies to all the three types of persons devoted to the control of breath. All these, according to their liking and capacity are engaged in performing the various kinds of Karma Yoga beginning from the sacrifice of material objects to the control of breath. They know and are devoted to sacrifices comprising obligatory and occasional rituals preceded by the performance of ‘the great sacrifices’ (Panca-Maha-Yajna), as alluded to in ‘Creating men along with the sacrifices’ (3.10). Because of this only, their sins are done away with. Those who are engaged in Karma Yoga by sustaining their bodies only by the ambrosia of sacrificial remains will go to the eternal Brahman. ‘Go to Brahman’ here means realise the self which has Brahman for Its soul.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
Lord Krishna is explaining here that some offer the prana or outgoing breath as a yagna or offering of worship to the apana or incoming breath and the apana as a yagna to the prana continuous practice of this leads to both the prana and apana become an offering to kumbhaka which is the complete cessation of both breaths. When the breath is suspended all the vital forces merge into one and are controlled and the yagna is the merging of the senses into one. Others practice decreasing their food intake until it becomes minimal using it to offer as a yagna the senses which become greatly weakened due to lack of food. They follow the Vedic injunctions that the stomach should be half filled with food, a quarter filled with water and a quarter filled with air. Others meditate on the mystic sound of Hamsah meaning that I am and I am that in reference to the Supreme, for every breath inhaled meditating on ham as that I am and as every breathe exhaled meditating on sah as I am that. It is a known fact that to the extent that the mind becomes steady through continuous practice to that extent so does the breath, speech, body and the gaze become steady.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Continuing Lord Krishna explains that others who are devoted to pranayama or regulation of the breath offer the prana or outgoing breath to the apana or incoming breath and the incoming breath to the outgoing breath. In this way they arrive at the stage of kumbhaka or complete restraint of the breath and this is considered to be yagna or offerings of worship.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Lord Krishna now speaks of pranayama or breath control. Others offer the prana or exhalation into apana or inhaling breath and then again the apana into the prana. This is also considered as yagna or offerings of worship. How do they do this? It is done by the process of kumbhaka or the cessation of the breath between inhalation and exhalation. In this way they offer their every breath in yagna. In the next verse Lord Krishna tells about the rewards for those who perform such yagnas as mentioned above. Performing means they know the specific purpose for why and what they are performing such yagnas as well as how to perform it properly according to the Vedic saciptures and by doing so in this manner they have absolved their sins.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
4.29 Pranayama-parayanah, constantly practising control of the vital forces-i.e. they practise a form of pranayama called Kumbhaka (stopping the breath either inside or outside) [‘Three sorts of motion of Pranayama (control of the vital forces) are, one by which we draw the breath in, another by which we throw it out, and the third action is when the breath is held in the lungs or stopped from entering the lungs.’-C.W., Vol.I, 1962, p. 267. Thus, there are two kinds of Kumbhaka-internal and external.]-; prana-apana-gati ruddhva, by stopping the movements of the outgoing and the incoming breaths-the outgoing of breath (exhalation) through the mouth and the nostrils is the movement of the Prana; as opposed to that, the movement of Apana is the going down (of breath) (inhalation); these constitute the prana-apana-gati, movements of Prana and Apana; by stopping these; some juhvati, offer as a sacrifice; pranam, the outgoing breath, which is the function of Prana; apane, in the incoming breath, which is the function of Apana-i.e. they practised a form of pranayama called Puraka (‘filling in’); while tatha apare, still others; offer apanam, the incoming breath; prane, in the outgoing breath, i.e. they practise a form of pranayama called Recaka (’emptying out’). [Constantly practising control of the vital, forces, they perform Kumbhaka after Recaka and Puraka.]
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
4.29 See Comment under 4.30
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
apane juhvati pranam
prane ’panam tathapare
pranan pranesu juhvati
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
apāne — in the air which acts downward; juhvati — offer; prāṇam — the air which acts outward; prāṇe — in the air going outward; apānam — the air going downward; tathā — as also; apare — others; prāṇa — of the air going outward; apāna — and the air going downward; gatī — the movement; ruddhvā — checking; prāṇa-āyāma — trance induced by stopping all breathing; parāyaṇāḥ — so inclined; apare — others; niyata — having controlled; āhārāḥ — eating; prāṇān — the outgoing air; prāṇeṣu — in the outgoing air; juhvati — sacriﬁce.