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   Kashmiri Writers

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Panun Kashmir


Symbol of Unity




On Pranayama

Pranayama is the control or regulation of `Prana' (breath). All the functions of our body are directly or indirectly related to Prana. It has been compared to and given the status of Brahma (the creator and the supreme being) from which this entire universe has emerged. Prana is present in all the cells of our body. The sense organs of the body take rest occasionally but the Prana is always active. Constant movement is its innate character. It provides energy to all our limbs, organs, brain and spinal cord. The sages of the Upanishads say, "Whatever is there in the universe, within or beyond our cognition, is all in the control of Prana." Pranayama has the capacity of freeing the mind of ignorance, untruthfulness and all other painful and unpleasant experiences of the body and mind; and when the mind becomes clean it facilitates the seeker to concentrate on the desired spiritual goals and it becomes possible for him to progress furthering the direction of Dhyana and Samadhi.

By Yogaasanas we remove the distortions and disabilities of the physical body and bring it into discipline but Pranayama influences the subtle and the physical bodies in a greater measure than Yogaasanas do and that too in a perceptible manner. Physically Pranayama is a systematic exercise of respiration, which makes the lungs stronger, improves blood circulation and makes a person healthier and ensures a longer life. Inhalation (Purak) stimulates the system and fills the lungs with fresh air. Retaining the breath (Kumbak) raises internal temperature and plays an important role in increasing the absorption of oxygen. Exhalation (Rechak) causes the diaphragm to return to the original position and air full of toxins and impurities is forced out by the contraction of inter-costal muscles. The activities massage the abdominal muscles and tone up the working of various organs of the body.  

Normally people are not in the habit of breathing deeply with the result that only one fourth of the lungs are brought into action as a routine. Most of the pores in the lungs do not get regular fresh oxygen and fall victim to disease. The regular Pranayama helps in flushing out all these pores with fresh air. The regular practitioners of Pranayama enjoy a long disease free life as numerous diseases are averted by the free flow of Prana in the body.    

Lalleshuri has stressed upon the practice of Pranayama for the purpose of the basic wellbeing to the mental purification, meditation and all other spiritual attainments including Kundalini Jagran.

Dama dam kormas daman haley, prazlyom deep te nanaiyam zaath

Andrem prakash naiber tshotum, gati rotum te kermas thaph

Lalleshuri gives a beautiful expression of her personal continued exercise of breath. In perfect rhythm and proper timing and speed she indulged into the exercise for a pretty long time obviously under the guidance of her master. She didn't fault anywhere as the stability of mind in complete unison was essential. The perfect concentration of mind with continuous exercise of breath made the internal spark of her soul glitter profusely and revealed her all the secrets of awakening. She says she caught hold of all of these secrets and preserved them for all times. Thus Lalleshuri was able to reach the heights of her success through systematic breathing exercise (Pranayama) along with getting rid of all worldly distractions and achieving the full control of mind. To keep the mind under control free from all digressions is the main task of the seeker in the divine path. One who succeeds in this crucial task becomes the real master of his self and the gates of development open wide for him.

Poorak kumbak reechak karum, pawnas theivem pethe kani wath

Anahatas bhasem karum, kyanh nai motum soi cham kath

Lalleshuri explains here the crux of her personal experience of celestial journey. She continued with her essential exercise of breath (Pranayama) in the systematic taking in of the breath, retaining for a while and then taking out systematically under the guidance of her master. The whole body was thus furnished with sufficient Prana, the life force essentially required for the spiritual development of the body and soul together. She says she gave first priority to this exercise which helped her first in shunning all ego and worldly attractions. Gradually she was lifted far above the ordinary earthly existence, reduced to complete nothingness and be one with her Lord. The purpose of defining her personal experience is to make it essentially a guide for the seekers in the divine path.

Dihe chay larey daari bar troprim, prane choor rotum te dyutmas dam

Hradyechi koothri andhar gundum, Aumky chobuke tulmas bam

In order to achieve the real purpose of her life Lalleshuri says she closed all the doors and windows of her body-temple indicating her full control over the evil influences of the five sense organs which are the worst hurdles in the way of all spiritual development. Further she controlled her breath systematically (Pranayama) considering again that the uncontrolled breath is an enemy of development and unless the seeker has his breath strictly under control as prescribed in Yoga any personal realization is difficult. Lalleshuri says she adopted the systematic recitation of the sacred word AUM with the beats of her breath with a proper rhythm and succeeded in her mission. Here keeping ones mind under perfect control is also a must because the wavering mind disturbs all concentration and without perfect concentration of mind no development is possible.

Daman baste dito dil, damnas yithe paeth damaan khaar

Shesteras soen gachey haesil, vune chay sul te chandun yaar

Lalleshuri wants the seeker to concentrate on the systematic inhalation and exhalation of breath just like a goldsmith puts his full mind on the current of air that is directed towards the burning coal to produce enough heat so that the pure gold is separated from the impurities without any loss of the precious metal. There should be no distractions caused by the wavering mind or other worldly attractions that deviates the seeker from the main purpose. Lalleshuri further enjoins upon the seeker to get up instantly and seek the Lord as there is always enough time and occasion for the purpose and never too late.

Soen thav thaje taiy hosh thav phokas, loleke naray sorus vaichaar

Suey ras sartale wavath pyayee, ade soen sapdey kundan kaar

Chaet chay yirnay gyane dokray, paet kanas kuney taar.

Lalleshuri advises the seeker to take extreme caution and concentrate fully on his devotion and avoid all distractions of thought in his path to salvation. She compares the process beautifully to the working of a goldsmith, who with his knack and presence of mind succeeds in extracting pure gold out of various impurities. She refers allegorically to a goldsmith collecting pure gold in the form of a thin pure gold wire. She advises the seeker to be continuously in line with the exhalation and inhalation of breath (Pranayama) exactly as the goldsmith does not fail to direct the air current of his bellows directly into the dross to separate it clearly from the pure gold. He uses his sharp intellect and presence of mind for his maximum advantage and in the same manner the seeker in the path of divinity can achieve his goal soon if he uses the skills of his patience, sacrifice and devotion in ample measure in the proper direction. The allegorical description is the example of supreme poetic genius in its exactness of comparison and vivid description.

Sarafas nishe kahwache kharun, rache rache tolun choene ma haar

Chawuhme baazare pahe lagey, penchehme sapdakh kundan kaar

Shatwuheme baazare molum sapdey, paanay grakh tay paanay swarnkaar

The stages that a seeker has to encounter in his path to divinity are discussed in this couplet but again allegorically with reference to the working of a goldsmith. After a seeker crosses the first stage of his Sadhna, he has to present himself before his master (Guru) for his first test just as the goldsmith takes his gold to the market to verify its purity. The disciple is then tested for 24 days by his master and on passing out successfully he is honoured graciously on 25th day. On 26th day, which is the day of great celebration for the pupil, there is an automatic feeling of divine realization in the mind of the seeker and he becomes one with his master and his Lord. The wall of separation between the seeker and the sought vanishes and he merges with the absolute truth and tranquility.

Soen draav dehein tai mael gos wathith, yeli may anikh dyutmas taav

Katur zan lall vaiglith gayas, kath koesh goel te nishe rav draav

Lalleshuri draws a magnificent comparison between the clearing of the precious metal gold of its impurities and the human being of its involvement in the worldly affairs. While the pure gold is obtained with the persistent impact of the heat the impurities burn into smoke, the human being is liberated from the shackles of the worldly affairs with the impact of the systematic exercise of breath or Pranayama. Lalleshuri compares her personal liberation from the worldly attachments with the sudden appearance of the sun on breaking of the densely clouded sky of winter when everything around is enveloped in a thick blanket of frozen snow and the warm rays of sun bring fresh hopes of new survival. Lalleshuri says she was a frozen sheet of ice which felt like coming to a new life with the persistent practice of Pranayama like the melting of the sheet of ice upon getting the fresh rays of the sun.  

Azappa gaytray hamas hamas zapith, aham traewith ada soye rath

Yaem trov aham su rood panay, bae no aasun chuy wopdeesh

While describing her personal mystic voyage, Lalleshuri sets a guideline for the seeker in the path to eternity. She guides him to follow the regular routine of the systematic recitation of Gaytrai Mantra corresponding to the beats of his breath on the condition of having renounced the entire worldly ego and false worldly attachments. All this can be achieved by controlling one's mind which is capable to move faster than anything else and which is actually responsible to lead a seeker astray from the real path at a crucial juncture. One who succeeds in overcoming these impediments in the path to salvation naturally becomes one with the supreme losing all his personal identity and this as per Lalleshuri is the basic and the highest lesson for the seeker towards awakening. The two conditions laid down for spiritual advancement, shunning ego and the subsequent surrender of personal identity are worthy of prime attention and following.

Dawadash mandlas yas deevas thajee, naasik pawan darae anaahat rav

Swayam kalpane antah tsaji, suy deev tay artsun kas

One who has achieved the highest stages of spiritual development by awakening Kundalini Shakti to its highest stage, the crown of head, called `Dawadsh Mandal', through the practice of Pranayama is worthy of all honour and worship. Lalleshuri compares the achievement of such a seeker with a farmer who is delighting in his success of getting a nice crop in his field by his persistent look after and care. The same is true of a sage with his ultimate success of purpose upon working systematically in the inhalation and exhalation of his breath through his nostrils right and left. This is the stage where all the worldly vanities and attractions vanish from the clear slate of mind and one virtually becomes one with the supreme Lord. As such there can be none else worthy of worship and devotion above him. Lalleshuri had achieved all the higher stages of awakening of her self and become one with her Lord so she advises the seeker to understand the significance of the awakening of the celestial power present in all human beings and the necessity of yogic exercise especially Pranayama.

Pawan te praan somuy dyuthum, Meelith roodum sheri khor taaen

Dhih yali mothum adhe kyah motum, Na kuni pavan tay na kuni praan.

On achieving appropriate mastery in the practice of Pranayama along with higher concentration in meditation the seeker does not find any difference between the normal respiration and the practice of Pranayama as his normal respiration becomes a controlled process and the body does not require the normal breathing as with the impact of the meditative process almost the whole system is controlled by a higher regulation. This is a condition when the body is reduced to nothingness and the head and the feet virtually club into one. When the existence of the body is reduced to a naught with the impact of the full awakening there is no inhalation or exhalation of breath as the self has lost its individual identity. The seeker, upon full awakening forgets all the interests of the body and the worldly existence as a whole and gets merged with the Param-Shiva leaving no traces of any individual existence. This is the stage of higher consciousness where the human soul becomes one with the universal existence and there remains nothing for him to achieve further.

Pavan poorith yus ane wagay, tas bavine suparsh na boche na trash

Tee karun yas antah tagay, samsaaras suy zevi neich

Lalleshuri says the seeker who follows systematically the exercise of breath (Pranayama) and is able to tune up his breathing system with the beats of his heart without any obvious effort commences a perfect revolution of self. Such a person gets virtually unconcerned about the requirements of the body like thirst and hunger, sense of touch and smell along with all other animal instincts. Lalleshuri speaks very high of such a person saying one who continues as such all his life achieves the essential purpose of his life and earns a great name for himself.     

Pranas saety lai yali karem, dyanas thavnam ne roznas shaai

Kayas andar soruy vuchum, payas povum te kaedmas graai

Lalleshuri says when she mastered the exercise of Pranayama there was a complete revolution of her self and with it there remained no requirement for any further form of meditation or kriya. She virtually lost all the consciousness of her personal self by experiencing all the contours of the cosmos in her own person. She got clear awakening of all the divine secrets and there remained nothing unrealized for her. Gradually she gained full consciousness of her inner self and experienced that her holy person was the abode of all the aspects of the Lord. Here Lalleshuri indicates to her divine realization through the practice of Pranayama that opened all the doors of awakening for her.

Dame dame man Omkaar parnowum, paanai paran te paanai bozaan

Sooham padas aham golum, teli Lall vaiches prakash-sthan

Lalleshuri says that by regular practice of Pranayama her whole system was tuned in a way that it took no conscious effort on her part. Gradually the systematic exhalation and inhalation of breath became an automatic process with the recitation of the sacred word AUM coming out naturally and being beaten on her ear drums without making a sound. Thus there was a rapid advancement towards her goals till she achieved the highest stages of her awakening. The purpose of describing her personal experience is to indicate a clear way for the seeker towards emancipation and to understand the significance of the Pranayama.

Andar aasith naebar chondum, pawnan ragan kernam sath

Dyan keyn daiy zagi keeval zonum, rang gow sangas saet meelith kaith

Lalleshuri says she sought her Lord here and there though He was seated within the recesses of her own self. The secret was revealed to her upon systematic exercise of breath when each of her body nerve responded positively to her call. Moreover the non-duality of Param-Shiva was confirmed when she became one with her lord. On being fully awakened to all the secrets of the universe and a realized soul, Lalleshuri saw herself merged completely with the lone divine. There remained essentially nothing unrealized for her as her individual self had become part of the universal spirit. The essential fact stressed upon here again is the truth about Lord Shiva being Himself the embodiment of the whole universe with all other numerous awakened souls inseparably merged with Him.

Shurah te dah yus sumrith kharey, dawadashant andar gum nohi

Trei sumrith kenh matras praray, soi depzay sehza kray

Lalleshuri gives some directions here about the right approach of Pranayama. The inhalation and exhalation of breath sixteen times (five times three plus one) followed by ten times (three times three plus one) with a slight break in between  is the right approach. One who is able to master the practice without any digression and full control of mind is able to centralize all his divine activities up on the crown of his head which is the abode of Param-Shiva. The seeker after attaining this stage experiences ultimate joy and excitement of perfection and with further meditation experiences the Lord or the full awakening of oneself.

Tsitta-twaruge vagi hyath ro'ttum, tseth milvith dashnaaddi waav,
Tavay sheshikal veyglith vatsham, shuunyas shuunyaah miilith gav.

Lalleshuri says she reined in the fast running steed of her mind, i.e. controlled the overpowering senses and by constant practice of Pranayama and meditation succeeded in bringing the proper alignment of wavering Prana through ten Nadis till she achieved the final goal of guiding the Kundalini Shakti to its destination, the crown of the head. It's here that she enjoyed the nectar of the mystic moon (Sheshkal) which came melting down and suffused her whole being and thus her void merged with the cosmic void i.e. she became immortal and an integral part of the supreme soul which is the ultimate goal of the individual soul to become one with the cosmic soul or Parmatma. Lalleshuri gives a lucid description of her mystic experience in her poetic compositions which goes to her credit as besides a highly accomplished Yogini she was a celestial poet with a definite mission of not only achieving her own liberation but also setting a precept for the coming generations to follow.

Gaytray azappa tshale aki taejim, suham satsey kermas thaph

Ahmas loti paeth zathrei waijem, gure kath paejem tsaejim tsakh

Lalleshuri says, after a systematic practice she was able to align her exhalation and inhalation of breath with the proper rhythm of Pranayama and recitation of Gaytray Mantra such that the process became a natural one which ultimately took no efforts but came out automatically and she stuck to it permanently. She did it all under the guidance of her master (Guru) while she cut all the roots of all egos firmly along with controlling all anger which was the first and foremost essential requirement in such devotion and spiritual advancement.

Abhyse kiney vikas pholum, soprakash zonum yohuy deih

Prakash dhyan mokh yee dorum, sokhey borum korum teiy.

Lalleshuri says that her individual self transformed into a glorious spiritual whole by persistent meditation and practice of Pranayama. She was able to realize the eternal truth in the same body of flesh and blood and thus her human existence proved the safest vehicle for her development to her present stage of emancipation. Here the stress is laid upon the importance of the human body in the pursuit of divine realization as without it no transformation of spirit is possible so Lalleshuri refutes the theory of the neglect and persecution of human body while proceeding on the celestial path.

Akuy Omkaar yus naabi daray, kombai brahmandas sum garay

Akuy manther yus tsaitas karay, tas saas manther kyah karay

One who is able to concentrate on the single divine word—AUM and with help of systematic exhalation and inhalation of breath (Pranayama)  make a divine connection between his personal self and the eternal universal self does a great job. The exercise of Pranayama if done under the guidance of a teacher along with the jappa of Omkaar, the sacred divine word has the capacity to take the seeker to big heights in the celestial undertakings. Lalleshuri says one who masters the repetition of the sacred word in Pranayama does not require any other Mantra whatsoever in the advancement of self as the influence of the sacred word AUM is far greater than all other thousands of divine Mantras.    

Aayas kami deeshe te kami watey, gache koet te kave zane wath

Ante daey lagi mai tatay, chaim chainis phokas kuse sane sath

Lalleshuri gives a clean expression of life and its ultimate reality. She says nobody knows where-from he has come and what's his final destination. Everyone is confused about the real secret of this life but one thing is clear that his stay here is transitory and he has to proceed to an unknown destination after the allotted time is over. It's also clear that one has to take a limited number of breaths in this life and then proceed towards some unknown destination. As such Lalleshuri calls upon the ignorant being that the ordinary breathing can't anyway help in any of the life's purpose but with a systematic breath exercise or Pranayama it can work wonders for this seemingly frail human body. The purpose here is to bring home to man how the simple exercise of breath or Pranayama would take an ordinary being to the highest stages of spiritual development.   

Deva watta deevar watta, pathe boen chuy yike vaath

Pooz kas karakh hayo batta, Kar manas te pavnas sangaath

Lalleshuri makes a very intelligent description of the world and says that almost everything settled on this rocky terrain (the globe) is made of stone with Lord Shiva also in the form of stone (Linga) present in His numerous temples. So what's fun of worshipping a stone again when all around from the highest to the lowest level is simply a stone? Now Lalleshuri stresses upon the seeker that in the circumstances the best available option is to make the individual mind and the cosmic mind one with the practice of Pranayama, the exercise of breath that has the capacity to take the individual soul to such heights as to be one with Parm-Shiva.

Karam ze kaaran trai tay kombai, yave labakh te parilukas anakh

Wuth khas surye mandal tsombith, tavay tsali zaine marnuk kronth

A human being is free to follow at least two things in life, good or bad. The bad comes out of being a slave to human animal instincts and the good is equally the product of the good influences and actions though the motive of all these common influences are the three Gunaas, the Satuguna--the pure and serene actions and thoughts, the Tamoguna—complete inaction and inability to act, the Rajuguna—full movement and drive to act fast. The simple and easy way to get the full purpose of life is through the practice of breath control (Pranayama) which has the capacity to control all evil influences as a result of the human frailties and animal desires. Lalleshuri stresses upon the fact that one who is able to do the systematic exercise of Pranayama can exercise control not only on his self but the entire universe. So she extols the seeker to come up and prepare for traveling high up above into the space cutting through the skies with the celestial power of Pranayama and overcoming the cycle of life and death for all times to come.  


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Kashmiri Writers J.L. Bhat


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