Светлой памяти Нины Макаровны Чередеевой-


Солнце БессознательногоLe soleil de l'Inconscientشمس اللاوعيEl sol del InconscienteThe Sun of the Unconscious

Breathing through the Mahatma's Spirit

The adjective respiratory (cf. French respirer 'breathe') goes back to Latin spiritus 'breath', which, in turn, has given spirit. Sanskrit महात्मा [mahātmā] is composed of महा [mahā] 'great' and आत्मन् [ātman] 'breath' (whence 'spirit'; 'soul'), cognate with German atmen 'breathe'. To expire – from Latin exspirare – is to 'emit (the last) breath', opposite of inspire 'inject (a new) breath'. Semitic analogies are indicative: Arabic نَفَس [náfas] 'breath' – whence تَنَفَّسَ [tanáffasa] 'breathe' and نَفَّسَ [náffasa] 'deflate' – is cognate with (more precisely, has yielded) نَفْس [nafs] 'soul', which has given نافَسَ [nāfasa] 'be on a par; compete with' ('soul vs. soul'). It is Slavonic, however, that provides the most straightforward evidence of the direct link between 'breath' and 'soul': while Russian дыхание [dyxānie] means 'breathing', душа [dušá] 'soul' and дух [dux] 'spirit', the latter happens to be the common root with the original meaning of 'breath', as illustrated in the expression перевести дух [perevestí dux] 'catch one's breath', but also in the noun воздух [vōzdux] 'air', adjective духовой [duxovój] 'wind (instrument)' and verb душить [dušít'] 'stifle' ([š] < [x]) – all corroborated by the fact that Slavonic [y] stems from an original [u].

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