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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