Pancha kosha (Five Sheaths)

Panchakosha is very well explained in the ancient scriptures, The vedas tells us that the core of our own self is not the body or mind but the self or Atman.Atman is the core of all creatures and their innermost essence. it can only be achieved by the deepest level of meditation. To have this deepest level of experience we need to have proper knowledge of five sheaths. Panchakosha helps us to discriminate between the self and not self. These five sheaths are the curtain or layers of the Atman, Although Atman can not have any layer but because of the layer of maya(Affection) and we are so focused to these layers we feel that they are the curtain of Atman.to know the Atman or our self we need to clear the appearing screen of the Atman. The Atman is real, conscious, infinite and which is known as Brahman is hidden in the cave of the five sheaths. The knower of Brahman becomes Brahman, is the pure intelligence or principle of consciousness which constitutes our very soul so it can not be an object of knowledge,in ordinary sense it can not be the subject and object both of the knowledge. Brahman really means to realize that state of absolute intelligence or consciousness which is beyond time, space and causation, which is known as Nirvikalpa Samadhi. And once that state is realized, that becomes the permanent state of consciousness. so let’s try to understand the five sheaths . The five sheaths are. Annamaya kosha. Pranmaya kosha. Manomayakosha. Vigyanmaya kosha. Anandmaya kosha. Annamayakosha. Annamaykosha is the first screen or curtain we think as our self. The man is constituted of the essence of the food. From Atman came ether, from ether air, from air came water, from water came earth and from earth came vegetables,from vegetables came food and from food came man. This man whom we perceive is a product of food essence. It is indeed the semen bearing the thoughts of human form,that constitutes the seed and who ever is born with that seed with the thought of human form will have the same form of human. In reality Atman himself has become the man of the kosha by Avidya (By not knowing our selves). just as the rope becomes serpent by Avidya. same by avidya , atman becomes the sheaths of five koshas. The chant Annarasamay means the thing formed of food essence but supreme self is not made of any material. the man is constituted of food essence means , human organism constituting physical body of a cosmic soul in this universe. The human organism made of head, hands, legs and other organs which at the beginning of the creation was evolved after the evolution of Ether, air , fire etc. that human organism is one which every human know as my body. but the fact is that the person now knows as his body is not the one which evolved at the beginning of the creation. For a man who wants to know about Brahman , Annamaya kosha is the step to the knowledge of Brahman. Food is the cause of birth, existence and dissolution of the all creatures. Annamaya kosha has been expanded with an idea to show it’s superiority as self with an idea of self within the limits of own body by withdrawing the attachment of whole external world which includes wife, son, friends and material world. some persons may have deep attachment to the external world but when they learn and start to take stand in Annamayakosha , they can withdrawal from the attachments. Those who practice this thoughts and constantly meditating to fix the thoughts to the Annamaya self, can withdraws from the external world and can take their stand in Annmaya self. so to get this knowledge we need to remove all the attachment to the external world. now we learnt about the gross physical body. There is a self within formed of Prana which is also imagined as the self like gross body which is known as Pranmaya kosha. Pranamaya Kosha. Pranamaya is the distinct nature from the Annamaya and is within it as a basic substance.It is self but Pranamaya kosha is also falsely considered as the self like Annamyaya kosha. Prana is the life of all beings and that is why it is known as the universal life. By the pranamaya self the Annamaya is filled. within the physical body dwells the vital body air. Pranamaya kosha is falsely ascribed to the self and we see it identified with the self by him who thinks , I breath which is here spoken as Atman. when we consider external objects as non self and self as our own physical body which is the immediate self compared to the external objects. same way when we understand pranamaya kosha within Annamyakosha the Avidya of physical body as a self will not be there. so neither the external objects or the physical body is the self. As we just mentioned Pranamaya is the self dwelling in the Annamaya. If we think Pranmaya as a self then Annamaya will disappear as a self and we can have conviction that pranamaya is the self dwelling in the Annamaya body. because there can not be two selves. Manomaya Now we have accepted Annamaya as the false self and we have accepted Prana as the self , that I am Prana, but there is one self within which is Mana or Thought . Manomaya lies within Pranmaya, so the conciousness of Atman which spreads to all, can be manifested in Mana. Because of this manifistation of Atman in Mana, Manomaya is the self of Pranmaya. Pranamaya is penetrated by Manomaya. The external through the internal. Mana (Mind) is the product of gyan shakti( essence of cognition) and Manomay is formed of this product. Mana the internal sense represents the ten external senses as well, therefore we should accept that all the senses external and internal should be considered as Manomaya kosha. Mana is the main among all these senses and therefore the name Manomaya is formed. All the senses are dependent to Mana for their particular functions. Mana has command over all the senses but it is Brahman which is not accessible to words ( senses) , even mans has no access to Brahman. It is beyond the reach of Mana. Manomaya is composed by speech(all senses) and thoughts. A person who knows that joy or enjoyment is the fruit of the meditation of this Manomaya Brahman and has experienced the joy of Brahman and dwells in Hiranyagarbha has never to fear from anything. The person who does not have any feelings or attachment to the world has no fear. when mana thinks of any objects, it thinks in particular form which can not be thought for Atman. That distinguish Mana from Atman. Now the manomaya is composed of desires and thoughts and it is subtler then Pranamaya . Pranamaya is the vital energy working through the senses. next subtler and inner is the Vigyanmaya which is the prime mover of the mental stuff. Vigyanmaya Kosha. The inner self of the Manomaya is Vigyanmaya. Manomaya is composed of mental state. vigyanamay is the owner of that mental state. Budhhi or intellect which is considered as the owner of the mental state. Vignana which is evolved from satva associated with raja forms ego, captures as I in consciousness. It is the principle of ego that all of us refer as I. The ego, apprehended in consciousness as I is the knower of all the knowledge obtained through any of the senses. The subject of all experience is Atman himself not the vignanmaya. when someone creates some creation using different kind of instruments, which can not be possible without those instruments, same way Atman is the agent who is not attached , when associated with the senses or instruments. Purusha himself is pure self with consciousness but when it is associated with maya of the vignanmaya it becomes coextensive with maya and when maya travels to some places it appears that purusha itself travels, because of the maya which travels. so we should admit that agency abides in the maya of the vignanmaya and falsely considered as Atman. Vignanmaya only acts as an instrument. The only time the ego becomes inactive is during deep sleep. it means all other time we are captured in the ego. that is why we enjoy good sleep. In deep sleep, the intellect also is disappears. Only when we are not sleeping the mind and the intellect controls the whole body. We seem to be feeling that this body is ourselves; right from head to foot, we identify ourselves with this kosha on account of the continuous perversion of the mind and the intellect in the waking condition. But in the deep sleep condition, the intellect also does not work. It elapses, but we do not die. If in the deep sleep state we die, we will not wake up the next morning. So even when the body elapses, the kosha elapses, the mind stops working, and the intellect stops to operate and elapses to be a content of our consciousness, we exist nevertheless in the state of deep sleep. Therefore, the intellectual sheath also is not the Atman; it is not Consciousness. Ananadamaya Kosha. There is another self within which is formed of Bliss. In the vigyanmaya kosha , self was described as the agent of vigyanmayakosha and here it is said self as the enjoyer of all the actions. Though the self which is pure becomes enjoyer by Avidya( Without knowledge) when he identifies himself with the maya of intellect. Brahman’s nature is unconditional absolute Bliss is called the support of Annamayakosha for the two reasons, one is it forms the background of the subtlest kosha of the Jiva and because all feelings of happiness and joy are nothing but a minor reflection of the supreme joy of Brahman passing through the mist of maya. The five sheathes are the envelope of the soul- the grossest is the gross body and then subtler and subtler kosha, one within the other till it reaches to the last subtlest the Ananadmayakosha. now if we take an example of gross universe , it is possible by passing from the all the stages of origin – first the layer of maya covers the face of Atman, then the subtle prakruti begins to conversion as it begins to thicken itself grocer and grocer states. the first product of conversion of maya is mahat or the cosmic mind, from this cosmic mid origins subtle elements and from subtle , gross elements. now we know that what is true for macrocosm is true for microcosm as well, the particular aspect of parabrahman in it’s process of being individualized has to suffer from all the maya . So the last kosha which is also known as Karana sharira or casual body of the soul is the equivalent to the maya of ishvara. soul remains in this body while in deep stage of sleep, it is called Anandmayakosha in that deep stage of sleep the jiva or soul is not conscious of any changes which rises sorrows of life, he enjoys peace, even the consciousness is absent there, so with it also a feeling of limitation. there is only a thin layer of mist which shades it from the glorious of the soul. The principle of joy which forms the very core of our being is the main source of our life and the activities of our senses. The prime motive of our life is to achieve the eternal joy of Atman. in the stage of ignorance , man seeks this joy from the senses and sense objects, but when wisdom arises from the experience and bitter failures, he turns his eyes inwards and finds it in his own self only. so in the state of ignorance and wisdom , life is nothing but continuous search of joy or bliss of Atman. Brahman is the one, the existent who is distinguished from the koshas which are non existent.one should abandon all the thoughts of koshas and which are created by avidya and should engage himself with the supreme self, who is free from all the changes, who has neither beginning nor end. The Anandmaya is the embodied self dwelling in Vigyanmaya. The one who has no body, the one who is the one existence, the non dual, the partless is the shelf of other shelves mentioned above.

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