12) Self Knowledge (Atmajnan) –Five Sheaths (Panchakoshas)

Talk 12 by Prabhuji

Let us contemplate on the five layers, or the ‘PanchaKoshas’ of the body. or ‘Five Sheaths’. Let us contemplate on the five layers, or the ‘PanchaKoshas’ of the body. or ‘Five Sheaths’.
As discussed earlier there are three bodies – gross body, subtle body, and causal body. And these three bodies can be further divide into five layers – PanchaKoshas; or five Koshas. They are called – Annamaya Kosha or physical body, Pranamaya Kosha or energy body, Manomaya Kosha or mental body, Vijnanamaya Kosha or intellectual body, and Anandamaya Kosha or blissful body. These are the five layers of being.
The Physical body is made up of the five elements – earth, water, fire, air and space – the Panchabhutas. It has five sense organs, five organs of action. It is made up skin, bones, the muscles, blood and all that.This Physical body is given to you at the time of conception, and at the time of death, it will be taken away. It will merge with the five elements. Many people confuse the ‘I’ with the Physical body. They confuse the eternal, permanent ‘I’ with the physical body, and say ‘I am the body.’ But the body keeps on changing. It is wrong to associate the Self with body. People confuse the Self, which is of the nature of consciousness, with the body; which is not correct. The physical body is energised by the Pranic body, or the energy body. The energy body consists of a distribution system within our body, called ‘Nadis’. There are seventy-two thousand channels that distribute the energy to the whole body. And, there are five main types of energy, the breath you take, which gets distributed in the body in terms of five Pranas. They are called – Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana, Samana. These are the five different types of Pranas. The Pranas function to operate the body. The digestion is taken care of by Prana, Circulation is taken care of by Prana, and the energising of the physical body is done by the Prana.
At the time of death, even the Pranic body is taken away. Only subtle prana along with the inner layers will move to another body. The gross Prana and the channels of distribution will be gone. Many people think, ‘Prana is me’; the Self is associated with Prana, which is also not true. People say, ‘He breathed his last’; so, last breath is considered as that person’s death. Prana has nothing to do with the Self. Prana is only an instrument or vehicle of the Self, just like the physical body.
Within that Pranic body, there is a subtle body called mental body – mind or Manas – Manomaya Kosha. So, Annamaya Kosha is the physical body, Pranamaya Kosha is energy body, and Manomaya Kosha is the mental body. So, what does this mental body do? The mental body, through sense organs and perceptions, senses the world. It gets concepts. It conceptualizes. And gets desires, ‘I want this,’ ‘I want that’ and starts cravings for something, craving for objects. This is the mental body. The Manas is the one which craves for the objects of the physical world. It senses the objects of the physical world. The Manomaya Kosha is the inner layer of the personality.
Then there is the Buddhi, intellect. The sheath of intellect – it is called the Vijnanamaya Kosha. The Buddhi is the one which determines, ‘This is what it is’. So, Manomaya Kosha, and Buddhi, together play a role in perception. When the Manomaya, through the sense organs, perceives an object, the concepts arise in it. Buddhi determines what the object seen is. Buddhi performs the determinative role, whereas the mind performs the conceptualization role – multiple concepts which are not finalised, and the Buddhi determines, ‘This is what it is’.
Mind is full of ignorance. It starts craving for so many things. The purified mind is required for realisation. The mind should become free from cravings. And that can happen only with ‘Viveka’. The clear thought process by Buddhi can guide the mind and make it free from wrong notions. There is a reflection of Atma, pure consciousness, in the Buddhi. This reflection in Buddhi is called Jiva, this is what migrates from one body to another body.
And deep inside there is another layer called Anandamaya Kosha, or blissful sheath. The deep bliss you experience in deep sleep is of the blissful sheath. It is actually a modification of the fine nature, Prakriti. Very fine aspect of Prakriti is the blissful sheath. It is also not Atma. It not the bliss of Atma. Atma gets reflected in the Prakriti, nature, and this is called the Blissful sheath. Many people confuse that with the Self-realisation. ‘I am very blissful’ is also not correct, because there is association with the blissful sheath. The Self is the witness of all this, the Self is not associated with this.
Bliss is the reflection of Self in nature. It is a very subtle aspect of Prakriti, like the subatomic or microscopic level. There the reflection of Atma is more, and you feel the bliss there. Some amount of reflection of Atma is there on the Buddhi, so that’s why the Buddhi becomes activated and it is able to think and work. That reflection on Buddhi is called Jiva. Reflection in the Anandamaya Kosha is called bliss. So, the Bliss and Consciousness are two aspects of Paramatma. ‘Sat-Chit-Ananda’ – ‘Chit’- Consciousness reflected in Buddhi, ‘Ananda’- reflected in Anandamaya Kosha. Even the bliss is not Atma. Atma is of the nature of bliss, but when I say, ‘I am blissful’, when I go to meditation and say, ‘I am blissful’, it is not final. You have to come out of the blissful state also. When I say ‘I am blissful’, ‘I am’ is the Atma, ‘bliss’ is the sheath – the Prakriti or nature. Again, out of five layers, one layer you are still associating with. You need to come out of the blissful sheath also to realize your own nature.

Transcription by Atmajyothi Satyavthi


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