10) Self Knowledge (Atmajnan) – Three Bodies

Talk 10 by Prabhuji


Let us contemplate on concept of three bodies’ we have.

You may say, “what are these bodies, I have only one body.”

We have three bodies, like a coconut has three different parts in it, an outer covering, a hard shell and the innermost soft kernel. Similarly we have three different bodies.

Sthula Sharira the outer physical body which is something like a car. Like a vehicle which is used to go outside anywhere, the physical body is the vehicle to travel or operate. The physical body is used by the other two bodies, the Subtle and the causal body, so together we have three bodies:

  1. Sthula Sharira – the gross body
  2. Sukshma Sharia – the subtle body
  3. Karana Sharira – the causal body

What is the Gross Body made up of?

The gross body is what you see. It is the outer physical body made up of five action organs, five sense organs and mostly made of five elements, earth, water, fire, air and space. The body is maintained by the food you take and energized by the prana or vital breath. When death occurs, the gross physical body is left behind, but the subtle and the causal body move into another gross body. It is like you change your car; you drop your old car and get a new car. So the death of the gross body is really not the end of the life. From the outer perspective the body has become motionless, but inside the Jiva, soul has moved with the subtle and causal body to another gross body.

What is the Subtle Body made up of?

Subtle body is  a also made up of subtle elements, subtle aspects of panchabhutas. It is also matter, subtle matt which is at a molecular level. And this subtle body also has five subtle sense organs of perception, five subtle organs of actions, Pancha Pranas, Manas and Buddhi which comes to a total of Seventeen aspects and along with the causal body it moves into another gross body.

Why does it move to a different vehicle? Because they need a vehicle which is used for experiencing the world, for enjoying the karma.  So you are not satisfied with whatever you have experienced and you want to use another vehicle. So this subtle body and causal body together move into another vehicle.

What is Causal Body made up of?

The causal body is the root ignorance, Avidya. Ignorance that separates the Jiva from the Paramatma. The deep rooted ignorance which make the Jiva forget the Atma which is its true nature and identify with the subtle and gross body.  It forgets its true nature which is called ‘avarana’ and believes in what is being projected and this projection is called “Vikshepa”. It believes that the Subtle body is ‘me’.  So this ignorance is rooted in the Causal body. And the cause of the Ego is the causal body.

Together with the subtle and the causal body the Jiva moves from one gross body to another, in cycle.

What is Jiva?

Jiva is the soul, the Buddhi, intellect, which is subtle matter, and has the reflection of the Consciousness in it. The reflected Consciousness along with the Buddhi is called Jiva.

Now the reflected Consciousness takes its own form and life. Because it is reflected Consciousness, it starts thinking that ‘I am limited’. Like a water in a pot, takes the shape of the pot and starts thinking ‘I am the shape of the pot’, which is not true. Similarly the reflected Consciousness in the Buddhi thinks ‘I am limited Buddhi’ which is ignorance, which is not true. By identifying itself with Buddhi, the reflected Consciousness thinks ‘I am of the nature of the Buddhi’,  and of course the Buddhi will undergo modifications.  Now Buddhi becomes alive and starts thinking that ‘body is me’. So the reflected Consciousness which is associated with the Buddhi starts thinking that ‘I am the body’.  This is the Avidya or ignorance.

This Avidya causes the impressions that are stored in the causal body. The cause of the Avidya is forgetfulness. The reflected Consciousness associated with the Buddhi, starts feeling separate from the overall Consciousness. That is the causal body. Now the causal and the subtle body moves from one gross to another body in cycle.

Now enlightenment means, dropping of the ignorance Avidya and this leads to the destruction of the causal body. When causal body is the seat of Avidya.  That causal body gets destroyed in liberation. After that there is no migration from one body to another body and no rebirth, the cycle is cut. As long as the causal body is intact with the subtle body it keeps migrating from one gross body to another gross body. Once the causal body is gone subtle body will also drop. The reflected Consciousness associated with the Buddhi will merge back with the Brahman.

But from Brahman point of view, there is no body, there is no other body. From Supreme point of view there is no creation only, it’s all awareness only. Because everything is made up of ‘That’ only. Everything is made up of Consciousness only. From the point of Supreme Consciousness there is no creation at all. Whereas if you look from the point of view of creation there is no Supreme Consciousness there is only a creation. That is Maya.

There are two teachings, one is the teachings of Gaudapada Acharya, and he says, ‘ajatha vada’, ‘there is no creation at all’. Shankaracharya speaks of the creation as Maya. From the Brahman point of view there is no creation. But if you look from the creation point of view there is no visibility of Brahman. That is Maya.

Transcription by Atmajyothi Satyavathi

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