Sep 252016
 

Anandamaya Kosha or Equanimity or Bliss

shiva

Anandamaya kosha

The fifth kosha is Anandamaya kosha. The Anandamaya kosha or ‘sheath made of bliss’, or ananda is in Yoga and Vedantic philosophy the most subtle or spiritual of the five levels of embodied self. 

It is not possible to exactly translate the word ananda; its meaning is closer to equanimity than bliss. There is unified experience and that experience does not change. It is peace, joy, and love that is underneath, beyond the mind, independent of any reason or stimulus to cause a happy mental reaction.

Taittiriya Upanishad says:

Hidden inside it (Vigyanamaya Kosha) is yet a subtler body, composed of pure joy. It pervades the other bodies and shares the same shape. It is experienced as happiness, delight, equanimity and bliss.

It further defines anandamaya kosha as having the shape or form of a person with love as its head, joy as its right wing and delight as its left wing, bliss as its trunk and Brahman as its support or foundation.

Anandamaya kosha is the most interior of the koshas, the first of the koshas surrounding the Atman, the eternal center of consciousness. It is the subtlest of the five koshas. In the silence of deep meditation, this too is let go of, to experience the center.

This is a state of mind which does not change, despite anything that happens in life. With that state of mind you can live with all the conditions of life. You are where you are, firmly rooted in your own self, but at the same time you can interact with everyone. You can do anything, but still not be affected. Death cannot change that experience; birth cannot change it; love and hatred cannot make your experiences swing. When your mind becomes steady in experience and does not fluctuate under any condition, that is ananda. So, anandamaya kosha means the kosha which comprises homogenous experience.

Satyam Loka, the plane of ultimate bliss, corresponds to anandamaya kosha, which is none other than pure consciousness. 

The anandamaya kosha is extremely important in yoga because it’s the final and thinnest veil standing between our ordinary awareness and our higher Self.

Moksha Gita says:

anandamaya-kosha

The Anandamaya Kosha or this bliss sheath is Avidya (ignorance), a modification of Prakriti (Nature). It is the effect of past deeds. It is endowed with changing attributes. It is Jada or insentient. Therefore you are not the Anandamaya Kosha. You are the witness of this sheath. Understand, therefore, that ‘I am not the Anandamaya sheath. I am Brahman.’

The Anandamaya Kosha is made of Mula-Agyana or the core-ignorance. It is the Karana Sharira or the causal body which is the substratum of all other sheaths which are external to it. Its three attributes or Dharmas are:

  1. Priya, or affection
  2. Moda, delight,  and
  3. Pramoda, , or intense happiness.

It is the indescribable, beginningless Avidya or ignorance, the nescience of the Atma, and is composed of Malina Sattva, or that state of Prakriti in which Sattva is predominated and sullied by rajas and tamas. It is inanimate, beginningless, but has an end in Atma-Gyana.

Prakriti, the cause of ignorance, is made up of three Gunas, and carries with her the reflection of that transcendent Reality, Satchidananda. This Prakriti is divided into two aspects, called Maya and Avidya:

  • Maya is Shuddha-Sattva-Pradhana or that state of Prakriti in which the principle of Purity or Sattva, predominates over the other two, Rajas and Tamas.
  • Avidya is Malina-Sattva or that state of Prakriti in which Sattva is predominated and sullied by the other two – Rajas and Tamas.

When that pure Intelligence, Chit, is reflected through Maya or Shuddha-Sattva, the reflected Consciousness is called Ishvara. It is one only, and controls Maya.
When that Chit is reflected in Malina-Sattva or Avidya, the reflected Consciousness is called Jiva. Due to the multifarious nature of Avidya, Jivas are too many, and being individualised and separated from one another, they are swayed by Avidya or ignorance. And this ignorance leads them to identification with the five sheaths and the three bodies. Thus, there is activity, pain and suffering for the Jiva.

The aspirant should endeavour to rise above the five Koshas to realise the identity with Pure Consciousness. 

From Vigyanamaya to Anandamaya Kosha

Ananda is steady state of being, no matter what circumstance arises. The state of wholeness, of integration with the moment and with yourself, encompasses the inner sheath of anandamaya. This bliss state is usually experienced in fleeting moments, but can remain for longer periods. Importantly, anandamaya is still a sheath, a layer that can be peeled back. When anandamaya is peeled away, we reach atman—our very center. Atman is our direct connection with the divine, with the essence of all that is. It is our pure consciousness.

Anandamaya pervades each of the previous outer sheaths, but is only experienced once we are able to peel the illusions of each sheath away to reveal our true nature. Anandamaya can be experienced in those moments when you are fully immersed in that which you are doing—when you no longer separate yourself from your experience.

The transition from Vigyanamaya to Anandamaya Kosha is such an important stage in the ascent of awareness that the Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras has devoted an entire section to this event, when the consciousness is able to perceive the four dimensions of time – past, present, future and eternity. Patanjali has termed this event when siddhis manifest as vibhooti. He calls it the accomplishment of yoga and has cautioned the aspirant against becoming distracted by this accomplishment. It is the state equivalent to paroksha anubhuti, or awareness of only one point without consciousness of one’s own self. Deepening awareness of paroksha anubhuti leads the practitioner to aparokshanubhuti, which correlates to the bliss of anandamaya kosha.

So, Vigyanamaya Kosha may be the conduit to Anandamaya Kosha. The experience of Vigyanamaya Kosha gives you a glimpse of what is in store for you as your awareness begins to experience equanimity, but the experience again drops due to the appearance and disappearance of vikshepa (distractions) and one-pointedness of mind. All siddhas and saints must pass through this stage before they attain enlightenment. The account of the forty days and forty nights when Christ encountered temptation before he experienced God, as well as tales of Buddha, where prior to nirvana he encountered the demons and bewitching damsels, indicate vikshepa.

When there is awakening in Vigyanamaya Kosha, siddhis begin to manifest. The practitioner becomes more intuitive and telepathic. He begins to know many things about people and events before they happen. He develops the power to read others’ thoughts or he may develop healing powers. A person exhibiting such powers could easily be mistaken for God, which perhaps many did who were unaware of the manifestation of siddhis through the power of yoga when there is awakening in Vigyanamaya Kosha.

Yoga clearly tells that you are not just the body you perceive with the eyes, nor are you just blood, bones, muscles, nerves, heart, brain and other organs that keep you alive. You are much more than that. In fact, what you see with the eye is sustained by what you do not see. This unseen part of you is composed of the five koshas as mentioned above. 

In the tantric tradition, spirit is often symbolized as Shiva, the transcendent Lord who is ever immersed in divine consciousness. Matter or energy is called Shakti, the Supreme Goddess whose divine body is this entire universe. They love each other with unspeakable intensity. Their supreme love is experienced in the Anandamaya kosha, where spirit and matter embrace each other.

Reaching Anandamaya Kosha

Anandamaya Kosha is revealed when we have come through the outer sheaths and have released any form of mind control over it. Anandamaya is a deeper experience than that which can be contemplated. Striving to reach anandamaya kosha in any other way directly is a futile attempt. 

We can help awaken Anandamaya Kosha through three practices:

  1. The first is seva, selfless service. This opens our heart to our innate unity with other beings.
  2. The second is bhakti yoga, devotion to God. This opens our heart to our unity with the all-pervading Divine Being.
  3. The third is samadhi, intensely focused meditation, which opens our heart to our own divine being.

When the identification with the sheaths ceases, the self realises the Infinite Being and gets liberated beyond death.

Koshas – Yogis Sheaths of our Being

Annamaya Kosha or Physical Body

Pranamaya Kosha or Energy Body

Manomaya Kosha or Mental Body

Vigyanamaya Kosha or Intellectual or Wisdom Body

Anandamaya Kosha or Bliss

To delve deeper into this important topic in Yoga, please check different courses at SAVY. 

Contact Us

Dr Jitender K Sahdev

Dr Jitender K Sahdev

 

President and Director of Teaching

Please contact us to learn more about Yoga. We would love to hear any suggestions or comments that you might have. Space is limited in courses and participation will be on a first-come-first-served basis. So, respond early to participate in this exciting, life-transforming Yoga experience. 

Apr 092016
 

Vigyanamaya Kosha

Vigyanamaya Kosha

Vigyanamaya Kosha refers to the intellect or wisdom. Taittiriya Upanishad says: “Deeper still lies another body comprised of intellect – separate from the self comprised of mind, and self comprised of intuitive knowledge. It permeates the three denser bodies and takes up the same form. This one is also like the shape of a person like the preceding koshas. Those who establish their awareness here, free themselves from unhealthy thoughts and actions, and develop the self-control necessary to achieve their goals.  Tasye shraddhaiva shiraha, Faith is its head; hritam dakshinah pakshaha satyamuttarah pakshaha, righteousness its right wing and truth its left wing; yoga atma, yoga is its soul, and maha puchham pratishtaha, maha its foundation.” Koshas - The SheathsThis fourth kosha is Vigyanamaya Kosha. Vigyana means psyche or knowing or intellect, the faculty which discriminates, determines or wills. Vigyana is a Sanskrit word from the prefix vi, meaning special, and gyana, meaning knowledge or awareness, inner perception or experience. Gyana means knowledge but vignana is a specific knowledge which is acquired by shraddha, dharana, manyata (beliefs) and anubhuti (experience). We know that atma is immortal, imperishable and is different than the body. It is a part and parcel of brahman who is a form of truth, mind and bliss. But we have no experience of this reality. Vigyanamaya is the determinative knowledge (Nishchaya). This determinative knowledge (Adhyavasaya) is an attribute (Dharma) of the intellect (Buddhi). It is the determinative faculty which guides the mind and comes to right conclusion or determination. Vigyanamaya kosha or pragya (wisdom) sheath is part of sukshma sharira (subtle body). It is the sheath composed of intellect, associated with the organs of perception. It is the vehicle of higher thought, vigyana — understanding, knowing, direct cognition, wisdom, intuition and creativity. During sleep it gets involution or Laya along with chidabhasa or the reflection of Pure Consciousness. During waking state it is the doer. It is an effect like a jar and is inanimate. It shines in borrowed feathers. It borrows its light temporarily from its source, just as the moon borrows its light from the sun. It is not the eternal Self. Vigyanamaya Kosha rides on the wings of vairagya and viveka, and requires ichha shakti, kriya shakti and gyana shakti to realize.

This knowledge sheath, which seems to be followed by a reflection of the power of the chitta (mind-stuff), is a modification of prakriti (nature). It is endowed with the function of knowledge and identifies itself with the body, organs etc. This knowledge sheath cannot be the Supreme Self because:

  • it is subject to change
  • it is insentient
  • it is a limited thing
  • it is not constantly present

Vigyana has two meanings: external science and also inner experience. It is the sheath of wisdom that is underneath the processing, thinking aspect of mind. It knows, decides, judges, and discriminates between this and that, between useful and not useful. It is also the level of ego consciousness, meaning the powerful wave of ‘I-am-ness’. This ‘I-am-ness’ itself is a positive influence. 

Maha loka, the plane of siddhas and saints, is the foundation or support of vigyanamaya kosha. It is from here onwards that the superstructure of heightened awareness is constructed. If the siddhis which begin to manifest become the object of focus or enjoyment, then the Yogi will surely fall back to lower planes of consciousness. However, if he does not allow them to distract the awareness, especially when he is in a state of samadhi, then ascent of awareness to higher lokas known as janah, the realm of rishis and munis, and tapah, the realm of liberated souls, the jivanmuktas and videhamuktas, is definitely assured.

When the Yogi is in the state of annamaya kosha; he considers himself based on sex, age, characteristics and others. When he reaches pranamaya kosha, his assessment is based on guna (qualities) like – I am a musician, scientist, writer, fool, intelligent, rich, poor etc. When he reaches manomaya kosha the criteria shifts to swabhava (nature) like greedy, arrogant, atheist, theist, selfish, generous etc. When our attention is focused on these, we are considered to be in the third stage of atma-unnati (spiritual progress). When the Yogi reaches the fourth level of vignanamaya kosha, he starts experiencing that he is different from the physical body; he is not what his properties and nature depict – he is a part of Ishvara and imperishable, indestructible, immortal atman.

An atma-gyani is one, who has strong vishwas (faith) and complete shraddha in his experience of being the atman. He knows for sure that he is vishudha atman and nothing else. This body is my vehicle, prana is my weapon and manas is my slave. The interests of atman are different than the interests of physical body.

A major part of sadhana, or spiritual practice, is gaining ever increasing access to this level of our being. It is the level that has the higher wisdom to seek The Truth, to go within, in search of the eternal center of consciousness.

Subjective experience is a consequence of vigyanamaya kosha. Whatever you are dreaming is a projection of vigyanamaya kosha. Vigyanamaya kosha is related to a very unknown part of the universe and it is a link or sutra between the conscious mind, the individual mind and the universal mind. Universal knowledge comes to the conscious mind through vigyanamaya kosha. Vigyanamaya kosha does not depend on time, space and causation factors.

Dimension of Intuition

Vijnanamaya kosha transcends intellect and enters into the dimension of intuition, where the mind does not work. Mind and intellect do not function in vigyanamaya kosha. Each one of us operates at the level of instinct, intelligence, intellect and intuition. Till the level of intellect you are under the influence and in the field of manomaya kosha. It is when you are able to transcend intellect that you will experience an intuitive flash about something or the other. All of us have at some time in our life experienced this intuition, which comes in flashes due to a sudden contact with the vigyanamaya kosha. But we are not able to hold on to that state of awareness and once again regress to the level of intellect and intelligence.

Focus of Yoga is to master howto connect with this level of intuition and to use it as a tools, just like intellect, mind or intelligence. The practices of yoga are designed to take you to this point. 

Refinement and Development of Vigyanamaya Kosha

Like manomaya kosha, vigyanamaya kosha can be reached with regular yoga asana, pranayama, and meditation practices. Once there, we shall experience a deeper peace that comes by way of freedom from thoughts, actions, and speech. It is highly unlikely to maintain this awareness all the time. Rather, it should come in waves and flashes, gradually increasing over time until you are much less likely to get caught up in the daily dramas. As your yoga practice deepens, take notice of the subtle changes that occur and you will notice aspects of your awareness that exemplify the development of this kosha.

Mantra meditation helps tremendously. This soothes and balances, and helps release blocks of energy. Yogis who spend a great deal of time in meditation often have very little need for sleep, in part because their mental vehicles are functioning optimally. It is possible to develop Vigyanamaya Kosha through the following methods:

  • Tantra is specifically related to vigyanamaya kosha and can be used to develop it. Vigyanamaya kosha is inherent within you but it is hidden like energy is hidden in matter. You have to separate it; you have to release your vigyanamaya kosha to experience it.
  • Vigyanamaya Kosha rides on the wings of vairagya and viveka, and requires ichha shakti, kriya shakti and gyana shakti to realize.
  • Harmonious and supportive environment is an ideal diet for this kosha.
  • Take sattvic food. It helps keep all kosha healthy.
  • Practice meditation. Pranayama, mudras, pratyahara will help tune it up for meditation.
  • Mantra meditation has a positive influence on nadis. Chant or sing mantras suited to you. Beej mantras have a profound effect.
  • Practice mauna (noble silence). Try making meals in silence, or while chanting or singing uplifting mantras.
  • Releasing what you don’t need is as important as adding what you need; spend less time on the activities (or relationships) that are toxic.
  • Practice good intention and repetition; you can change the energy of your inner and outer environment.
  • Marma Therapy acts on marmas and can remove blocks.
  • Traatak, dhyana, dharna are very useful.

 When there is awakening in vigyanamaya kosha, siddhis (special powers/ skills) begin to manifest –

  • the practitioner becomes clairvoyant and telepathic; he begins to know many things about people and events before they happen, which come to him in the form of dreams, thoughts or visions.
  • he may be able to appear at many places to many people at the same time
  • he develops the power to read others’ thoughts and also to influence them
  • he may develop healing powers. His words, touch or glance can heal the deadliest of diseases which no doctor can cure.
  • In some exceptional cases, depending on the extent of his advent into the level of vigyanamaya kosha, he may even be able to resurrect life or enter another person’s body. A person exhibiting such powers could easily be mistaken for God!

Koshas – Yogis Sheaths of our Being

Annamaya Kosha or Physical Body

Pranamaya Kosha or Energy Body

Manomaya Kosha or Mental Body

Vigyanamaya Kosha or Intellectual or Wisdom Body

Anandamaya Kosha or Bliss

To delve deeper into this important topic in Yoga, please check different courses at SAVY. 

Contact Us

Dr Jitender K Sahdev

Dr Jitender K Sahdev

 

President and Director of Teaching

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p style=”text-align: justify;”>Please contact us to learn more about Yoga. We would love to hear any suggestions or comments that you might have. Space is limited in courses and participation will be on a first-come-first-served basis. So, respond early to participate in this exciting, life-transforming Yoga experience. 

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