Sep 252016
 
shiva

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

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

<

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. 

Jan 112016
 

Manomaya Kosha or Mental Body

manomaya kosha

Manomaya Kosha refers to the Mental Body. Taittiriya Upanishad says: “Within the vital force is yet another body, this one made of thought energy. It fills the two denser bodies and has the same shape. Those who understand and control the mental body are no longer afflicted by fear.” 

This third kosha is manomaya, the kosha composed of the mind. It is a field of energy by itself. Even as prana is the positive field of energy, mind is the negative field of energy. In Sanskrit, the mind is known as manas. It is the second of the three layers of the Astral Body or Linga Shareera or Sukshma Shareera. It is the level of processing thoughts and emotions and is in direct control of the operation, through the prana, of the physical body and senses. This is the apparatus responsible for our sensory and motor activities and our day-to-day awareness when we’re functioning ‘automatically’. It processes input from our five senses and responds reflexively. It is the cause of diversity, of I and mine. It is the sacrificial fire, the five organs are the priests who pour into this fire the oblations of sense-objects, which, fuelled by various vasanas, burns out the world created and expanded by the mind that when fouled by rajas (projection) and tamas (concealment) superimposes the samsara, but when free of rajas and tamas can bring about the state of being established in Brahman.

Shankara likens it to clouds that are brought in by the wind and again driven away by the wind. Similarly, man’s bondage is caused by the mind, and liberation, too, is caused by that alone. When we move through life passively, reacting to our environment rather than actively shaping it, our awareness is focused here. Many people, and most animals, routinely operate at this level. 

After taking care of the physical body and training the energy flow of prana, the most important part to be trained in positive ways is this level of mind. According to yoga the entire nervous system (including the brain) merely mediates the activity of the manomaya kosha, expressing the commands of this higher energy state through the physical body. In meditation, we become aware of Manamaya kosha, explore it, and then go inward, to and through this to the remaining koshas.

This mind is connected with time, space and causality. Past, present and future are the three so-called divisions of the same mind. It is said that the mind moves at the greatest speed. The mind is a very subtle unit and when it goes to the subconscious level, it begins to go into the unknown past. This mind can be brought closer, implying that, time, space and causality can be brought closer. When we are on the external conscious plane, the distance between time, space and causality is long and when you are in meditation, then the gap between time, space and causality is very short. If the mind can stop, time stops. 

Mind is consciousness. Individual mind is part of the cosmic mind. Out of ignorance, we think we have individual minds. We can connect our mind to this cosmic mind through raja yoga practices. According to Sankhya philosophy, there are ten dimensions of mind; that means the mind of everyone, not only of human beings but of lower animals, the vegetable kingdom, the mind of each and everything in this world. There are ten stages in the evolution of the mind from the crudest to the finest.

Out of these ten stages of mind, three stages are known to human beings:

  • the conscious mind,
  • the subconscious mind, and
  • the unconscious mind.

These three stages are divisions of the human mind. The literal meaning of manas is ‘that by which you cognize, perceive and understand’; these are the basic and primary qualities of the mind.

Refinement and Development of Manomaya Kosha

Learning to develop Manomaya Kosha or mental body is important for our mental health. The mental body feeds on the sense perceptions. A harmonious environment, interesting professional challenges, and fun and supportive relationships offer an ideal diet for the mind. A routine of pratyahara, or sense withdrawal, leading into meditation provides an excellent inner tune-up.

Mantra meditation helps Manomaya kosha tremendously. This soothes and balances this kosha, and helps release blocks of energy manifesting as mental complexes and obsessive thoughts. 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. In a nutshell, it is possible to nourish Manomaya Kosha through the following methods:

  • Manomaya kosha is directly influenced through sensory inputs. Harmonious and supportive environment is an ideal diet for this kosha.
  • Take sattvic food. It helps keep Manomaya 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 unhelpful.
  • 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.

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

<

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. 

Nov 232015
 
Koshas

Pranayama kosha or Energy Body

Pranamaya Kosha Taittiriya Upanishad further says: “Inside this is another body made of life energy. It fills the physical body and takes its shape. Those who treat this vital force as divine experience excellent health and longevity because this energy is the source of physical life.”

This second dimension or kosha is called pranamaya kosha, the energy body, and is the first of the three layers of the Astral Body or Linga Shareera or Sukshma Shareera.

This second kosha is composed of prana, or chi, or ka, or pneuma, or mana, or life force. It is made up of 72,000 nadis, or astral tubes, through which prana, the vital energy, flows. Prana is a Sanskrit word meaning movement, motion or vibration. It is the vital force that produces the subtle vibrations related to breath, and which are the driving force behind the physical aspect of the senses and the operation of the physical body. Prana is the universal principle of energy. It is all the energies in the universe put together, which includes the forces of nature as well as the power within us. It is the life force that enters us at birth, stays and travels within the body and leaves us when we die. Pranamaya kosha is the vital life energy which organises the body parts and provides movement for mental and physical expression. It allows the invisible indweller, our True Self to be able to animate in the external world. At the same time, however, it allows the eternally still, silent center of consciousness to be mistakenly identified as the moving, visible physical body.

Prana is in constant motion throughout life. It is manifest not only in human beings, but also in animals, herbs or trees, oceans, mountains, minerals and bacteria. Even the tiniest part of an atom has prana. This prana is both, :

  • visible, and
  • invisible.

Visible prana manifests before you – wherever there is prana there is movement, growth, change and activity, and where there is no prana there is no activity. When we die the body dissipates because it has become completely bereft of prana. Visible prana is manifest right in front of you. After death the body dissipates because there is no prana in it. Also, if pranas are agitated or there is an imbalance, there is imbalance everywhere.

Prana is responsible for the action of the karmendriyas, the organs of action. Indriya means vehicle, tool or sense. Karma means action. There are five karmendriyas:

  1. feet,
  2. hands,
  3. vocal cords,
  4. urinary and
  5. excretory systems.

Through these five karmendriyas you perform five gross actions. Prana is responsible for the action of the karmendriyas, the organs of action – Prana is the force behind them. Also, there has to be coordination between the prana and the indriyas or sense organs. If there is too much prana, then children sometimes become hyperactive. Hyperactivity in the body is due to hyperactivity of the prana. In old age, we become slow due to lack of prana. Pranamaya kosha is the energy in annamaya kosha.

As per Vedic scriptures, there are five types of Prana, located in different parts of the body that support us. These five pranas affect energy through subtle channels. There five pranas are:

  1. prana,
  2. apana,
  3. udana,
  4. samana and
  5. vyana.

Vayus

These forms of prana control various functions in the physical body. For example, urination, excretion, insemination and childbirth are consequences of apana. Then there are five auxiliary or secondary pranas. 

According to the classical tradition, prana enters the womb in the fourth month of pregnancy. When an embryo is developed in the mother’s womb, it is part of the mother’s body and prana. After the third month, the independent or individual pranas manifest in the foetus. That is, from the fourth month, the mother’s prana and the prana of the embryo become two different pranas.

For both a healthy life and the practice of meditation, it is very useful, or essential that this level of our being be trained, regulated, and directed, so that it flows smoothly. In Pranayama and meditation, we become aware of Pranamaya kosha, explore it, and then go inward, to and through the other koshas. At a more realized level, boundaries fade away; every exhalation becomes another’s inhalation and every inhalation is another’s exhalation. This prana is a part of cosmic life. Each and every creature, each and every thing in this world is a part of cosmic life. Prana is the force or energy for all kinds of motion. A Yogi who has mastered the knowledge of Prana also gains mastery over all manifestations of powers in the cosmos. 

Refinement and Development of Pranamaya Kosha

Learning to direct and regulate prana is important to maintain health. The nerves and endocrine glands are the physical correlates of the pranic body’s nadis and chakras. Ayurveda says that health issues begin at energetic levels before manifesting physically.  Prana gets its nourishment through the air we breathe as well as the food we eat. The lungs and the large intestine are connected to each other. They both supply us with Prana, the lungs because they absorb the essence of the air, and the large intestine absorbs the essence and the nutrition of food. The Prana gets nourished, which in turn nourishes both the body and the mind. It is possible to nourish Prana through the following methods:

  • Pranamaya kosha is directly influenced through practice of pranayama. It is imperative to have an impeccable technique for Pranayama.
  • Take sattvic food. It helps energize Pranamaya Kosha.
  • Practice asanas with an awareness of the breath. 
  • Releasing what you don’t need is as important as adding what you need; spend less time on the activities (or relationships) that dim your inner light.
  • Practice good intention and repetition; you can change the energy of your inner and outer environment.
  • Practice mauna (noble silence). Try making meals in silence, or while chanting or singing uplifting mantras.
  • Mudras connect different nadis; their knowledge and practice can strengthen Prana.
  • Mantras have a positive influence on nadis. Chant or sing mantras suited to your Pranic body.
  • Marma Therapy acts on marmas and can be very helpful.
  • Traatak, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana also are very useful.
 

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. 

Nov 182015
 

Annamaya Kosha or Physical Body

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Taittiriya Upanishad says: “Human beings consist of a material body made up from the food they eat; those who care for this body are nourished by the universe itself.”

This first dimension or kosha is called annamaya kosha, the physical body or Sthula Shareera.

Anna means food. Satvik meaning of anna is ‘the essence of earth’. Water, food grains, fruits and vegetables are all the products of earth; from this, milk, ghee and flesh is made and all of this is considered anna. Physical body is made up of anna and it grows and gets strengthened with anna and later, after the death of physical body, merges with the earth. This outermost of the koshas is called the sheath of food, or Annamaya kosha. Annamaya kosha is the controller, cause, producer and consumer (sanchalaka, kaarana, utpadaka, and upbhokta) of physical body but is still different from physical body. Living at this level, man identifies himself with a mass of skin, flesh, fat, bones, and filth, whereas a man of viveka (discrimination) realizes his own Self as distinct from the physical body. Out of all koshas, annamaya kosha has the most dense and slow vibrational frequency. This body cannot exist without other koshas or bodies (the pranamaya, manomaya, vigyanamaya, and anandamaya koshas), yet for the most part, it remains barely activated in regards to its highest evolutionary potential. The physical body, the coarsest of sheaths in comparison to the faculties of the atma (the Self), is indispensable for evolution and Self Realization, because only within this can all chakras fully function.

This physical body is made up of the Panchmahabhutas – the five primordial elements, viz.,

  • Akash (vacuum),
  • Vayu (air),
  • Agni (fire),
  • Jal (water), and
  • Prithvi (earth)

This Annamaya Kosha passes through six stages:

  • birth,
  • subsistence,
  • growth,
  • maturity,
  • decay, and
  • death.

Gross body is simply the vehicle of all the other koshas during physical incarnation. Annamaya and physical manifestation of Pranamaya Kosh reside in Sthula Shareera or Gross (physical) body. Gross body needs gross food, drink and air which it gets from Annamaya and Pranamaya Kosha. At death the physical body perishes and its five constituent elements dissolve with the Source.

In Hatha Yoga practice, we train this aspect of ourselves, take care of it, and nurture it, so that we can both enjoy our external lives and go inward without it being an obstacle during meditation. In meditation, we become aware of Annamaya kosha, explore it, and then go inward, to and through other koshas.

Annamaya kosha can be sattvic, rajasic or tamasic. The word sattva means harmony, balance and tranquillity, where you create a balance between activity and peace. Rajas means dynamic, active, violent. Tamas means dull and inert. Through the hatha yoga shatkriyas, you develop a sattvic annamaya kosha and when annamaya kosha becomes sattvic, the emission of energy is much greater.

In modern science it is said that all the time, the whole day and night, physical bodies exchange energy with the surroundings. Of course, you cannot see it, but scientifically it has been seen that just like a pendulum swings, every body is emitting or throwing away atoms or sub-atomic particles, and receiving them. This activity gives rise to energy waves. The sattvic body creates longer-reaching waves, a tamasic body perhaps no waves at all, while a rajasic body has variable waves. 

When these atoms or sub-atomic particles leave your body and come back, there is a period of rest, just like when a pendulum when it goes to the left and then turns and goes to the right, there is a moment of rest. Similarly, when you do pranayama, between inhalation and exhalation there is a point of rest called kumbhak or shunyak, depending on when it comes. It is a very short period. In this short period, the body transmits energy which is sattvic, rajasic or tamasic. 

Refinement and Development of Annamaya Kosha

This is possible through the following methods:

  1. Proper diet: Sattvic foods, like a wholesome, lacto-vegetarian diet, provides nourishment for the body in an optimal way. The consumption of tamasic foods like meat, alcohol and drugs weakens our vitality and fills us with negative vibrations.
  2. Hatha Yoga Shatkriyas (The Six Procedures – Neti, Dhauti, Nauli, Vasti, Kapaal Bhaati, Traatak)
  3. Upavas (Fasting)
  4. Asana (Postures)
  5. Tatvashudhi 
  6. Tapashcharya

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

<

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. 

Nov 172015
 
Koshas

Koshas – Yogic Sheaths of Our Being

Koshas

Over thousands of years, yogis used various practices of Yoga to experientially understand the way we are, and function, vis a vis this whole universe. One of the important basic concepts which helps us understand this is that of Koshas. The Yoga path of Self-realization is one of progressively moving inward, through each of those five levels, so as to experience the purity at the eternal center of consciousness, while at the same time allowing that purity to animate through our individuality. These five levels are called koshas, which literally means sheaths. Yoga defines our being as having five layers or sheaths, each one contained within the other, like peels/ layers of an onion, or Russian Dolls. These sheaths cover every aspect of our being, from the grossest to the subtlest. 

Yoga tells us that you are not just the body you perceive with the eyes, nor are you just blood, bones, marrow, muscles, nerves and the different organs that keep you alive. You are much more than that. What you see of yourself with the eye is sustained by what you cannot see; if the unseen part of you ceased to exist, the seen part of you would wither and die. This seen and unseen part of you is composed of the five koshas. The aim of all the practices of yoga, without exception, is to energize and awaken these koshas until ultimately you experience awakening in vigyanamaya kosha. That alone is the purpose of yoga. When we practice yoga – whether it’s asana, pranayama, meditation, mantra, or even karma yoga – we are having an impact on one or more of these layers of the body. The practices of yoga work to release blockages in the many layers of the body. Understanding these basic concepts helps us to figure out why sometimes we feel stuck in our practice, or feel that we are not making any progress.

Consciousness

Consciousness is the ultimate reality out of which mind and matter proceed. It is the state or quality of awareness, or, of being aware of an external object or something within oneself. It has been defined as sentience, awareness, subjectivity, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind. Many philosophers believe that there is a broadly shared underlying intuition about what consciousness is.

At one time consciousness was viewed with skepticism by many scientists, but in recent years it has become a significant topic of research in psychology, neuropsychology and neuroscience. The primary focus is on understanding and determining the neural and psychological correlates of consciousness. In medicine, consciousness is assessed by observing a patient’s arousal and responsiveness, and can be seen as a continuum of states ranging from full alertness and comprehension, through disorientation, delirium, loss of meaningful communication, and finally loss of movement in response to painful stimuli. 

In Yoga, individual consciousness is considered a partial expression of cosmic consciousness. Essentially, cosmic consciousness and individual consciousness are one; only subjectivity separates them. Consciousness exists at various levels from minerals to man. Of all existing organisms that express themselves through behaviour, the human organism is the most highly evolved. It is capable of self-expression and the realization of The Truth beyond the realm of sensory perception. With the help of memory, imagination, intuition and discrimination, the human organism can understand laws inherent in nature and use them for growth and development.

Expression of Consciousness

When consciousness desires expression as an organism, it needs tools to control and work with the physical body. In general, we have two major aspects:

  • changeable, the feminine, and,
  • unchangeable, the masculine.

This is illustrated by the Shiva and Shakti as a playing couple, representing the masculine and the feminine aspects respectively.

Shiva and Shakti

Shiva, the masculine, represents the divine lover, and, Shakti, the feminine, represents the energy and the beloved. She wants to play a game. She creates a world of her own and invites Shiva inside. Shiva says that he is never changing, so he cannot live in Shakti’s ever-changing world! Shakti suggests, “You can be the centre of everything, and the centre never changes, everything around it changes. You can stay in your eternal bliss in the centre, and around you, I will put a network of my shakti (power) which will be a conduit between you and the outside world. That way you will not have to do anything – you can remain never changing and I can remain ever changing and we can have fun!”

Shiva agrees and the game begins…!

Pancha-Koshas – The Five Sheaths

Taittiriya Upanishad says:

  • Human beings consist of a material body made up from the food they eat. Those who care for this body are nourished by the universe itself.
  • Inside this is another body made of life energy. It fills the physical body and takes its shape. Those who treat this vital force as divine experience excellent health and longevity because this energy is the source of physical life.
  • Within the vital force is yet another body, this one made of thought energy. It fills the two denser bodies and has the same shape. Those who understand and control the mental body are no longer afflicted by fear.
  • Deeper still lies another body comprised of intellect. It permeates the three denser bodies and takes up the same form. Those who establish their awareness here, free themselves from unhealthy thoughts and actions, and develop the self-control necessary to achieve their goals.
  • Hidden inside it 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.

In Yoga philosophy, the body, mind and spirit are understood as one continuum. Indian philosophers spoke about consciousness: the bodies as described above in Taittiriya Upanishad are known as koshas (sheaths). These five koshas are:

  1. Annamaya Kosha or Physical Sheath,
  2. Pranamaya Kosha or Energy Sheath,
  3. Manomaya Kosha or Mental Sheath,
  4. Vigyanamaya Kosha or Wisdom Sheath, and
  5. Anandamaya Kosha or Equanimity or Bliss

In some systems there is a sixth sheath, the hiranyagarbha kosha. According to Vedanta, the wise man should discriminate between atman (the self) and the koshas, which are non-self.

Expansion of Consciousness, the path of Self-realization in Yoga, is the one of progressively moving inward, through each of those layers, so as to experience the purity at the center of consciousness, while at the same time allowing that purity to animate through individuality. 

Koshas - The Sheaths

Koshas and Shariras

These five koshas belong to or co-relate with three bodies that constitute your being. These Tri-Shareera or three bodies are:

  1. Physical Body or Gross Body or Sthula Shareera which has only one layer of Annamaya Kosha
  2. Astral Body or Linga Shareera or Sukshma Shareera. Subtle Body is Astral Body except a part of Pranic Sheath. Every living being has an astral body. This is connected to the physical body by a subtle thread along which vital energy flows. When this cord is cut, the astral body departs and the physical body dies. The astral body is composed of three layers:
    1. Layer one: Pranamaya Kosha or Pranic Sheath, much subtler than the food sheath, it is often spoken of as the etheric double. It is made up of 72,000 nadis, or astral tubes, through which prana, the vital energy, flows.
    2. Layer two: Manomaya Kosha or Mental Sheath, comprising the automatic mind, as well as the instinctive and subconscious regions. This is where we carry on the automatic functions of our daily lives; it is very jumpy by nature, as it is constantly bombarded by inputs from the five senses.
    3. Layer three: Vigyanamaya Kosha or Intellectual or Wisdom Sheath, the intellect controls and guides the automatic mind. Discrimination and decision making take place here and pass down to the grosser sheath.
  3. Causal Body or Karan Shareera which has only one layer of Anandamaya Kosha. This  stores all of our karmas, samskaras and impressions of many, many incarnations is the one we encounter when we speak about awakening in vigyanamaya kosha.

 

The experiences of evolution through different ‘yonis’, pleasant and unpleasant, are stored in the vigyanamaya kosha. In order to step into the arena of spiritual ecstasy, you have to pass through this zone and face what is stored there eye to eye. You simply cannot avoid it, just as you cannot avoid your thoughts or your feelings and dreams. The practices of yoga can accelerate this process and accomplish this in a systematic and graded manner. It is only when the awakening occurs in vigyanamaya and that experience is stabilized, that the transcendental experiences of ecstasy and bliss related to anandamaya kosha arise in the consciousness.

In modern psychology, the causal body or karana sharira is known as the realm of the unconscious;  it may also be termed as psyche’ of man. You cannot know what is stored there until there is awakening in vigyanamaya kosha. When you experience awakening in manomaya kosha, you are still within the realm of buddhi or intellect. Everything that you experience will be within the fold of logic and reason and thus there is a degree of control of the experiences and their outcome. It’s in vigyanamaya kosha that you go beyond the level of the mind.

 

Kosha Attibutes

Every day you have three types of experiences:

  • The waking experience in which you experience through your senses and mind.
  • Dream, in which you do not experience through the senses, but through your subconscious mind.
  • Sleep, in which there is no knowledge of time and space, no knowledge about yourself or about anything in sleep, but when you get up in the morning, you know that you slept well the night before.

So every day, the individual self undergoes these three experiences alternately. Each experience relates to a particular field. Whenever your individual self goes to one particular field, realm, dimension or kosha, it has one experience, and as your individual self changes the kosha, it has another experience.

Koshas and Lokas

The complete Gayatri mantra tells us about the relation of koshas and lokas:

Om Bhur  Om Bhuvah  Om Swaha  Om Mahah  Om Janah  Om Tapah  Om Satyam ||
Om bhur bhuvah swaha Tat suvitur varenyam  Bhargo devasya dhimahi  Dhiyo yo nah prachodayat || 

OM, the primordial sound, resides in all elements of the universe. It permeates the earth (bhuh), water (bhuvah), fire (swaha), air (mahah), ether (janah), intelligence (tapah)
and consciousness (satyam). We invoke and meditate on the glory of that Being who has produced this universe, may He enlighten our minds.

Lokas are the planes of consciousness one experiences as the awareness gains ascent from annamaya to pranamaya to manomaya to vigyanamaya. The sapta or seven lokas, as given in the above mantra are:

  1. bhu – earth
  2. bhuvah – water
  3. swah – fire
  4. maha – air
  5. janah – ether
  6. tapah – intelligence/ intellect, and
  7. satyam – consciousness

While bhu, bhuvah and swah, the earthly, intermediate and divine planes, are related to annamaya, pranamaya and manomaya koshas, maha, the plane of siddhas, janah, the plane of rishis and munis, and tapah, the plane of liberated souls, relate to awakening, stabilization and illumination of vigyanamaya. Satymais the loka of ultimate bliss or consciousness.

 

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. 

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