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Each Kosha acts as a sheath, which covers or hides our essential nature — our Atman or inner Self.

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All five Koshas are interconnected and constantly interacting with each other. There is a sequence within our Koshas, from gross to subtle and, within that sequence, the more refined or subtle Kosha has a regulatory influence on the previous grosser Kosha. Below is a list of the Koshas, from gross to subtle. Anna means food and the Annamaya Kosha is the body we build from the food we eat. It is the grossest and most material of all our bodies and the one that we detect through our normal senses.

It is usually referred to as our physical body and is associated with the earth element Prithvi. Prana is often translated as life force. This sheath is our Prana or energy body and it controls the flow of energy through our physical body through a system of subtle channels called Nadis. Our body also has numerous energy centres called Marmas through which our energy body interacts with our physical body.

Treat your subtle bodies through the subtle essences

These Marma points control the flow of energy to different body systems and organs, such as our heart, brain, stomach and liver. This Kosha is associated with the water element Jal. Manas means mind and this Kosha acts as a storehouse for memories, emotions, likes and dislikes and all the information we receive through our senses. Manomaya Kosha is often referred to as either our emotional or our mental Chitta body and is associated with the fire element Agni or Tejas. Vijnana is usually translated as intellect, but can also be thought of as the higher aspect of our mind — our Buddhi.

Spiritual Ayurveda: our Five Subtle Bodies and Three Subtle Essences

This body is composed of our faculty of intelligence, discrimination, wisdom and compassion. When this sheath is more prominent in our experience, our mind and heart are free of agitation and are balanced and clear. This Kosha is sometimes referred to as our knowledge body and is associated with the air element Vayu. Ananda means bliss and this sheath is composed of Sattva , bliss, harmony, peace and contentment.

Some call this the causal body, others the bliss body.


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Of all our bodies, Anandamaya Kosha is the truest reflection of our underlying Atman, the Self whose nature is Sat-chit-ananda pure bliss-consciousness. This Kosha is the most pervasive and is associated with the space or ether element Akasha. The reason why Ayurveda is said to be the most holistic medical science is that it not only recognises the existence of our five different bodies or Koshas but it has the deepest knowledge of how to bring each into its optimal state.

Even the production of medicines in Ayurveda is done in such a way as to treat all our bodies. On the gross level there are components within many herbs used in Ayurveda, such as certain alkaloids, that are known for their therapeutic effects on the physical body. But Ayurveda also uses numerous precise and detailed procedures to charge or energise such ingredients, so that they can penetrate and heal our more subtle bodies.

One example is the process of creating Amlaberry MA1. The powder is dipped in fresh Amla juice and this mixture is again dried, ground and mixed with fresh Amla juice. This procedure is repeated 21 times to enhance the nourishing and rejuvenating qualities of Amla. On the physical level the resulting Almaberry helps build muscle tissue and is a Rasayana rejuvenator.

The Gross Body and The Subtle Body

On a subtle level, it strengthens the mental body and intelligence body, it increases inner and outer strength Bala and it harmonises the intellect and mind with the physical body. In order to add specific vibrational qualities to herbs, Ayurveda may recommend picking them at particular times, according to lunar or solar cycles.

It may specify certain mantras to be chanted during the preparation of a herbal remedy. Sometimes a herb may be left out in the moonlight or the sunlight to gain a required quality. These are just small examples to show that over many thousands of years, a highly systematised and detailed science has grown up in India to treat the whole person, and that means treating all of our five bodies.

Meditation , Yoga and Pranayama breathing exercises are powerful tools to balance all three subtle essences and so is maintaining a good digestive system. Here are a few other tips:.


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  8. States of phenomenal world The phenomenal world of finite objects is utterly illusory and false. It has three states: the gross , the subtle , and the mental. Although all three of these states of the world are false, they represent different degrees of falseness. Thus the gross world is farthest from Truth God , the subtle world is nearer Truth, and the mental world is nearest to Truth. All three states of the world owe their existence to cosmic Illusion, which the soul has to transcend before it realizes the Truth.

    Purpose of creation The sole purpose of creation is for the soul to enjoy the infinite state of the Oversoul consciously. Although the soul eternally exists in and with the Oversoul in an inviolable unity, it cannot be conscious of this unity independently of creation, which is within the limitations of time. It must therefore evolve consciousness before it can realize its true status and nature as being identical with the infinite Oversoul, which is one without a second.

    Cause of cosmic Illusion How does the soul get caught up in Illusion?

    Meher Baba: The Divine Truths

    How did the formless, infinite, and eternal Soul come to experience itself as having form and as being finite and destructible? How did Purusha , or the supreme Spirit, come to think of itself as prakriti , or the world of nature? In other words, what is the cause of the cosmic Illusion in which the individualized soul finds itself?

    The soul does get consciousness; however this consciousness is not of God but of the universe, not of the Oversoul but of its shadow, not of the One but of many, not of the Infinite but of the finite, not of the Eternal but of the transitory. Thus the soul, instead of realizing the Oversoul, gets involved in cosmic Illusion; and hence, though really infinite, it comes to experience itself as finite. In other words, when the soul develops consciousness, it does not become conscious of its own true nature but of the phenomenal world, which is its own shadow.

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    Subtle Yoga Anatomy

    Evolution and degrees of consciousness In order to become conscious of the phenomenal world, the soul must assume some form as its medium for experiencing the world; and the degree and kind of consciousness are determined by the nature of the form used as the medium. The soul first becomes conscious of the gross world through a gross form. The consciousness of the gross world that it has in the beginning is of the most partial and rudimentary type.

    Correspondingly, the soul assumes the most undeveloped form, that of stone. Thus the sanskaras cultivated in a particular form have to be worked out and fulfilled through the medium of a higher form and a correspondingly more developed consciousness of the gross world. The manner in which sanskaras result in the evolution of consciousness, and the corresponding forms, has a useful analogue in ordinary experience.

    If a man has the desire to act the part of a king on the stage, he can only experience it by actually putting on the garb of a king and going on the stage. This is true of aspirations and desires; they can only be worked out and fulfilled by bringing about an actual change in the entire situation, as well as the medium, through which the situation may be adequately experienced.

    The parallel is very helpful in understanding the driving force of evolution, which is not mechanical put purposive. Identification with forms The sanskaras are not only responsible for the evolution of the form body and the kind of consciousness connected with it, but they are also responsible for the riveting of consciousness to the phenomenal world. They make emancipation of consciousness that is, the withdrawal of consciousness from the phenomenal world to the soul itself impossible at the sub-human stage and difficult at the human level.

    Since consciousness clings to the previous sanskaras, and experience of the phenomenal world is conditioned by the use of an adequate form body as a medium, the soul at every stage of evolution comes to identify itself with the form. Thus the soul, which in reality is infinite and formless, experiences itself as finite and thinks of itself as being stone, metal, vegetable, worm, fish, bird, or animal, according to the degree of the development of consciousness. Finally, while experiencing the gross world through the human form, the soul thinks that it is a human being.

    Reincarnation and law of karma The soul has fully developed and complete consciousness in the first human form, and therefore there is no need for any further evolution of the gross form body. The evolution of forms thus comes to an end with the attainment of the human form.

    To experience the sanskaras cultivated in the human form, the soul has to reincarnate again and again in human forms.