The Real person is hidden by the Pancha Koshas, the 5 psychic sheaths
The Human body what we normally see and feel is not an entity that is real. Instead, there are 5 sheaths enveloping the real entity ‘Jiva’ or causing an influence on the Jiva (Atman, the Soul).
Panchakoshas, the five psychic sheaths enveloping/covering the ‘Atman’ or ‘Aatma’ (the Self, also called the Soul), are discussed in the Taittiriya Upanishad which is a part of the Taittiriya Samhita of the Krishna Yajur Veda. It gives a detailed description of the dimensions of human personality or the dimensions of the Self.
The first of these sheaths or coverings (Koshas) is the Annamaya Kosha, the covering of the gross element, which is represented by the human body. It came into existence from the parents. It is nurtured with affection and care. It is the grossest covering. It has given its color to the soul and has dominated the soul so much, that it does not consider itself separate from it. Day and night the people are engaged in its care, and all the time think of cleaning, adoring, and nurturing it.
The second is the Pranamaya kosha, the covering of breath, which is constituted of Prana(breath). Prana is the power of Nature, which is more minute or subtle as compared with the gross matter. Divine light and other powers are contained in it and belong to it, due to which the world is dependent on it. Similarly, this body is also dependent on it. There are thousands of kinds of this Prana. In nature, there is no distinct division, limitation or classification, but according to their bodily functions, they have been broadly divided into five.
Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana and Samana.
They exist at various places in the body and have their special functions to perform. The bodily organs got tired through continued use, but the Pranas are never tired. Their functions continue all the time while sleeping, walking, rising, sitting, etc., When the Pranas cease to function, the body becomes useless. The elements are then forced to disintegrate and return to their original condition.
The third covering is the Manomaya Kosha i.e., of the mind. The organ which creates positive and negative thoughts is called Manas the mind. It is very important and most powerful in the body. The other organs of the body function under its command. They do as the mind orders them to do. When the mind is controlled, every sphere of life shall be controlled. A man becomes what the mind decides to make him. Sometimes the mind rises to the skies, sometimes it falls down in deep seas. Sometimes it decides to get attached to Reality, sometimes it gets away from them. The mind is bound by the five sense organs and causes many birth and death. One who gets over these five, shall reach the shore, that is, shall be relieved of birth and death.
The fourth covering is Vignanamaya Kosha, the region of the intellect. Vigyana means intellect, which is the element of taking a decision. The mind proposes, and the element, which confirms the proposal, is known as Buddhi, the intellect. With the help of intellect, an opportunity is available to see the reflection of Reality to a certain extent. But this covering, being subtle like the mind, eludes and deceives at times. Those who reach near it begin to get siddhis (power of performing miracles) and powers of many kinds.
The fifth covering is the Anandmaya Kosha, the place of bliss. Here the soul is all alone. But it should not be taken to mean that it is altogether free. This Kosha is very thin and subtle. It is said to be the knot of the inanimate (Jad) and the animate (Chetana). Only here, Jad and Chetana unite with each other in a subtle way.
These are the five coverings. By tearing them one gets a chance of the vision of the soul. All these five coverings are within the human body. Every man has three bodies, one is Sthoola gross, which consists of the hands, nose, ears, etc., and the second is Sookshma subtle, which is made up of minute and subtle material, or say elements, and in which exists the five Pranas, the mind, the intellect, etc., The third is the Kaarana causal, which is very very minute and subtle and is the name of the knot, where exists the union of Jad and Chetana. It is called Anandmaya Kosha, the treasure house of Divine Bliss and Ecstasy because the Soul is in bliss and ecstasy here.
There is only the covering of ignorance, which is the reason for the creation of the knot of Jad and Chetana. These three bodies are in every human being. While awake, the soul enjoys with the Sthool and Sookshma bodies. During dreams, the soul, having lost contact with the Sthool body, enjoys with the Sookshma body only due to which the existence of the body is felt. In Sushupti (deep sleep), the soul being separate from both the Sthool and Sookshma bodies enjoy bliss even in the state of ignorance.
People may question as to what is the proof of ignorance in this condition?
The reply is that when a person rises from a deep sleep, he says that he slept so soundly that he altogether lost consciousness of the body. It is evident that the person got an opportunity to pass through the state of ignorance, of which he himself is a witness.
The vision of the soul can be obtained by tearing off these veils. The state of complete bliss is only in the Ultimate. The way to reach happiness is by removing these coverings (Five Koshas and three bodies).
A collection from the writings of Revered Lalaaji Maharaj of Fathegarh.
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