The five koshas give us the ability to interact in the world as both spirit and matter. With the fast pace of daily life and technological advances, we can lose our way in staying fully present in our experience, feeling the need to find a way to relax, take a moment and slow down in order to catch up with ourselves. Sometimes the easiest way to slow down and make sense of our lives is to look at what energies constitute the human experience. For this we connect into the five koshas. To fully feel the richness of the download offered in this sharing it is important to understand where these teachings come from. There is much applicable wisdom to be gleaned from ancient bodies of work, such as the collection of Hindu texts known as the Vedas: Rig Veda (Book of Mantras), Sama Veda (Book of Songs), Yajur Veda (Book of Rituals), and Atharva Veda (Book of Spells). It has been deduced that the purpose of the Vedas was to ensure the spiritual, as well as worldly or material, welfare of all beings. One part of this insightful body of work is the Upanishads, which is loosely translated as the “Book of Philosophy” or “Book of Knowledge”; however, the word “Upanishad” is literally translated as “sitting down near” or “sitting close to”, referring to a time in history when students would gather close to their spiritual teacher in order to hear stories, lessons, or experiential teachings, and to receive the “secret” transmissions that emanated from the teacher’s energetic field.
In today's world teachers can energize a picture or phrase with this same emanation for you to receive as both Brook and I have done with the picture above for all of you. Now read further and after each Kosha look at the picture to receive the activation of light for each of these.
Described within Ananda Valli, the second chapter of Taittiriya Upanishad (part of the larger Yajur Veda - Book of Rituals) is the five koshas, commonly translated as “sheaths” and also called “bodies”. While each of the koshas interacts with and informs the operation of the other bodies, the eternal Light of Atman (Soul-Self) shines through the elements of the five koshas in order to interact with the external world and create our experience as a human being.
Annamaya Kosha is known as the food body/sheath (the food we eat as well as the food we ultimately become for the earth). It represents our solid, physical body comprised of skin, muscles, connective tissue, fat and bone. This kosha is characterized by the physical experiences of birth and death. Practices such as asana (yogic postures), martial arts, or physical exercise attribute to the health of annamaya kosha. It represents our physical senses and it is where most of us spend a majority of our time paying attention to.
Pranamaya Kosha is known as the energy body/sheath, which represents our pranic energy or life-force, vitality, and animating processes such as circulation and respiration. This kosha is more fluid than the dense matter of the food sheath, and it is associated with hunger, thirst, and the five Karma Indriyas (active expressions) of moving, grasping, speaking, reproduction, and elimination. Pranayama (yogic breathing exercises), as well as other forms of mindful breathing and dance as this kosha controls our bodily and spiritual rhythms which energize and revitalize pranamaya kosha.
Manomaya Kosha is known as the mental body/sheath, which represents our individuation of being, thought, will, and empirical nature. It is informed by sensory and motor activity, functions of the nervous system and brain, and our responses to input from the five senses, which create mental constructs for and meaning out of the world we inhabit. Our beliefs and personality patterns become ingrained in this sheath, creating “Samskaras” or impressions in the psyche; delusion and grief are entanglements of the mental sheath. This is the realm of Neuroplasticity and the Practices of Mantra (sacred sounds), Cortex Rewiring, Meditation, and Pratyahara (mental withdrawal of sensation) attribute to the well-being of manomaya kosha.
Vijnanamaya Kosha is literally translated as “knowing” or wisdom body/sheath, which represents discrimination, knowledge, ethics, reason, cognition, intellect, and intuition. It is characterized by Ahamkar (ego or “I am”) consciousness as well as the power to perceive and reason at the individual level. Offering one’s knowledge and wisdom in service to others is the higher expression of vijnanamaya kosha. “Following the shape of the human form, faith is the head, righteousness/justice is the right side, truth is the left side, Yoga (concentration and meditation) is the trunk (self) and might is the tail, the support.” (from Essence of the Taittiriya Upanishad by Swami Sivananda). Jnana Yoga (spiritual study and contemplation applied as right action) strengthens vijnanamaya kosha, creating a link between conscious mind, higher mind, and universal mind. This is the kosha that we co-create our experience instead of simply feeling or acting we consciously choose to feel or act from a state of pure intention. This kosha is reached in Theta states of brain waves.
Anandamaya Kosha is known as the bliss body/sheath, which is the thinnest veil between human nature and the Divine; it is characterized by tranquility, contentment, bliss, love, joy, and presence or beingness. The merging of dualities or simultaneous realization of the physical/empirical and the spiritual, the unconscious and the conscious, the changing and the eternal, time and timelessness, is the elevated expression of the bliss sheath. Performing Seva Yoga (selfless service), Bhakti Yoga (devotion to the Divine), and Samadhi (focused meditation which opens the heart, allowing communion with the Divine), all empower anandamaya kosha. Working within this kosha is the Divine state of saying Yes to the Soul, being completely relaxed in the body and fully connected to Source from inner to outer and outer to inner.
Atman is not a body/sheath, but our eternal Soul or “spark of the Divine”. Connection with Atman cultivates self-knowledge, self-realization, Mukti or liberation from the “six waves of the ocean of Samsara” (birth and death, hunger and thirst, delusion and grief). This is the almighty I am that I am! Tat Tvam Asi!
Traditionally these sheaths operate within different states of consciousness. Annamaya kosha constitutes the physical body, which operates mostly during the waking state. Pranamaya kosha, manomaya kosha and vijnanamaya kosha although they also function during the waking state, together they constitute the subtle or astral body, which operates mostly during the dreaming state. Anandamaya Kosha constitutes the causal body, which operates mostly during deep sleep. In this newly awakened era, we are able to access these sheaths at any time. Now you may find yourself feeling a deep state of blissful contemplation or noticing your body is hot or realizing how the way you responded to something yesterday is a part of the deep programming from a reaction you had years before that no longer serves you. Pay attention to the kosha that is showing itself to you. Is it in balance? Does it require more tender acceptance and healing for you to enjoy your experiences more fully? You are a multidimensional being, in awakening, we must pay attention to all levels of our experience to enjoy the richness of living in our greatest state of emersion.
May this activation and teaching inspire you to explore the magnificent nature of our shared human experience! We love you so!!
With Gratitude & Love,
Dev Archer & Brook Still