How 3 Bodies (Gross, Subtle, Causal) Seemingly Condition Atman (17)


Session 17 explain what 3 bodies of every human being are. Then elucidates how experience occurring within the 3 bodies or 5 sheaths – gets mistakenly superimposed onto Ātman (“I”). Hence individual (Jīva) claims “I AM ___ (pure, impure, happy, skeptical, young, etc)“. Also we briefly explain CAUSE for Waking, Dream and Deep Sleep states.

(3 States will be covered thoroughly in Mandukya Upanishad in near future)


  1. What is Gross Body?

    The food sheath is called the ‘gross body’. The gross body is the tenement or hutment for the five organs of perceptions (eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin) and the five organs of action (hands, legs, speech, genital organ and anus) through which an individual contacts the objects, gathers stimuli for the experience of joys and sorrows and interacts with the world.

    When pure Consciousness (Ātman) identifies with the gross body, it manifests as the ‘waker’ who experiences the waking world, that is the pluralistic world, which one experiences in the waking state.

  2. What is Subtle Body?

    The vital-air, mental and intellectual sheaths together form the subtle body. The vital-air governs the various physiological functions of the body like digestion, breathing, blood circulation and so on.

    The mind and the intellect are both only thoughts. However, there are functional differences in these thoughts. These functions have been classified under the following four categories:

    (a) Mind (manas)
    (b) Intellect (buddhi)
    (c) Memory (citta)
    (d) Ego (ahaṅkāra)

    These four factors constituting the subtle body are the ‘inner equipment’ (antaḥ-karaṇa). The outer equipment consist of the five organs of perception and the five organs of action which are located in the gross body.

    As mentioned earlier these four divisions in the inner equipment—that is the mind, intellect, ego, and memory—are purely functional; they are not organs. An organ is that which has a structure and a function (EG: physical brain, lungs, heart). These four have no structure; they only denote functions.

    When conditioned Consciousness withdraws from the gross body and identifies with the subtle body, it manifests as the ‘dreamer’—who experiences the dream world, that is the mental world of plurality which one experiences while dreaming.

  3. What are 4 thought types of Mind?

    (a) Mind (manas): In an experience, the first impact of the stimuli from the external world reaches one through the organs of perception. It causes a disturbance in thought, as a result of which there is restlessness and indecision within. Thoughts in this condition of doubt or indecision are called the mind.

    (b) Intellect (buddhi): After the first impact is over, the disturbance dies down and quietude is created by one’s decision and determination. Thoughts in this condition of decision are called the intellect.

    (c) Memory (citta): For the intellect to come to a condition of decision, it requires pertinent data related to the stimuli received. Such decision-making data is supplied by a third function stemming from the depths of an individual’s inner personality. This data has been stored and accumulated as a result of past experiences. Such stored thoughts are called the memory.

    (d) Ego (ahaṇkāra): A doubt, a decision and a memory will be related to each other only if they belong to a single individual. When all of them reside in a person, one is aware that the doubt, the decisions and the memory belong to that same person. The constant concept of possessiveness or egoism in feelings of ‘I doubt’, ‘I decide’ and ‘I remember’ is also a thought and its functional name is ‘ego’.

  4. Metaphor how Consciousness (Atman) is seemingly conditioned by the Mind.

    Pure Consciousness is all-pervading and unconditioned by any one of the human equipments (Body-Mind-Intellect).

    However, when pure Consciousness functions through the conditionings of the mind, the intellect, memory, and the ego it becomes as though conditioned by these equipments.

    When these conditionings are eliminated the conditioned-consciousness as though (meaning: not actually, because it never was conditioned in the first place)… merges back and becomes one with the unconditioned pure Consciousness.

    This phenomenon is comparable to the all-pervading sunlight and the sunlight conditioned by the walls of a room.

    The sunlight in the room remains conditioned by the walls of the room as long as the walls exist.

    But when the walls are removed, the conditioned sunlight within the room, as though merges and becomes one with the total sunlight.

    Similarly, the conditioned consciousness as though merges with the pure Consciousness when the mind is sublimated by a devotee following bhakti-yoga (the path of devotion).

    Or when the intellect is transcended through jñāna-yoga (the path of knowledge).

    Or when the ego is overcome through karma-yoga (the path of action).

    When the mind, intellect, or ego are sublimated, all of them are transcended since they are all made up of the same substance— thoughts.

    What remains thereafter is pure Consciousness.

  5. What is Causal Body?

    The bliss sheath, also called the causal body, consists of vāsanās (inherent tendencies) in an unmanifest form.

    It is experienced in the deep sleep state of consciousness when both the gross and the subtle bodies are not acting.

    It is a condition where the pluralistic worlds of the waking and the dream states are obliterated but, at the same time, the vision of supreme Reality is not available.

    In other words, it is the state of non-apprehension. In this state we know neither the higher Reality (satya) nor the lower plurality (mithyā) —it is a state of utter ignorance.

    When pure Consciousness withdraws from the gross and subtle bodies and identifies with the causal body, it manifests as the ‘deep sleeper’ who goes through a homogeneous experience of nothingness, that is the experience that one has while fast asleep without being disturbed even by dreams.

  6. Reason for 3 states (Waking, Dream, Deep Sleep).

    The real nature of human beings is pure Consciousness but they pass through the three different, distinct, and relative states of the waker, dreamer, and deep sleeper because of the play of the Consciousness in the gross, subtle, and causal bodies respectively.

    When the identification with these bodies ceases the original, pure, transcendental nature is understood to be the ever-present self-evident “I”.

    Consciousness functioning through the gross body creates the waker.

    The same Consciousness withdrawing from the gross body and functioning through the subtle, creates the dreamer.

    Withdrawing from the gross and subtle bodies and functioning through the causal body, Consciousness expresses as the deep sleeper.

    The combination of the three—that is waker, dreamer, and deep sleeper—constitutes the individuality (jīva) in a human being.

  7. Why person (Jīva) pursues life of procuring and chasing Desires?

    An individual (Jīva) constantly endeavours to regain his real nature of Bliss by trying to procure more and more happiness from the world. But all that he obtains is only spasms of joy which are soon followed by sorrow and bitterness.

    This happens as a result of the identification of the Consciousness (Ātman) with the matter layers. The qualities pertaining to, and the sorrows associated with, matter are superimposed upon the Ātman.

    To remove such false superimpositions and thereby come to experience the absolute Bliss one has to reflect carefully upon, as well as analyse, the five layers of matter and then gradually detach oneself from the influence of each one of them.

    When this process is successfully carried out, one apprehends and experiences the pure Self as different from the waking, dream, and deep sleep states of consciousness.

    Such discrimination of the five superimposed layers of personality and recognition of one’s real nature as the supreme Bliss is termed as ‘discrimination of the five sheaths’ (pañca-koṣa-viveka).

    In the world today human beings totally identify with the matter layers and suffer the agitations and sorrows associated with them.

    The analysis and discrimination of the five layers of personality helps an individual to withdraw from the thraldom experienced through the association with matter, and to recognize and regain the original glory of Bliss (Awareness).

  8. Nature of Ātman

    The five layers of personality—food, vital-air, mental, intellectual, and bliss sheaths—are constituted of matter.

    Matter, by itself, is inert and insentient. But an individual behaves as a sentient being and is conscious of all that is happening around and about himself or herself.

    It, therefore, follows that there must be something other than these five matter vestures to lend them sentiency or consciousness. This Principle of Consciousness is Ātman or God.

    Human beings unconsciously accept themselves as different from their equipments by declaring them to be ‘my body’ and ‘my intellect’.

    When a possessive pronoun qualifies an object, the ‘possessor’ must necessarily be different from the object ‘possessed’. For example, my car is not me, my dog is different from me.

    Thus, the Self, the ‘I’ in a person, is distinct and different from the body, mind, and intellect. This supreme Possessor, the pure Self in all living beings is the one absolute Consciousness or Ātman.

    Ātman (Consciousness) is again indicated as that transcendental Power which provides the sense organs their capacities to perceive objects of the world, gives the mind the ability to feel all emotions, and lends the intellect the faculty of thinking.

    The three bodies—gross, subtle, and causal bodies—are the three equipments through which the Ātman (Consciousness) functions.

    Consciousness may be considered as the fuel which propels these three vehicles to act. The Consciousness is the Life Force which when functioning through the inert equipment of the gross, subtle, and causal bodies creates the composite human personality as the waker, dreamer, and deep-sleeper.

    Ātman (Consciousness) is also referred to as the changeless substratum upon which all changes take place. The body and its perceptions are constantly changing, and so are the mind and its emotions, and the intellect and its thoughts.

    These changes occurring in one’s equipments are noticeable. It should be evident that recognition of change is possible only with reference to a changeless entity.

    For example, two people sitting in a closed compartment of a moving train do not observe any change with respect to each other.

    However, when they look out of the window they are able to notice the movement of the train with reference to the stationary objects outside.

    Similarly, the fact that human beings recognize the changes occurring in themselves establishes beyond doubt the existence of a changeless entity within themselves.

    This changeless entity is Ātman (YOU).

    Summarizing the above observations, God (Ātman) can be indicated as follows:

    (1) The Being which transforms insentient matter into sentient beings. Ātman provides life to the inert layers of matter and together they create live human beings.

    (2) The ‘I-ness’ or the pure Self in a person which is the supreme possessor, is different from the possessed, that is the body, the mind, and the intellect.

    (3) The Power which provides the sense organs, the mind, and the intellect their respective capacities to perceive, feel, and think.

    (4) Something that transcends the gross, subtle, and causal bodies. On identification with the bodies it manifests as the waker, dreamer, and deep-sleeper respectively.

    (5) The changeless Reality which enables one to recognize the changes occurring at the physical, mental, and intellectual levels.

  9. Non-apprehension (ignorance) CAUSES mis-apprehension (projection of false notions).

    Pure Consciousness (Ātman, YOU) is beyond the intellect’s capacity to comprehend. It is the very power in the intellect which gives it the capacity to comprehend and, therefore, cannot be an active object of comprehension.

    However, when the intellect fails to comprehend a thing, the mind begins to misinterpret it by casting a false and unreal projection upon the thing.

    This happens because the essential nature of human beings is absolute Knowledge yet they constantly yearn to know more and more with the help of their equipments.

    Where the intellect has failed, the mind tries to compensate by projecting upon the unknown object a false notion of knowledge.

    Nonapprehension (due to uneducated Intellect about Realities) is the root cause for all misapprehension (projection of false notions onto the World due to uneducated Intellect).

    For example, in context of snake-rope story: misapprehension of the snake cannot be removed except by removing the non-apprehension of the rope, that is except by gaining the true knowledge of the rope.

Download visual mind map of this session.

28 Aug


  1. I have a question that’s perhaps kind of trivial, yet my curiosity is wondering: My understanding is that Consciousness permeates everything, and it is aware of itself through the point of view of a body because of the functioning 5 koshas, so I am aware of my body and my thoughts. But is Consciousness aware of itself as it permeates objects that DON’T have a body and a mind? Is Consciousness aware of itself as it permeates a plant, a rock, a chair, an atom, etc? Or does Consciousness NEED a mind and a body to be aware of itself?

    Is it possible for Brahman to be aware of itself while un-manifested, or does it require a manifested world and body/mind to know itself?

  2. “Or does Consciousness NEED a mind and a body to be aware of itself?” > Consciousness needs a body-mind to be aware of itself operating through a body-mind called Luis. But consciousness does not need a body-mind to be aware of ITSELF. Demonstration…

    Suppose body-mind is a like a house. The house has legs and arms. Roof obviously represents the head.

    What is inside the house? Lots of things. The things represents various thoughts in the mind.

    What else is in the house? Space, which accommodates the various things. A thing needs space to reveal it’s existence. EG: A TV needs a nice corner space.

    What is outside the house? Space, which accommodates the entire house.

    Space not only accommodates things inside the house, but the SAME space accommodates the house itself.

    Not only that, but the SAME space accommodates other houses also.

    Now suppose one house burns (body dies). What remains? Space.

    Meaning, whether house is manifest or unmanifest, space remains space.

    In same way, even when time/space/objects (jagat) unmanifest into Brahman, what remains? The substratum into which the space/time/objects have unmanifested. And out of which the space/time/objects will manifest again.

    And what is nature of Brahman? Sat-cit-ānanda. Self-evident awareful limitlessness.

  3. Hi Andre,

    Exceptional videos. Many thanks for that. I have been watching them in order.
    I have a question regarding self-inquiry. So far, I’m getting convinced that my body and thoughts are not me, so it sorts of implies that then I do not need to feel the pain or sentiments for it right?
    Now If we talk about our partners or parents. We know they are not us but we still have feelings, fear, and anxiety for them. So my point is, even after having knowledge that my body and mind are not me, how will it end the suffering because there is still attachment to them the same way I have an attachment for my parents or my car?

    1. When māyā creates a body-mind called Inderpal, ātma (consciousness) pervades the entire body-mind. Thus it is then assumed “I AM this limited body-mind called Inderpal”.

      Because consciousness is pervading the body-mind, one mistakenly assumes a false identity, confined to that body-mind.

      That’s why whatever condition arises, we always OWN that condition as “MINE”. EG:

      “I AM confused”.
      “I AM tired”.
      “I AM hungry”.
      “I AM alert”.
      “I AM ___”.

      The “I AM” is the aham kāra (ego). It owns whatever experience is perceived, remembered, felt, thought of in the body-mind.

      Therefore, both the “I AM” and the condition, belong to body-mind.

      Ātma is that in whose presence the entire statement “I AM ___” is validated, from beginning to end.

      If haven’t seen previous 16 videos, must watch. Otherwise, this will be clarified dozens of times throughout the course.

    1. Hi Gobinda. We can’t use the word “insentient” and “being” together.

      If it’s a “being”, it’s a sentient, which means it has to have a subtle/causal body.

      EG: plants, ant, virus, bacteria, elephant, dinosaurs, worm, human’s physical (which is nothing but bunch of cells).

      Human is given a sophisticated intellect. But this is only enjoyed if it’s exercised.

      Ant also has intellect. EG: We put finger infront of it, it turns to bypass the obstruction (this needs basic intellect).

      And what is intellect? The subtle body. Thus ever sentient creature (jīva) has a subtle body.

      What sustains the subtle body? The total causal body (māyā). Meaning every sentient creature (jīva) is born of a causal body (the cause of the universe).

      1. No , my question is not that.
        My question is insentient being like stone ,soil, water air,
        Being is objective and subjective.
        Generally, we seem Virus,bacteria is sentient being and soil water, fire as insentient being.
        Does insentient being like ,soil exist subtle body and causal body with mind and intellect.
        Does soil, stone water exist life?
        What is life?

        1. Hi Gobina,

          “soil water, fire as insentient being.” > Insentient. Which means no sūkṣma-śarīra (subtle body).

          “Does insentient being like ,soil exist subtle body and causal body with mind and intellect.” > Entire periodic table of elements = insentient.

          What is life? > In reference to this specific conversation:

          a) life = that which has gross + subtle body. Sentient.
          b) lifeless = gross body only. Insentient.

          For example:

          a) Person lying in bed before death = life (gross + subtle).
          b) Dies = lifeless (gross only, no longer capable of sustaining subtle body).

  4. Dear Andre

    What happens when a person dies with regard to the sheaths? From what I understand the subtle body decouples/detach from the gross body and transmigrate to look for a new body. The subtle body consists of the Manomaya kosha, Vijananmaya kosha and the Pranamaya kosha are also part of the transmigration by virtue of the subtle body composition. Now what I am not clear is what happens to the causal body with the Anandanmaya kosha which is the encasing sheath of the Atma of the person just died?

    My guess is the when the subtle body detach from the gross body the detachment also includes the causal body as the latter being a sheath within the subtle body sheaths. Based on my understanding of the Russian (matryoshka) doll. With this understanding it makes sense as subtle gets a new body it just gets plug-in to the new body and energises the new body through the Atma which is in the Anandanmaya kosha. The new body then gets consciousness (the bulb is lighted because of the subtle body) and becomes alive as the “electricity” supply is restored in the new body via the Atma.

    Is my understanding correct about the casual body as described above?

    Best Rgds
    Kish Ranai

  5. Dear Andre,

    Atman/Brahman is unaffected by objects. Does/can Atman/Brahman affects the object directly (in narrow sense, my subtle/gross body for example expressed in health)? Thanks, Sabine!

    1. Greetings Sabine.

      Atma/Brahman means: Consciousness.

      So question is: Can consciousness affect object directly/indirectly? No.

      Because consciousness doesn’t DO. It simply illumines.

      EG: Light in the room has no power to directly influence any object in room. Light simply illumines the presence of objects in the room.

      EG 2: Electricity has no power to influence software on your laptop. Electricity makes the hardware (gross body) and software (subtle body) alive. What use is top-grade computer with latest software if it’s not powered by electricity.

      Does this help somewhat Sabine?

  6. Oh My God! I am speechless!
    I don’t know how to thank you for sharing your knowledge with all of us who are seekers. Please keep up this divine work going, you are so blessed to have understood Vedanta & we are blessed as connected to you.

    Can you please tell, what is the 1st reason that causes the causal body creation. Once created i think due to its vasanas life goes on but why it was 1st created i dont understand, is it desire to enjoy?
    Please let me know
    Thank you soooooooooooooooo much!

    1. Hello Sweta,

      To answer, let’s bring it to own life.

      Today is reflection of yesterday.

      So whatever you’ve done yesterday, carries over today.

      Same from standpoint of yesterday. It’s a reflection of what happened day before it.

      Like this since beginingless beginning.

      There’s no first.

      Thus to ask “when was the 1st cause created”, or “what is the reason for 1st cause”, is flawed logic.

      It’s like asking “WHEN was time FIRST created?”. It implies the creator was Himself in time, since you need time to create. Then if He is in time, why would He create time?

      Thus time was never created. It always existed.

      If not clear no, no worry. If go through course starting with Video 1, then each session will build on.

  7. Namaste!
    God bless you with more knowledge, energy & time to reply to all seekers!
    I do understand that we need to go through your videos in sequence & I will as u mentioned in one of your video my “mind gene” got scriptures knowledge in form of your videos to go over again n again 🙂
    So my question was not about time, may be I didn’t ask elaborating properly.
    As a human being I have limited time, as a spiritual being I m timeless as eternal.
    What caused timeless to become limited to time? Is it some experience of enjoyment that I was looking for was the cause? I know it’s hard to pin point cause that creates effect but any generalizations?
    I understand that Time,self, awareness or consciousness is timeless there is no point asking beginning of eternal but jagat/mithya is time bound eg body – takes birth n die.
    I don’t know much when subtle body stop existing but guessing when causal body stops existing.
    I heard from devotees that when v start serving instead of enjoying that will stop this cycle of birth & death.
    So may be someday I – who is eternal desired to enjoy n thus causal body was created n that created subtle body n that created gross body.
    Is it just the knowledge n understanding of Self/self realization n practicing Bhakti yoga that will stop cycle of birth & death.
    As I haven’t read Upanishads if u can throw some light, it will be great.

    1. Greetings Madam Sweta,

      What caused timeless to become limited to time?

      Time (mithya) is not separate from timeless (satyam). They are two orders of the ONE same reality.

      Therefore it’s incorrect to ask “what caused”. That implies some event took place in time, and suddenly “time” was born.

      It’s like asking, what came first, chicken or egg. Son or father. Seed or tree.

      In other words, time was existent since beginingless beginning. Why? Because satya/mithya are never apart.

      If not sure what satya/mithya is, will need to see starting course from video 1. 🙂

      If not clear, don’t worry, we go into incredible detail about process of creation, manifest/unmanifest, time/space, etc.

      If don’t have time to watch all videos, then no prob. Go to:

      Under table of contents, watch “Story of Mahabharata”, and especially “Essence of Oneness” where satya/mitya is explained, including your question.

      It’s much harder to explain in writing. 🙂

      Is it just the knowledge n understanding of Self/self realization n practicing Bhakti yoga that will stop cycle of birth & death.

      It’s both, knowledge and devotion combined.

      Just knowledge = intellectual (scholary) = arrogance (I am enlightened and world is ignorant).

      Just devotion = short term emotional highs (Like Hari Krishna folks. Joyful dancing, yet basic knowledge of self/world/Ishvara is lacking).

    1. Forgot to add but as far as i know Hare Krishna devotees also read Bhagwad Gita, Srimad Bhagwatam & other vedic scripture along with singing & dancing!

  8. Excellent presentation of
    Gross, Subtle and Causal bodies.
    I have been trying to clear my concept for the last couple of years. Now it is fully understood.
    Thanks a lot.
    My best regards.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *