6 – Panchadasi: CH1, Verse 26-34

Summary of Panchadashi Discourse:

Subtle to Gross elements conversion via pancikarana. Universe has 14 worlds. How jiva is trapped in samsara and finally saved. Discriminating self from not-self via panca-kosha-viveka.

Source: Swami Vidyaranya, Pancadasi CH1 – verse 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34

Panchadasi, CH1, Visual Review Up to Verse 22:
(Process of Creation)


Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 26:
(Explains why subtle elements are not enough. Need gross.)

Tad bhogāya puna bhogya bhogā yatana janmane, pañcīkaroti bhaga vān prayekaṁ viyadā dikam

For the experience of taijasa jīvās and also for creating the objects of experience and the house for living for the jīva, Īśvara grossifies each of the 5 subtle elements (tanmātrās) through process called pañcīkaraṇa (discussed V27). (AV)

Translation 2 (Chinmaya HS): To provide Taijasas with objects of enjoyment, and the bodies to facilitate such enjoyment, Īśvara, by the process of pañcīkaraṇa, made each element partake of the nature of all others.

  • Commentary (RK): Bhagavān or Īśvara or Īśa is the absolute consciousness (Brahman) reflected in Māyā, and owning, controlling and guiding it in creation, etc.
    • Description of Bhagavān (Chinmaya):
      • 6 Attributes: (1) Aishwarasya samagrasya, (2) dharmasya, (3) yashasahm (4) shreeyah, (5) Vairaagya syaat, (6) mokshasya, shan-naam bhaga iteengana.
      • Meaning: (1) Lordliness (capacity to order things), (2) righteousness (or virtue), (3) fame and glory, (4) wealth (having all the means with nothing lacking), and (5) detachment together with (6) liberation – one who in full measure possesses all these six opulences is defined to be “Bhagavan”.
  • Commentary (Chinmaya HS):

The tanmātrās are subtle elements. Nothing gross can be made from them in that state. In order that the gross world can be created, the first step is to produce gross elements as the building bricks. This is where the text begins.

Need For Gross Body & Gross World

Taijasa experiences a dream world, where the objects are part of the subtle world. The objects in dream are mere mental creations, not solid entities. The senses are asleep and not available. This is an order of experience which does not encompass the full scope required for the advancement of the soul. For instance, the Laws of Dharma do not apply to dream reality, but they do apply to the waking reality.

The range of experiences of the Jiva can be considerably extended by having a gross world to engage with, to enjoy with our senses, to interact with through organs of action, and to acquire knowledge through organs of knowledge. This can only be had in the waking state by engaging the senses with the world of objects.

The Jiva also needs to have a gross body with which he can relate to this world. To summarise the need of the gross world, three things are essential:

i) Bhogaaya: This this the subject, Taijasa, who is the experiencer of the world;
ii) Bhogya: These are the objects of enjoyment for the enjoyer.
iii) Bhoga Ayatanam: This is the body, the means to experience the objects.

These three always go together. They are termed the Triputi in Samskrit.

  • Commentary (JS):

Consciousness plus the Causal and Subtle Bodies is not sufficient for experience. It requires material elements and a Gross Body. The sense organs, which are in the Subtle Body, minus the physical sense instruments, are useless.

Once the creation gets to the subtle stage, Īśvara has to create gross elements out of the subtle elements and fashion a physical body out of them so the Jīva can work out their karmās.

Andre: Dream world (identity with Subtle Body: Taijasa) is insufficient to exercise Dharma because of instability/rapidity of subtle thoughts. Meaning physical world/body is required for solidity.

Īśvara is pure Sattva, so It enjoys itself by itself without the aid of sense organs, sense instruments and sense objects. Whereas, Jīvās under the spell of avidyā enjoy and suffer intermittently owing to the presence of Rajas and Tamas in their Subtle Bodies. Although constant enjoyment is possible if an individual’s Subtle Body is predominately Sattvic.

  • Commentary (Chinmaya):

For the enjoyment of the jīva (at the grosser level), earlier (refer śloka 18) it was stated that out of the original material (tama guṇa) that is produced in the form of the tanmātrās or subtle five great elements, the sukṣma śarīra is created. Now the third aspect of the tamoguṇa and the process of grossification it undergoes to create the sthūla śarīra (the gross body) and the gross objects of enjoyment, is dealt with.

Two things are created, namely bhogya vastu – objects of enjoyment, and the house (āyatanam; body – means to experience objects) for the enjoyment to take place. How is this done?

By the will of the Lord, all the five great elements undergo a process of gossification (pañcīkaraṇa).

For example, taking one of the five elements, namely water, the definition of water in vedānta śāstra is “that because of which taste is possible”. The “rasa” aspect is the tanmātrā of water. It cannot be seen. Therefore, the grossification is that process by which the unseen tanmātrās of the five great elements are brought to our cognition as objects of knowledge.

How this grossification takes place is explained in the next śloka…

  • WHAT’S NEXT? Formula (pañcīkaraṇa) how SUBTLE 5 ELEMENTS (tanmātrās) converts to GROSS 5 ELEMENTS, as preparation to create Gross Body of Universe (V28: Where Īśvara identifies with even grosser aspect [virāt]).
    • QUICK PREVIEW: Tama guṇa of 5 subtle elements grossifies to make 5 gross elements. The sattva/raja guṇa do not undergo grossification.
    • REVISION ORDER SO FAR: Māyā/Prakṛti > Tama guṇa > 5 subtle elements (V18; tanmātrās) > Tama guṇa of 5 subtle elements > 5 gross elements (V27).


Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 27:
(Subtle elements converted to Gross via pañcīkaraṇa formula)

vidhāya caikaikaṁ caturdhā prathamaṁ punaḥ, svasve tara dvitīyāṁ śaiḥ yojanāt pañca pañca te

Each element is divided into 2 equal halves, and one half (is then divided) into 4 equal parts. Then to the first half, one quarter of the second half from each element is added, forming 5 (gross) elements, each one having a portion of all 5 elements. (Chinmaya HS)

  • Verse visualized:


  • Commentary (JS): The division of the elements accounts for the diversity of objects. All gross objects are alloys. The names are based on the dominant portion in the mixture. Subtle elements stand alone (tanmātrās). Only the Tamasic part of the subtle elements grossify. Rajas and Sattva are used for the Subtle Body, Tamas for the Gross Body.
  • Commentary (RK):

In the process of evolution up to what they call the ‘subtle stage ’ we are concerned with the diversification of cit (consciousness) only—cit as the ‘witness', cit as (apparent) subjects and cit as (apparent) objects, due to māyā or will which is the first mode, of cit. Now the task is how to convert this ideal (subtle thought) into material as we experience all derivatives of matter.

According to Vedānta there is only cit (consciousness), ‘intelligence' being its subtle manifestation (māyā or śuddha prakṛti; pure sattva) and matter its gross manifestation (aśuddha prakṛti: sattva contaminated by raja/tama guṇa).

Pancīkaraṇa is the method and process of the subtle matter (or the prior stage of matter) to transform itself into gross matter. It is a dogmatic statement that can neither be proved nor disproved, at least in our present state of knowledge.

    • Grossification of 5 five great elements has been accomplished. Next step is to create the objects of enjoyment (jagat) and gross body (sthūla śarīra), as instrument to experience the objects…
    • Now after this grossification of the five great elements has been accomplished, the next step is to create the objects of enjoyment and the “house” or location (called the body) where the instruments of enjoyment are to lodged. How this is done is explained in the next śloka.



Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 28:
(14 worlds created)

Tairaṇḍa statra bhuvanaṁ bhogya bhogā śrayod bhavaḥ, hiraṇyagarbhaḥ sthūle’smin dehe vaiśvā naro bhavet

From these five grossified elements are born the Brahmāṇḍa and from it evolved all the 14 worlds, the objects of experience and the bodies in which experience takes place. When Hiraṇyagarbha identifies with the totality of all individual Gross Bodies, it is known as vaiśvānara. When Taijasa identifies with individual Gross Bodies of animals, men or gods (devās) it is known as Viśvas (that which is varied).

Translation 2 (JS): From these composite elements the cosmic egg arose and from it evolved all the worlds, the objects of experience and the bodies in which experience takes place. When Hiraṇyagarbha identifies with the totality of Gross Bodies it is known as Vaśvānara. When Taijasa identifies with the Gross Bodies of animals, men or gods it is known as Viśvas.

Translation 3 (RK): When Hiraṇyagarbha identifies himself with the totality of gross bodies he is known as Vaśvānara; when Taijasas do so with individual gross bodies (e.g.) of the devas, men or lower animals, they are known as Viśvas.

  • Commentary (JS):

The cosmic “egg” (Brahmāṇḍa) means that the material creation appears in an elliptical shape.  It is born out of a “black hole,” or Macrocosmic Tamas, the densest matter. In it are 14 fields of experiences.

14 worlds are inhabited by 3 types of sentient beings (Viśvas). The lower worlds are inhabited by animals viśvas (symbol of even denser grossification. Eg, less identity for empathy – more identity for food/recreation), which have little merit (puṇya).

The upper worlds are inhabited by celestial viśvas (devās) with much puṇya (dominantly sattvic), and the middle worlds are inhabited by human viśvas who have some merit (puṇya) and some demerit (pāpa).

Puṇya/pāpa ratio depends on sattvic-purity of Subtle Body.

Animals are Tamasic and don’t worry, because no intellects. Celestials (devas) are Sattvic and don’t worry, because always happy, since they are born from good karma.

Animals can evolve upward. Celestials will become human jīvās when the momentum of good karma exhausts and brings them back to earth (saṃsāra).

Humans can evolve upward or downward depending on merit and demerit of actions.

Now the Creation is complete. Creation is: living beings – matter – consciousness (jīva – jagat – īśvara).

Text has established the context in which individual humans exist. It shows we are part of a conscious creation.

  • Commentary (Chinmaya):

From these five great gossified elements the Brahmāṇḍa is created. There are 14 bhuvanās or worlds in the Brahmāṇḍa in two tiers of seven each.

In this Brahmāṇḍa two types of things are created: Bhogya bhogā aśrayaḥ udbhavah: One, the objects of enjoyment (bhogya vastū), and the shelter or gross body in which the instruments of perception can function.

The Hiraṇyagarbha (Īśvara identified with the total sūkṣma-śarīra) now identifies himself with the sthūla-śarīra (total gross body). This includes the world of experience and also the houses where the different jīvās are located to taste the experiences. Hiranyagarbha who is thus identified with the total gross body is called vaiśvānaraḥ.

This is the further fall of Īśvara down to the total gross body level.

Now what happens to the jīva (at the individual gross body Level?)

  • Commentary (Chinmaya HS):

“andaḥ” (part of Brahmanda): This literally means “an egg”; in the context, it means the Cosmic Egg or Brahmanda, from which the whole of the gross creation “hatches out”, as it were.

THREE groups of items hatch out from this Cosmic Egg. They are:

i) Bhuvanam: “the worlds”. All the 14 worlds which compose our universe. There are 7 higher planes of existence, and 7 lower planes of existence.

It is said in another text that there are umpteen number of such Brahmandas in the entire Universe!

ii) Bhogya: “objects of enjoyment”; this is one of the purpose of having the gross world, as we learnt in verse 26 earlier. Different objects are enjoyed by different beings. Through such enjoyment come the experiences of joy and sorrow (Sukha-Duhkha).

The objects are also called ‘Annapaana’, which means “food and drink” since these are the principle objects of enjoyment for most beings, especially the non-human beings. A cat looks forward to its bowl of milk, a dog finds its enjoyment in bones; but human beings fing enjoyment in a thousand and one items of all varieties!

It is also said in other texts that these objects are different for the different planes of existence. The beings are different and what they eat and drink is also different from the objects we know of on earth. A being in Patala, the lowest plane, may look forward to a hearty meal of iron chunks served with nitric acid soup!

iii) Bhoga Aashraya: “the gross bodies”, through which objects are enjoyed. The 17 components of the subtle body each has its gross counterpart in the gross body, such as the ten sense organs and the five seats of the sub-Pranas, e.g. the throat is the seat of Prana, the anus is the seat of Apana, the stomach is the seat of Samana, etc.

  • SUMMARY: Context of creation, this is further fall of Īśvara down to the total gross body level.
  • WHAT’S NEXT? Now what happens to the jiva (at the individual gross body Level?)…


Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 29:
(Jīva's trap of saṃsāra described)

Taijasā viśvatāṁ yātā deva tiryaṅ narā dayaḥ, te parāg darṣi naḥ pratyak tattva bodha vivar jitāḥ

The taijasa is further fallen to the state of viśva (waking-state jīva entities), while identified with individual gross body, such as celestials, animals, human bodies etc. They by nature, are extrovert and devoid of the knowledge of their essential nature. Therefore they perform actions for results they believe will make them happy. They enjoy performing action.

Translation 2 (RK): They see only external things and are devoid, of the knowledge of their true inner nature. They perform actions for enjoyment and again they enjoy for performing action.

  • Commentary (RK): This is the traditional cosmology accepted also by Vidyāraṇya, though it does not play a vital role in the Advaita philosophy.
  • Commentary (JS):

The tragedy of life begins when Rajas enters the picture. Human viśvas (waking state jīvās) feel insecure. They look outwards into the changing world for seeking happiness. They should look inward toward the still, silent awareness.

They do actions to enjoy the results. When an action removes an anxiety they feel good, so they do even more actions. Consequently they get many experiences, which lead to many births.

Jīvās trajectory is not orderly, but zigs-zags from one experience to another because their destiny is surrendered to ever changing likes/dislikes. They feel helpless like worms and are always in need of help.

  • Commentar (Chinmaya):

It was seen earlier (v24) that when Prājña becomes identified with the individual liṇga śarīra (Subtle Body), he is called Taijas. When taijas becomes identified with the different individual gross bodies such as the devās, animals, human beings, etc… it is called viśva.

Prājña (Causal Body identification) > Taijas (subtle body identify) > viśva (gross body identity).

So jīvās becomes many individual bodies who come to be called viśva. What is the quality of the viśva?

By their nature, the jīvās are extrovert and have no knowledge about their own essential nature, because they are too peroccupied with the gross body, the sense organs, the objects of the world and the interactions with the objects of the world. There is no possibility of citānanda svarūpa jñānam in this situation (ref K.U. II-IV-1).

When we do not know our essential nature, we are jīva. When we come to know our essential nature, we are not only NOT jīva, but there is no one called jīva. Everything is Paramātma and his glory.

  • WHAT’S NEXT? What is the life story of this jīva who has so externalised his vision, that one is unable to see pratyak-bodha (state of self-knowledge) within himself?


Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 30:
(Jīva is compared to a helpless worm)

Kurvate karma bhogāya karma kartuṁ ca bhuñjate, nadyāṁ kīṭā ivāvartād āvartāṁ tara māśu te, vrajanto janmano janma labhante naiva nirvṛtim

The jīva engages himself in action for getting enjoyments and does actions again for enjoyment. They soon after get lost in the rebirth from one birth to another, like the insect (worm) fallen into river is swept from one whirl pool to another, and never attain peace in saṃsāra’s restless currents, nor attain liberation. (Chinmaya)

Translation 2 (Chinmaya HS): As worms that have slipped into a river, are swept from one whirlpool to another; so, too, they go from one birth to another, and never attain the peaceful state of mind.

  • Commenary (RK): Bereft of the supreme bliss, without attaining personal release, the jīvās go from birth to birth.
  • Commentary (Chinmaya): The jīva performs actions for the sake of enjoyment, then because of the Karma one suffers again and again (and so the cycle goes on. In this way, the jīva migrates from one life to another in an endless cycle of birth and death. There is no redemption. Then what is the way out of this misery?
  • Commentary (James): “Birth” is identification with a desire or fear. “Death” is non-attachment to a fear or desire. Belief that an individual jīva transmigrates, and appears as the same entity in the next birth, is ignorance. The karma that brings an individual jīva into being, survives the death of the body and generates a different body. The individuality in the succeeding birth is different from the individuality in the preceding birth, although it is still a jīva.
  • Commentary (Chinmaya HS):

The Jiva is like that above worm. It has an unenviable destiny in Samsara.

If it is not on the solid ground of Dharma or righteous living, it falls into the river of worldliness. The whirlpools can resemble either short-term tossing in a bout of sense pleasure and its accompanying pain; or it can resemble the lifelong endless rounds of birth and death in which it gets caught with no sight of escaping from it. Either interpretation would be sufficient to illustrate the Jiva’s plight.

In its passage through the water, the crocodiles of tempting sense objects lie in wait like the fish to swallow the Jiva. Being defenseless (without hooks), the Jiva is gobbled up by the crocodile without any danger to itself.

If it does not meet its death in this manner, it spends its entire lifetime whirling around in an endless whirlpool of pleasure and pain cycle.

Not having satiated itself, the Jiva has to return again to continue this miserable existence. by taking another birth (entering another whirlpool) further down along the stream of Time.

The Jiva does not get any respite from this round of births and deaths. There is no end in sight, no sign of any peace of mind for such a Jiva. It never tastes the joy of a restful state of mind. It continues a restless existence to eternity. The worm’s misery at least ends when it is eaten by a fish. In this sense, the Jiva is worse off than the worm!

Is there ever a way out of this hopeless trapped situation?

  • WHAT’S NEXT? How jīva gets finally “saved” from limitations of saṃsāra…


Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 31:
(Jīva is pulled from saṃsāra by God’s grace owning to past puṇya karma)

Sat karma pari pākātte karuṇā nidhinod dhṛtāḥ, prāpya tīra taru cchāyāṁ viśrā myanti yatha sukham

When their good deeds (puṇya karma) bear fruit, like worms, they enjoy temporary rest, as if they had been removed from the river by a compassionate person and set on the shore. They rest because they feel happy when they get what they want. (JS)

Translation 2 (Chinmaya): (As) these insects, on account of ripening of their earlier noble deeds one is lifted away, by a compassionate person and having got under the shadow of a tree on the bank of that river, relax at ease; (so is the case of the seeker coming in contact of a teacher).

  • Commenary (Chinmaya):

What is the cause for the worm being lifted from current of saṃsāra river? Owning to some puṇya karma done somwhere at some time in the past, a compassionate man chanced to be there at that moment, to rescue the worm. This is called God’s grace.

In same way, when a saint or a sage comes into the life of a spiritual seeker, there is no logic for why or how it happened. We can't explain how or why.

Verse indirectly says: every little step in one’s spiritual path is by the Īśvara’s Grace and not by one’s effort alone.

How to get Īśvara’s grace? Humility and surrender alone help in spiritual unfoldment. Three qualities are essential in a spiritual seeker and indeed rare to find together: manuṣyatvam (the ability to live like a human being-nobly), mumukṣutvam the sense of urgency to go beyond the limitations; and for this mumukṣutvam to be fulfilled, mahāpuruṣa samśrayaḥ: the ability to surrender at the feet of Saints and Sages. (ref: V.C. 3).

  • Commentary (Chinmaya HS):

Example of God's grace in action:

The crocodile swims to the river bank to find a nice shady picnic spot where it can have its meal without any disturbance. It creeps up the sand bank and, under a huge shady tree, it places the fish onto the bank. In the process, the worm (YOU) slides out of the mouth of the crocodile onto the sand and scurries away into safety! An undreamt of escape!

Can a miracle like that happen in the life of a Jiva? We'll see in next verse…

  • WHAT’S NEXT? When by the Lord’s Grace the seeker realises the importance of Saints and Sages in his spiritual progress, he approaches the teacher for guidance.


Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 32:
(Jīva's saviour: intro to 5 sheaths discrimination)

Upadeśa mavā pyaivam ācāryāt tattva darśinaḥ, pañca kośa vivekea labhante nir vṛtiṁ parām

The jīva (finding oneself in whirlpool of saṃsāra), having got instructions from ācārya, and who has realized Brahman, by the process of discrimination of the five sheaths, one attains supreme liberation (mokṣa). (Chinmaya)

Translation 2 (JS): Similarly, individuals caught in the whirlpool of samsara sometimes receive teaching from a teacher who has realized the self and, differentiating the self from its Five Sheaths, attain the supreme bliss of release.

Translation 3 (RK): Similarly, the Jīvās (finding themselves in the whirlpool of saṃsāra), receive the appropriate initiation from a teacher who himself has realized Brahman, and differentiating the Self from its five sheaths attain the supreme bliss of release.

  • Commentary (Chinmaya):

The spiritual student by the grace of the Lord, approaches the teacher for receiving upadeśam (upa:  near, deśa: place, that wich takes us nearest to ourselves is upadeśa). To whom does he go for upadeśa? He goes first to the ācārya, and then to a siddha puruṣa (one who has realised the Self).

Thus there are two clear stages in the spiritual path. The first stage is where the student is full of questions and wants to “understand”. To such a student, the teacher is the ācārya who helps the student in studying the scriptural statements and arguments only to reach that point of understanding where it is clear that the Truth cannot be grasped by intellectual ability!

With the (scholary/intellectual teaching of 5-sheaths) knowledge imparted by the ācārya, the seeker can put in his/her own effort and reach only up to a particular limit. Then by the Lord’s Grace, a realised siddha puruṣa (jñāni-ācārya) comes into his/her life.

  • Commentary (Chinmaya HS):

We note that there is no mention in the verse of the disciple seeking a Guru. The good Karma of the seeker draws the Lord’s Grace to him and…

Grace manifests itself in the appearance of the Guru in the life of the seeker. The crocodile of the story represents the Guru. He pulls the disciple out of the whirlpools of life in which he is caught. He then brings the disciple to the warm sand-bank of his Ashram, where the disciple can recover himself from his ordeal, and get proper training.

Upadesha: The “teaching”. This refers to the scriptural teaching. The Guru’s task is simply to convey the teaching as it is present in the Srutis, i.e. the Upanishads. The teaching does not change from Guru to Guru. This is very important to note. What may change is the particular emphasis given to aspects of the teaching according to the need of the student.

Here acarya took great pains to explain the role and responsibility of the Guru in the life of a disciple:

“One who has a thorough understanding of the scriptures; who makes the student firmly walk the true path; by walking that path himself (being rooted in Dharma); him we call a true Acharya or Guru.”

The Guru cannot say that he is beyond Dharma and Adharma and therefore he can do anything that is against Dharma. The context of “being beyond Dharma and Adharma” is only when one is speaking about the Non-dual Reality. With reference to our behaviour in the phenomenal world, everyone’s behaviour, including that of Gurus, has to comply with Dharma.

The Methodology or Sadhana

What does the Guru ask us to do in order that we may become enlightened? The whole practice or Sadhana lies in discriminating the Self from the five sheaths, i.e. Pancha Kosha Vivekena. This is the text’s way to introduce us to the next section which deals with the full details of how this is done. It is like a major heading for the coming section.

It is standard practice that the Phala or fruit of the practice is always mentioned at the end so that the student knows what he is aiming for. Nivrittim Paraam, “the state of Supreme Bliss”, is the objective of the spiritual Sadhana that is now going to be described.

  • WHAT'S NEXT? What are the pañcakośās and what does pañca kośa viveka signify, is taken up in the next few ślokās.

JS: Verses 33 to 48 begin the systematic unfolding (śravaṇa) of the 5 layers of the human personality which apparently hide awareness (original consciousness). They are called the 5-Sheaths (kośās). However, something that pervades everything cannot be covered. There is nothing bigger or beyond awareness to cover it, because reality is non-dual awareness alone.

For example, objects do not conceal space, because space pervades them even though objects exist in space. The covering is just ignorance. The covering (kośās) merely directs attention (reflected awareness) to the kośās, so it doesn’t go to the self (ātman).

Example, when you watch a movie you are constantly looking at the screen, but you don’t notice it, because you are distracted by the events happening on it.

The purpose of this teaching is to focus attention on the self (ātman). These are introductory verses. The kośās will be discussed in detail later.


Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 33:
(5 kośās are named)

Annaṁ prāṇo mano buddhir ānanaśceti pañca te, kośā stairā vṛtaḥ svātmā vismṛtyā saṁsṛtiṁ vrajet

The food, vital air, mind, intellect and bliss sheaths are the five sheaths, covered by them, the Ātma forgets its own essential nature, thus is subjected to cycle of birth and death (Andre: reincarnation owning to unresolved avidyā in past birth). (Chinmaya)

Translation 2 (JS): The Five Sheaths of the self are: Food, Vital Air, Mental, Intellect and Bliss. Identified with them it apparently forgets its real nature and is apparently subject to transmigration.

  • Commentary (Chinmaya):

The five kośās or sheaths are : the anna-maya, prāṇa-maya, mano-maya, buddhi or vijñāna-maya, and ānanda-maya.

Why are they called kośās? Taiḥ avṛtaḥ ātmā: Because the pure satcitānanda svarūpam ātmā is, as if, covered by them.

This “covering” has a very special meaning in this context. In normal usage the covering is larger than that which is covered. Here, the object covered is bigger than the covering, as for example the presence of the body “covers” the space because of which the body’s presence is possible.

Similarly, the five kośās are “covering” the Ātma in the sense that it is because of the Ātmā that they exist, and get value and importance. The kośās get their existence because of the Ātmā tattva.

After the covering have taken charge of the Ātmā, the Ātmā gets identified with them, leading to jīvātma bhāva, and then one’s own essential nature is forgotten. Thereafter, the story of birth and death starts.

The release from this vicious cycle can come only if the jīva sheds its identification with the kośās by rejecting them, by a process of understanding their nature.

  • Commentary (Chinmaya HS):

If our consciousness is stuck in the Koshas, we identify ourselves with them. At any time, we may be trapped in any one or all of these Koshas.

When our attention is on the Kosha, then it means that it cannot be on the Self. It cannot be on both at the same time.

Since the attention is not on the Self but distracted from it by the Koshas, we do not experience our true spiritual nature. The true nature is “forgotten”, as it were.

When we do not know our true nature, our deeds are done in ignorance of our spiritual purpose.

The consequences are that we go on accumulating fresh Karma through. Since Karma is the reason for taking an embodied birth, an accumulation of Karma implies there is no end to the number of births we take.

The Karma is not getting exhausted but is increasing. There is no end in sight for this endless transmigration of the soul birth after birth in the earth plane.

This would usually be in human births, but in extreme cases of attachment and gross misconduct, lower births may also be taken by the soul. Birth as a domesticated beast of burden or household pet dogs or cats are the first options. More degenerate births are also possible if the demerit earned warrants them.

  • WHAT’S NEXT? Annamaya & prāṇamaya kośa defined…



Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 34:
(Food & Vital Air Sheath)

Syāt pañcī kṛta bhūtottho dehaḥ sthūlo’nnasaṁ jñākaḥ, liṅge tu rājasai prāṅaiḥ prāṅaḥ karmen indriyaiḥ saha

The gross body made up of the grossified elements is called the annamaya kośa (food sheath). The prāṇamaya kośa is result of raja-guṇa aspect of Subtle Body (liṅga/sūkṣma-śarīra) consisting of the karma-indriya (5 organs of action) and the 5 prāṇās. (Chinmaya)

Translation 2 (JS): The Gross Body is known as the annamayakosa, or the Food Sheath. That portion of the Subtle Body which is composed of the Five Vital Airs and the Five Organs of Action evolves from Rajas and is called the pranamayakosa, or the Vital Air Sheath.

Translation (RK): The gross body (sthūla-śarīra) which is the product of the quintuplicated elements (5 gross elements) is known as the food sheath (annamaya kośa). That portion of the subtle body (sūkṣma-śarīra) which is composed of the five vital airs (5 sub-prāṇa: apāna, vyāna, etc.) and the five organs of action (5 karma-indriya), and which is the effect of the rajas aspect of Prakṛti is called the vital sheath (prāṇamaya kośa).

  • Commentary (Chinmaya HS):

annamaya kośa:

The is made of the Tamasic portion of the subtle 5 elements. (V27). It is the gross body or ‘Food Sheath’, sustained by food. It is an inert instrument to house the 10 sense faculties (5 organs of perception & 5 organs of action).

prāṇamaya kośa:

The is made of the Rajasic portion of the 5 subtle elements (V22).

The prāṇa in combination with the karma-indriya (5 organs of action), are the Rajasic part of the Subtle-Body (liṅga/sūkṣma-śarīra) and forms the “Sheath of Life”, sustained by prāṇa or the Life-force. It is action-oriented.

The karma-indriyās are not physical organs, but faculties which operate through the physical organs respectively.

The word prāṇa can be broken down into “pra” meaning “excellence” and “an” meaning “to prove”. The presence of Life makes the gross body excel.

There are 5 sub-divisions of prāṇa: prāṇa (respiration), apāna (excretion), vyāna (circulation), samānā (digestion) and udāna (reversal effect/throwing up).

  • Commentary (Chinmaya):

The anna-maya kośa consists of the gross body which is born out of the grossified 5 great elements.

The prāṇa-maya kośa is made out of the rajoguṇa aspect of the liṅga śarīra namely the 5 karmendriyās and the 5 prāṇās.

  • WHAT’S NEXT? Mind (manomaya)  & Intellect Sheath (vijñānamaya) are defined…


Recorded 22 Sept, 2019

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