Human beings consist of five distinct energy
sheaths called Panchakosha (“five sheaths”) from
root pancha, “five” + kosha, “body” – is the “five
bodies,” or discernible “aspects”) that surround
our jivatma. Each kosha vibrates at different
speeds, and they interact and overlap with each
other and are arranged successively from the
grosser to the increasingly more subtle.
ANNAMAYA KOSHA: It is the physical
body. It is influenced by the food we eat as well
as by our environment and society. Therefore
the Yoga teachings emphasize how important
positive and beneficial human interactions, as well
as a healthy, sattvic diet, are for our physical and
mental development. The consumption of meat,
alcohol and drugs weakens our vitality and fills
us with negative vibrations. A wholesome, lactovegetarian
diet, however, provides nourishment
for the body in an optimal way.
PRANAMAYA KOSHA: It is the subtle
sheath of cosmic energy that penetrates and
surrounds the physical body. It forms our “aura”,
the radiance that emanates from us. PRANA is
the subtle “nourishment” that is as necessary to
life as food and drink. With each breath we not
only absorb oxygen, but also Pr?na. All foods
not only supply us with nutrients, but also with
Prana. The quality of our Prana is decisively
affected by external influences as well as by our
own thoughts and emotions, and impacts upon
the other Koshas.
MANOMAYA KOSHA: It is the mental
energy sheath, is even more extensive and
powerful than the Pr?namaya Kosha. Its scope
is infinite. The mind and thoughts can reach
anywhere without any loss of time. Therefore, itis very difficult to control the thoughts.
VIGYANAMAYA KOSHA: It is the
intellectual body. It can also be positively or
negatively orientated. This depends on the
society we keep, together with the sensory
impressions that we absorb from our
environment. It is formed by the experiences,
upbringing and education in this lifetime, and
represents the sum total of all of these. The
intellect, though, is not always our best adviser.
All too often it is deaf to the truth and judges
egoistically in line with our desires.
The intellect can be a very useful tool, but it
can also be a great hindrance. That is why we
should always employ both BUDDHI (reason)
and VIVEKA (correct discrimination).
ANANDAMAYA KOSHA: It is the “body
of bliss”. It is the subtlest of the five sheaths and
the most difficult to overcome. This is because
the aspiration for the fulfilment of our desires
and for comfort and pleasure is a powerful
motivator and a decisive power within us.
The physical body (annamaya kosha) is also
called Sthula-sharira, “gross body.” The soul body
(anandamaya kosha) is also called Karanasharira,
“causal body.” The pranamaya,
manomaya and vijnanamaya koshas together
comprise the Sukshma-sharira, “subtle body,”
with the pranamaya shell disintegrating at death.
Refined panchkosas leads to five material
treasures: Health, Wealth, Vidya, intelligence, and