Pancha Kosha – 5 Bodies of Man
In yoga, man is conceived as a ‘multi-bodied being’. He has at least five bodies, which are referred to as the pancha (five) kosha (body) …
“The limiting concept of man as Eka Kosha (one body) has lead to all of the limitations of Western science, whether that science be medical or philosophical.”
With this multiplicity of the human being in mind, yogic wisdom can rid man from his multitude of ailments, an ambition that modern science still lacks the understanding and broadness of vision to achieve.
Nor with the perspective of man as ‘eka kosha’ will modern philosophy and religion lead mankind to ultimate peace and happiness either.
To generally summarize, these ‘5 bodies’, or discernible ‘aspects’ of man differ in their essential nature, composition and function, and are arranged successively from the grosser to the increasingly more subtle.
Annamayakosha is the physical tissues or the cellular structure — the physical body itself.
Enveloping this grossest dimension of man is a more subtle body, the Pranamayakosha, the ‘energy sheath’, composed of the vital energy known as prana, that which gives life to the otherwise ‘life-less’ material form. This sheath is also sometimes referred to as the ‘emotional body’ or the ‘vital body’. It is within this dimension of man that currents of prana run along specific channels (prana nadis), supplying various organs and other parts of the body with the life-giving force.
Vijnanamayakosha, ‘the sheath of intellect’ encloses these lower bodies with what can be termed the ‘super conscious mind’, or buddhi (higher intellect).
Containing and enveloping all the others is the Anandamayakosha, the body of ‘Cosmic Consciousness’.
Though all of these ‘bodies’ cannot be observed with the naked eye, nor registered through the current technological machinery of science, nor conceived of in a language that the modern scientist understands, one should in no way be doubtful about their existence.
After all, the entire foundation upon which our perception of the material world is based is the theoretical concept of the ‘atom’, which no human eye has ever seen!
Indeed, for the true student of spirituality there is no question that the human being is substantially more than ‘eka kosha’, a truth which is explained in various ways according to different spiritual traditions.
Nara is the condition where there is mal-alignment of the pancha kosha. It may be that one or more of these five bodies (except anandamayakosha, which remains fixed) has become misaligned with the others for some reason or another, in turn leading to a whole host of physical, mental and emotional troubles.
This points directly to the inter-connectedness of the physical, emotional (energetic), mental and higher spiritual aspects of the man. Inevitably, what happens on one level affects the being on all levels.
Emotional stress necessarily manifests as disease in the body; injury to the physical form affects the emotions and hence the mind; disconnectedness from the higher spiritual self (buddhi) invariably means disharmony on each of the mental, emotional and physical levels; and so on…
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