Five koshas in human instrument are:-
Each one of the five concentric layers of personality is described to be within its immediate outer layer. Thus, the vital-air sheath is said to be within the food sheath, the mental sheath within the vital-air sheath, the intellectual sheath within the mental sheath and the bliss sheath within the intellectual sheath.
- Food Sheath or Annamaya Kosa
- Pranamaya Kosa (Vital-Air Kosa)
- Manomaya Kosa (Mental Body)
- Intellectual Sheath – Vijnanamaya Kosha
- Bliss Sheath (Anandmaya Kosha)
Food Sheath or Annamaya Kosa
This is outer layer of human being; our physical self. It is our human body. This is grossest of among all five sheaths. This is least pervasive and least subtle. As its name; it actually arises from food and also continue on food. It has arisen from the essence of the food assimilated by father and is nourished in the womb by the food taken by the mother. It exists on food eaten by the individual. After death it also becomes food for other creatures like worm and plant.
So, this annamaya kosa arises from food, exist on food and finally become food. It nourishes on food and it is regulated by pranamaya kosa (Vital-Air Sheath). Any disturbance in vital-air sheath directly affects the function of gross body. Its dimensions remain almost static.
Pranamaya Kosa (Vital-Air Kosa)
The fivefold faculty (Pancha – Prana) which correspond to the five physiological systems detailed by the biologists, represent the vital-air sheath. It surrounds the gross body. It is more subtle and pervasive than our gross body. Pranamaya kosa can control and affects the functions of gross body. Because it controls the all physiological functions and hence the five physiological functions gradually weaken as one advance in age. This explains why an old person has to rely on medicines so as to help these faculties function normally. This proves the effect of pranic body on food sheath or physical body.
Pranas flow on a fixed pathways within the pranaic body. These fixed pathways are called nadis.
In pranamaya kosa; five types of pranas flows and these are: -
1 Prana – Faculty of Respiration it controls the inhalation and exhalation of breath.
Apana – Faculty of Excretion - controls the evacuation and rejection of the waste from the body.
3 Vyana – Faculty of Circulation of Blood - this controls the circulation of blood and thereby the nourishment of body cells and organs.
4 Udana - Faulty Governing reverse processes like vomiting, burping etc.
5 Samana – Faculty of Digestion
Manomaya Kosa (Mental Body)
Mental body is consists of flow of thoughts and this level of prana is experienced by all humans in the form of thoughts. Continuous flow of thoughts constitute mind. So, manomaya kosha is the mental sheath and is responsible for regulating all thoughts and actions within human being. It also acts as mediator between the more imperial koshas (Pranamay and annamaya) and the elementary subtle koshas (Vijnamaya and Anandmaya). Manomaya kosha relays information to and from the various bodies and is responsible for absorbing all of the input from the external world as well as receiving information from the intuitive world. With such information it regulates and executes decisions and moderates the activities of prana and physical body.
This sheath is more subtle than pranic body or pranmaya kosha and also it is more pervasive than vital-air and food sheaths. This controls the both food sheath and vital-air sheath.
Whereas as annamaya kosha and pranamaya kosha are time limited or dependent upon the movement and passage of time and space, manomaya kosha is not. It has the ability to transfer through the past, present and future.
Intellectual Sheath – Vijnanamaya Kosha
An intellectual sheath is more pervasive and subtler than mental sheath, vital-air sheath and food sheaths. Besides all this it has a unique capacity to travel even beyond the realms known to the mind and penetrate new and unknown realms. It means speed of mind is definitely unbeatable but mind only travel within the store information but it is not true with intellect; capacity of intellect is beyond that of mind. Intellect can travel to the unknown realm; all scientific discoveries due to this capacity of intellect only.
Vijnanamaya kosha or intellectual sheath is a product of sattwa gunna. When the consciousness of the spiritual aspirant is awakened the vijnanamaya kosha, they begin to experience life on more subtle plain of experience. The qualities of wisdom usually unveil themselves at this level as life is experience on an intuitive level and one is able to perceive the underlying mechanism of the manifested reality.
This is the sheath of intellect that together with the pranamaya kosha makes up the subtle body. It constantly identifies itself with the physical body, and exactly here is where the eternal soul makes the mistake and assumes an identity and a time frame of existence.
Bliss Sheath (Anandmaya Kosha)
It is last and innermost of all five sheaths. It consists exclusively of vasana (inherent tendencies) before they grossify into thoughts or actions. The intellect functions under the control and guidance of the vasanas. The bliss sheath is the most pervasive of the five sheaths.
It is subtle and pervasive that all other five sheaths. The bliss sheath pervades all other five sheaths.
The Bliss sheath further can be understood - The deep sleep state of consciousness, which is the state of one’s ignorance of everything, is the condition in which only vasana (tendencies) exist but without manifestation.
It means it is covering of vsansas in original form; unmanifested form. Here in this sheath the practitioner experiences bliss and ecstasies. The soul embellished and seduced by the sensations, forgets about itself, falling prey again and again to duality and ego gratification. At this juncture the ego in conjunction with the soul perpetrates individuality.
Anandamaya kosha survives death and evolves through incarnations. The term bliss sheath is derived from the fact that an individual experiences relative bliss when associated with it. In the waking state and dream state, one experiences a continuous agitation in the mind, whether great or small, but on reaching the chamber of sleep (bliss sheath)—whether rich or poor, healthy or sick, young or old—one experiences undisturbed peace and bliss. This phenomenon occurs because of the total cessation of agitations experienced in the waking and dream states. Hence, the bliss referred to here is a relative experience and it is not be misunderstood as the infinite Bliss of God- Realization.