Monday, April 11, 2011

Kosas - Sheaths of the Body

The word “kosas” means layers or sheaths of the body.  Each layer needs to be integrated and in harmony with each other to be complete.  In Light on Pranayama, by B.K.S. Iyengar he says that the Vedantic philosophy states there are three types of body (sarira) the envelope the soul.  The three types of body consist of five inter-penetrating and inter-dependent sheaths or kosas.  The five kosas are Annamaya kosa, Pranamaya kosa, manomaya kosa, vijnanamaya kosa and anandamaya kosa.

The annamaya kosa forms the first type of body, the sthula sarira or the gross body.  The pranamaya, manomaya and vijnanamaya kosas form the second type of body, the suksma sarira or the stuble body.  The anandamaya kosa forms the third type of body, the karana sarira or the causal body.
Below are the five kosas defined with a quote from Mr. Iyengar’s book, Light on Life about each kosa.
Annamaya kosa – anatomical sheath of nourishment
“It is the anatomical body that encompasses the other four bodies, or kosas.” P.4
“Only by first attending to the physical body can we hope to accomplish anything in our spiritual lives.” P.22
Pranamaya kosa – physiological sheath, includes respiratory and other systems of the body
“The energy body, pranamaya kosa, is the sheath in which we begin to cultivate our breath and also our emotions.” P.64
“Since prana is energy and life force, pranayama means the extension and expansion of all our vital energy.  It has to be clear that you cannot just increase the volume of anything as volatile and explosive as pure energy without taking steps to contain, harness and direct it.” P.66
Manomaya kosa – mental sheath, affects awareness, feeling and motivation
 “You cannot hope to experience inner peace or freedom without understanding the workings of your mind and of human consciousness in general.  All behavior, both constructive and destructive, is dependent on our thoughts.” P.107
“The study of mind and consciousness, therefore, lies at the heart of yoga.” P.107
Vijnanamaya kosa – intellectual sheath, affects the process of reasoning and judgment
 “On the inner frontier of this fourth sheath lies the discovery of the individual soul (jivatman), that spark of divinity that resides in all of us in our Divine Body.  In between these two borders of deepening self knowledge and the culture of our higher intelligence, pure insight rests.  Here comes the culmination of the exploration of the whole of our being as an individual.” P.148
Anandamaya kosa – ethereal, universal sheath, spiritual sheath of joy
“The end of duality that comes from meditation is the end of separation and the end of all conflict.” P.186
 “The final integration of the sheaths of being at last brings access to the knowledge of the soul to join that of the heart and body.” P.224

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