yoga practice on non slip yoga rug mat

Bliss of the True Self

Worship of any form varies according to the imagination of the worshipper. For the same reason, worship of form cannot by itself be the absolute experience of Truth.

In the fourth verse in his treatise Ulladu Narpadu, or 'Forty verses on Reality' (covered in the last issue of Tattvaloka), Sri Ramana Maharishi discussed the progress from worshipping forms to the formless reality. Now, in the fifth verse, the Maharishi refers to the five sheaths in the body, but the real nature of the body is the Atman. According to Vedanta, there are five sheaths in the body:  the annamaya, pranamaya, manomaya, vijnanamaya, and anandamaya kosas.


These five sheaths together form the body-adjunct. They are not like sheaths placed one behind the other. Each one is permeated by the remaining four. Only by their specific characteristics can one distinguish each of them. In this, annamaya kosa is the gross body; the pranamaya, manomaya and vijnanamaya kosas combine to form the subtle body; and the anandamaya kosa is the causal body.

All these distinctions are of course mental. To simplify matters, it would suffice to group these five together and call it the 'body'. All the bodies containing these five sheaths pertain to prakrti (nature) or maya (illusion). But our real nature is the seer - Existence, Consciousness, i.e., purusha, the Atman.

The actions pertaining to the gross body, thoughts and images of the mind, the subtle body, sleep with its 'not knowing' of the causal body - all these are in prakrti.

They have nothing to do with the Self, the pure existence. The Self, the 'I', is not at all affected by the activities, emotions, sleep,meditation, samadhi and the like. All these are happening only in the upadhi - the realm of limitation. If the 'I' is known, purged of the upadhi, then the immeasurable is known, says the Maharishi. 

The body-adjuncts are the means for perceiving the world. In the state of deep sleep, the world disappears. If the world is real, it ought to be available in sleep too. Even in that state, where the world picture completely ceases, the Self prevails as mere existence.

In Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna talks of the two kinds of prakrti – paraprakrti and aparaprakrti, in the chapter 'Jnana Vijnana Yoga'

Aparaprakrti consists of earth, water, fire, wind, space, mind, intellect and ahankara. All these eight put together are contained in the term 'body' which consists of the three sariras.

The paraprakrti is the indivisible consciousness and the substratum of all these, which appears as the jiva, or the limited individual ego-'I'. The world is a reflection of para (the consciousness), through the aparaprakrti or the 'body'. According to advaita Vedanta, this aparaprakrti is an illusion in para, like the mirage in a desert. The world - loka - literally means 'that which is seen' (alokyate iti lokah). The world is a visible phenomenon seen by pure chit (para) through the kaleidoscope of an upadhi, from the ego to the body.

If the upadhi or the kaleidoscope is removed, there is no world. The deep sleep state, devoid of the body and mind, is itself the evidence for this. In this state where is the body, where is the world?

When the mind arises, the specific individual ego-'I'arises, and along with it the mind-intellect-ego complex recognised by the 'I' appears inside; and the world appears outside through the senses. All these put together, which appear both inside and outside, are included within the term 'body'. The light that illumines this is chit (para, consciousness). When attention is directed towards consciousness, the body, world and the like vanishes from awareness. 'Anything which is seen is perishable' is the law. Hence 

Whatever be the doctrine, it is not good for the attention to be trapped in the 'seen'. Therefore, it is the drshtisrshti vada--which states that the visible phenomena emerge only when the seer sees it--that is beneficial for a seeker as it totally ends the attachment to the world. If one believes that creation occurs as different from the seer (srshti drshti vada), then inquisitiveness can never be quelled.


Annamaya kosa is made up of flesh. It has got its name because it is formed by the food we eat. Modern science calls it 'matter'. Pranamaya kosa is the realm of vital energy between annamaya and manomaya kosas, connecting these two. It is the subtle form of annamaya, and the gross form of manomaya. The organs of action are contained within this.

Manomaya kosa is of the nature of savikalpa and vikalpa. All desires reside in this. Vijnanamaya kosa is intellect, ego, and the organs of perception are within this fold.

Anandamaya kosa is experienced during deep sleep. All instruments within the other kosas are included within the anandamaya kosa. As the destruction of vasanas, or the destruction

of ignorance, has not taken place in the waking state, reality that is pure bliss itself remains as anandamaya kosa in the deep sleep state. Therefore, no one experiences the bliss of mukti by sleeping. In the waking state, if through Self-enquiry, one restrains and completely annihilates the ego and the vasanas, the bliss which is experienced during deep sleep will be consciously experienced during the waking state. This experience may be called jagrat-sushupti, samadhi or brahmi-sthiti.

It is the avarana, or the veiling power of ignorance, that projects the limitation of a sheath, a kosa, on the pure Self that is bliss itself. When this veiling gets removed, the yogi, with his clear, unveiled vision, recognises that bliss as his real nature. Instantly, the spell of the five kosas, the three bodies and the three states will disappear, and the unique brahmisthiti or supreme peace will bloom in the placid inner lake of the heart  as a motionless sheet of water. This peace itself is the heart centre. For such a liberated one, the heart which is of the nature of peace alone is real; the mind, senses, sheaths, states, samadhi, mental projections, sadhana and the sadhaka, all are unreal. 

Nochur Sri Venkataram





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