Vedānta series 11

Tattvabodha explains the gross body as “pañcīkṛta-pañcamahābhūtaiḥ” which means the modifications of the five great elements ether (ākāś), air, fire, water and earth. This modification is called pañcīkaraṇa (Panchikarana). The principle of pañcīkaraṇa (Panchikarana) is that the world comes into existence due to the transformation of five great elements.  This happens only apparently in terms of advaita philosophy, as all that exists is nothing but the Brahman Himself. Pañcīkaraṇa (Panchikarana), a miniature treatise of Śaṃkarācārya, says that virāṭ is the sum total of five elements and their effects. Virāṭ is the consciousness which identifies with the gross body in the active state, in the case of an individual.  Virāṭ at the macrocosmic level is fully developed universe that is realised from experiment rather than theory. Shape of a gross body is decided by karmic and subconscious imprints embedded in a soul. 

There are six stages of developments in a gross body. First among these six stages is conception, leading to the formation of embryo. The air that was responsible to push the soul out of the body at the time of death again interacts with procreative fluids of man and woman causing the formation of embryo. During this time, blown by the wind, a soul along with impressions of karma and subconscious mind cause the formation of the foetus. The soul during its sojourn in the womb is able to remember its past transmigrations and makes a ‘decision’ not to commit mistakes again.  It is not the soul, which makes this vow; it is only the embedded karmic and subconscious impressions together make this vow. After all, a soul is nothing but Brahman Himself, except for the fact that it is totally concealed by ignorance, making the soul to forget its true form. Memories of the past lives are forgotten by the soul, the moment it cries for the first time after birth.  Facilitation for conception is made only according to a soul’s karmic account. If the embedded karmic account is good, the birth of the soul happens to noble couple. First stage is the conception and the second stage is the birth.

Third stage is the growth of the child into adulthood. Again, his growth is also decided by his karmic and subconscious embedment. Impressions of subconscious mind manifests during growth and determines the quality of that person. His karmic account peaks out during his prime period of life and begins to wane out during old age. Growth and maturity are the third and fourth stages. During his last days, karmic and subconscious impressions do not manifest with the same power that they were manifesting during his prime period. They begin the process of assessing the impressions of the present life and record them both in karmic and subconscious accounts. Once his activities during the present life are assessed and recorded, his soul leaves the body along with revised and updated karmic and subconscious imprints. Biological functions of the body come to a standstill and death automatically follows. The body is consumed to the five great elements again, from which alone, the body had originated.

The innermost is the causal body, where Brahman in the form a soul, veiled by ignorance is placed. From the soul arises the subtle body and tanmātra-s and from the subtle body arises the gross body and the five basic elements. The cause of the creation remains only the Brahman, be it on microcosmic level of macrocosmic level. Only the effect alone varies in the form of individual body or the universe.

Further Readings:

Vedanta - Three Types of Bodies

Types of Vedanta Philosophy

Vedanta - Five Sheaths