Vedānta series 19

Beneath the annamaya kośa is the prāṇamaya kośa (pranamaya kosha). Tattvabodha explains prāṇamaya kośa (pranamaya kosha) as “prāṇādi pañca vāyavaḥ vāgādīndriya pañcakaṁ prāṇamayaḥ प्राणादि पञ्च वायवः वागादीन्द्रिय पञ्चकं प्राणमयः” This means ‘vital force and five types of prāṇa-s, five action faculties speech, movement, holding, evacuation and reproduction form the prāṇamaya kośa’ (pranamaya kosha). Prāṇa is the vital force and its modifications into five type prāṇa-s viz. prāṇa, apāna, vyāna, udāna and samāna are known as five types of prāṇa-s. The inhaled air is converted into five types of prāṇa-s. Deep and slow breathing keeps the mind calm and composed whereas, fast and shallow breathing makes the mind agitative. One should practice abdominal breathing, where diaphragm expands and contracts making the lungs to function to its fullest capacity.

Prāṇa, one of the derivatives of prāṇa primarily is the cause for the functioning of the heart, senses, nerves and blood vessels. Prāṇa is generally active in the chest area. Apāna is the cause for evacuation of undigested food and impure water from the body and active in the lower abdominal area. It is also the cause for procreation. Vyāna is the cause for blood circulation and nourishes every cell of the body. It is primarily responsible for the functioning of hands and legs. Cramps happen in legs if vyāna is not active in pumping blood to the legs. Udāna is connected to the mind and intellect and is the cause for thoughts. It carries the inputs from external sensory organs to the mind. It is also responsible to push the subtle and casual bodies out of the gross body during death. It is the cause for vomiting, burping, tears and sneezing. When subtle and casual bodies have left the gross body dhanañjaya (not sure of this spelling), a type of prāṇa continues to remain in the body and causes the bulging of the corpse and decomposes it and finally escapes through the top of the head. Samāna is the cause for assimilation of the food.

Prāṇa and its modifications, function in the body during all the three states of consciousness, awake, dream and deep sleep. If the course of any one of these prāṇa-s is modified or ceases to function, it triggers udāna to push the casual and subtle bodies out of the gross body causing death. When prāṇa is controlled and regulated, it helps to keep the entire system in good health. By practicing prāṇāyāma one can keep his body in natural condition. To pursue spirituality, a healthy body is essential. Annamaya kośa and and prāṇamaya kośa (pranamaya kosha) are related to the gross body.

Mental sheath or manomaya kośa belongs to the subtle body. Tattvabodha says it is made up of mind and organs of perception viz. ear, skin eye, tongue and nose. Inherently mind is addicted to the senses. When one begins to pursue the spiritual path, one has to work against the inherent nature of the mind. It is like swimming against the water current, though tough yet possible. When one practices to look within, instead of looking at the materialistic world, mind gets trained to look within. Mind is often associated with ego and makes a person to falsely associate with his gross body. Gross body alone is perishable amongst the three types of bodies. Mind instead of identifying with the imperishable Self, falsely gets associated with the gross body. This is called inherent ignorance. Mind undergoes quick changes causing alternative bouts of joy and sorrow. When a mundane mind says “I”, it means only the gross body and when a yogi’s mind says “I”, it refers to the Self within.

Further Readings:

Vedanta - Five Sheaths

Vedanta - Sheaths of Intellect and Bliss

Vedanta - Dream and Deep Sleep States