Our body has many hidden layers under. We are not only what we see each other on the outside.
The vedic text of Taittiriya Upanishad embedded in Yajurveda first gives us this Ananda Valli. The Ananda Valli asserts that knowing one's Self is the path to freedom from all concerns, fears and to a state of blissful living.
The Ananda Valli classifies these as concentric layers (sheaths) of knowledge-seeking.
1. Annamayi Kosh
2. Pranamayi Kosh
3. Manomayi Kosh
4. Vijnanamayi Kosh
5. Anandmayi Kosh
We have the journey towards Anand (Bliss) after crossing everything. Anand is the core inside and the layers outside reaching to Annamayi Kosh. What we see each other at a bodily level – this is Annamayi Kosh. Every kosh (Sarir) has its own food and demands and character.
Of the five Sarirs (Sheaths) the 5th Sarir is identified as mool – it is Source (aadhaar) of blissful being.
Image source: By Torsrthidesen (Wikimedia commons)
1. ANNAMAYI KOSH – ANN MEANS FOOD. THOUGH THE PHYSICAL SHEATH, OR PHYSICAL BODY, IS THE MOST TANGIBLE ASPECT OF OURSELVES.
The verse in Ananda Valli offers relational connection between natural elements, asserting that everything is food to something else in universe at the empirical level of existence, either at a given time, or over time.
Most of the animals, vegetation, insects are living at this level of body. Even some Human beings are only living at this layer of existence only.
Worries = Chinta
When someone is worried, it is mostly about tomorrow – what will come tomorrow. It is called Chinta. Some live in the memories of the past, some worry about the tomorrow.
“I have this today, will I have it tomorrow or not” – Chinta (Worry)
A Sufi poet Sheikh Saadi – you may worry about anything, but do not worry about food. He says he is surprised that the milk in mother’s breasts comes first even before the child is born. Food is available even before a child can move.
Eckart Tolle, a famous spiritually enlightened Western philosopher says in his interview that when he left everything for good and went and sat in a park on a bench – starting a new journey of his life, he was worried about food. But there was someone who always provided for him. There was always food.
In the same interview he also says that he didn’t know that he could still live a spiritual life in a society and he that he discovered it over years with his own reflection and practice.
One doesn’t need to go to the mountains to be a Yogi or Saint. Living like a saint in a society is the highest test of your spiritual awakening.
The Future and the Past
Dharmic Rishis (Saints) have observed, that young or youth will mostly worry about the future. The aged and elderly will mostly be in memories of yesterday. They won’t talk about the tomorrow or coming future – as coming future reminds of death. Death is far away from Youth, so chinta is of future.
“Beet gayi di yaad payi hadda nu khaave, aaun waale sehen paya mann nu tadapaave”
- Bhai Bir Singh ji (Punjabi poet)
The time that has passed, the memories are eating my bones. Future is hanging on me and my soul is anxious.
So what about ‘today’?
Today went by in the memories of yesterday and the worries (chinta) of the future. That’s how our ‘today’ went by.
“Life is going by - the breath that was in my mouth (an expression), I didn’t think how to best use it. I just think about the memories of my past breaths and worry about my future breaths.”
- Bhai Nand Lal, 17th century Persian poet in Punjab region of undivided India
We waste the present, the Now. Lets talk about NOW.
People who are associated & living in the future will be very worried person.
People who are living in the past are dangerous.
In Sanskrit, the past is known as ‘Bhootkaal’. People who live in the past were known as Bhoots (Ghosts).
Rishi munis (Saints) of India have said:
The ones who live in the present are Devtas (Godly)
The ones who live in the future are Insaan (Humans)
The ones who live in the past are Bhoot (Ghosts)
The one who doesn’t value the present will have either worries of tomorrow or memories of yesterday.
To live in today is make the best of today. Not to worry about tomorrow. Not bear the weight of yesterday and its memories.
Sometimes we can see how people are stuck with their pasts. People write, EX- Member of Parliament on their names, signatures etc, therefore indicating that the past (Bhoot) is stuck to it.
What you are today is the question?
Chinta = Worry
Chinta rog (disease) is not with birds, insects and animals. They live in the moment, the now, but because they do not have this knowledge (Gyaan) that they are living in the moment. Despite living so beautifully they cannot elevate their living. They do not have a similar intelligence like humans, most of the animal kingdom. (Baudhak bal nahin hai).
Humans have this knowledge (Gyaan), buddhi etc but despite that most don’t realize how to live in the now, today. Living for today is important, because this is what will become our past, the memories.
In Punjabi (north Indian language) there is a saying “Aj nu Sawaar” which means - Improve your today.
Raavan (the demon) was a very good disciple of Shiv ji. He knew that riches will not make Shivji happy, so he severed his head for Shiv ji many times. Shivji put his head together and gave him a boon.
Now Raavan has fallen in the battlefield after Shri Ram has struck him with his arrow. Shri Ram said a great man has fallen today. He asked his brother to go and take some value and knowledge from him. Laxman (brother of Shri Ram) goes and talks to Raavan. As he stood by Raavan’s head, Raavan doesn’t say a word. Laxman comes back and is sent back again by Ram. Shri Ram tells him to go and stand by his feet, explaining him that there is a certain way of asking.
Raavan then says to Laxman, there is no tomorrow in man’s life. If there is something important do it today with your life. After saying this he passes away.
Anecdote: Tulsi Das
Tulsi = Indian Basilicum with many medicinal properties.
Tulsi Das was a great poet of his time. He was orphaned at an early age and studied at an ashram (community place). All villages in India and homes used to have Tulsi as it has so many medicinal properties. Tulsi Das used to do seva (service) of these Tulsi plants. That’s how his name came about. Once the owner of the Ashram was out for some moths and told Tulsi Das to take care of the plants.
After a couple of months when he came back, he found out that half of the plants were shrivelled (murjhaaye). He asked if Tulsi das had watered the plants. Tulsi Das said yes I was taking good care of them. But his Vidya Guru (Teacher) said, no you are lying. If you took good care then how can they be shriveled. Tusli Das felt a big jolt and heartache. With that pain he became a Poet.
“Tulsi birwaa baag ke seenchat hun kumlaaye, Ram bharose jo rahe to parvat par hariyaye”
- Tulsi Das
But then told his Vidya Guru (Teacher) that I have been watering, but what about the trees at the mountains – who are not taken care of – but are standing green. Nobody is responsible there. If someone had to die, how can I change that?
His Vidya Guru gave him a big hug and said you are living in now. You are living in the present. Your higher being has today come out.
2. PRANAMAYI KOSH
UNDER ANNAMAYI KOSH IS THE NEXT LAYER PRANAMAYI KOSH. FOCUSSING ON FRESH CLEAN AIR. IF SOMEONE STAYS ALL THE TIME IN BAD AIR, THE PERSON MAY BECOME DISEASED (ROGI). WE ALL NEED FRESH AIR.
However, by eating bad food one can satisy the Annamayi kosh, the same with bad air, man can survive with bad air, but will become diseased (rogi).
Yoga devotes an entire class of practices called pranayama to replenishing the vitality of the pranamayi kosh. Exercises like diaphragmatic breathing, the complete yogic breath, and alternate nostril breathing are specifically designed to enhance the proper functioning of your second sheath.
In addition, getting plenty of fresh air and sunlight is essential for maintaining the health of the vital force.
3. MANNAMAYI KOSH
THE THIRD KOSHA (SHEATH) IS MANNAMAYI KOSH. IT IS LIVING ON VICHAAR (THOUGHTS & THINKING). THE FOOD FOR THIS LAYER OF BODY IS GOOD THOUGHTS.
If you are reading this article, then it is the need of the Mannamayi Kosh. Like we need good food Annamayi Kosh and Pranamayi Kosh needs clean air, similarly Mannmayi Kosh needs good thoughts.
But like even by eating bad food we can suppress hunger, even bad thoughts, bad literature etc can feed and satisfy the Mannamayi Kosh. Mannamayi kosh needs vichaar. Without it one cannot live. Even if you sit in the temple the Mann it always in vichaar.
When one has a habit of eating bad food, one cannot appreciate good food anymore. Similarly, too much of bad thinking (or thoughts) can lead to a situation where you cannot appreciate good ones anymore.
Good thoughts has only a few sources. And why let bad thoughts go inside, like you don’t allow bad smelly food to go inside. It also becomes food. Where food becomes blood, vichaar (thoughts) mix with this blood.
Iqbal, a poet writes –
Ek phool gar chaahey toh gulistaan ban jaaye
Ek boond gar chaahey toh toofan ban jaaye
Ek khoon ke katre main wo taseer hai
Ek kaum ki taareekh ka anvaan ban jaaye
In summary: If our blood is clean – with good food & thoughts, then even one drop of blood can bring a revolution.
Mannamayi kosh needs good thoughts (Shubh Vichaar).
4. VIJANMAYI KOSH
THE FOURTH KOSH (SHEATH) IS CALLED VIJANMAYI KOSH. ITS FOOD IS HOSH (HIGH AWARENESS).
Being aware & mindful. Whatever we do eat, hear, talk, walk or any other activity – it is mindful. Even your sleep will be mindful. It’s often translated as “intellect,” but the real meaning is broader, encompassing all the functions of the higher mind, including conscience and will.
5. ANANDAMAYI KOSH
THE ANANDAMAYA KOSHA IS THE FINAL AND THINNEST VEIL STANDING BETWEEN OUR ORDINARY AWARENESS AND OUR HIGHER SELF.
Many individuals who’ve had near-death experiences have reported experiencing a brilliant white light radiating all-embracing wisdom and unconditional love. This is the experience of the anandamaya kosha. Saints and mystics purify their minds so that they can have this experience throughout life, not just for a fleeting moment at death. (Yoga International – The Koshas)
When we eat good food, breathe good air, think good and are mindful, it brings in the feeling of bliss. Saadhna (practice) of hosh (high awareness) has to be done everyday.
Sareer sarovar bheetarey
Aachey kamal anoop
Param jot pur khok tumyo
Jaakey rekh na roop
The fifth kosh is like a lotus flower. Fragnanced, beautiful, anand saroop (outlook of bliss), playful & in complete joy .
May all reach this realisation of Ananda.