Search

The 5 Kosa

Western Science and Yoga are acknowledging three constant changing stages in human beings, the physical, the mental and the energetic stage. According to yogic philosophy those three stages are subdivided into five sheets or layers, the five kosas.

Underneath these five sheets lies the unchanging true Self, Atman, the pure bliss or the pure consciousness.

The Taittiriya Upanishad Vedic texts, which describes the kosas in their depth and meaning. The kosas are the different layers of our consciousness, which cover the light of our inner being. The system of the kosas is often described with the metaphor of a lamp, in the center glows the light bulb (Atman) which is surrounded by 5 lampshades (kosas), the denser the shades the darker the light.

Atman is embedded in the deepest of our 5 layers, the Anandamaya Kosa. Ananda means bliss, maya illusion and kosa sheet or body, the blissful sheet or the bliss body. It is called the causal body as it is the closest to the Self. Being in our bliss body means to experience a kind of joy, which is unconditional, a happiness in just being. It means all our decisions and choices are filled with our soul and we are living in our true self.

Anandamaya Kosa is enveloped by the 4th sheet, Vijnanamaya Kosa. It is the sheet of the power of judgement or discernment, often called the layer of intellect. It is the personal manifestation of buddhi consciousness. If our intellect is illuminated it makes rational decisions based on our nature and bliss, leading us towards the light. Through following and respecting the yamas and niyamas we can self-master such an illuminated consciousness.

Manomaya kosha is the mental sheet and third layer. It is the layer of the mind, thoughts, and I-ness (ahamkara). Our mind (mana), is fed by the fivesenses and can easily get caught up in the external input. It is the sheet where we are developing our preference, our likes and dislikes. Through meditation,the observation of the mind process and the practice of mantras, Manamaya kosa can become a bridge into our deeper consciousness.

Pranamaya kosa is the 2nd sheet, prana means life, wind or energy. It is the sheet of the energy body, which refers to the circulatory and respiratorysystem in the body, as well as the sheet of emotions. Prana, the life force, theuniversal energy, which brings our gross body to life, is often referred to asour breath. Prana moves through subtle channels called nadis, in us andaround us. Dynamic asana practice, chanting and Pranayama exercises helpto correct and align these energetic pathways, so prana can move freelythrough us4.After these three subtle body’s Vijnanamaya, Manomaya and Pranamaya intellect is illuminated it makes rational decisions based on our nature and bliss, leading us towards the light3. Through following and respecting the yamas and niyamas we can self-master such an illuminated consciousness. Manomaya kosha is the mental sheet and third layer. It is the layer of the mind, thoughts, and I-ness (ahamkara). Our mind (mana), is fed by the five senses and can easily get caught up in the external input. It is the sheet where we are developing our preference, our likes and dislikes. Through meditation, the observation of the mind process and the practice of mantras, Manamaya kosa can become a bridge into our deeper consciousness.

Pranamaya kosa is the 2nd sheet, prana means life, wind or energy. It is the sheet of the energy body, which refers to the circulatory and respiratory system in the body, as well as the sheet of emotions. Prana, the life force, the universal energy, which brings our gross body to life, is often referred to as our breath. Prana moves through subtle channels called nadis, in us and around us. Dynamic asana practice, chanting and Pranayama exercises help to correct and align these energetic pathways, so prana can move freely through us .

After these three subtle body’s Vijnanamaya, Manomaya and Pranamaya Kosa follows the last layer of the system, the gross body, the Annamaya kosa or the food body. This sheet is our visual body and is the only sheet that is or made of matter. Through diet and exercise we can regulate the density of this first sheet.

The system of the 5 kosas is a central idea of yoga psychology. It can be used as a map or guideline to our inner true being. Each sheet is able to observe and control the layer underneath. Through controlling and observing the different layers we can learn to embrace our true self, Atman.