Wednesday, September 8, 2010
ATMA BODHA =(POST 5)= OF ADI SANKARA = GROSS, SUBTLE & CAUSAL BODIES EXAMINED = WHO AM I:Contd
SRI ADI SANKARACHARYA
TEXT & COMMENTARY
(PART - 5 – VERSES 13 & 14)
13 Panchapraana Mano Buddhi
In verse 12 in the previous Post, we saw that the Gross Body (Sthoola Sareera) is formed by the process of Combination (Pancheekaranam) of the Five Great Elemental Forces (Pancha Maha Bhoothas) and is the seat of all pleasures and Pains.
It can be experienced and perceived through the five senses, by any one - by the person himself and also by others. Because of this, it is called the GROSS BODY (Sthoola Sareera). It is subject to birth, growth, decay, disease and death. After death, the Gross body disintegrates back into the five great elemental forces from which it is formed.
But, the Gross Body (Sthoola Sareera) is only the SEAT of all pleasures and Pains and not the ENJOYER of the pleasures and Pains. The ENJOYER of these is called SUBTLE BODY (SOOKSHMA SAREERA).
This SUBTLE BODY (Sookshma Sareera) is very much like the GROSS BODY (Sthoola Sareera) in being formed by the Five great elemental Forces – except that the special combination process of PANCHEEKARANAM is not required to form the SUBTLE BODY.
The five elements are in their subtle form in the Subtle Body or Sookshma Sareera and because of this, they can not be perceived by the five senses.
What are the parts of this subtle body?
It contains the PANCHA PRANAS (Five Life Energies) - called Praana, Apaana, Vyaana,Udhaana and Samaana. These Pancha Praanas are also part of the Praanamaya Kosa, which we will see later.
In other words, the Praanamaya kosa is actually a part of the Subtle body. These pancha Pranas regulate some of the most vital aspects of our life.
Some times it is loosely said that Pranamaya kosa represents the flow of the five types of Air (praana, Apaana, Vyaana, Udaana and Samaana) through the Subtle Body (Sthoola Sareera).
It is actually the LIFE ENERGY FLOW through the five types of air in different parts of the body and in different directions that is called by the name, Pancha Pranas. If the Life Energy Flow stops, even if air remains in Gross Body (Sthoola Sareera), the Gross body becomes dead.
Among these, the Praana Vayu works through the inhalation and exhalation of air through the nostrils. It supplies the life energy to various organs for their functioning. The Apaana Vayu is responsible for evacuation of wastes from the body (like urination, defacation etc). Vyaana Vayu takes care of blood circulation and through it, the functioning of all cells. The Udhaana Vayu takes care of processes such as vomiting, sneezing, shedding tears which are all reactions or reverse processes happening in the body for certain body regulatory purposes. Udaana is also said to enable the mind to leave one thought and move on to the next. At death, it is said to enable the subtle body to leave the gross body. The Samaana Vayu is responsible for digestion and assimilation of digested food. These Pranas function autonomously. But, some times their efficient and proper functioning is affected due to various reasons.
Is there a way to regulate these normally autonomous functions?
The ancient Sages (Scientists) have found that various methods of PRANAYAMA in Yoga Vidya enable us to regulate the Pancha Pranas to function properly and through them, ensure the proper functioning of all parts of the body.
What are the other parts of Subtle body?
Apart from Pancha Pranas, the Subtle Body also contains MANAS, BUDDHI and DASA-INDRIYAs.
MANAS means mind which is the seat of all emotions and thoughts – but not of decisions. Mind is in a state of vacillation between thoughts. Should I or Not? This or that? Here or there? Manas is in such vacillations of thought and emotion always. It gets into the vacillation, but does not itself decide which way to go! Moon is said to be the presiding deity of the mind. A person in whom mind is dominant is in constant state of vacillation of thoughts and emotions and unable to make Decisions. He is swayed by his moods, likes and dislikes.
In some other texts, 2 more parts called CHITTHA and AHANKARA are also mentioned as additional parts of Subtle Body (Sookshma Sareera) and thus, it is said to possess 19 parts in total. Between these two additional parts, the thinking faculty is that of Chittha, while, the notion of Doership ( I am the doer) resides in Ahankara.
Chittha and Ahankara, though some times distinguished as separate from Manas, are also taken as parts of Manas itself and hence, in texts like Atma Bodha, the total parts of subtle body are mentioned as seventeen only. All these three can also be taken as different facets of Manas, depending on the function performed at any given time.
Manas, Chittha and Ahankara are very closely linked in their functions. Ahankara feels the doership while Chittha goes into thinking and then, Manas starts vacillating between different thoughts produced by Chittha. There is of course no confusion in this aspect among the great authors of various texts.
BUDDHI or the intellect is the one which has the decision making faculty. Reasoning, observation, conclusion, decision making are all vested in Buddhi. One in whom Buddhi is dominant is highly logical and decisive. But, he may lack the tenderness of emotions to support the decisions, which must come from the mind. Buddhi is the seat of all knowledge, creativity and decision. The creator, Brahma is said to be the presiding deity of Buddhi.
The above apart, the Subtle Body consists of ten (DASA INDRIAS) Indriyas. These are –
(i) FIVE JNANA - INDRIAS or five organs of perception and
(ii) FIVE KARMA - INDRIYAS or five organs of activity.
The five organs of perception are Eyes, Ears, Tongue, Nose and Skin. These are born from the SATHVIC aspect of the five great elements.
The five organs of activity are - Tongue, Hands, Legs and organs of excretion (genitals and anus). These are born from the Rajasic aspect of the five great elements.
Each of these organs have a presiding deity from whom they derive their power.
We must not confuse the Jnanendriyas and Karmendriyaas with the external Body Parts like the external eye and external ear. These external visible body parts are called GOLAKAMS and these golakams are part of the Gross Body (Sthoola Sareera).
What we call as Indriyaas are actually the POWER of seeing, power of hearing, power of tasting etc, which are not vested in the Golakams outside but in the Subtle Body (Sookshma Sareera) inside.
That is why, we say – that the Gross Body (Sthoola Sareera) is the SEAT of pleasures and Pains, but the REAL ENJOYER of the pleasures and pains is the Subtle Body (Sookshma Sareera), where this POWER of Enjoyment (like Power of seeing, power of hearing etc) really vests.
Thus, the Subtle Body consists of seventeen parts or ingredients, namely, the five Pranas, the Manas (taken along with Chittha and Ahankara), the Buddhi, the five Jnanendriyaas, and the five Karmendriyaas.
Each of these has a presiding Deity which is mentioned in the text, THATHVA BODHA.
When the Gross Body dies, the Subtle Body leaves the Gross Body and carries all the Sanchitha Karma or the Punyam and Papam store (or the fruits of Good and bad deeds done) accumulated by it so far and unenjoyed so far, along with itself to its next birth. It takes rebirth according to this Punyam-papam store.
For how many times, does it take such rebirths?
As long as the Sanchitha Karma store is not totally spent and as long as the Subtle Body does not get rid of the effects of Maya or Ignorance surrounding it, rebirths will continue.
Its karma will continue to follow it and it will continue to enjoy pleasures and pains according to the Karma it does and according to the body it takes based on this Karma.
We have seen the Gross Body (Sthools Sareera) in verse.12 and the Subtle Body (Sookshma Sareera) in verse.13. Now, we shall see the more permanent of all the three Bodies, namely, the Causal Body (Or the kaarana Sareera), in Verse.14.
14 Anaadyavidya Anirvaachyaa
AVIDYA (or ignorance) is both BEGINNINGLESS and DIFFICULT TO DEFINE. It is called the Kaarana Sareera or CUASAL BODY, among the three Bodies that we possess.
So, all living beings possess three bodies namely :- (i) Sthoola Sareera or Gross Body (ii) Sookshma sareera, or Subtle Body, and (iii) Kaarana sareera or causal Body.
This total Body (all 3 combined) is viewed as consisting of five sheaths. Of them, the causal body or Kaarana sareera is viewed as the AANANDHA MAYA KOSA or the Bliss Sheath. It is the subtlest among the three sareeras.
The CAUSAL BODY ( or the Aanandha Maya Kosa or Kaarana Sareera) is supposed to be the causative factor for the Gross Body (Sthoola Sareera) and the Subtle Body (Sookshma Sareera) and hence the name causal Body. Causal Body is equated with AVIDYA or ignorance and the other two are therefore taken as products of this AVIDYA or Causal Body.
We must know and clearly understand that ATMAN is none of these three bodies.
ATMAN is however, the witness of these three bodies though it is never to be identified with them. Atma or Atman is self luminous, consciousness. It remains detached and aloof from the three bodies. Of all the three Bodies, this causal body is the subtlest one and also the longest surviving one.
In our DEEPEST Sleep, only the Kaarana Sareera is awake. Because it is in Maaya or ignorance or Avidya, it is said to be IMPURE in Nature.
LASTLY : In the last three verses, we have considered the Sareera Thrayam, and declared that Atman is none of these three Bodies but is their witness. This process of describing what seems to be a possible “I” and then negating it saying that this is NOT “I” is adopted because, the major confusion of people is their identification with the SAREERA THRAYAM, and often confusing them with Brahman. Most people can’t see beyond the Gross Body at all. Some people can intensely feel the Subtle Body. But even CAUSAL BODY is beyond the understanding and experience of most people.
Denying the three Sareerams is a process known as Nethi, Nethi, Nethi. Nethi means – not this. Fo affirming, NOT THIS, NOT THIS and so on for all these organs, we need extraordinary vision and an insatiable appetite for TRUTH. We move by this process and we try to deny our identity or relationship to all these things, like the Sareera Thrayam, which are no “I”. Finally we try to arrive at our REAL IDENTIY.
In the Next verse (in next Post), we will see why the Pure Atman looks impure, and what are the Pancha Kosas.
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