Search This Blog

Thursday, May 11, 2006

PANCA KOSA -2- Annamaya kosa and Pranamaya kosa

Annamaya Kosa:

In the Taittiriya Upanishad, the teacher has asked the student to look inwards and identify his experience. The student thus discovers the first layer of existence, Annamaya Kosa.

He explains to the teacher that he is the physical, or physiological personality, consisting of various limbs, organs, etc. He notes that as long as this physical body is there, so is he. And the moment the physical body is gone, so is he.

The physical body is what we consider we are, and therefore we care so much for this body. There is so much attraction for this physical body as it is the source of glamour, so we spend most of our time and energy focused on this body and often feel it is the most important thing in our lives.

The teacher understands his quick conclusion, and asks the student to further investigate this answer, indicating this not untrue, but needs deeper consideration. The student further researches this question and comes back to the teacher with another answer.

Pranamaya Kosa:

The student says, “I am the Pranamaya Kosa, or the life force, which is spread through out the physical body and is responsible for all its functions and activity. As long as there is a life force, I exist and the moment the life force is gone, so am I.

The student noticed that the body does not function by itself. He may have come across a dead body which people where mourning for. He inquired as to why they were crying. The answer they gave was that the Prana, life force, has gone so he is no longer alive. The physical body was still there, but the Prana was not.

Only when there is Prana, the life force, exists, does the body function. The eyes see because of Prana, the ears hear because of Prana, the legs can walk because of Prana, the mouth can talk because of Prana. Therefore we are Pranamaya Kosa. When Prana is not there, we are not there. Even in our bodies, when there is no life force, we are not affected. For example, there is no Prana in our hair or nails so when we cut them, we do not feel pain. But see how much time and money we spend to maintain the hair and nails where we are not there! It is no better than house keeping.

When Mullah Nasiruddin got off at Bangalore railway station he found a foot path vendor selling some herbal oil for remarkable hair growth. Mullah followed all the instructions very carefully, applied the oil for one month religiously. At the end of the treatment, he found the little hair that was originally on his head had grown longer, but no new hair appeared on his head! He went to barber hesitatingly. The barber smiled and asked, ‘ Do you want to cut it or color it?’ Mullah replied, ‘Neither. Curl it’.
We care so much even when we are not really there! Recently, there was news that the oldest living man in Japan died at the age of 134 years! Even after that the body is still there but the life has gone from it. Once the life has gone the person is no more even though the body is there.
In Taittiriya Upanishad the rishi says,
“Tasmadva etasmat anna rasamayaat, anyontara atmaa praana mayah. Te naihsa purnah.”
Subtler than this self of the form of food sheath, (physical body), the self of praana is there. He is more complete than the food sheath.

Adi shankaracharya explains, in his commentary, that the physical personality is filled by the praana having the same shape as the person, much like the way molten metal poured into a mould takes the shape of the mold. Praana, too, is in the shape of the body and the subtle sheath is more complete than the gross, meaning it is more in command!

Further the Upanishad says,
“Praanam deva anu praananti,”
Meaning, the forces, like fire, etc, in the form of food, are dependant on the praana for their activities.

This indicates that even the food depends on praana for its digestion, and if praana is not there, food itself can not do any thing for us. This praana is the cause for life.

“Yaavat asmin shareere praano vasati taavat ayuh”
As long as there is praana in the body, so long there is life.

By relaxing the physical body or by experiencing the feeling of satisfaction at the physical body level one can transcend to prana level recognition. All those practices that we do at the physical body level are essentially to facilitate us to detach from that physical level. Once when we detach from physical level and go to subtler, unconscious levels, we experience sleep. But when we maintain consciousness and feel satisfied at the physical level, we transcend to the praana level which is cognized by only a gentle activity going on. Prana itself cannot be perceived but its effects in the body (i.e. in the form of respiration or pulse) are some sensations which occur in the body and can be perceived.

Although the student’s answer of prana being the source of creation was not wrong, the teacher asked the student to continue investigating, indicating that the truth can only be found through self investigation alone, not only for the Upanishad student but for any one of us. The teacher requested the student to look further within in the form of tapasya.

to be continued...



Anonymous said...

I really like when people are expressing their opinion and thought. So I like the way you are writing

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ricky Tran said...

good! thank you!