[Advaita-l] Advaita vEdAnta - Unit (22)

Krishnamurthy Ramakrishna puttakrishna at verizon.net
Sun Mar 18 13:22:23 CDT 2007

In Unit 20, we discussed sthUla sharIra.

In Unit 21, we started with the study of sUkShma sharIra (subtle body); we
will continue with sUkShma sharIra.


sUkShma sharIra or subtle body.


Panch prANa - Five vital airs.


The prANa is supported by the subtle part of the water we drink (the gross
portion of the water is discharged, while the middle portion adds to the

The five prANAs are (1) prANa vAyu - located in the face, regulates
breathing; (2) apAna vAyu - located in the anus, regulates excretion; it is
the apAna vAyu that helps inhalation and experiencing smell; (3) vyAna vAyu
- located in the nerves throughout the body; Its function is between the
inhalation and exhalation, like holding the breath, facilitating speech,
carrying heavy objects and hard labor.(4) udAna vAyu - located from the
forehead to the feet, it is responsible for determining the next life (5)
samAna vAyu - located in the navel, supports distribution of food and water
throughout the body. 


Five organs of action.

The AdhyAtmikas of this group are tongue, hands, feet, and two lower organs.
The respective Adibhoutika activities are speech, give and take, walk and
excretion. The respective presiding deities are agni, indra, upEndra, yama
and prajApati. The speech is supported by the fat content of the food (the
gross part of the fat supports bones, the middle part supports bone marrow
and the subtle part of fat supports speech - it is generally known that
musicians and shrotrIyas consume a larger amount of ghee).

The eight of the 19 subtle body constituents - five sense organs, mind,
tongue and hand are together called grahas. The five sense objects - sound,
touch, form, taste and smell, the desires of the mind, the speech of the
tongue and the actions of the hand are called atigrahas. The grahas are
captives of atigrahas. The grahas and atigrahas are the shackles (or
fetters) of the jIva. A person who has freed himself from this shackle is a
liberated person, experiencer of the self.

The organs of action and the five vital airs together are called the
prANamaya kOsha - sheath of vital airs; The vital airs are responsible for
all activities in the gross body. Therefore the prANamaya kOsha is a product
of the rajas gUna in the jIva - idam prANAdi panchakam karmEndriyaih sahitam
sat prANamaya kOshO bhavati; asya kriyAtmaktvEna rajO amshakAryatvam.


Five Sense Organs.

The five sense organs are ears for hearing, skin for touch, eyes for seeing,
tongue for tasting and nose for smelling. The outer sense organs are only
hardware. Their presiding deities are dik dEvatas, vAyu, Sun, varuNa and
ashwini dEvas respectively. Each organ can capture its own information -
eyes cannot hear, ears cannot see etc. In addition, they cannot function
simultaneously - when the eye is seeing, the ear cannot hear. This is
because, the mind that processes the information from each, can interface
with only one organ at a time. However, the speed at which the mind can
switch between them makes us feel that we are experiencing the activities of
more than one sense organ at a time.

The sUkshma sharIra or subtle body encompasses the prANamaya kOsha, manOmaya
kOsha and vijnyAnamaya kOsha.


Is the jIva the subtle body ?

The 19 components of the subtle body are inert. They are functioning in the
body on a cooperative basis. For whose benefit is this functioning? It is
clear that it is for the benefit of the jIva. So the subtle body has to be
apart from jIVa. The jIva is experiencing the variations in the state of the
sense and action organs, and prANAs. One can control prANAs by breath
control (prANAyAma). So the organs and prANAs are tools available to the
jIVa; they are therefore separate from the jIva and are not the jIva. How
about the antah-karaNa? As much as the jIva is witnessing the mind,
(sankalpa/vikalpa), intellect, chitta (memories) and ego (I am this etc.),
he has difficulty in separating himself from these witnessed entities. This
is resolved from the experiences of the deep sleep state. It is the
antah-karaNa that is responsible for the cognizance during waking and dream
states. However, it is everyone's experience that during deep sleep, no
cognizance is experienced. Still, when he wakes from deep sleep state, he
relates that he slept well. Sleeping well is a cognizance absent during
sleep, but the cognizance is reported when awake from deep sleep. Therefore
the jIva is an entity other than the antah-karaNa, witnessing the cognizance
of the antah-karaNa during deep sleep and reporting it to the antah-karaNa
when awake. So the jIva has to be different from the antah-karaNa.

In the foregoing, it is demonstrated that the components of the subtle body
- action and sense organs, prANAs  as well as antah-karaNa - are witnessed
by the jIva and are different from the jIva. It is therefore rejected that
the jIva is the subtle body.


kAraNa sharIra or causal body.


By rejecting that the jIva is not the gross body or the subtle body, what
normally the jIva thinks he is, is negated. So the jIva is ignorant of who
he actually is!  This is his ignorance. By associating himself with the
fross body - I am a man, woman, etc, he develops desires, feelings of love,
hatred, jealousy etc. These desires and feelings drive him to action. The
actions result in accumulation of fruits of action in the antah-karaNa.
Inability to experience these fruits in this life (he is experiencing the
fruits of past life or lives), he has to take another life to experience
those fruits. He is thus caught in the cycle of births and deaths due to the
ignorance - ajnyAna - of who he is. This ajnyAna is the prime cause of the
cycle of births and deaths. This ajnyAna is therefore called the kAraNa
sharIra or causal body. The jIVa is not this kAraNa sharIra either, which
will be addressed below.


ajnyAna or avidyA.


In the vEdAnta terminology, ajynAna, avidya or kAraNa sharIra are synanimous

The jIva attaches to different upAdhis and identifies himself with some
thing, he is not, as follows;

upAdhi of body makes him believe he is a man, woman, handsome, beautiful

upAdhi of buddhi makes him believe he is happy or unhappy, intelligent,
sinner, yOgi, ajnyAni etc.

upAdhi of relation makes him a father, son, sister etc.

upAdhi of money and property makes him rich, poor etc.

The jIva is cognizing the above as a witness. So how can he be any of these?
His svarUpa (the nature that is unchanging and always remaining same) cannot
even be that of a knower, since in deep sleep his knowingness is absent. So
what is the svarUpa of jIva and where/how to understand it?

His svarUpa can only be understood in deep sleep. Void of all upAdhis, he
stands alone in deep sleep. So the jIva's svarUpa is his experience in deep
sleep. His svarUpa is disguised in waking and dream states by association
with upAdhi. Though he is unable to experience his svarUpa in deep sleep,
his narration in the waking state - that he slept well - attests to his
presence (the mind and body are not present in deep sleep to either
experience or narrate it later on).  From the beginningless time, he has
come to identify himself with upAdhis and is at a loss to know his svarUpa
without upAdhis.

The jIva cannot avail his body beyond waking state. His mind is not
available beyond dream state. He cannot himself experience his svarUpa in
deep sleep. Then how should he understand his svarUpa? The shruti is the
only recourse, as in the determination of jagat. We will review some
statements of shruti to understand the svarUpa of jIva. Before we review the
statements of shruti, we will take a look at the views of other philosophies
with respect to jIva.


We will continue with this in the next unit.


Om shAntih, shAntih, shAntih ( Om peace, peace, peace).



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