Five kosas holding Atma

The Supreme Brahman is the basis of all creation and to

realise the Atma Tatva is the purpose of human existence,

say the scriptures. They also try to guide humanity in this

search and show that the subtle essence of Atma and Brahman, though not perceptible to human senses, mind and

even the intellect, can be realised as an inner experience.

Each human being, each object in creation is a blend of the

subtle atma and a physical form that gives it an appearance

and constitutes its individual entity. It is only through

vichara or deliberation that the atma swaroopa encased in

the physical covering can be realised, said Sri B. Sundarkumar in a discourse.

Generally a valuable gift is carefully packaged by layers of

covering so that it remains safe; and unpacking the wrappings to obtain the gift is done with great care. Likewise, sastras explain that Pancha kosa vichara helps to unravel the

subtle essence of the atma swaroopa that is believed to be

the essence of sat-chit-ananda. It is shown that the atma is

carefully held within the five kosas or sheaths that constitute

the human body. The body itself is an outer cloak within

which the atma resides. Just as many layers of clothing such

as the vest close to the body, the shirt, the waistcoat, coat

and the overcoat cover the body, the atma is enveloped in

the five sheaths known as the Pancha kosas. The outermost

is the annamaya kosa that is visible because it is gross. Further deliberation shows that other kosas also make up the

physical form.

The pranamaya kosa is the life sustaining breath, the

manomaya kosa is the mind or antakarana in each one of us

and the vigyanamaya kosa is the intellectual potential in the

human being. The atma swaroopa being most subtle is deep

within and is known as the anandamaya kosa. It pervades

the entire being and all other kosas.