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The 5 sheaths of Prana

The pancha kosha are: i) annamaya kosha, ii) pranamaya kosha, iii) manomaya kosha, iv) vijnanamaya kosha and v) anandamaya kosha. The first sheath or level of experience is the physical body, or annamaya kosha. The word anna means 'food' and maya 'comprised of'. This is the gross level of existence and is referred to as the food sheath due to its dependence on food, water and air. This sheath is also dependent on prana. While it is possible to live without food for up to six weeks, water for six days, and air for six minutes, life ceases immediately the moment prana is withdrawn from it. The second sheath is pranamaya kosha, the energy field of an individual. The level of experience here is more subtle than the physical body, which it pervades and supports. This sheath is supported in turn by the subtler koshas. Together, the physical and pranic bodies constitute the basic human structure, which is referred to as atmapuri, city of the soul. They form the vessel for the experience of the higher bodies. The pranamaya kosha is the basis for the practices of pranayama and prana vidya. It is also described as the pranic, Verily, besides this physical body, which is made of the essence of the food, there is another, inner self comprised of vital energy by which this physical self is filled. Just as the fleshly body is in the form of a person, accordingly this vital self is in the shape of a person. Clairvoyants see the pranic body as a coloured, luminous cloud or aura around the body, radiating from within the physical body, like the sun flaring from behind the eclipsing moon. Researchers working with a Kirlian high voltage apparatus have obtained similar effects on film. The pranic body is subtler than the physical body and takes longer to disintegrate. This is why the energy field of an amputated limb can be felt for quite some time. As demonstrated in experiments with Kirlian photography, this matrix of energy also allows a damaged part to assume its original shape when healed. The third sheath is manomaya kosha, the mental dimension. The level of experience is the conscious mind, which holds I he two grosser koshas, annamaya and pranamaya, together as an integrated whole. It is the bridge between the outer and inner worlds, conveying the experiences and sensations of the external world to the intuitive body, and the influences of the causal and intuitive bodies to the gross body. The fourth sheath is vijnanamaya kosha, the psychic level of experience, which relates to the subconscious and un-conscious mind. This sphere pervades manomaya kosha, but is subtler than it. Vijnanamaya kosha is the

link between (he individual and universal mind. Inner knowledge comes astral and etheric counterpart of the physical body. It has almost the same shape and dimensions as its flesh and blood vehicle, although it is capable of expansion and contraction. It has been said in the Taittiriya Upanishad (Brahmandavalli:2): to the conscious
mind from this level. When this sheath is awakened, one begins to experience life at an intuitive level, to see the underlying reality behind outer appearances. This leads to wisdom.

The fifth sheath is anandamaya kosha, the level of bliss and beatitude. This is the causal or transcendental body, the abode of the most subtle prana.