The Five Body Sheaths

According to the ancient Indian Vedic school of thought, a human being has 5 (five) body sheaths. That’s right ! Five body sheaths.  The Sanskrit term for sheath is “kosha”. What you see physically is your physical body.  It is just the encasement for other four bodies. Here are the 5 body sheaths:

  1. Physical body (Annamaya Kosha): This is the physical body you see. It is nourished and maintained by food, air and water. Everything that we experience and feel physically – on our skin, in our flesh, bones as well as body impurities refer to this sheath.
  2. Vital body  (Pranmaya Kosha): This body cannot be seen. Pranamay kosha refers to the body’s vital life-force or “praan” that holds an organism together.  It is nourished by breath. 
  3. Mental body (Manomaya Kosha): This body is made up of your mind. It feels the emotions.This sheath concerns itself with the feelings engendered by our five senses: sight, taste, hearing, smell and the sense of touch.
  4. Intellectual Body (Vigyanmaya Kosha): This body is the intellect that discriminates and governs the mental body. Our sense of discrimination and ability to judge, the human will power and our perception are all included within this sense.
  5. Blissful body (Anandmaya Kosha): Ananda refers to happiness or bliss.  This sheath of bliss or happiness is a reflection of the soul; a reflection of your own inner bliss, beauty and truth. This layer is accessed by the body in deepest sleep. During waking hours or in dream sleep, one may only partly be able to access Anandamaya kosha. .

So you might wonder how this knowledge is useful to you. Well, once you understand this concept it will totally change your perspective towards yourself and the world. You generally believe in taking care of physical body through proper food and exercise. However, you must remember that the body breathes air too. This air provides food to your vital body that enables your physical body to function, move and feel. When you are ill, it is the vital body that becomes weak and causes you to feel weak. So what should you do to make it well ? You should breathe properly and take fresh air. Your breath speed is controlled by your emotions. If you are angry, you start breathing faster. Therefore a balanced mind i.e  a healthy mental body will determine your breathing rate and quality. But then how to decide what should the mind do ? Here comes the intellectual body. You should develop a discrimination between what is good for you and what is not. This is controlled by your intellectual body. Acquire knowledge, read good books, explore new things to make it grow and healthy. A healthy intellectual body will surely guide your mental body to do the right things. Last but not the least, there is your blissful body. This body rules the way your intellectual body functions. This is the innermost layer and closest to the soul. The ability to access this innermost sheath brings about clarity and a sort of purified or distilled intellect. Understanding the functioning of these five sheaths will help you live a healthy, balanced and holistic life and you will always feel happy from your core within.

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