Literally the word Kosa means cover. It is another technical name used for the bodies themselves. The sariram is itself called kosa from another angle. The human being is composed of five material layers with the Self, Atman at the core. The three bodies (Sarirathrayam) are divided into five kosas from the standpoint of their function. This division is the functional division of the three bodies. The five kosas are: Annamaya-Kosa - Food Sheath The sthula sariram – gross body is known as annamaya-kosa because its function is to receive annam (food) and grow with the help of that. After its death, it becomes food for the next generation. This food sheath is the physical body constituted of the five organs of perception (ear, skin, eye, tongue and nose) and five organs of action (mouth, hands, legs, organs of excretion and organs of reproduction). It is so called because it is caused and maintained by the food we consume and ends up as food for other creatures. Pranamaya-Kosa - Vital air Sheath This is made up of the five physiological functions known as pranas. It is related to the air we breathe and hence called vital air sheath. The following faculties are the pranas: Prana - Perception The five ssenses of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching. Apana - Excretion That which throws out, discharge faeces, urine, sperm, sputum, perspiration etc Samana - Digestion Digests the food consumed Vyana - Circulation Distributes the digested food to different parts of the body Udana - reversal process and thought absorption Reversal process is vomiting, sneezing etc Thought process is taking in fresh knowledge. The vital air sheath is subtler and controls the food sheath. In young age, the pranas are in good shape and we are hale and healthy. As age advances, these faculties lose their power and vitality. As they slacken, the body is adversely affected. The sukshma sariram consisting of 19 organs is sub divided into three kosas based on three faculties: Kriya-sakthi - the power of activity Icha-sakthi - the power of desire Jnana-sakthi - the power of knowledge Our entire life is an expression of this three-fold faculty only. We read the scriptures and books to gain knowledge – jnana shakthi is functioning. We want to attend a discourse – icha shakthi is functioning We go to attend the discourse – kriya shakthi is functioning Desire is produced because of knowledge. The whole life is the combined functioning of these three faculties. They make the human being unique and different from animals. The five-fold pranas along with the five karmendriyas (sense organs of action) form the pranamaya-kosa. Manomaya-Kosa - Mental Sheath This comprises the mind and controls the above two sheaths. When the mind is calm and composed, the physiological functions take place smoothly and we are healthy. When the mind is disturbed, both the above sheaths get agitated and we fall sick. The mind is full of likes and dislikes. It is made up of impulses, feelings, passions and various emotions. If the mind gets its object of desire , we are happy. Otherwise we get turbulent in mind and like a strong wind uprooting trees, terrorism, genocide etc can be caused ! If not properly controlled, the mind starts straying to past or furure. We worry and get anxious. We hardly think of the present. This causes stress and strain to everybody. Children do not worry and are free from this problem. Mental sheath represents Icha shakthi or the faculty of desire. This is represented by six organs – the five sense organs of knowledge and the mind. The sense organs gather information and desire arises. Also desire is needed to experience the external world through sense organs. Vijnanamaya-Kosa - Intellectual Sheath This sheath comprises of the intellect, the thinking faculty, also the faculty to reason, judge and decide the physical and mental activities. This controls the above three sheaths. The senses attract our physical body to indulge in sense-pleasures. When the mind gets attracted to instant pleasures, the intellect controls and regulates the mind and senses. This strength is gained only by a powerful intellect. Vedanta helps us here to study and reflect on the truths of life. But we must realise intelligence is different from a powerful, good intellect. Intelligence is gained by increasing our knowledge from outside sources like books, teachers etc. Inspite of intelligence, we are likely to get lured by sensual attractions. Even brilliant people fall prey to vices like alcohol. The intellect becomes weak because the mind overpowers it. The person thus invites stress and sorrow. It is intellect that helps us focus on our present action and concentrate, without slipping into the past or future. That is why people with more intelligence, but less intellectual strength find it difficult to concentrate. This sheath is represented by Jnana shakthi, the rational or intellectual faculty. The five sense organs of knowledge are called the jnanendriyas and buddhi. We must remember that intellect cannot gain knowledge unless there are sense organs to report from the external world. Anandamaya-Kosa - Bliss Sheath This sheath consists of vasanas , the very seed of our personality. This is the innate, inherent material, we are made up of. It is the most subtle. The karana sariram, which is left out so far, is called anandamaya kosa. Both waking and dream states do not guarantee happiness. In deep sleep state karana sariram plays a prominent role and we are in total relaxation. Our vasanas are unmanifest. Agitation ceases. I am not disturbed and everybody loves to sleep ! Sleep is a universally loved phenomenon and hence is ananda. The deep sleep gives happiness in a uniform manner. So karana sariram is called anandamaya kosa. But this bliss is relative and not the absolute bliss of Self-realisation. Anatma: Sarira thrayam, avastha thrayam and pancha kosa put together is called Anatma which can be roughly translated as matter. They are all matter at different levels. The scriptures talk about another entity called Atma which is the Self or Spirit, which we shall see later. Love, Chithra.