Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Tattvabodha - Part 8

Notes on Tattvabodha
Dr. Vishnu Bapat

Dr. Bapat (72) was the co-founder of an Ayurvedic Pharmaceutical Industry and served as its Managing Director for 26 years until retirement. He is associated with several professional and spiritual bodies. He is now fully engaged in the study and practice of Vedanta.




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शरीरत्रयम् śarīratrayam

16. What is Gross body?

स्थूलशरीरं किम्?

पंचीक्रतपंचमहाभूतैः क्रतं सत्कर्मजन्यं

सुखादुःखादिभॊगायतनं शरीरम्

अस्ति जायते वर्धते विपरिणमते अपक्षीयते विनश्यतीति

षड्विकारवदेतत् स्थूलशरीरम् ।।

स्थूलशरीरम् - Gross body किम् - what पंचीक्रत - that have undergone the process of panchikarana पंचमहाभूतैः – by the five great elements क्रतम् - made of सत्कर्मजन्यम् - born of result of good actions in the past life सुख-दुःखादि - भोग आयतनम् - (resting place, abode) an instrument for the experience of joy, sorrow etc. शरीम् - the body (undergoes following transformations) अस्ति - exists जायते - is born वर्धते - grows विपरिणमते - matures अपक्षीयते - decays विनश्यति - and dies इति - thus षड्विकारवत् - with six modifications एतत् - this स्थूलशरीरम् - gross body

The gross body is that which is made up of five great elements that have undergone the process of panchikarana; an instrument for the experiences of happiness or misery etc, born out of past of good actions; and subject to the six modifications namely - to exist, to take birth, to grow, to mature, to decay and to die.

स्थूलशरीरम् किम् – What is gross body? Gross body is the physical body of man which has a definite shape, and can be perceived by the senses. Paramarthananda classifies the three bodies under six headings for the purpose of study.

    • Material: It is made up of five gross elements that have undergone the process of grossification or panchikrata panchabhutas श्थूल पञ्च भूतानि. And so the physical body is called भौतिक शरीर. The five great elements are space, air, fire, water and earth. When they undergo a process of grossification, (described later in this chapter) they form the five gross elements. By the permutation and combinations of the five great elements, is formed the entire gross world we perceive. Our body too is a part of this world and hence made up of these five great elements.
    • Body parts: The body is divided into four distinguishable parts. The body आत्मा (body), शिर (head), पक्ष (sides), and पुच्छ (the hind part).
    • Function: The body is an ayatana or receptacle for the enjoyment of happiness, grief etc.
    • Nature: Body is of changing nature. It undergoes modifications from birth to death. (षड्विकार) The gross body is called सविकल्प because it undergoes six modifications.
    • Visibility: It being gross perceptible to the sense organs
    • Longevity: The physical body lives till the death of the person. श्रियमाण स्वभावम् शरीरम् that which undergoes death is sharira.

एतत् स्थूलशरीरम् - this is gross body

पंचीक्रत पंचमहाभूतैः क्रतम् – made up of the five great elements which have undergone the process of grossification. The five great elements are अकाश or space, वायु or air, अग्नि or fire, अपः or water, and प्रथिवी or earth. By a special process described in a later chapter in this book, the five great elements become five gross elements. The entire gross world is constituted by permutation and combination of the five gross elements. The gross body being a part of the gross world is therefore made up of five gross elements.

सत्कर्मजन्यम् क्रतम् – Born an account of good actions Punya Karma in the past births. This body is created for the enjoyment of the fruits of our past actions. So it is called सत्कर्मजन्यम् or born of predominantly good actions. If too much bad actions are performed one does not get human life. God gives us the human birth to redeem ourselves सुख-दुःखादि- भोग आयतनम् शरीम् – the body a receptacle for the experience of joy sorrow etc. Bhoga means enjoyment. Body is an instrument for the enjoyment of happiness (सुख) or misery (दुःख) षड्विकारवत् एतत् स्थूलशरीरम् – the body is endowed with six changes or modifications namely to exist, to take birth, to grow, to mature, to decay, and to die. अस्ति जायते वर्धते विपरिणमते अपॆक्षीयते विनश्यतीति

    • अस्ति - exists. The first condition is the presence of the fetus in mother’s womb.
    • जायते - is born. This is the next modification Refer to words like जन्म पद्मजा
    • वर्धते - grows. Nourished by food, the body grows.
    • विपरिणमते - transformation or matures. It reaches adolescence and lot of modifications like secondary sexual characters, of the body take place. विपरिणाम is transformation
    • अपक्षीयते - decays. Slowly the signs of ageing set in. The skin begins to sag, wrinkles appear, and the hair turns grey. Several diseases also show up.
    • विनश्यति - dies. Ultimately the body dies. The body merges into its constitutional elements. This verb comes from the noun विनाशः. After death the five elements of the body merge into original mother five elements.

These above six changes of the body are called षड्विकारवत् एतत् स्थूलशरीरम्. वत् means endowed with; षड्विकार मय. These six properties of the body are not the property of atma. Atma is different from the body. Because of the six modifications, the body is called fleeting or not permanent श्रियमाण स्वभावम् शरीरम्. The gross body is visible to me as well as to others.


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Page last updated: 10-Dec-2015