Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Vedanta - Part 36

VEDĀNTA the solution to our fundamental problem
D. Venugopal

D. Venugopal is a student of Swami Paramarthananda and a direct disciple of Pujya Swami Dayananda. He has successfully completed the long-term residential course in Vedanta and Sanskrit conducted from May 2002 to July 2005 at the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, Anaikatti.




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VI - The manifestation of the different parts of the jIva

The manifestation of the different parts of the jéva takes place as follows:
Of the sattva aspect of each of the five subtle elements are formed the five subtle sense organs. (The sense organs and organs of action that we see are their gross physical counterparts.) Of the subtle space is formed the subtle ear, the subtle sense organ of hearing; of subtle air is formed the subtle skin, the subtle sense organ of touch; of the subtle fire is formed the subtle eye, the subtle sense organ of form and color; of subtle water is formed the subtle tongue, the subtle sense organ of taste and of the subtle earth is formed the subtle nose, the subtle sense organ of smell.


Of the sattva aspect of all the five subtle elements are formed the antaù-karaëa consisting of the manas which is the mind that is not discriminatory, buddhi, which is the discriminatory aspect of mind, ahaìkära, which is the I-sense and citta, which is the memory.


Of the rajas aspect of the five subtle elements are formed the five subtle organs of action. Of the subtle space is formed the subtle organ of speech; of the subtle air is formed the subtle hands; of the subtle fire are formed the subtle legs; of the subtle water is formed the subtle genitals; and of the subtle earth is formed the subtle anus.


All the subtle organs referred to here belong to the subtle body and their gross counterparts are the physical organs of the physical body.


Of the rajas aspect of all the five subtle elements are formed the five subtle präëas, which are präëa, apäna, vyäna, udäna and samäna. Präëa is the vital principle of energizing; apäna is the vital principle of cleansing; vyäna is the circulating vital principle; samäna is the assimilating vital principle and udäna is the forceful rejecting vital principle of cleansing; vyäna is the circulating vital principle; samäna is the assimilating vital principle and udäna is the forceful rejecting vital principle [250] The entire physiological functions of the body are dependent on the subtle präëa, which belongs to the subtle body.

The gross physical body is formed of all the five gross elements.

All the sense and physical organs and antaù-karaëa derive their ability through the presence of their presiding deities, which are different aspects of Éçvara [251] (What enlivens Éçvara, the deities and the organs is consciousness.)


VII - The division of the jIva into five functional parts

For the purposes of analysis, jéva is considered to consist of five parts based on their nature and function. They are: annamaya, präëamaya, manomaya, vijïänamaya and änandamaya. The individual jéva’s (vyañti) annamaya, präëamaya etc. are the products of the total (samañti) anna, präëa etc. The suffix maya means vikära or modification [252] For example, annamaya refers to the physical body, which is formed through the assimilation of the gross elements of anna or food. We may now look into these.


Annamaya: It derives its name from anna or food out of whose assimilation the gross body [253] is formed. The body provides the physical base for the antaù-karaëa, the sense organs and the organs of action. All knowing, doing and experiencing take place only through the organs in the physical body, which are the physical counterparts of the organs of the subtle body. Ätmä is mistaken by the jéva to be the annamaya and the jéva says: “I am the body”.


Präëamaya:  It consists of the five fold präëas along with the five organs of action. Präëa keeps the body alive. Pervaded by präëamaya, the body engages in all physiological activities [254]. Ätmä is mistaken by the jéva to be präëamaya and the jéva says: “I am full of vim and vigour”, “I am hungry” or “I am thirsty”.

Manomaya: It consists of the mind and the organs of perception. The mind lacks the ability to discriminate and decide and is in that sense different from the intellect. The mind has the faculty of desire [255] Desire arises from the input from all the sense organs. Manomaya includes all forms of emotions. The annamaya and präëamaya do not have the sense of I. But in the manomaya and vijïänamaya, there is the I-sense or aham-buddhi as also the my-sense or mamakära. The mind and buddhi identify themselves with one body and divide the world into ‘mine’ and ‘not-mine’. They are the cause for all kinds of projections. Ätmä is mistaken by the jéva to be manomaya when the jéva says: “I do not know for certain”; “I like”; “I dislike”; “I feel”.


Vijïänamaya: The mind bifurcates itself into manomaya or vijïänamaya depending on the nature of the våtti. When it is of nature of discriminative intelligence or buddhi [256], it functions as vijïänamaya. The organs of perception are included in it, as in manomaya. Buddhi is characterized by ascertained thoughts. It is, however, the manomaya that sets up the whole pattern of cognition. The whole world enters through it as it keeps on objectifying things by undergoing change relevant to the objects in the form of våttis. Their cognition takes place from the standpoint of vijïänamaya by virtue of the cidäbhäsa that it has gained from cit. Buddhi and cidäbhäsa are inseparable, since buddhi is as though the reflecting medium of cit giving rise to cidäbhäsa. Vijïänamaya also provides cidäbhäsa to the manomaya and through it to the präëamaya and the annamaya. It is through the vijïänamaya that the insentient body-mind-sense-complex becomes conscious.

Vijïänamaya becomes the cause for saàsära for the jéva as the I-sense arises in it. The I-sense erroneously identifies itself with the body-mind-sense-complex and becomes the subject-knower, doer and experiencer. Everything other than the subject becomes idam-våtti or object. It performs all the activities and enjoys their results. In this context, the manomaya is only an instrument (karaëa) of vijïänamaya.


The I-sense in the vijïänamaya cannot himself recognise his avidyä. That is why teaching is necessary. But the identification of ätmä with vijïänamaya is so total that he does not entertain any doubt whatever that he may be wrong. That is why it is very difficult to make the person even see the fact that ätmä may be other then the vijïänamaya and that ätmä is to be understood correctly. So, vijïänamaya can keep the person in saàsära forever. However, it can also free that person by seeking and gaining self-knowledge. But the person would require Éçvara’s grace gained through puëya to make him seek self-knowledge. It is for this purpose and for overcoming obstacles during the pursuit that Éçvara-anugraha is necessary for the seeker of ätmajïäna.


Änandamaya:  the seeming modification of ätmä (Brahman) into the causal state of manifestation owing to conditioning adjunct of avidyä is änandamaya. It is the potential state of manifestation as well as the state of resolution of the manifestation. It is of the nature of ignorance. At the total level, it becomes the cause for the entire manifestation. At the individual level, it also leads to the buddhi mistaking the self to be limited to the body-mind-sense-complex.


The jéva functions entirely in änandamaya in the state of deep sleep. In that state, his mind is resolved. He is neither the knower nor the doer but only the experiencer. He experiences änanda in this state. It should not be confused with svarüpänanda, as ätmajïäna is lacking. In fact, ätmä is mistaken to be änandamaya by the jéva and the jéva says: “I did not know anything and I enjoyed my sleep”.


While Veda uses the appellation of ‘maya‘ to indicate the seeming modification, the sampradäya has added ‘koça to it making, for example, ‘annamaya’ into ‘annamayakoça’. Translation of ’koça‘ as the ‘sheath’ creates the absurd impression that ätmä is located within the five coverings in each individual whereas they are sheaths in the sense that they are the five types of erroneous notions, which conceal the real nature of ätmä. It is not possible to cover the limitless ätmä. What covers it, are the ignorance of the true nature of ätmä and the erroneous notions that ätmä is änanda, vijïäna, mana, präëa and anna. Ätmä-Brahman is none of them even though all these owe their existence to it and are not separate from it. This would be made clear in the following chapters.


250.Sneezing, vomiting and withdrawal of the subtle body from the gross body at the time of death are owing to its activity.
251.The presiding deities are called adhistäna devatäsFor example, Aitareya Upaniñad (1.2.4) says, agnirvägbhütva mukhaà präviçat, Agni, in the form of the organ of speech, entered the mouth. The devatäs are listed at pages 58 to 60 of Çaìkaräcärya, Tattva-bodha, (Central Chinmaya Mission Trust) .
252.Another meaning is präcürya, which means preponderance or saturation..
253. The details of the gross, subtle and causal bodies are given in Chapter 8.
55. Icchä-çakti.

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Page last updated: 30-Dec-2016