The Threefold Bodies of an Individual.
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Today we propose to introduce the next technical word used in the Shāstrams and that is the Sharīra Trayam. Sharīra Trayam means the threefold bodies of an individual. Sharīram means body and Trayam means threefold. Sharīram is otherwise known as Dehaha. Therefore we can also say Deha Trayam. We will take each one of the three bodies and analyse.
The three bodies enumerated are- Sthūla Sharīram or Sthūla Dehaha : In English this is called Gross Body- Sūkshma Sharīram or Sūkshma Dehaha : In English this is called subtle body- Kārana Sharīram or Kārana Dehaha : In English this is called Causal Body.
While analysing the above we are going to take four factors associated with each one of the above. The four factors are- Material out of which each body is made – the raw material which we always see- Components of each body – the parts that make up the particular body- Function of each body- Nature of each body
10.1. Sthūla Sharīram
Let us first take up the Sthūla Sharīram first and we will go in the order of four factors – the material, the components, the function and the nature
What is the material out of which the Sthūla Sharīram is made ? The Shāstrams point out and we also know that the gross body is made out of gross matter which is in the form of the five gross elements. In the scriptures, matter is divided into five elements basically- Ākāshaha or space- Vāyu or air- Agni or fire- Jalam or waters- Pruthvi or the earthSo the gross body or Sthūla Sharīram is made up of gross matter in the form of gross five elements. In Sanskrit the gross five elements are called Sthūla Pancha Bhūtāni. And this is easily proved by our experience because the body has earth it has solid stuff, body has got plenty of water which alone give shape, Body has Agni in the form of temperature 98.7, Body has got Vāyu in the form of life breath and body has got Ākāshaha or space occupied by the body.
So gross matter is the material out of which the body is made. And since it is made out of Sthūla Bhūtāni (elements), the body is called Bhautika Sharīram. Bhautikam means born out of Bhūtāni, Bhūtāni means gross elements. This is the material side.
The next factor with regards to the body is the components of the body. Of course the body has got innumerable components. If we get into the details it will become the science of anatomy. For the sake of convenience, the Shāstrams divide the body into four components- Central Body – Ātmā- Head – Shira- Hands – Paksha- Legs – Puccha
This Shira Paksha Puccha Ātmā is according to the Tattiriya Upanishad. These are the four classifications. These are the four components of the Sthūla Sharīram.
The scriptures point out that the body is only a temporary residence used by the individual. The gross body is only a house for a lease. And what is the payment ? The payment is in the form of Karma – Punya Pāpa Karma. And as long as the payment is available, the tenement is available and afterwards the notice will come you will have to vacate.
Therefore the body is a temporary residence. In Sanskrit, Tattvabodha uses the word Āyatanam. And residing in the body alone, we do all the transactions with the world. In fact before starting the transactions, we fix up a residence. And remaining there alone, we can operate.
Firstly, the body is of a changing nature. It is subject to modification. In Sanskrit it is called Savikāram. Vikāraha means modification and Savikāraha means with modification. Firstly, the change in the gross body is classified into six Shat Vikarāhā
10.1.4.1. Shat Vikarāhā
- Asti - The first condition is the potential existence in the womb of the mother. A baby is there inside- Jāyate - This the next change – or birth- Vardhate - once the body is born, it starts growing- Viparinamate - Metamorphosing i.e. growth has stopped but modification or changes continue. After the body has become an adult body, remaining an adult, it undergoes various modifications. To visualise as a graph, the graph initially goes upwards and thereafter it is the same.- Apakshīyate - Decay or ageing, growing old- Nāshaha or Maranam - Death of the body after which we cannot keep the body for long time.All the above put together are called Shat Vikāravat Sharīram.
The second nature of the body is that it is visible for both oneself and others. My gross body I can also tangibly experience and see and my gross body can also be experienced, touched and seen. Hence the gross body is evident to oneself and others. In fact that is the reason it is called gross. Objectively available for all the people.
The third nature of the body is that it has got a duration of life. One cannot extend beyond
In fact the very work Sharīram means Shīryamāna Svabhāvam - that which is subject to constant change and decay. Even the word Deha is derived from the root Dih – Upachaya Apachaye Dih Dhātuhu – that which is subject to expansion and contraction.
10.2. Sūkshma Sharīram
The second body is called Sūkshma Sharīram or subtle body. This also has four factors which we have to see.
Scriptures point out that the subtle body is born out of subtle matter which consists of subtle five elements. Just as there are gross five elements, there are subtle five elements called Sūkshma Bhūtāni- Subtle Space- Subtle Air- Subtle Fire- Subtle Water- Subtle EarthIn general made out of subtle matter and subtle body is also called Bhoutika Sharīram. It is material body and material in nature.
Scriptures point out that the subtle body has got nineteen components. Each one being one instrument of transaction. Because gross body is only the office, but we require instruments for transaction and we have nineteen instruments
10.2.2.1. Pancha Jnāna Indriyāni
These are the five sense organs of knowledge – because all transactions presuppose knowledge.- Eyes – meant to gather the knowledge of colours and forms. Rūpa Grāhaka Chakshur Indriyam- Ears – meant to gather the knowledge of the sounds. Shabda Grāhaka Shtrotra Indriyam- Nose – meant to gather the knowledge of all forms of smell. Gandha Grāhaka Ghrāna Indriyam- Tongue – meant to gather the knowledge of all forms of taste. Rasa Grāhaka Rasana Indriyam- Skin – meant to gather the knowledge of all form varieties of touch. Sparsha Grāhaka Tuvag Indriyam
These are the five Jnāna Indriyāni. You should be careful that when we refer to the Jnāna Indriyāni or sense organs, we don’t refer to the physical part which belongs to the physical body. But we actually refer to the subtle power of perception. The eyeball belongs to the physical body but the eye organ belongs to the subtle body. Similarly the ear lobe belongs to the gross body but the power of hearing – the Shravana Shakti – belongs to the subtle body.
10.2.2.2. Pancha Karma Indriyāni
These are five sense organs of action. So one is meant for input and receiving the stimuli (the previous one) and one is meant for output or expressing our responses (this one).- Organ of speech – Vāg Indriyam. Verbal response- Organ of Hands – Pāni by which we do varieties of action- Organ of Legs – Pāda by which we move from place to place. Organs of locomotion. There is a beautiful coordination between Jnāna Indriyam and Karma Indriyam. The ears want to listen to the class then immediately the legs bring the body- Organ of evacuation - Pāyuhu – wastage removing organs.- Organ of Procreation - Upastham – organ of reproduction because of which alone the species continues as a lineage
10.2.2.3. Pancha Prānāhā
The fivefold Prānāhā. The energy generating system or fuel converting system. If you have to keep on acting, we have to generate energy constantly. We have Prāna Shakti behind the organs of action. Prāna Shakti lends energy. There are fivefold Prānas well known as- Respiratory system - Prāna – inhalation and exhalation which alone has to absorb the Prāna Shakti or oxygen. Then the Carbon dioxide has to go out, oxygen has to go to lungs, blood has to absorb and it has to be circulated- Evacuating system – Apāna – energy behind functioning of the evacuation system or waste removal. Any form of removal of waste can be called Apāna- Circulatory system - Vyāna – oxygen has to be circulated, the nutrition that is generated in the stomach has to be carried to all parts of the body.- Digestive system - Samānaha – this converts various eaten food into various nutrions – carbohydrates, proteins, fats, salts, minerals etc.- Udānaha – means the reversing system which operates at the time of death generally when all the processes are reversed because it is time for dying. Digestive system weakens, respiratory system weakens. Also this reversal functions during emergency – normally the food has to go down, but if some toxic substance is there, then the normal process of going inside is reversed and things are thrown out.
They are the life giving ones and function behind the Karma Indriyāni giving energy to the Karma Indriyāni. That is why on a fasting, no Karma Indriyam will function properly because you are weakened and hence you cannot walk properly, talk properly etc.
That is why we chant the prayer
Om Prānāya SvāhāOm Apānāya SvāhāOm Vyānāya SvāhāOm Udānāya SvāhāOm Samānāya Svāhā
10.2.2.4. Chatvāri Antaha Karanāni
These are four fold internal organs.- Manaha or Mind : stands for all forms of emotional faculty. Roughly can be translated as the emotional faculty and also the doubting faculty. Sankalpa Vikalpātmakam Manaha – should I do this or should I do that? To be or not to be- Buddhihi or intellect : Rational faculty or judging faculty or the discriminating faculty or the knowing faculty or the weighing faculty or Reasoning Faculty- Chittam or Memory : to receive or to record our experiences in our mind. This records all the five of Shabda, Sparsha Rūpa, Rasa and Gandha. According to Shāstram, we can remember not only the past of this life but the past of our past lives as well. Without knowing the details sometimes, we feel that something is already known. A musical prodigy feels that he knows the music already, a spiritual prodigy feels, he knows the scriptures before.- Ahankāra or Ego : the faculty of self reference. Reflexive faculty which is well developed in a human beings. Animals are not that self conscious regarding their status or pedigree. Aham Karanam Ahankāra – that which refers to myself is called Ahankāra
These four together are called Chatvāri Antaha Karanāni.
The above are the components of Sūkshma Sharīram.
The function is transactions. All forms of transactions are done by the Sūkshma Sharīram with the help of these 19 instruments. Some instruments are meant for input and some for output and some for both (e.g. mouth)
There are two components under the Sūkshma Sharīram’s nature
This is also subject to change. So they improve and sometimes weaken. Eyes become poor, memory fails, intellect is dull. So change is one feature and the next feature
This Sūkshma Sharīram has got a longer life compared to the gross body. Gross body lives only for a maximum of about 100 years, but the subtle body continues in the next janma as well. Bodies and bodies are changed whereas the mind continues. That is why we are able to remember or get the benefit of the past Janma because the body has changed but the Sūkshma Sharīram continues. And it goes upto Pralayam and only during Pralayam is the Sūkshma Sharīram dismantled.
Sūkshma Sharīram is evident and recognisable only for oneself and it is not available for others. What is my mind, I know, what are my feelings I know, but you are not able to see my mind or know my feelings or my memory. Because it is available only for me and not for others, it is called subtle body – not concrete like gross body.
10.3. Kārana Sharīram
Kārana Sharīram is also called the causal body.
The material out of which this is made is called causal matter. The subtlest form of matter. Technically it is called Avidya. Normally Avidya means ignorance, but in this context it is different. Sometimes the word Prakrutihi or Māyā is also used.
The components or Kārana Sharīram are nothing but Sthūla Sharīram and Sūkshma Sharīram when they are in subtle or potential form before they were created. Hence Kārana Sharīram consists of Sthūla Sharīram and Sūkshma Sharīram in seed form before they were created hence before the origination of the world and before the origination of creation or Pralaya Kāle. Sthūla Sharīram was not there them Sūkshma Sharīram was not there then as it is available now. But Sthūla Sharīram and Sūkshma Sharīram existed in seed form.
This is like a tree a few years ago was not available in this form. 20 years ago this tree was there but in potential form or unmanifest form. This is because tree cannot come without a seed because of law of conservation of matter – matter can never be produced or destroyed. Matter always exists. That being so, before the creation also, Sthūla Sharīram and Sūkshma Sharīram must have existed in potential form. That potential form of the two bodies is called Kārana Sharīram.
And Kārana Sharīram evolves into Sthūla Sharīram and Sūkshma Sharīram just as seed evolves into tree.
It serves are the receptacle or ground or source from which these two bodies arise. And the two bodies will ultimately resolve into Kārana Sharīram. Things come into manifestation from unmanifest condition. Then the manifest, when they are destroyed, they will not disappear as matter can never be destroyed. When destroyed, they actually go back to unmanifest form. In scientific language, matter destroyed becomes energy. Energy is unmanifest matter. Energy again condenses into matter. Stars explode to become energy, energy condenses to form stars. In the universe, stars are constantly formed and destroyed. Stars are converted into energy and energy is reconverted into matter by the law of inter-convertibility of matter and energy. In Shāstram it is called inter-convertibility of manifest and un-manifest matter.
From causal matter, subtle and gross matter arise. From subtle and gross matter, again causal matter conversion takes place. Hence the function is that the causal matter or Kārana Sharīram serves as the store house for receiving the two Sharīram and again in the next Srushti throwing the two Sharīrams.
Hence during Srushti out of Kārana Sharīram will arise Sthūla Sharīram and Sūkshma Sharīram. During Pralayam out of Sthūla Sharīram and Sūkshma Sharīram will go back to Kārana Sharīram.
Kārana Sharīram has got the longest life compared to even Sūkshma Sharīram. Sūkshma Sharīram gets dismantled during Pralayam at least. Pralayam refers to the resolution of the whole universe. Whereas Kārana Sharīram will not be destroyed even during Pralayam. It is supposed to go away only at the time of liberation. It has the longest life.
Sthūla Sharīram is available for all the people. Sūkshma Sharīram is evident for me only and not for others. Kārana Sharīram is not evident to even me and others. It is un-evident and un-decipherable for anyone. Hence this is called Nirvikalpa Svarūpam – indistinguishable.
Every individual has got Sthūla Sharīram, Sūkshma Sharīram and Kārana Sharīram.