How can the Yogic philosophy of Panch Koshas help you maintain physical and mental well-being?

Ayurveda, an ancient Indian science, is an extremely impressive medicinal system that was unquestionably far ahead of its time. Even with modern developments, it could be considered a unique form of science that has never been proven wrong. It is still opening new doors and enlightening people today. But who would have guessed that Ayurveda would include a spiritual element? Needless to say, the Panch Koshas are an excellent example of how spiritual enlightenment can be integrated into ayurvedic practices. Read further to find out more.

The Panch Koshas are a significant part of Ayurveda.
Source: Unsplash

WHAT ARE PANCH KOSHAS?


The Panch Koshas, literally translating to 'five sheaths', are derived from the Brahmanandavalli Chapter of Taittiriya Upanishad, a Sanskrit text from the Vedic era estimated to have been written in the 6th century BC. Panch Koshas, a rather venerable institution, is the key to revealing multiple dimensions of someone's personality. They are mentioned in the chapter as ways to achieve Brahman, or the highest Universal Principle, where one achieves unity that connects all stages of the mind and body. 


Essentially, Panch Koshas refers to the five sheaths of consciousness - Annamaya, Pranamaya, Manomaya, Vijnanamaya, and Anandamaya Koshas. Achieving these five Koshas is what defines a person to reach the level of a Brahman. Let’s take a deeper look at these 5 distinct Koshas:


Also Read: The Healing Power of Mandalas


1. ANNAMAYA KOSHA

The first layer directly relates to the physical world. The term ‘anna’ translates to ‘food’, which brings us to the essence of this kosha. Food represents the most basic necessity to sustain the physical body. If a person consumes healthy and organic sources of food, he will reap the benefits of this with a much healthier body. Similarly, the exact opposite is true; eating unhealthy, overcooked, stale, or even meat sources can harm the 'annamaya kosha.' This is why when practicing Yoga diligently, a balanced diet is strongly encouraged, with emphasis on fruits and vegetables. This helps to strengthen the layer and consecutively, provide food for the next layer, the Pranamaya Kosha.


2. PRANAMAYA KOSHA

The chakras represent the second layer. Many people associate chakras with specific energies that are activated by emotions. On a deeper level, we can see that these chakras are induced by sensory stimulation. Whether you see a breathtaking art masterpiece or smell a fragrant dish, these will trigger this second body. Similarly, unhealthy energy from disturbing movies, air or water pollution, or other sources impedes the complete conversion of energy from the previous body.


3. MANOMAYA KOSHA

Manomaya focuses on positive and uplifting thoughts. The third layer is supported by the previous two layers and the extent to which they embrace the Annamaya and Pranamaya Koshas. A person can expose themselves to multiple cheerful thoughts that can stimulate their minds, which puts them at ease. This can include comforting music, spending time with your loved ones, and reciting mantras. Mantras can elevate the mind to enter a higher and more creative state.

The Panch Koshas help individuals achieve mental and physical well-being.
Source: Wix

4. VIJNANAMAYA KOSHA

The Vijnanamaya layer reflects on the person’s wisdom. People’s wisdom and mental and emotional depth can be measured by the way they treat others around them. This is also the part of the mind which depicts the person’s intellect and knowledge. The Vijnanamaya Kosha is attained through spiritual meditation and selfless services. A much more accessible way to achieve this layer is through crossword puzzles.


5. ANANDAMAYA KOSHA

On the surface, Ananda means bliss. This is considered the most difficult layer to tap into as it requires us to cleanse ourselves completely from all and any negative emotions such as greed, lust, or anger. Similar to the previous four layers, this layer would require the ‘food’ passed down and processed through each layer. Once this layer is achieved, we will be able to control our stress levels and have a more open mind towards different situations.

HOW DO THE PANCH KOSHAS RELATE TO AYURVEDA?


Also Read: How Are Lord Mahavira’s Teachings Relevant Today?


Now that we’ve discussed the Panch Koshas in great detail, it brings us to our main question - how are Panch Koshas and Ayurveda related? As we all know, Ayurveda primarily focuses on the body. Be it through meditation, yoga, or even special diets, these therapies are believed to be a remedy to many of mankind's problems. Nearly 80% of the population in India and Nepal use Ayurvedic practices regularly. However, it is fair to say that not many understand that the Panch Koshas are a significant part of Ayurveda.


As mentioned earlier, the Panch Koshas begin with the Annamaya Kosha. This food-related layer is the beginning of this journey. By allowing pure substances to enter the body, it starts the cycle towards enlightenment. Ayurvedic practices focus on the body and how we treat it. Consequently, this theory can be linked to all the 5 Koshas. We determine what we eat, how we think, and eventually how we behave. If you are looking for a new outlook on life, start here with the 5 layers of Pancha Koshas!


Khushi Makasare is a content writer at Pratha Cultural School

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Khushi Makasare

Pratha Content Writing Intern

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