Human Spiritual Structure: Kosas
Notes in progress © 1998-2002 Alan McAllister  

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According to P.R. Sakar [AS 3-1] the manifest mind forms after the citta during the course of pratisaincara. The manifest mind is comprised of six kosas (or layers) the physical (crude) body and five layers of manifest mind (subtle body). Each kosa having different function and a different degree of subtlety. The kosas are as follows:

In Ananda Sutram 3-1, it is stated that the kamamaya kosa is the crude mind, the manomaya kosa is the subtle mind, while the atimansas, vijinanamaya and hiranmaya kosas together form the `causal [or astral, or unconscious mind]'. It is only the layers of the causal mind that survive the death of the physical body. The annamaya kosa is called the crude body, while the other five kosas make up the subtle body.

The process of purifying and perfecting the kosas is the true subject of Yoga and of Tantra. This is called sadhana. In all beings the kosas are also being purified by natural processes, though at a slower rate.

The ahamtattva and mahatattva are said to form the supra-causal body (?).

Each kosa is larger than the one below it.

Didi AM indicated that the neo-cortex corresponds to the kamamaya kosa, but does it also include the the limbic brain with its emotions?

In the Mind of the Cells there are presented these levels of mind: The intellectual mind, the emotional mind, the sensory mind, and the physical mind. These might correspond with the first 3-4 kosas. In this case the emotional mind would correspond with the limbic brain, as in Didi's presentation.

When the mind turns towards the supreme and experiences bliss it can rise above the samskaras, i.e. above the atimanas kosa.

This includes the cellular minds, the group minds of the organs, and the overall physical mind of the body.

In Reiki Fire [RF] (based in part on Osho Rajneesh's philosphy) a discription of seven layers of mind is given as follows:

The Four Kosa System

A slightly different set of kosas is found in Sir Woodroffe's Introduction to Tantra Sastra and in Yoga and Psychotherapy. Between the body ( Annamaya kosa) and the Atman are given four kosas (rather than five). These are:

Assuming those with the same name can be identified, and that those in-between two so identified may also be identified, we may equate the Pranamaya Kosa with the Kamamaya kosa, and the Anadamaya kosa with the Hiranmaya kosa, while the missing kosa would be the Atimanas. However, if in Sarkar's system prana is controlled by the kosas, implying it is separate, then this reasoning may not hold. Furthermore if this Vijinanamaya kosa is associated with the intuition then it may combine both the Atimanas and the Vijinanamaya kosas.

Woodroffe notes that in Theosophic terminology these are the physcial body, the etheric body, the astral, or lower mental, body, the causal, or higher mental, body, and the highest (Atmik) body.

In this system the kamamaya kosa appears to be the pranamaya kosa, the kosa of prana the vital energy in the body, and the link between body and mind. Sakar states that prana is controlled by the kosas and in turn controls the five fundamental factors, which might place its operation in between kamamaya and annamaya kosas. However, he also states that pranayama purifies the manomaya kosa, so prana may affect the subtle (or subconscious) mind. [Sort this out].

The vijinanamaya kosa is said to be the kosa ..?

Interactions between Kosas

There are several types of interpersonal interactions in which one person's kosa influences a lower kosa of another.

The reflection of Cosmic mind is increasingly distorted as the dominance of Prakrti increases in the lower kosas.

Formation of the Kosas

The logical consequence of the dissolution of the lower mental kosas at the death of the physical body (i.e. the kamamaya and manomaya kosas) is that they must reform when the soul comes into a new body. It appears that initially there are the higher kosas ( atimanas and above) and the seed of the physical body. As this grows the first to layers of mind also grow. This growth is, in some sense from the base up (?), i.e. it is based on the body and the experience of the body. Certainly the consciousness of the unit appears to grow from the bottom up, until it begins to meet the existing consciousness of its "higher self" which is perhaps more closely connected with the Infinite. If the focus of the soul is on climbing back out of the body, there is something incomplete in its development. Part of the goal of spiritual practices is to continue to refine the body and the lower layers of the mind, to fully expand them to match the capacity of the upper layers. This allows the fullest manifestation of the soul at all levels.

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Created February, 1998.
Last updated November 11, 1998.
© Alan McAllister

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