Pancha Kosha and 10 Bodies

Let’s talk honestly about the Koshas and the 10 Bodies. I’ve seen a few people make the claim recently that the Kosha system is the same as the 10 Bodies as taught by Yogi Bhajan. I would like to share my take on that idea.

The Koshas come from the Taittiriya Upanishad, one of the primary Upanishads of Advaita Vedanta philosophy also known as classical non dualism. The Koshas are brought up in a conversation as “pointers” to help a student on the path reach the non dual state (Advaita). Good news, he gets it at the end and sees that all, is indeed, undifferentiated bliss of Brahman (gender neutral name of God). In this classical teaching from the Upanishads the word Kosha refers to a covering. The word Kosha does not mean body. It is the covering that blocks us from seeing our True Nature, or Eternal Self. Each of the five Koshas also use the word Maya. Maya is referring to the illusive power of manifest creation. The koshas are often called Pancha Kosha, which means five (pancha) and kosha (sheath). An elaborate translation of Panch Maya Kosha is, the illusive five layers that block us from seeing our Eternal Nature.

1. Food sheath (Anna) - Annamaya kosha

2. Vital essence or energy sheath (Prana) - Pranamaya kosha

3. Mind sheath (Manas) - Manomaya kosha

4. Intellect or discernment sheath (Vijnana) - Vijñānamaya kosha

5. Bliss sheath (Ananda) - Anandamaya kosha

This classical Advaita (non dual) teaching has been brought into modern Ayurveda as well as Hatha Yoga. In this case they relate to Koshas as a physical system. Many today teach that the sheaths (koshas) are bodies. Taken in the original conversation in the Upanishads they are not so much bodies as much as a way of explaining how duality is tricking us. This does not make the use of them as bodies wrong.

The 10 Bodies as taught by Yogi Bhajan is not directly related to the Koshas. It does not explain the Anandamaya Kosha in the same light. The soul body is also confusing to compare. The 10 Bodies mostly (not exclusively) deals with Pranamaya Kosha. The 10 bodies, sometimes called the 10 light bodies is mostly dealing with energy systems. I am not going to give a teaching on the 10 Bodies here. I do wish to compare the two, even though by comparing them we are missing the point of the original conversations from the Taittiriya Upanishad, which is all ideas, concepts, beliefs and practices are part of the One Self, which is our actual identity. Over identifying with any of theses sheaths, bodies or what ever we want to call them is confusion to the fact of our Eternal Nature.

One who knows God (Brahman), reaches the highest, Truth (Satya) is Brahman, Jnana (knowledge) is Brahman, infinite is Brahman.

— Taittiriya Upanishad, 2.1.

Think over this quote. It defines God in three ways. 1. God is Truth 2. God is Jnana or knowledge 3. God is infinite. These three qualities are non different. We can also say Truth is knowledge that Infinity is God. Or we must have the knowledge that infinity is Truth. When we realize the knowledge of infinity, classification of bodies and sheaths (koshas) becomes a playful Lelia to maintain and preserve our physical vessel and point towards the Truth nothing more, nothing less.

In Ayurveda there are 3 bodies.

1. Karana sarira - causal body

2. Sukshma sarira - subtle body

3. Sthula sarira - gross body

Below I will assign Koshas and Sariras to Yogi Bhajans 10 Bodies. In case of the Soul Body I just assign the Jiva or individual soul and not a Kosha. Others may look at what I have laid out and wish to assign different Koshas to the 10 Body system. I am sure there are many ways to look at it. This is my offering in this moment and by no means the final word.


1st Soul Body

Jiva or individual soul (not a kosha)

Karana sarira - Causal Body

2nd Negative Mind

Manomaya - Mind Sheath

Sukshma sarira - Subtle Body/Mind

3rd Positive Mind

Manomaya - Mind Sheath

Sukshma sarira - Subtle Body/Mind

4th Neutral Mind

Vijnanamaya - Intelligence Sheath

Sukshma sarira - Subtle Body/Mind

5th Physical Body

Annamaya - Food Sheath

Sthula Sarira - Gross Body

6th Arcline

Pranamaya - Energy Sheath

Sukshma sarira - Subtle Body/Mind

7th Aura

Pranamaya - Energy Sheath

Sukshma sarira - Subtle Body/Mind

8th Pranic Body

Pranamaya - Energy Sheath

Sukshma sarira - Subtle Body/Mind

9th Subtle Body

Vijnanamaya - Intelligence Sheath

Sukshma sarira - Subtle Body/Mind

10th Radiant Body

Pranamaya - Energy Sheath

Sukshma sarira - Subtle Body/Mind

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