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Pancha Kosha and 10 Bodies

Updated: May 5, 2022

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 earliest mention of the Koshas comes from the Taittiriya Upanishad, one of the primary Upanishads. The primary Upanishads are key in Advaita Vedanta philosophy also known as classical Non-Dualism. In the Taittiriya Upanishad, the Koshas are brought up in a conversation as “pointers” to help a student on the path of Inquiry realize the Non-Dual State (Advaita). The good news is, the student Wakes up to the Truth of his Eternal Nature. At the end of the dialogue he sees that all, is in-deed, 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 Maya Kosha. Pancha means five. Kosha means sheath or covering. An elaborate translation of Panch Maya Kosha is the five elusive layers that block us from seeing our Eternal Nature.

Pancha Maya Kosha

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, the Koshas are used more as an assessment system for healing.

According to me, the 10-Bodies as taught by Yogi Bhajan are not directly related to the Koshas. Yet, they can be interrelated. The 10-Bodies system of Bhajan does not explain the Anandamaya Kosha in the same light. The 10-Bodies mostly (not exclusively) deal with energy systems and mental systems. The energetic systems relate to the Pranamaya Kosha. The mental system in the 10-Bodies relates to the Vijnanamaya Kosha (wisdom sheath) or Manomaya Kosha (emotion sheath).

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 in a simple chart below, 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 Eternal True Identity. Over identifying with any of these sheaths, bodies, or whatever we want to call them detracts from the fact of our Eternal Nature.

Let's do a little Jnana yoga detour:

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, the classification of bodies, be it Koshas or the 10-Bodies becomes a Leela (play) to maintain and preserve our physical vessel and point towards the Truth.

To fully explore the 10-Bodies it is helpful to introduce the Three bodies as laid out in Mandkuya Upanishad. They are used in Ayurveda as well and are very common in Vedic literature, aka Yogic Text.

3 bodies (Sukshma Sarira) in Ayurveda and the Mandukya Upanishad

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 the case of Bhajans "Soul Body", I relate it to the Jiva or individual soul in Vedanta. It is not a Kosha or Sarira yet I feel it is the best parallel to the "Soul Body".

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

Without a lengthy purport, we can see that these systems do not link up in a clear and simple way, yet they do relate to each other and point to similar ideas.

If you enjoyed this exploration of the subtle bodies and yoga anatomy make sure to sign up for my blog here and online teaching portal where you can get all kinds of free in-depth information on Yoga, Ayurveda, Western Anatomy, and Yoga Philosophy.

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