Looking at the Koshas

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

You are composed of various levels: physical, energetic, mental, consciousness and spirit. These are five elements that have come together to create 'you'.

Earth water, fire, air and ether are the material elements, however they are not the elements that give you the experience of what life is. Earth, fire, water, air and ether are not sentient elements. They are only the building blocks of life. Within this building block of life, there is a sentient power. That is the spirit. That is consciousness.

You cater to the needs of the body and harmonize the body. You cater to the needs of the energy system and you regulate and activate your energy system by working on the annamaya and pranamaya kosha.

There is also a need to make the mind free of its own stressors and stresses. Therefore, for manomaya kosha, the ability to relax has to be developed. To focus the dissipated energies of the mind and to experience the power of the mind, concentration and meditation become a must for the experience of vijnanamaya kosha.

Proper application of yoga at these four levels will automatically take you to the fifth level of anandamaya kosha and bliss. The harmony at these initial four levels will culminate in the experience of ananda, bliss. Although you work with four levels, body, prana, mind and consciousness, the integration of the four gives birth to the fifth experience of your inner luminosity. That is the state of bliss, the state of ananda. This is not a spiritual philosophy, it is a philosophy grounded on the realities of life, the realities that you confront in your life every day.

In our parampara, tradition, it is said that the purpose of yoga is to realize life. The purpose of yoga is not to realize God. The purpose of yoga is to realize life, to be in tune with life's expressions, and to enhance the beautiful expressions of life. The moment your dissipations are negated and eliminated the mind becomes powerful. The restrictions of the mind are its own negativity while the strength of the mind is its own positivity. You can experience this in your life in all situations. Once this stage is complete the further journey of cultivating spiritual awareness becomes accessible.

—13 April 2014, Chembur, Mumbai, India