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Sharing My Knowledge on Vedanta – Suksma Sarira

Bhoga-ayatanam and bhoga-sadhanam (instrument of experience)

The stula-sarira (gross body) is referred to as ‘Bhoga-ayatanam’ meaning ‘Counter of experiences’ where as suksma-sarira is referred to as ‘bhoga- sadhanam’ meaning ‘the instrument of experience’.

The subtle body, which is made up of senses, mind and intellect, is the instrument through which an individual comes to know the joy and sorrow.

Living in the stula-sarira, one uses the suksma-sarira to experience the world of objects.

Manas and buddhi (Mind and intellect)

‘Manas’ is the mind, has continuous flow of various thoughts before a decision is made like whether to do this or not? Whether to do this or that? Emotions & Memory or ‘chitta’ are also an aspect of manas/mind.

‘Buddhi’ is the faculty of deciding. It is faculty of inference, logical, analytical, critical reasoning before deciding, also called intellect. Ahankara-Ego also belongs to buddhi.

Just like the memory is the aspect of ‘manas’, the ‘conscience’, which has the inate sense of right & wrong, is also an aspect of buddhi/intellect.

Brain and antah-karana(subtle body)

Brain is a part of the sthula-sarira (gross body). It is a physical organ and is not a part of the suksma-sarira.

Antah-karana, which is constituted by 17 limbs, (which are subtle and not objects of senses – 5 organs of perception, 5 organs of action, 5 pranas, mind and intellect) uses the brain as a tool to experience the outer world of objects.

Manonmaya-kosa and vijnanamaya-kosa

‘Kosa’ means ‘sheath’ something is veiled or protected from reaching.

Manonmaya-kosa and vijnanamaya-kosa behave like sheaths protecting the ‘Self-Atman’.

The sthula-sarira (gross body) is Annamaya-kosa – food sheath.

The suskma-srira (subtle body) is divided into three kosas. Pranamaya-kosa, Manonmaya-kosa and vijnanamaya-kosa.

Pranamaya-kosa (consists of 5 pranas) is endowed with the power to act & is termed as ‘kriyasaktiman’

Manonmaya-kosa constitutes the organs of perception (also called jananendriyas, listed below) & manas, endowed with the power to desire and therefore termed as ‘ichhasaktiman’

Ear (srotram)- to hear

Eye (cakush) – to see

Nose ( ghrana) – to smell

Skin ( tvak)- to touch

Tongue ( rasana) – to taste

and vijnanamaya-kosa constitutes the organs of perception & buddhi, endowed with the power of knowledge and termed as ‘jananasaktiman’

The organs of perception are common to both manonmaya kosa and vijanamaya kosa because the perceptual knowledge gained through the organs of perception is vital for the functioning of both manonmaya and vijanamaya kosas.

Visva and taijasa

Visva is the experience of the external world of objects by the waker (Jagrud-state). (Due to the identification with the gross body).

Taijasa is the state of dreamer-ego in the dream state where the subtle body projects its own world (svapna state) & he feels part of it. (Due to the identification with the subtle body)

Sankaracharya defines dream state as ‘the world that is perceived while in sleep, born from the impressions of what was experienced in the waking state’.


Panca prana is part of 17 limbs of subtle body, suksma-sarira. They are: (PASVU) (I remember it as PASU with a V before U)

Prana – controls respiration – breathing

Apana – controls excretion – removal of wastes

Samana – supports digestion & assimilation

Vyana – controls circulation & nourishment to cells

Udana – reverse actions (can also be called as going upwards)

The term prana is a collective term for all pranas & the first prana


Suksma-sarira, also called the subtle body is also called linga-sarira. ‘Linga’ means ‘root’ or ‘indicator’ in Sanskrit.

All the 17 components of the suksma-sarira are inert (still/motionless) and rudimentary tanmantras. But they seem to be endowed with the power to know and have strength to act as though they have been borrowed from somewhere else. The borrowed intelligence and the strength to act of these susma-sarira indicates the existence of Self, which alone has lend them Existence & consciousness.

Since the functioning of the suksma-sarira indicates the presence of Atman, it is the pointer and is called ‘linga-sarira’


Svapna-avastha is a state where the dreamer is able to experience a world at a different realm totally different from the waking state. The individual feels he is part of that world when he is in that realm.

The experiences (not the sensual, only what we hear and see) gained during the waking state are stored in the form of vasanas. The subtle body based on the experiences in the waking state creates this world in the dream state the mind projects them. These are thought projections and have no valid external reality. When one wakes up from this dream state, he realizes that they are not true.

Similarly, we all are in the long dream state and we can truly wake up only when we realize the Self in us. This existence in this realm is making us believe that everything is real. This is all created by our mind just like a dream and we think this life is real.

The 17 limbs of the suksma-sarira

Suksma-sarira are rudimentary elements without undergoing the pancikarana, is called the suksma-sarira – subtle body.

They are:

5 jnanendriyas – 5 organs of perception – Ear, Nose, Eyes, Tongue, and skin.

5 karmendriyas – 5 organs of actions – speech, hand, leg, anus and Genital

5 pranas – prana, apana, samana, vyana, udana

manas -mind (includes emotion and memory)

buddhi – intellect (includes reasoning, decision making & conscious)

Atma Bodha explains:

During sleep, the mind is active and we experience the dream from the unfulfilled desires, passions that are carried by the mind when we go to sleep. When we wake up, we realize that it was but a dream.

Whereas, we experience the bliss during deep sleep because the mind and intellect are not connected with the external objects at that time & therefore the ‘Self’ is not identified with anything. There are no likes and dislikes & the intellect does not make any decisions during sleep. The’ Self’/Atman is in close alignment with the ‘Brahman’ in deep sleep. There is no identification with the gross body and sense objects.

The ‘Avidya’-‘Spiritual Ignorance’ does not allow us to understand that the entire life is also a dream and the world is nothing but ‘Maya’. One has to wake up to realize that I am the ‘Self’ separate from the body, mind and intellect (BMI EGO), a reflective medium of the self. The ‘Self’ illumines based on the media used. Due to the reflection of the ‘Self’ by the EGO, the sufferings are caused. Removal of this EGO is the Vidya/ Spiritual knowledge. This result is the merging of the plurality into One Pure consciousness both inside and outside of us.

Please write your comments. Your timely feedback is greatly appreciated. VJ

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