You are made up of some layers of wrappers. About five of them to be precise. Five layers of wrappings that cover your consciousness or inner self. Wrapped neatly, the content is hidden far away from vicinity to the naked eyes. Like a well made gift with some fascinating wrappers, it appears, you seem to be content with the wrappers and not wanting to open and see the content of the gift inside. The pancha koshas ( five layers) wrap up the content in such intrinsic style, that always the content appear missing. What are these wrappers and whats the content ?
(annamaya kosha) - This is the outermost wrapper. All flesh and bones and blood and lots of indescribable tubes and wires making plenty of circuits all over the body. No body can tell why man was designed the way he appears. No body bother to ask too. It is better that way, because no one knows why ! This body is the most real thing for many people. Solid, you can use all the senses(see,smell,touch,taste,feel) only on this wrapper. This is named as annamaya(made of food) kosha appropriately, because it is made of food eaten by parents, sustained by food, eventually die and barbecued, if they burn it. If they bury, then it become like a casket of rotten cheese, eaten by all creatures, crawling under and above earth. Except for the skin texture and shade, all human bodies contain same. The body structure too remain the same, except some can be bigger and some can be taller than the rest. Spiritual practices involving the body wrapper can be called as Yoga postures.
2. Breath Wrapper
(pranamaya kosha) - Just immediate wrapper next to the body. Your intake of food, digest them properly, transform the digested food as blood and other fluids, circulate them around the body through millions of blood channels, evacuate the remaining waste, all taken care by this wrapper. In short the breath keeps the body alive and kicking too. This wrapper can be felt and smelt and sometimes heard. Cannot be seen, tasted. This wrapper too has similar function for all humans, sharing oxygen in the atmoshpere. The practices employed in spirituality for this wrapper is popularly known as pranayama(breathing exercises) or kriya yoga.
3. Mind Wrapper
(manomaya kosha) - Getting even more lighter. Mind cannot be seen, tasted, touched, but can be felt as emotions, can be heard as thoughts. Most important wrapper, difficult to uncover, because it slips. It keeps you busy and takes your attention away from itself, by stirring up more and more emotions all the time. The bhagavad gita says, mind can be your friend and can be your enemy too. As the mind, so the man is. Bestowed with more features and functions, mind plays the most tremendous role in shaping the your personality. Despite your package comes with body and breath and other wrappers, you mostly choose the mind to identify as 'you'.A personal space built with dreams, desires, passion, anger and a lit bit of all emotions. For some, it is a comfort zone, an intimate kingdom, where one self is the king and for others,it can be a torturing cauldron, with regrets, sad memories and unfulfilled dreams. Cant be seen, smelt, touched. Can be felt and some say, they even hear their minds screaming. In the common parlance, mind is also described as heart. Which essentially means the emotional mind. Popular exercises meant for this wrapper is to sustain itself is, prayers, counting rosaries, chanting hymns and scores of other rituals.
3. Intellect Wrapper
(vignana maya kosha) - the ones who managed to open till this wrapper usually are considered as intellectuals. If the body of a car is your body, the breath like the air inside the tyres to keep the car running, petrol and oil like your blood, mind is like the programming of various controls in the dashboard, then intellect is like the steering wheel. The car can never turn or over take, reverse or reach a destination, unless there is a steering wheel. Intellect has been your virtual guiding force, right from your childhood when you started 'standing' on your own feet. It guides
you to get bound in the world or guides to find liberation. Both are possible by the same intellect. It plays always a perfect foil to your spicy mind. They are the brothers in arms. Sometimes they conflict each other too. Every time you bump in to a charitable situation, your mind will say YES
and your intellect will say NO. In common parlance, if mind is described as heart, the intellect is described as head. It means a analytical, logical intellect. Cannot be seen, felt, tasted, touched or even heard. It almost functions like a big boss who is inside his room always 'in the meeting'. The exercises meant for this wrapper in the spiritual context are, reflection, contemplation, meditation etc.
4. Bliss Wrapper
(ananda maya kosha)- The last of the wrappers. Which means you have come pretty close to the gift. That reflects in this wrapper very much. In fact all the happiness you experience at various levels of wrappers, happens here as reflected happiness. if not the actual happiness, the residue of the happiness as bliss happens here. While the opposites of joy and sorrow are ripples like emotions in your mind, the joy leaves the residue which reaches the bliss wrapper. The sorrow makes the mind muddy and fail to reflect in the bliss wrapper. the muddy mind stir up more dust everytime a sorrwful thought sail across the mind. If your body gets a good shower and perfumed and clothed in the best, the happiness felt is not felt in the body, but in this bliss wrapper. It is reflected here. When it reflects in bliss sheath, it is only a residual happiness and not the actual happiness. In bliss sheath, joy and sorrow have no place as they are. Bliss is not joy but much more unconditional and non reasonable. The reason why you close your eyes, especially when you enjoy something, is only because you are experiencing the bliss deep inside, in this wrapper. In fact and deed, all things can be enjoyed only with eyes closed. The eye closing is only an indication of yourself drawn closer to this wrapper. This wrapper of your personality does not contain bliss but it reflects bliss. Because of its proximity to the Self or Consciousness, the bliss wrapper appears to contain bliss but it only reflects the bliss of consciousness. Just like movie trailers shown before the actual movie, the bliss wrapper give you a sense of what is in store ahead. Clearly beyond the five senses, it only brings a sense of reflected fulfillment. This wrapper gets triggered, every time your other wrappers indulge in 'happy' moments.
Disciple : Once i found the gift, can i throw the wrappers away?
Master : No,you will need them. Keep them safely!
Disicple : Why the wrappers, when i found the gift?
Master : The gift is so precious, you need to keep them always wrapped !
Just like these dolls, you are wrapped in layers, one inside the other, as if protecting your self.
But due to false and derisory occlusions, you forgot to recognize the gift kept locked inside this 'safe' and happy with holding the key till someday you unwrapped and found the gift.
The godsent gift.