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Feedback Requested - The Five Koshas - Taittirya Upanishad

Here is the draft of a video I just did on the Five Koshas and how they map to modern biological sciences. Comments, criticisms, suggestions welcome. I'm particularily interested in whether you find the the content interesting and engaging.

Don't worry about the blurryness or the audio quality. That will be improved in the final version.

-- All you need is love...

I like the intro animation, though the music could be a little better. (is a bit frantic, should be calmer, more pleasing to the ear?).

 

Otherwise its great and could be used as the intro for various teachings of the LP.

 

I really enjoyed the presentation. I liked the way you switched it around at the end, updating the “pranamaya, annamaya…” words to more easily relatable and modern semantics. Showing how ancient teaching must be understood and translated into a modern perspective, but still respecting the fact that people had deep understandings of stuff even way back when.

 

And in that respect, maybe that’s what you should have started with. Maybe you should have said something like, “that although these concepts may look ancient and unfamiliar to most, at the end of the video I will show how these concepts can be understood using modern sensibilities” or something like that. Drop an early hint to the modern value of it.

 

Then again, I liked the switch and “reveal” at the end. So not sure about this, just a thought.

 

The animations where good and basic, to the point, and I like that.

The LP intro at the beginning is very pleasant to watch now.

I like the translation of the koshas and their meaning/functions into the modern language. And you explained good in the final part, why it is important to translate and to connect with modern scientific research. I like your remark, that to ancient people of knowledge many things we “discover” nowadays were already known.

I also appreciate the approach you propose towards these old texts, not to dismiss, but also to use the reason.

Mainly, I would say this video is informative and interesting, which is good, but also just that.

I also think that it depends upon the audience you want to address.

If this would be for the wide general audience, I think that there should be a bit more explanation about some of the bodily systems/functions you mention. I know things from my studies, etc., but some people might not know, what is the neocortex, endocrine system or what are their functions.

It could be, in my opinion, explained in less scientific terms. But, yes, it depends upon the audience.

If the audience would be people familiar with yoga and vedic texts... While watching it for the first time, I had the question: why would I need to watch this, except for “pure interest”? I would watch it probably only one time, since your observations are interesting and informative.

For me it would be more interesting to have like 2 parts of the video:

1) information and

2) what one can practically gain out of this information. How to improve the life, to expand the awareness, to learn about practical ways of healing or strengthening these bodies, in order to make it easier for the atman to express itself, etc.

So mainly, whatever the audience, main questions is, why should we watch it, what does it bring practically, besides being interesting?

In the final part your point is mainly that it is “interesting and amazing”. And when you say that for the atman to express itself the koshas must be healthy and developed, it would be interesting to receive some explanation, how to keep them healthy.

***

Few things, I think, should be revised:

You say that in the “analogy with the bodies” they went too far, if I understood it acoustically correct, and that they “did this slight mistake”.

I do not think that this statement is accurate. People would like this explanation better, of course, since it is easier to think of systems than the bodies. But I think the rishis really meant “the bodies”.

Also the list seems to be inaccurate in te sanse that: 1'st is physical BODY. 2'nd kosha is but a system, 3'rd is a function. Whereas the term doesn't change in the vedic language.

Why would they stress the fact of different “containers” otherwise? They had for sure a word for “function” or for “system” and could have used those.

Sri Aurobindo says that at each level of existence we posses a body, with at each level subtler and of each level respective substance. He said, if we would not have these bodies, we would not be able to live on earth.

So, mainly, while living on earth, we need all the bodies, the physical body needs all the other bodies in order to exist and function. But not the other way round.

The vital body can exist at it's respective plane without physical body. The vital force doesn’t need a physical location. Unless there is a physical body, which has to be “alive”. I think you said that all systems depend on each other? So, yes, but just for the existence of the physical body on this plane.

Mirra Alfassa also spoke many times of the vital-body and the mental-body and their respective worlds/planes of existence. They are separate bodies, since they can function independently of the physical body.

Once the physical body dies, the vital body continues to exist for a much longer time and the mental body for even longer time, until they are dissolved. She also said that if the vital or mental bodies are very well developed and became conscious instruments of the Soul, after the death of the physical body these bodies stay at the vital or mental planes of existence and, when the soul incarnates again, it takes the same bodies with it.

I cannot speak of all the bodies, as Sri Aurobindo does. But I am definitely aware of just the next body, which we call subtle-physical. So, it is not a “system or function”. It is another body and there is training in yogic system to become aware of the at least few different bodies. For example one teacher says that the if we compare the size of the molecules of the subtle-physical body with those of the physical body's, they are like spaceships and planets.

This is also what people experience during the near death experience (NDE). Just in indian and tibetan yoga there are exercises to have this experience without having this huge shock for the physical body as in NDE. But this is another topic. I just wanted to give an example.

All the bodies are important and in yoga there are explanations, how to keep them healthy and to develop them.

****

In my opinion, if this should be not just informative video, but also interesting for people practicing spirituality, some points could be added:

  1. To introduce the idea that human being consists NOT just of the physical body.
  2. To better know oneself, which means to know the other bodies or parts of our physical existence and of the instrument (our body), we use to have the experience on the physical level.
  3. As you also mention, to express the atman, the instrument has to be healthy. How to improve the functioning of the different systems/bodies.

In integral yoga these terms are used simplistically a bit different, I think, then you did: annamaya – physical body; pranamaya is vital body/being/ego: emotions, desires, attractions/compulsions and impulses, (I think, you said emotions belong to manomaya kosha); manomaya – mind in general, mental force, thoughts. Vijnana is already the knowledge of very different quality; has nothing to do with the mental power we now generally use; gnostic knowledge. SA writes: “But the gnostic soul, the vijnanamaya purusa, is the first to participate not only in the freedom, but in the power and sovereignty of the Eternal. it shares the free, splendid and royal march of the Infinite, is a vessel of the original knowledge, the immaculate power, the inviolable bliss, transmutes all life into the eternal Light and the eternal Fire and the eternal Wine of the nectar. It possesses the infinite of the Self and it possesses the infinite of Nature.”

And then the anandamaya Purusha/Soul.

SA calls it not just koshas, but annamaya Purusha, etc. Life soul, Mind soul. “The Purusha in mind, life and body is divided from Nature/Prakriti and in conflict with her. In the gnosis (vijnana) he is biune with her, finds as master of his own nature their reconciliation and harmony by their essential oneness even while he accepts an infinite blissful subjection, the condition of his mastery and his liberties, to the Supreme in his sovereign divine Nature. In the tops of the gnosis and in the Ananda he is one with the Prakriti and no longer solely biune with her. There is no longer the baffling play of Nature with the soul in the Ignorance; all is the conscious play of the soul with itself and all its selves and the Supreme” Synthesis of Yoga, p. 510

Thanks Egle. These are great comments. I appreciate your effort. Thank you very much for taking the time to review.

The problem for me in regards to this notion of koshas, is two-fold. One, the word does not really map to the word "body" in the Sanskrit dictionary (here), but more to "vessel for holding liquids," like the LP term physical unit or physical vessel. Two, and more significantly, they apparently don't use the word "body" in the Taittirya Upanishad, upon which these ideas are presumably based. The one translation here uses the word body, but it is in brackets and this appears to be an addition not present in the original Sanskrit of the Taittirya Upanishad. In the Sanskrit original, they talk about something quite different. In the original, they talk about the

atma annamaya (self made  up meat)

atma pranamayah (self made up of breath)

atma manomayah  (self made up of mind)

atma vijnanamayah (self made up of intelligence)

atma anandamayah (self made up of bliss)

which is quite different than the "body made up of breath," I think. If you replace little "a" atma with Bodily Ego, then you get

Bodily ego made up of meat

Bodily ego made up of breath

Bodily ego made up of mind

Bodily ego made up of intelligence

Bodily ego made up of bliss

Which I think fundamentally shifts the meaning. Remember, in the Taittyiryo Upanishad, they don't use kosha, they use atma.

I wrote a bit about this in my "analysis and update" of the Taiitiryopanishad here, if you are interested.

What do you think? I'm curious if I am misunderstanding the Taittiryopanishad, but I can't seem to find the word kosha or body in there.

m

-- All you need is love...
Quote from mohini on August 20, 2019, 6:10 am

The LP intro at the beginning is very pleasant to watch now.

I like the translation of the koshas and their meaning/functions into the modern language. And you explained good in the final part, why it is important to translate and to connect with modern scientific research. I like your remark, that to ancient people of knowledge many things we “discover” nowadays were already known.

I also appreciate the approach you propose towards these old texts, not to dismiss, but also to use the reason.

Mainly, I would say this video is informative and interesting, which is good, but also just that.

I also think that it depends upon the audience you want to address.

If this would be for the wide general audience, I think that there should be a bit more explanation about some of the bodily systems/functions you mention. I know things from my studies, etc., but some people might not know, what is the neocortex, endocrine system or what are their functions.

It could be, in my opinion, explained in less scientific terms. But, yes, it depends upon the audience.

If the audience would be people familiar with yoga and vedic texts... While watching it for the first time, I had the question: why would I need to watch this, except for “pure interest”? I would watch it probably only one time, since your observations are interesting and informative.

For me it would be more interesting to have like 2 parts of the video:

1) information and

2) what one can practically gain out of this information. How to improve the life, to expand the awareness, to learn about practical ways of healing or strengthening these bodies, in order to make it easier for the atman to express itself, etc.

So mainly, whatever the audience, main questions is, why should we watch it, what does it bring practically, besides being interesting?

In the final part your point is mainly that it is “interesting and amazing”. And when you say that for the atman to express itself the koshas must be healthy and developed, it would be interesting to receive some explanation, how to keep them healthy.

***

Few things, I think, should be revised:

You say that in the “analogy with the bodies” they went too far, if I understood it acoustically correct, and that they “did this slight mistake”.

I do not think that this statement is accurate. People would like this explanation better, of course, since it is easier to think of systems than the bodies. But I think the rishis really meant “the bodies”.

Also the list seems to be inaccurate in te sanse that: 1'st is physical BODY. 2'nd kosha is but a system, 3'rd is a function. Whereas the term doesn't change in the vedic language.

Why would they stress the fact of different “containers” otherwise? They had for sure a word for “function” or for “system” and could have used those.

Sri Aurobindo says that at each level of existence we posses a body, with at each level subtler and of each level respective substance. He said, if we would not have these bodies, we would not be able to live on earth.

So, mainly, while living on earth, we need all the bodies, the physical body needs all the other bodies in order to exist and function. But not the other way round.

The vital body can exist at it's respective plane without physical body. The vital force doesn’t need a physical location. Unless there is a physical body, which has to be “alive”. I think you said that all systems depend on each other? So, yes, but just for the existence of the physical body on this plane.

Mirra Alfassa also spoke many times of the vital-body and the mental-body and their respective worlds/planes of existence. They are separate bodies, since they can function independently of the physical body.

Once the physical body dies, the vital body continues to exist for a much longer time and the mental body for even longer time, until they are dissolved. She also said that if the vital or mental bodies are very well developed and became conscious instruments of the Soul, after the death of the physical body these bodies stay at the vital or mental planes of existence and, when the soul incarnates again, it takes the same bodies with it.

I cannot speak of all the bodies, as Sri Aurobindo does. But I am definitely aware of just the next body, which we call subtle-physical. So, it is not a “system or function”. It is another body and there is training in yogic system to become aware of the at least few different bodies. For example one teacher says that the if we compare the size of the molecules of the subtle-physical body with those of the physical body's, they are like spaceships and planets.

This is also what people experience during the near death experience (NDE). Just in indian and tibetan yoga there are exercises to have this experience without having this huge shock for the physical body as in NDE. But this is another topic. I just wanted to give an example.

All the bodies are important and in yoga there are explanations, how to keep them healthy and to develop them.

****

In my opinion, if this should be not just informative video, but also interesting for people practicing spirituality, some points could be added:

  1. To introduce the idea that human being consists NOT just of the physical body.
  2. To better know oneself, which means to know the other bodies or parts of our physical existence and of the instrument (our body), we use to have the experience on the physical level.
  3. As you also mention, to express the atman, the instrument has to be healthy. How to improve the functioning of the different systems/bodies.

In integral yoga these terms are used simplistically a bit different, I think, then you did: annamaya – physical body; pranamaya is vital body/being/ego: emotions, desires, attractions/compulsions and impulses, (I think, you said emotions belong to manomaya kosha); manomaya – mind in general, mental force, thoughts. Vijnana is already the knowledge of very different quality; has nothing to do with the mental power we now generally use; gnostic knowledge. SA writes: “But the gnostic soul, the vijnanamaya purusa, is the first to participate not only in the freedom, but in the power and sovereignty of the Eternal. it shares the free, splendid and royal march of the Infinite, is a vessel of the original knowledge, the immaculate power, the inviolable bliss, transmutes all life into the eternal Light and the eternal Fire and the eternal Wine of the nectar. It possesses the infinite of the Self and it possesses the infinite of Nature.”

And then the anandamaya Purusha/Soul.

SA calls it not just koshas, but annamaya Purusha, etc. Life soul, Mind soul. “The Purusha in mind, life and body is divided from Nature/Prakriti and in conflict with her. In the gnosis (vijnana) he is biune with her, finds as master of his own nature their reconciliation and harmony by their essential oneness even while he accepts an infinite blissful subjection, the condition of his mastery and his liberties, to the Supreme in his sovereign divine Nature. In the tops of the gnosis and in the Ananda he is one with the Prakriti and no longer solely biune with her. There is no longer the baffling play of Nature with the soul in the Ignorance; all is the conscious play of the soul with itself and all its selves and the Supreme” Synthesis of Yoga, p. 510

These are all good thoughts and I agree with your first thought, that something could be said at the beginning.

Its hard to go back and redo these. So for future animations, I'm going to post the scripts here for comment ahead of time. Then people can contribute in a way that influences the first draft.

Also, as per egle, I'll write a "part two" to this video discussing the health and alignment of the five koshas

-- All you need is love...

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