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3 sariras

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3 sariras

Karana-Sharira (the causal body)

1. Karana-Sharira (the causal body) is merely the cause (seed) of the subtle body and the gross body.

It has no other function than being the seed of the subtle and the gross body. It is Nirvikalpa-rupam («undifferentiated form»). It originates with Avidhyaignorance», «nescience») of the real identity of the Atman, instead giving birth to the notion of Jiva.

The causal body is «beginningless ignorance that is indescribable», characterized by «emptiness», «ignorance», and «darkness». In the search for the «I am», this is a state where there is nothing to hold on to anymore.

At this stage that consummation of the Atman with the Paramatman is reached and the search for the highest Purusa (Ishvara) ends. The causal body is not the Atman, because it also has a beginning and an end and is subject to modification.

Shankara, not seeking a personal god, goes beyond Anandamaya Kosha in search of the transcendent Brahman.

The Anandamaya kosha identifies the deep sleep state, where Buddhi becomes dormant and all concepts of time fail, although there are differences between these three descriptions.

The causal body is considered as the most complex of the three bodies. It contains the impressions of experience, which results from past experience.


Suksma-Sharira (the subtle body)

2. Suksma-Sharira (the subtle body) is the body of the mind and the vital energies, which keep the physical body alive. Together with the causal body it is the transmigrating Jiva (soul), separating from the gross body upon death.


The subtle body is composed of the five subtle elements, the elements before they have undergone PanchiKarana, and contains:



the subtle body can be as well concidered as an 8-fold aggregate, placing together the mind-aspects and adding Avidhya, Kama and Karma:



Samkhya does not acknowledge a «causal body», but the Linga-Sharira.


It puts one in the mind of the Atman, it reminds one of the Atman as the controller. It is the beginningless limitation of the Atman, it has no beginning like the Sthula-Sharira.

The «dream state» is a distinct state of the subtle body, where the Buddhi shines itself owing to memory of deeds done in the waking state. It is the indispensable operative cause of all the activities of the individual Self.


Sthula-Sharira (gross body

3. Sthula-Sharira (gross body, Rūpa) is the material physical mortal body that eats, breathes and moves (acts). It is composed of many diverse components, produced by one’s Karmas (actions) in past life out of the elements which have undergone Panchi Karana (i.e. combining of the five primordial subtle elements).


It is the instrument of Jiva’s experience, which, attached to the body and dominated by Ahamkara, uses the body’s external and internal organs of sense and action.


The Jiva, identifying itself with the body, in its waking state enjoys gross objects. On its body rests man’s contact with the external world.


The main features of Sthula-Sharira are Sambhava (birth), Jara (old age or ageing) and Maranam (death);

Sthula-Sharira corresponds the «Waking State».


The Sthula-Sharira is the Anatman.

The gross bodies, the subtle bodies and the causal worlds make one vast universe.


The Taittiriya Upanishad describes five Koshas, which are also often equated with the three bodies.


The three bodies are often equated with the five Koshas (sheets), which cover the Atman:



Four states of consciousness and Turiya

The Mandukya Upanishad describes four states of consciousness, namely:


1) waking consciousness, 2) dream, and 3) deep sleep, 4) and turiya — the pure consciousness, the base-consciousness.


Waking consciousness, dream, and deep sleep are equated with the three bodies.


While Turiya is a fourth state, which is equated with Atman / Purusha.

Turiyapure consciousness — is the fourth state.

It is the background that underlies and transcends the three common states of consciousness.

In this consciousness both absolute and relativeSaguna-Brahman and Nirguna Brahman — are transcended.

It is the true state of experience of the infinite (Ananta) and non-different (Advaita/Abheda), free from the dualistic experience which results from the attempts to conceptualise (Vipalka) reality.

It is the state in which Ajativada (non-origination) is apprehended.

Four bodies

If four bodies are meant, then including Turiya (the «Great-Causal Body») is a fourth body. Here resides the knowledge of «I am» that cannot be described, the state before Ignorance and KnowledgeTuriya state. http://vedavrat.org