Indian Philosophy - 'Panch Kosh' Viveka
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Indian Philosophy - 'Panch Kosh' Viveka

This discrimination of the Five sheaths (Layers of Personality) to finally arrive at the recognition of oneÂ’s pure self is termed as 'Panch Kosh Viveka'. This article emphasizes on the distinction between the Five Sheaths of Indivual personality.

'Panch Kosh' Viveka - Discriminating amongst ‘Five Layers’ of Human Existence

The Indian Scriptures have analyzed Human existence in many ways. One of them, as discussed in Taitreya Upanishad, analyzes Human Beings as having Five Layers. Once you understand the functioning of these layers (like the layers of clothes worn by an individual) you attain the power to discriminate between these layers.

Most layers if Human Form can be seen/felt/perceived. The innermost layer which cannot be seen/felt/perceived is your True Self. It is like an onion having five layers of perceptible skin. You peel off these layers one-by-one. Now, if you are asked, “What remains of the onion?”, you will say “Nothing!”

The classification into five sheaths is as follows:

  1. Material (Food) Sheath - Annamaya Kosh
  2. Vital Air Sheath - Pranamaya Kosh
  3. Mental Sheath - Manomaya Kosh
  4. Intellectual Sheath - Vignyanmaya Kosh
  5. Bliss Sheath - Anandam Kosh

This concept is further simplified for Modern Understanding by the Chinmaya Mission. They have reworked these Five sheaths to Three Sheaths for easier comprehension:

  1. Gross Body - Jad Shareer
  2. Subtle Body - Sukshma Shareer
  3. Causal Body - Kaaran Shareer

Note: The classification in ‘Five Sheaths’ as per Upanishad is on the right side of the depicted diagram and the modern (Chinmaya mission) classification in three parts is on the left side.

The Divine spark of life is the spiritual centre called 'Atman' or 'Self' and represented by “Om”. 

  1. The Intellect drives the mind to direct the sense organs. The intellect has various ‘Schemes of Happiness’ called 'Desires'. The desires are the manifestation of the ultimate source of all conditionings, the motive urges deep in the unconscious in the man, called ‘Vasanas’.

    This level of our body is called Causal Body.

  2. The Subtle Body is made up of the mental and intellectual sheaths. This contains emotions and feelings of the mind and ideas and ideals of the intellect-all these are mere “thoughts”.

    This level of our body is called Subtle Body

  3. The Gross Body contains five sense organs and five organs of action.

    This level of our body is called Gross Body

The Bliss Sheath

The innermost sheath, containing Vasanas, is made up of ignorance in which we exist during deep sleep state of consciousness. We experience relatively undisturbed peace and bliss due to cessation of all agitation experienced in the other two states of consciousness. (Awaken and dreaming).

The bliss sheath controls the intellectual sheath. The intellect functions under the control and guidance of vasanas.


The five sheathed structure are like layers of dress worn by a person.

The CORE of this Five-sheathed structure is ‘Atman’ denoted by ‘Om’ (In Sanskrit Language) or 'Aum'

This discrimination of the Five sheaths (Layers of Personality) to finally arrive at the recognition of one’s pure self is termed as 'Panch Kosh Viveka'

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Comments (5)
Sanjay Kohli

This article is very well explained in an easy to understand fashion.

Nicely explained and written. Just a few questions though. When you say "Indian" what do you mean? Is this a national religion or is it a philosophy that is held by the majority of people? Is this ingrained in the culture or is this rooted in a particular religion? Please enlighten me.

Ranked #4 in Philosophy

Thanks for your comments. 1. When we say Indian,it relates to Aryan culture which dates back to 2000 B C .The oldest Indian scriptures were the Vedas which means revealed knowledge .One of my earlier articles explains this. 2.The word Dharma is used in Rigveda {1500 B C ).It then related to religious rites .It then meant (holding apart Heaven andearth ).Over the years it evolved to mean a way of life , a culture, in ancient india. 3. The word religion was used by Christain Missionaries as equivalent of the word Dharma because they realised that dharma was the binding norm of Hindu religion .The English-Sanskrit dictionary in 1851 lists the first meaning of (religion ) as (DHARMA) 4.yOU ARE RIGHT. iT IS INGRAINED IN THE CULTURE.

Thank you for your explanation. I will look at your previous article.


GOD reminder article.Excellent